This week finds us nearing the end of shelter-in-place orders, and we are actively planning for the “new normal” we will see when our campus reopens.
Our MC community has already responded quickly and strongly to this crisis by acting in the best interests of student safety, transitioning to online learning, refunding money for room and board, and establishing the MCares Fund to help students hit hardest by the pandemic. I’m proud of the way we’ve worked together and the positive attitude with which our community has met this challenge. I want to thank our Coronavirus Working Group, active since before Spring Break, for their diligent work to protect our campus. The members of this working group are our campus heroes.
We are optimistic that MC will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever. We are planning for both summer and fall semesters. However, we must be realistic about the seriousness of this situation and fully prepared for the logistical, financial, and health-related challenges still ahead.
MC has formed five task forces whose members will work to address these challenges and prepare the university to move forward with confidence.
The Summer School Planning Task Force chaired by Dr. Debbie Norris, interim provost, will make recommendations as to how we will begin summer school classes in June, and whether they will take place on campus or be taught online.
The Summer Activities Task Force chaired by Dr. Steve Stanford, vice president for administration, will advise on how to handle summer camps and the many other programs that traditionally bring visitors to our campus during the summer.
The Fall Opening Task Force co-chaired by Dr. Jonathan Randle, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Jonathan Ambrose, associate vice president for the student experience, will make recommendations and develop a comprehensive plan for handling classes and campus life during the fall semester beginning in August.
The pandemic has created a financial situation that we have not seen in our lifetimes. The impact of stopping on-campus instruction, room and board refunds, losses in investments, possible decreases in enrollment, and fewer gifts to MC will all impact financial planning for the months and years ahead. The Financial Contingency Planning Task Force chaired by Laura Jackson, chief financial officer, will develop a fiscally sound plan for moving forward.
The health and safety of our community remains MC’s first priority. The Medical Crisis Response Task Force, co-chaired by Dr. Steve Martin, director of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, and Dr. Kimberly Sharp, dean of the School of Nursing, will make recommendations for keeping our campus healthy by preventing and responding to the possibility of COVID-19 on campus.
In the coming weeks, we will update you on the work of our task forces and plans for summer and fall as they take shape. In the meantime, MC is following the advice of public health officials in moving to reopen our beautiful campus safely and efficiently. More importantly, MC is following the wisdom found in scripture for how we live our lives in the midst of this crisis. Proverbs 21:31 tells us, “The horse is made ready for battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” MC is preparing, and trusting the Lord to lead us through this battle.