Coronavirus Information | March 29, 2020

We continue to closely follow the potential public threat posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

To The Manhattan College Community,

I wanted to take just a couple of minutes, on this Third Sunday since the great disruption we've been experiencing, to check in and provide a few updates to our extended Jasper family; but mostly just to say that all of you are in my prayers daily as we work together to navigate this difficult period.

I pray especially for those who are directly in harm's way;the seven members of our community who have tested positive for the virus, along with their families and friends; all who have loved ones and friends who are ill or in a particularly vulnerable position due to health issues; health care professionals and first-responders; people with responsibility to care for children and the elderly, and all for whom the anxiety levels are especially high at this anxious time.

I pray for those in our community who continue to serve in positions that require them to report to campus, mostly in roles that provide direct service to students who had to remain in residence. I know that we are doing all we can to make the environment as safe as possible, but I am especially thankful for the service of those who continue to report to campus.

For our students, I pray that you will find solace in your academic work and your continuing progress toward your degrees. For our faculty, I pray in gratitude for the long hours I know you've been spending to transition to new ways of teaching, continuing to engage your students in the best traditions of Lasallian education in caring for them as well as teaching them.

And of course I pray for the hundreds of people who have transitioned to on-line work these past two weeks, keeping the vital operations of the College going while navigating the many challenges that have been brought on by this complete disruption of normal life.

Just this past Friday, we had the opportunity to brief the Board of Trustees on how we were faring in response to these unprecedented challenges. It was, as you might expect, a very serious meeting, with our Trustees rightly concerned with how we thought we would be able to manage through this period of unprecedented uncertainty, with its serious threats to each and every aspect of College operations.

But, for all of the concern, and all of the hard questions, I must say that the spirit of that meeting was deeply hopeful, not pie-in-the-sky optimistic, but genuinely hopeful, as we looked squarely at the very real challenges, but also recognized the tremendous assets we have to weather the storm. And when I mention assets, it's not just our financial strength and expertise that we will be able to draw on (though this is of course fundamental).

The greatest asset we have, of course, is our people who have been really inspiring in their response to the call to figure out a new way to sustain our core mission;the teaching and learning and care for students that makes us who we are. As we reported to the Board, our faculty have done extraordinary (and extraordinarily inventive and creative) work;supported by our office of Instructional Design, department chairs, deans, and the provost's office;to make the transition from face-to-face to on-line teaching.

As someone whose spouse is teaching on-line, and who has been video conferencing frequently with three sons all of whom are teaching at various levels K-12 to college on-line, I know how daunting it is to make this transition, and how dedicated to their students teachers need to be in order to do this work well.

Our Student Life operations have been on the front line, caring for our students in the midst of what seemed last week to be hourly changes in public-health policy. Through it all, they have kept the safety and well-being of our students at the center of their concern, working with student leadership and in conversation with students and parents through the email address.

In addition, members of this division have been working closely with our talented Marketing and Communication professionals to employ social media platforms to keep students, faculty, and staff engaged in the community;Father Tom's Sunday messages, for example, and the #JaspersOnAMission program, through which we are taking our traditional celebration of Mission Month on-line, celebrating our work together as Lasallians throughout the month of April, the month of Saint John Baptist de La Salle's feast day.

Through all of this, our Enrollment Management team has done an amazing job keeping our focus on the crucial work of recruiting our future Jaspers; building a large and strong applicant pool, keeping on task with admissions and financial aid, and recreating Accepted Student Days as exciting on-line experiences; all the while working with program directors and deans on our continuing initiatives, including growth in graduate programs and programs suited to non-traditional students. Again, in the midst of the crisis, the core work continues.

Of course, we have a long way yet to go and many challenges to meet. My heart goes out to our seniors and their families, who normally would be on the verge of celebrating the happiest few weeks of their collegiate lives. I want to assure you that the wonderful class of 2020 will have its opportunity to be recognized for its many accomplishments and contributions to our community.

We are weighing options and assessing logistics to be able to make soon a decision about exactly when and how that celebration can take place. We will also be keeping the community apprised of decisions regarding other major events, such as Reunion Weekend and Orientation.

As always, please use the email to let us know if you have questions, concerns, information, or advice.

We are all in this together, and we need to make sure we keep all of the communication lines open.

Thank you for your energy and creativity and resilience. God bless you and Go Jaspers!

Brennan O'Donnell, Ph.D.

By MC Staff