Dear Ship family,

Congratulations! You made it. You did your part to ensure that Shippensburg University succeeded in its mission in spite of a global pandemic, and I thank you. Your commitment is admirable, and you have made it across the finish line of another semester under challenging conditions. I recognize that it was difficult enough to adjust learning modalities, but you also are contending with the anxiety brought on by the pandemic’s constant uncertainty that impacted daily life. It is no exaggeration to say it was a monumental task. So, you are to be commended—students, faculty, and staff alike. It was hard work, and you have made it.

Now as we come to the end of this unusual semester, I want to bring you up to date on how we are planning to move forward. Our goal is to bring academic, experiential, and residential programs back to campus, but right now, we do not know when the pandemic will pass. So, we will need short-term planning and long-term visioning. We must be ready to proceed in our mission through the pandemic and then in a post-pandemic world that will likely look different than how we lived when we left campus for spring break in early March. That will require planning that is thoughtful, innovative, and agile. We are fortunate that we have an abundance of talent and intellect to do the important work.

Two weeks ago, I convened six working groups to develop recommendations that would address how we will continue the work of the university. The groups comprise faculty, staff, and students. These include remote and online, graduate and professional programs, undergraduate programs, student life, research/experiential learning, and staffing, which will develop distinct but interconnected plans with recommendations by May 15. We will then finalize the plan and prepare to implement it depending upon health guidance.

The times in which we live are unprecedented, but how we have responded is not. We have faced challenges before and have responded and risen to meet them. And, we have most certainly shown that we can do what is necessary to prepare for and respond to the unexpected brought on by this pandemic. This work is simply the extension of the strong foundation you have already laid in these last two months. Our strength comes in our willingness to work together in our single-minded mission of student success. We will come through this.

Stay safe, and have a great weekend,

Laurie A. Carter