Update from the President
January 8, 2021
Dear Wheeling University Family,
I hope each of you had a blessed and wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year. The start of a new year usually brings new beginnings and hope to all of our lives. Sadly, many of us began this year with a heavy heart as we watched, along with the rest of our nation, Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. I believe the value of a liberal arts education is even more critically evident. The ability to reason, discuss, and understand events within a social and historical context is vital for our nation more now than ever. Our role as a Catholic university calls on us to engage with each other in open and honest dialog and to seek wisdom and integrity. Please pray for our nation and that God may unite and guide us to respond to the challenges of our day with a spirit of peace and of faith, hope, and love.
With the new semester set to begin on Monday, final preparations are underway to allow Wheeling University to hold classes safely. Like the Fall term, we will hold in-person classes and offer online and hybrid learning options.
The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines has many hopeful that the spread of this deadly virus will diminish. This week, University employees received a first dose of the vaccine at the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department. We prioritized these initial voluntary vaccinations for employees with on-campus work assignments, age 50 and older, with underlying medical conditions. This evening University employees received a vaccine survey via email for the next round of vaccines. I encourage you to complete it if you are interested in receiving the vaccine. At this time, I have no information from the state regarding vaccination plans for our students. Should any news come available, I will, of course, pass it along in our weekly updates.
All students, faculty & staff are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Testing will continue through tomorrow afternoon. Please contact either Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Athletic Department at email@example.com if you are unable to arrive on campus before 2:00 Saturday afternoon. You will be required to isolate until you have a negative test result.
Please review the Return to Campus Plan Spring 2021 and personally commit to following the simple steps to keep one another safe and well. University administration has determined that we will continue to require masks throughout the Spring semester or until such time as we can safely lift this mandate. The campus requirement will continue along the same guidelines implemented in the Fall with a particular emphasis on making sure masks are worn in the classroom and all buildings, including the McDonough Center. Additionally, the community must continue to social distance and not gather in large groups. Temperature checks will continue daily. Everyone is required to use the LiveSafe app to report their health status each day. It is essential to remember our actions can have an impact on others at the University. We will monitor all protocols listed in the Return to Campus Plan and take swift action when violations occur to maintain community health and on-campus instruction. In accordance with new CDC guidance, we have reduced the length of quarantine for exposed individuals from 14 days to 7-10 days.
As campus activity returns, we anticipate a similar situation to Fall, when we saw an initial spike in cases. We are confident in our protection, mitigation, and response measures for a successful Spring. We ask for your cooperation and support in keeping our Cardinal Family first.
Good news for students and families came from the coronavirus relief and government funding package. Congress made it easier for students and families to apply for financial aid funds by cutting dozens of questions from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it makes it easier for students and families to figure out how big of an award they will receive. The maximum Pell Grant award for the upcoming academic year will be $6,495, a $150 increase. This is wonderful news as easing federal student aid access is a step toward a more equitable higher education system.
After 305 days, intercollegiate athletics returned to the Mountain East Conference last night with the Wheeling Cardinal’s season opener against Alderson Broaddus. Our Lady Cardinals cruised to a 76-63 win while our Men’s Cardinals came up short to Alderson Broaddus, 85-79. At this time, spectators are not permitted to attend any MEC indoor competitions. I understand this is difficult for our parents. Being the mother of a collegiate baseball player, I feel your anguish and frustration. We are doing our best to ensure that our students, your children, are safe so that they have the opportunity to compete. The Athletics Department is working hard to ensure you have the ability to watch our Cardinals online. In true Cardinal family fashion, our own Vice President of Advancement, Mark Jastroff volunteered his talents to help our athletic department produce a quality experience for you. Mark spent his evening perched on the McDonough Center’s second level as your sports commentator, providing a running commentary of the game. You can watch the Cardinals online at https://mountaineast.tv/wheeling/ or this can also be found on the Wheeling University website under Wheeling Cardinal Athletics.
Students, we simply cannot wait to have you back on campus! We have all missed you immensely. As I often share, the campus isn’t quite the same without our students. While you were on break, faculty, staff, and administration continued working cooperatively to ensure our campus’ safety and well-being. Today, we ended our week with virtual faculty and staff meetings to ensure we are all on the same page and prepared to welcome back our students to a safe campus. Our goal for the Spring semester remains the same as last semester, to provide all our students a “near normal” college experience as possible. Since the pandemic began, much has been asked of our students, faculty, and staff. As we start 2021, I am calling on each of you to follow our plan so we can maintain face-to-face learning on our campus. We have exhibited strength and resolve thus far, and I know you will again do whatever is necessary to keep one another safe and healthy. This is who we are as the Cardinal community, and for that, I am thankful and proud.
Ginny R. Favede
President, Wheeling University