April 17, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
It is hard to believe that we are entering the final week of classes for the spring semester. Instead of participating in the usual activity on campus, and even finding a few minutes to “appreciate” some late spring snow in Chicago, we have all found ourselves working virtually and finding different ways to connect. This week, Sister Jean offered (via video) her prayer for Finals Week. She usually offers this prayer in person during the finals' breakfast events. No, it is not quite the same, but listening to her offer this reflection actually made it feel as though we were all together and united in some way. To all of our students, it is a further reminder that she and the Loyola University Chicago community are thinking of each and every one of you.
As campus activities have transitioned to a virtual space, our students have been resilient, resourceful, and engaged. They are finding new ways to reach out to their professors and fellow students and providing us with useful feedback in surveys we are conducting. I know some of you struggle with less-than-ideal home situations and many are caring for children and other family members, yet you are finding ways to balance it all and remain focused on your education.
Coming up this weekend is the “Virtual” Undergraduate Research and Engagement Symposium, our annual showcase for undergraduate community engagement research. While the symposium is usually highlighted by many attendees viewing posters and speaking to our student researchers or attending various group presentations, this year we have shifted to a digital format. Despite the disruptions wrought by pandemic, students have persevered in their projects and have exhibited amazing creativity and flexibility, adapting posters and presentations to the virtual space. Approximately 400 students will engage in 250 presentations available for viewing between Saturday, April 18 and Friday, April 24 at ecommons.LUC.edu/ures. Please visit the symposium site and get a sense of the excellent work done by our students and gain an even greater appreciation of their dedication. I want to express my personal gratitude to our faculty who have adapted their teaching and mentoring to this extraordinary situation.
While we are hopeful that we will be able to welcome students back to campus this fall, and continue to be guided by science, data, and best practices, we can remind ourselves that resilience does not necessarily mean returning to what we have known. Resilience is the ability to adapt, to make necessary changes, and to evolve and deepen our lives and work to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. This is the kind of adaptability our students, faculty, and staff have shown these past few weeks, and it is the forward-looking quality that has driven the Jesuit mission of education for nearly 500 years. We will emerge from this period stronger, resilient, and more adaptable. We may even find ourselves more patient and reflective. This will serve us well as we discern how we are best called forward together.
We continue to pray for our first responders; our physicians and nurses; our students, faculty, and staff; our alumni; and all of those in our extended Loyola family. We extend our deepest thoughts and prayers to those among us who are most vulnerable or hurting deeply and our heartfelt sympathy to those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic. Thank you for your prayers, and know that you are in mine.
Jo Ann Rooney JD, LLM, EdD