Sept. 3, 2020Print | PDF
I hope that you have found some time to rest and recharge over the summer. Indeed, it has been a summer like no other, as Laurier, like most organizations, adapted to working collaboratively to continue operations while remaining physically apart.
As the fall semester begins, I would like to acknowledge the ongoing uncertainty and concern that is tempering the excitement our university community would normally feel at this time of year. We are days away from launching an academic year that is unique in our 109-year history. The COVID-19 pandemic is a generation-defining crisis that has demanded dramatic changes to the way we live, work, and learn.
Planning for a year of primarily remote and online learning is something that is new for universities around the world. We are making decisions in a fluid situation as the pandemic evolves and public health experts respond. As a result, we cannot always provide the certainty that students, staff, and faculty want in order to make personal decisions. Despite that, I assure you we are committed to making decisions that put the health and well-being of our community first and we are committed to regularly communicating with you as we take advice from public health experts.
The recent decision to continue with remote and online learning in the winter term is an excellent example of this commitment. While everyone at Laurier would like to be back on our campuses together, remaining remote in the winter – while prioritizing in-person teaching of those courses in which experiential learning is a requirement – is the best way to provide certainty and clarity to plan the academic year for everyone, while keeping the most vulnerable in our communities safe.
I know this is not how we expect a university academic year to be. While it will be different and challenging, Laurier’s faculty and staff have been working tirelessly throughout the summer to develop creative solutions for delivering instruction, conducting research, preparing for fall, and supporting student success.
Students will experience the results of this hard work in the form of positive and creative approaches tailored to remote and online learning. Laurier is providing a wide variety of academic services to support students in their online classes. Additionally, all students, staff, and faculty will have access to secure software to enhance collaboration, such as Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Stream and Windows Virtual Desktop.
This fall we continue to build on our momentum of the Laurier Strategy, guided by our two distinct themes: thriving community and future-readiness. Tragic events this summer brought issues of racial, social, and economic inequity to the forefront of public consciousness. We have outlined an action plan for equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity that is guided by the Laurier Strategy and holds us accountable in building an inclusive, welcoming, and just community. I look forward to sharing with our community Laurier’s progress on these plans throughout the year.
These last few months have highlighted for me the importance of Laurier’s strategic mission to create a thriving community where all of us can reach our potential and develop the future-readiness we need to transform where we live, work, and learn. During a time of disruption such as this, it is more important than ever to create a culture of engagement to support each other.
This academic year is unchartered territory for Laurier. But it also holds much promise. We will find new ways to connect, create and share knowledge, and care for each other. I know that we, along with our community partners, will come together to make this year a memorable one.
My very best wishes to you all as we enter the fall.
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