July 31, 2020
Update from the President
Dear Wheeling University Family,
I cannot begin to express how exciting it was to present students of the Class of 2020 with their diplomas during the sixty-second Commencement Ceremony last Saturday. It was truly a special time to be able to recognize this amazing group of young men and women. This class, in the words of Black Student Union/Jesuit Strong member Rishaun Hall, is the ‘Hero Class.” Much like this University, these graduates weathered uncertain times and overcame many difficult challenges. The day was filled with gratitude from the graduates and their families – knowing that Wheeling University fulfilled the promise to hold an in-person Commencement. Not even the heat could stifle their joy.
Our Jesuit traditions resonated throughout the ceremony. Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliot, a Georgetown Law graduate, spoke so eloquently about how his mentor Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J. made a lasting impact in his life and instilled in him to be an active member of his community. Rishaun Hall spoke about his journey from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Philadelphia to Wheeling as part of the University’s ‘pilot program’ known as Jesuit Strong. He said he never realized that his visit to Wheeling five years ago would change his life forever. Fr. James Conroy, Fr. Richard McCouch and Fr. Hadi Sasmita participated in both Baccalaureate and Commencement, as they remain committed to serving Wheeling University. They keep the Ignatian traditions alive and are constant reminders of our mission – to be men and women in service to others.
Academically, the relaunch of theology as a major is producing interest in courses within the program. While no students have declared theology as a major, a wonderful trend can be seen – students are enrolling in theology courses and they are doing so without any promotion of this program. To date, we have twenty-seven students enrolled in the Religious Quest course and nine students are planning to enroll in the Catholicism class, a class that has not been offered in over a year. We anticipate additional registrations in Catholicism prior to the start of the semester.
As the NCAA continues to monitor the Coronavirus Pandemic, last Friday, NCAA President, Mark Emmert issued the following statement concerning Fall championships. “Today the Board of Governors and I agreed that we must continue to thoughtfully and aggressively monitor health conditions around the country and the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines we issued last week. The health and well-being of college athletes is the highest priority in deciding whether to proceed with our 22 NCAA championships beginning in late November. We all remain deeply concerned about the infection trend lines we see. It is clear that the format of our championships will have to change if they are to be conducted in a safe and fair manner … We will continue our discussions in August.”
With just weeks before the start of the Fall semester, the Re-Opening Committee continues to work to ensure our preparations follow the ever-changing CDC, state and local guidelines. As I have been saying for some time, Wheeling University’s plan was built to be adaptable, so we could make adjustments if needed. At this time, the campus is planning to re-open for in-person, on-campus instruction beginning August 24.
Our commitment to providing our students with a transformative educational experience will not be compromised by this pandemic. Additionally, the health and safety of our Wheeling University community remains the top priority. In the words of our Valedictorian Kenzie Schroer, “The things we go through are the very circumstances, challenges, and situations that make us people who know how to overcome adversity. We do not grow or become strong during life’s good times; we grow when we press through difficulties without giving up.” It is my hope that each of us will follow Kenzie’s advice. I will continue to keep all of you in my daily thoughts and prayers, as we continue to move forward together.
Ginny R. Favede