Students:

The campus is more beautiful every day, but remains startling quiet — as all of Illinois continues to shelter-in-place.  We miss you so much, but we are so proud of your resilience, and your academic persistence in the face of COVID-19.

It is a strange time, I know, even more so as the novelty of the situation wears off.  For all of us, who are used to being out and about, with more space and independence, being cooped up at home is challenging — as is a full schedule of online coursework.  Please know that we continue to introduce new ways to stay connected and to offer you the support that you need to finish the semester successfully.

As for the future, let me say with cautious optimism, that Dominican University fully expects to be open for face-to-face classes in the fall. We are actually already ramping up to reopen. And, fall registration numbers are strong; so, I know that you, too, are anxious to get back to campus. We even rescheduled Commencement for Labor Day Weekend.

It will not be business as usual, however.  Social distancing will continue to be a safety issue, and so, we are currently exploring ways to manage campus density — in the size and number of classes offered at any one time, in terms of residence hall occupancy and dining hall capacity, and in the allowable size of events and gatherings. Where appropriate, we will create more intentional distancing in offices and provide protective gear. It sounds a little spooky, I know, but we need to take precautions, so that you can return to campus with confidence.

Students have been asking about the distribution of CARES Act emergency funding, so let me mention a few points. We are developing an award process right now that meets federal guidelines and expect that all Title IV Pell eligible students will be able to appeal for these funds beginning next week. Funds then will be disbursed immediately following a short application process. In addition, thanks to the generosity of donors, Dominican will be able to help some of our undocumented students with tuition relief.

Right now, we are experiencing one of life’s great pauses — in anticipation of a new normal. If you are like me, the isolation of the last few weeks, while frustrating, has also made you reflective. I miss colleagues and the buzz of student life; I am anxious about the health of my family; and if I never use Zoom again, I won’t miss it. But, I am also much more aware of all the good that is in my life — and I realize how lucky we all are to be members of the Dominican University community.

So, be safe. Stay healthy.  Try to enjoy what summer brings, and I will see you all next fall — on campus!