In mid-March I wrote to you about the University’s proactive response to the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, I want to tell you how the Muskingum community has progressed since then, and how we are planning for the future.
This past week, spring semester classes ended for our students following six weeks of remote instruction. Our faculty and staff devoted themselves to the needs of all students, both collective and individual. Along the way, they developed new skills and creative methods for enhancing the learning experience. Our students adjusted to dramatically different learning strategies and expectations. I have been inspired and encouraged by the dedication and resilience of all.
While we spent the last few weeks focusing heavily on immediate concerns, we also immediately began to plan for the future. With the help of our trustees, the senior leadership team developed multiple financial scenarios and took action to ensure institutional well-being in the face of economic upheaval. Our creative faculty and staff have already begun planning for a variety of instructional settings. We are determined to use the lessons learned this spring to create an even stronger educational experience at Muskingum.
Looking forward, our hope is the same as that expressed by dozens of students and family members in recent weeks: a return to on-campus learning in the fall. We recognize that resuming on-campus activities will involve important modifications to our learning and living practices and we will be well-prepared to implement these modifications. And of course, all decisions about the future will be made with careful attention to national, state and local health guidelines.
Our guiding principle, as always, is that student needs and considerations must drive planning and decision-making. Foremost among them is ensuring the health and safety of students and the entire campus community. Beyond that, the past weeks have amplified our understanding of what Muskingum’s “new normal” must include:
- A heightened commitment to a holistic undergraduate student experience, including scholarship, the arts, athletics, leadership, community service and more;
- A continuum of learning delivery models building on and expanding the creative use of technology developed over the past few weeks;
- Innovative programming that increases access for students whose economic circumstances demand more flexibility; and
- Excellent learning and living spaces.
Just as you face uncertainty in your lives in the coming weeks and months, so too does Muskingum. Some days it may feel like the unknowns are outnumbering the knowns. Yet, guided by our values and ongoing commitment to educational excellence, I am confident of making the best decisions for our students, faculty, and staff.
You can be proud of how Muskingum has risen to the challenges of recent times. Many of you have called or written to me with words of encouragement and support. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Your loyalty and help will be an essential element of Muskingum’s ability to grow and flourish in the future.
I wish you all well, and will continue to keep you apprised of our progress and decisions.
President Sue Hasseler