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Update from the President

Dear Campus Community, 

That chill in the air means Fall is upon us! Learning is in full swing in the classrooms of the Acker Science Center. And our athletic teams are practicing although they will not be competing until Winter and Spring. As I write this, I am watching our rugby team running the hill behind Sara Tracy. The dedication to excellence among our students never ceases to amaze me. The campus is alive with activity and it is wonderful to witness how much students enjoy being back on campus. Whether gathering around the tables outside of Donahue Hall and on the Library Plaza or studying and talking to friends while relaxing in the new Adirondack chairs, students are enjoying the new outdoor areas. 

This week a positive case of COVID-19 has been identified in our campus community. Unlike other colleges and universities across West Virginia, Wheeling University has been fortunate to avoid a spike in COVID-19 infections. We have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of the University Community. The student-athlete, who tested positive, has returned home, and all coaches, teammates and an athletic trainer have been quarantined. The McDonough Center, our athletic facility, was closed immediately, cleaned and sanitized. Now more than ever, we cannot let our guard down. Students, faculty, and staff have been vigilant since the semester began. However, for Wheeling University to keep infections low, each of us must remain committed to wearing masks, washing our hands, wiping down desks and work areas, and not gathering in large groups. Remember, failure to adhere to the campus protocols can put others at risk. We must keep taking care of one another. 

This week, per the directive of Governor Justice, all campuses who are holding in-person instruction will be required to administer random testing to 10 percent of the campus population for COVID-19. Random testing will begin in 7 to 10 days and will continue weekly until Thanksgiving. Campus Nurse Judy Bilyeu will schedule and administer tests. The test will be a salvia-based, PCR tests, and will be funded by the state. 

Two exciting new partnerships launched this week between the University and Wheeling Hospital. The Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA), a 12-week training session that provides Wheeling Hospital managers the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to build a highly reliable, performance-based managerial culture, began Tuesday. Taught by Wheeling University faculty, the HLA will teach the managers how to become transformational leaders in the workplace. Ten Wheeling Hospital managers make up the first group to take part in the HLA.  

The second collaboration, a scholarship program, impacts the nursing departments at both institutions. Wheeling University nursing majors, Breanna Antill and Rosalyn Janiszewski, are the beneficiaries of full tuition scholarships awarded by Wheeling Hospital. The two-year scholarships are awarded to sophomores to cover full tuition for their junior and senior years. After graduation, the students will be employed by Wheeling Hospital as nurses and remain at the hospital for three years. I had the pleasure of joining Wheeling Hospital Administrator Douglass Harrison as he presented the scholarships to our students on Thursday. Each year, the scholarship recipients will be selected by a committee that includes representatives of the University and the Hospital. 

The partnerships we have forged with Wheeling Hospital are two examples of the new and innovative learning opportunities we are developing at Wheeling University – collaborations that benefit the community and our institution. Through our shared Catholic missions, the University and hospital have made a commitment to help others, and this is truly an opportunity to do just that. We are excited about the opportunities available as the hospital and University work together collaboratively to address the healthcare shortage in Appalachia. 

With the presidential election right around the corner, events are planned to inform and involve students in the process. Thursday, Wheeling University students were able to register to vote. The Student Government Association helped students register online in the Acker Computer Lab. I encourage any students wanting to register to vote in the November election to check with Student Services to find out future registration dates and times. For Tuesday night’s first Presidential Debate, the Campus Activities Office is hosting a watch party in the Ratt. The event will begin at 8 p.m. with snacks being served. The debate begins at 9 p.m. Viewing the debates can help you understand the platform of each candidate and help you make an informed decision on who to support on Election Day. More importantly, it offers an educational opportunity for our students to become educated on the issues that affect your lives and your future.  

The third 50 Year Club presentation related to the Appalachian Pastoral Letter – This Land is Home to Me was held virtually on Thursday. The topic “Jubilee Time – Fifty Years A-Growing” reflected on the role of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA), then and now. Fr. Rich McCouch, S.J. was the presenter, Robby de Andrade ’72 served as the respondent. Michael Iafrate ’99, co-coordinator of the CCA, offered remarks during the online lecture. I thank the leadership of the 50 Year Club and Fr. McCouch for offering our alumni such informative presentations. Mr. Iafrate’s presentation was captivating. I encourage you to visit the University’s website to view this presentation, as well as the other presentations. 

Wheeling University will continue the Jesuit tradition by holding the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, at Noon, Tuesday, October 13 in the Performance Gym. The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a time for the community to gather to thank God for the gifts of creation and salvation, and to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit for the academic year. Bishop Mark Brennan of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will join our community for this celebration. I hope all members of the University community will circle this date on the calendar and join us to give thanks for another successful year at Wheeling University.  

Finally, Max Kimbrough, Coordinator of Campus Activities, has been named the interim Title IX Coordinator. Any Title IX questions or issues can be directed to Max at this time. I am grateful to Max for serving in this role until we are able to find a full-time coordinator. 

Our common challenge for the remainder of the semester must be keeping one another healthy. Please refrain from going off-campus and from attending large gatherings. ONLY leave campus for essential functions and limit your time to what is necessary. You are safest here and your safety and well-being are of the greatest importance to me. Now is not the time for anyone to be lulled into a false sense of security—please continue your impressive compliance with our COVID-prevention measures. Each of us is called to a strong sense of responsibility for the health and safety of others on campus. Our mutual sense of responsibility, patience, and concern for one another will continue to allow us to keep all students, faculty, and staff ‘together in faith and hope’ on campus.  

With Gratitude, 

Ginny R. Favede 
President, Wheeling University