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Greetings from the President’s House.
Well, I think it’s fair to say that this has been a challenging period for all of us and I’m here today to share some news that I know will be especially challenging but perhaps not surprising. We will be extending remote education through the remainder of the spring semester at Lafayette.
As I think you know, we’ve deferred making a final decision on this as long as possible in the hope that learning more about the progress of COVID-19 would provide additional insight into the likelihood that we might be able to reconvene as a community and finish the spring semester together. Events over the last few days and additional state and federal guidance has made it clear that that’s simply not going to be possible. I know how deeply disappointing this is for all of our students and in particular for members of our senior class. I have some personal experience of that as my own son is a college senior who has received that same news from his college two days ago. So I have a sense of how incredibly disappointing it is for both students and their families.
That said, I want to assure every student that we are fully committed to ensuring that you have the most robust educational experience possible this semester; and to assure seniors that we will do everything we can to make sure that you have a wonderful educational experience, that you make it over the finish line and graduate, and that we have a chance to celebrate your accomplishments together. To that end, we have rescheduled Commencement for August 1. We will set a few days for a senior week in advance of that Commencement date so put those dates on your calendar and expect to return to campus and catch up with us and all of your friends then.
In the meantime, we have a lot of work to do together as a community. There’s no question that this is going to be a heavy lift for all of us. Staff are already working hard at reconfiguring their work in ways that will be necessary to undertake remote education for this period of time. Faculty have been working tirelessly and creatively at reconfiguring their classes. For students, I know it will be a particular challenge to maintain focus and commitment in circumstances that really lend themselves to anxiety and distraction. I hope that you will find that the community is able to sustain you and that physical distance doesn’t lead to social isolation. In fact, I think you’ll find that we’ll work harder than ever before to sustain a strong sense of community to ensure that you feel the same strong sense of support and comradeship that you feel when you’re on campus.
I know that there are other details that are on your mind. We will be sending a memo on Friday that will give some followup information on retrieving your belongings, on financial arrangements and things of that nature but I wanted to make sure that you got this news as soon as possible because I know that this is something that’s on everyone’s mind.
As we think about the weeks and the months ahead, I want to assure you that the faculty, the staff, the administration, the board, alumni, parents and friends of Lafayette College are all here to support you and to ensure that you succeed. So let’s take a moment to mourn this semester that is not the semester that we expected but then to get ready to have a semester to remember and to recognize that this is one for the history books. And when you return for your reunions several decades from now, you’ll have some interesting stories to tell.
I’m deeply appreciative to every member of the Lafayette community for their flexibility, their resilience, their understanding, and their support in these really unprecedented circumstances. Many thanks to all of you.
President Alison Byerly