Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As we continue to navigate one of the greatest global health challenges to ever face our University and possibly the world, I want to express my deepest appreciation for the numerous ways faculty, staff, students, and their families are working together. We are in the midst of a massive operational and educational shift for the health and well-being of our community, our neighbors, and our families. I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is for all of us to have a sense of urgency through individual and collective efforts to “flatten the curve” and slow the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
As global citizens, we have a civic and moral responsibility to take whatever actions are needed in this public health crisis. Scientific research and our medical community emphasize that the actions we are undertaking now and in the days ahead will have a substantive impact on slowing and reducing the spread of the virus and keeping ourselves healthy. You may not be considered “high risk” or “vulnerable” but those you may come in contact with may well be susceptible to the worst effects of this virus. All of us should be implementing and modeling social distancing by moving to virtual classrooms and video meetings as soon as possible but no later than Monday, March 23. Managers and all staff should make preparations to be able to work entirely remotely by the end of this week. We expect more restrictions to travel in the coming days, including the possibility of self-isolation or curfews, and urge everyone to have their off-campus location ready to work as soon as possible.
Our Jesuit values move us to take actions on behalf of the greater good. I fully understand the feelings of uncertainty, dislocation, and isolation that many are experiencing. I urge you to find ways to stay in touch with each other and continue to care for each other throughout the duration of this emergency. Also, please keep yourself informed by referring regularly to our Coronavirus Information website, the best source of up-to-date information for our campus.
I share our Loyola University Chicago community’s deepest gratitude for the dedication, empathy, tireless efforts, and generosity with which our emergency response teams have come together and coordinated our response plan. This team regularly reviews plans and runs simulations of scenarios that could have wide-ranging impacts on our campuses. These discussions and table-top exercises have enabled us to bring our resources together quickly. Our Coronavirus Response Task Force led by Provost Norberto Grzywacz and Senior Vice President Tom Kelly mobilized early in this fast-moving crisis and are now supported by more than 100 faculty and staff across the University.
To our faculty, thank you for heeding the urgency of needed actions and doing everything you can to create the best possible online and virtual classroom experience for our students. To our staff, thank you for finding innovative ways to work remotely and for putting in the work necessary to support each other and carry on our mission of education and research in this dynamic environment.
A special note to our students: In this disruptive and unprecedented situation, thank you for your flexibility, resourcefulness, good energy, and patience. One way through the uncertainty and anxiety of these changes is to actively engage in your online classes and look for ways to continue connecting with your faculty, staff, and each other. Please help take care of yourselves and each other in these new circumstances, and do not hesitate to reach out for assistance or support. To our graduating students: While our 2020 Commencement will be held later than usual and may very well take a different form than in years past, know that we are still looking forward to celebrating with you. Details will be forthcoming as we move forward in this new landscape.
Again, we ask everyone to please continue to stay informed of new developments and updates at our Coronavirus Information website. This will be the best source for accurate and timely information as the situation continues to evolve.
In my time as Loyola’s president, I have seen how our community embraces complex challenges and comes together to serve the greater good. This is especially true throughout these past few weeks. Now, more than ever, we can be a light and source of hope for others.
It is a paradox that our social distancing reminds us how closely we are interconnected. In being mindful of our actions now and in the weeks ahead, we are also being loving. As we move toward Passover and Easter, keep in mind the words of St. Ignatius: “Love is shown more in deeds than words.” Thank you for all that you are doing each day.
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD