Dear MVSU Community,
The unexpected onset of COVID-19 has brought about many unanticipated adjustments during our Spring 2020 semester at MVSU. We recently announced the tough, but necessary, decision to offer our Summer 2020 courses exclusively online. Currently, we are evaluating how to best continue providing our students with quality educational opportunities in a safe, healthy environment during the Fall 2020 semester.
While I am very optimistic and hopeful about our return to in-person, on-campus operations, the Fall 2020 semester will commence following recommended guidelines and best health practices. In anticipation of a return to normal operations, we are working to assemble an MVSU COVID-19 Recovery Committee, comprised of select administrators, faculty, staff, and student representatives.
The health, safety, and well-being of our MVSU community remain paramount. Given this primacy in our understanding, the MVSU COVID-19 Recovery Committee will be tasked with preparing contingency plans detailing how the institution can best move forward this upcoming fall. The committee will make specific recommendations based on insight provided by sub-groups, whose members will use their expertise to provide distinctive but interrelated recommendations based on three possible scenarios.
In addition, our university committee will seek guidance and recommendations from IHL’s newly created Safe Start Task Force, which is tasked with crafting a system-level plan for starting and completing the Fall 2020 semester in the safest and most effective way possible. Two administrators from each of the state’s eight public universities have been appointed to the task force. MVSU representatives include our Chief of Staff and Legislative Liaison Dr. La Shon Brooks and our Chief Financial Officer Joyce Dixon.
As it stands, the two main scenarios for the Fall 2020 semester include: (1) re-opening classes and residence halls under normal operating guidelines, which means being fully operational, inclusive of face-to-face instruction, on-campus housing, and dining services; or (2) offering classes and opening residence halls under social distancing protocols and health guidelines, which could include limiting face-to-face instruction and students assigned to on-campus housing, and carryout dining services. In the event public health officials deem it unsafe and/or advise against in-person classes and the re-opening of residence halls, a third (3rd) scenario would be the continuation of alternative (distance learning) instructional methods during the Fall 2020 semester, while simultaneously planning a later in-person return, ideally the Spring 2020 semester.
As stated earlier, I remain very optimistic and hopeful that we will be fully open and operating under Scenario 1 because I truly understand the value of the on-campus experience and what it means for our University and the community at large.
Years ago, I wrote a philosophy statement regarding the importance of the college experience in which I stated, “Being a part of a university community adds new experiences and enhances a student’s education and life. The community is a living and learning environment full of ‘teachable moments.’ It teaches valuable lessons about self and others that cannot be taught in the classrooms or found in textbooks. Some lessons must be lived. It is our University’s role to assure that these experiences do not merely supplement the student’s college education; rather, they are a substantial and significant part of the college education in and of itself. These experiences transforms lives.”
While our current circumstances are unprecedented, I applaud each of you for the hard work and sacrifices you have made to ensure that we all finish the semester strong. And, to our Spring 2020 graduates, we are so excited for you and look forward to seeing how you use your Valley education to transform lives and communities. Your ability to adapt and persevere in the face of uncertainty truly speaks to your character and your love for MVSU. For this, you are to be commended.
One of my favorite poems is “See It Through,” written by Edgar Albert Guest. I am sure that many of you are familiar with this life inspiring poem, and if not, please take a moment to read it. What’s most inspiring, as it relates to our current challenges dealing with this pandemic, is part of the final stanza, which reads “Don’t give up, whate’er you do; Eyes front, head high to the finish, See It Through!” Despite these challenging times, you have persevered in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and the unknown, and that perseverance has been astounding. So, I promise you that here at MVSU we will definitely “see it through” and keep Valley “in Motion.”
Dr. Jerryl Briggs, Sr.