May 8, 2020
Update from the President
Dear Campus Community,
With the unprecedented Spring semester complete, our students have completed exams and our faculty have entered the final grades. I want to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped Wheeling University overcome the challenges created since the pandemic began in mid-March.
The true spirit of this campus community has shone brightly – we have worked together to overcome any hurdles that presented themselves. While we never imagined how our lives would change, I am inspired to witness how this family continues to work tirelessly to serve our students, our University and each other.
We need to tip our hats to the Class of 2020 on a job well done. This group has been through so much and we will never understand the depth of what they lost this year. What we do know is this wonderful class has met each challenge with grace and flexibility. At this time, we are preparing a special recognition for our seniors via our social media platforms. Emails have gone out to members of the Class of 2020, asking them for information and a photo. If you did not receive an email, please contact Kelly Klubert at firstname.lastname@example.org 304-243-8165 to be sure we collect your information.
All of us are proud of the Wheeling University Class of 2020 and look forward to celebrating their achievements sooner than December. Having said this, it gives me great pleasure to announce, after consultation with the Student Government Association and Senior Class Officers, our Commencement ceremony will be held to Saturday, July 25. In order to adhere to social distancing standards, graduation ceremonies will take place on Bishop Schmitt Field – a first for the University. To allow for unpredictable weather, a rain date for the ceremony is set for Saturday, August 1. The Commencement Committee will be working on details for the ceremony and will share that information with the graduates once completed. I hope everyone will save these dates on their calendars and join us for this special event!
Rather than asking IF we will return to an on-campus, residential experience next Fall, I want us to start adjusting our expectations to HOW and WHEN we will do so. To that end, the Reopening Committee is considering a number of different scenarios for how to restructure our academic calendar and consider mixed pedagogical approaches to account for the great uncertainties still facing us. That group has begun vetting these scenarios, and we hope to share details with you by mid-May. Safety, flexibility and quality will be the hallmarks that define our reopening plan. The priorities for the committee are:
- Campus safety
- Risk mitigation
- Cleanliness standards
- Distancing protocols
- Protecting the physical and emotional health of the community.
As a Catholic institution rooted in Ignatian traditions, our mission calls on us to be a community that cares for its people. Ensuring our students, faculty and staff remain safe and healthy, is how we continue to display our concern for this community.
The outpouring of support for this University is amazing and inspiring. Since launching the President’s Fund for Excellence, we have received more than $12,000 from alumni, employees and friends. A committee has been formed to review financial requests and make recommendations for students and employees who have been affected by the pandemic. This week, we were able to fill the first round of requests to the Presidents Fund for Excellence. We pray this monetary support will bring some relief and provide hope as we continue to navigate through this very challenging time. We continue to accept donations to the President’s Fund for Excellence. Your gift, no matter the amount, will help those in need.
Additionally, the University’s CARES Act Committee has begun meeting to analyze the student applications for funds we received from the Department of Education as part of the CARES Act. As of today, we have received 268 applications for funding. The IRS just released a statement declaring that the student portion of the CARES funding will NOT be taxable. The funds will be distributed in accordance with the Department of Education guidelines in the form of cash grants to provide students with financial assistance for needs stemming from COVID-19-related disruption of campus operations, including cost of attendance expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare. Wheeling University students must meet the federal guidelines to be eligible for the funds.
Today, the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, stated that public Mass could resume as early as May 23 in churches across West Virginia. In order to open, priests and parishioners must follow the directives and guidelines developed by a special committee appointed by Bishop Brennan. I will keep you informed of when we will reopen the Chapel of Mary and Joseph and resume Mass.
Let us continue to pray that God protects us and gives us strength in this time of uncertainty. As always, I am grateful for your support and prayers.
Ginny R. Favede
President, Wheeling University