President’s Corner: A welcome back to campus
“A good beginning is of great importance.” ~Catherine McAuley
Welcome back, Salve Regina Community:
What a gift it is to see our campus vibrant with students, faculty and staff once again. Last spring, when our lives were disrupted so quickly, I vowed that I would never take for granted the ability to be in the same room with my colleagues or to see our students walking together across our beautiful campus.
It was a quiet summer without our usual activity of conferences and events due to COVID-19, but it was a time packed with preparations to keep us all safe here this fall. I’m deeply grateful to the dedication of this community and the sacrifices made this summer by so many of you during a period that would be usually devoted to rest and renewal. Your tireless efforts and careful considerations in the planning and implementation for our safe return are an enormous gift to all of us.
When I think of what has been accomplished in a few short months, it is truly amazing. Every classroom has been re-configured and outfitted with new technology, and faculty have revised every course so that we are now able to teach both in person and remotely. The dining and residence halls were de-densified and all of our services were completely re-engineered. An elaborate screening, testing and contact tracing system was established for every member of our community. Enhanced cleaning schedules and measures were put in place for every building. An entire new website was created for nimble communication and signage added everywhere on campus to remind us to be vigilant in our safety measures. These are just the highlights of so many changes, but every one of these efforts represents many hours of work.
Fall 2020 will be like no other beginning to a Salve Regina academic year. Our life on campus will feel different because of the many measures we will need to take to operate safely. Like many of you, I have anxiously witnessed the opening of our sister institutions around the country, some uneventfully and some facing issues immediately that have caused them to return to remote learning, often due to the thoughtlessness of a few community members.
At Salve Regina, however, we have a special Mercy mission that is a particular advantage in the midst of this pandemic. We chose this community because we believe in service to others, and support of the common good is part of our identity as an institution. It is the responsibility of every Salve Regina community member to create a safe environment for all of us to live, learn and work. I have deep faith that we will not only weather this pandemic, but we will become a model for how to handle a crisis with grace. And I am confident that what is essential about a Salve education will shine through.
As we look forward to this fall semester, our important mission continues, and I’d like to provide you with a couple of updates:
The Strategic Compass Steering Committee worked hard over the summer to synthesize all of the information received through the many interviews, focus groups, and the survey of Salve community members. They have produced a draft of the Strategic Compass that will be shared with the full Salve community at a Town Hall later this fall, and will serve as a foundation for implementation teams to be launched in the spring semester. We are all deeply grateful to this Committee for the many hours that they have dedicated to this important work for Salve’s future.
Presidential Commission on Equity and Inclusion
To advance our mission, I have created a new Commission to focus on the action steps needed to bring us closer to our goals as an institution toward equity and inclusion. This Commission will incorporate the work of earlier committees on campus and will be comprised of faculty, staff and students. A separate communique with a call for nominations will be sent out shortly.
Office Hours with the President
Our Provost, Nancy Schreiber, hosted virtual office hours this summer for faculty, and they were a very helpful way to communicate and share ideas. I’ll borrow her good idea and will be setting up virtual sessions for faculty, staff and students to share anything they would like. Sign-ups for these sessions will be forthcoming, and I look forward to seeing you and hearing your thoughts.
Updates on our latest information will be communicated regularly and can be found on our Back to Salve website.
My heart is with all of you as we embark on this journey of a new academic year in unusual times. May we have a fall semester that is healthy, productive and is worthy of our Mercy mission.
All my best,