From the President, re: Latest Developments with the Spring Semester

Dear Faculty and Staff, 

By now, many of you will have read CSCU President Ojakian’s letter outlining the closure of campus and a move to fully online learning for the remainder of the academic year. This will mean the cancellation or postponement of Commencement, Honors Convocation and other events that typically highlight the spring semester.

For all members of our community, this is an extremely disappointing but not unanticipated development. All of us are aware of the pressing need to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus across our nation and into our state by limiting communal gatherings and practicing social distancing. It is abundantly clear that the impact of this virus will extend well beyond the tentative April 5 deadline set for a return to campus life.

These are extraordinary times, and we must take extraordinary measures to preserve the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.  As a result, beginning next Monday, March 23, the campus will be closed to all but a small number of Level 1 (essential) personnel. Faculty and staff who need to retrieve materials and equipment may do so between Noon and 3 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) and from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday and Friday. No entry to campus will be permitted after Friday.

We continue to focus on how to help all students be ready for online learning on Monday.  Faculty members should be reaching out to their students this week, if at all possible, to determine their capacity to learn in this format.  If students do not have access to a computer and/or wifi, please email the IT Help Desk (helpdesk@southernct.edu) as soon as possible.  We will struggle to help students resolve these issues after the campus fully closes on Friday.

Given the latest developments, a number of important issues will have to be considered during the next several days, including how to handle residential student housing and dining refunds; and the transitioning of housing for international and other students needing accommodation who have remained on campus. We will establish virtual counseling, academic support, advisement and student health services. And we will explore alternatives to our May Commencements so that our seniors have a fitting way to celebrate their accomplishments with friends and family.

We are also working on the process by which we will continue to pay student employees through the remainder of the semester. We want to ensure that all students are held harmless as much as possible. We will deal with the financial implications at a later time. Our overarching goal is that students can complete their semester – and that those who are scheduled to graduate will receive their degrees.

I know that this latest news is so discouraging for all who have contributed so many hours into planning and preparation for the spring semester; for those who teach and mentor our students on a daily basis; for those who provide the essential support services that maintain our institution as a vibrant learning community. 

The task now is for all of us to successfully transfer these energies into a new, off-campus environment. Having witnessed the extraordinary response by the members of our community during the last 10 days, I am confident that we will do so. To reiterate: it is the strength of our caring community that will navigate us through these challenging times.

If you have questions about the university’s response to this complex situation please continue to post them at: https://inside.southernct.edu/coronavirus/questions.  Our website will be regularly updated with the latest information. I thank all of you for your continued patience, perseverance and dedication to our students as we embark on this new path, together.

Sincerely,

Joe Bertolino
President