Dear Campus Community,

We have arrived in November 2020 with just a few short paces left to cross the fall semester finish line. Looking back to August, I am overwhelmed by the courage of this community to take this journey. It’s a course none of us have traveled, so setting forth required a willingness to brave immense uncertainty.

We knew that it was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Most of the time, we could only see as far ahead as the next turn, and the turns were frequent and unpredictable. We moved only with the belief that we could be successful in providing an on-campus living and learning environment in the midst of a pandemic.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating. Thank you for doing your part to make us successful. I recognize every step to get here has come with some sacrifice. They were sacrifices, though, that got us to November 2, a date many thought it impossible to reach on campus. We ensured that educational goals did not get interrupted with students’  fortitude and determination, and commitment from faculty and staff to help students see their goals through. This community made an important statement this semester: a pandemic will not stop the reach for dreams and that when we emerge from this pandemic, we will be ready for the future. Well done Ship.

We learned a lot this semester, and as we move forward planning for next semester, we can take what we have learned to improve the experience. Managing the uncertainty of living and working through the pandemic is stressful, and we have heard you when you say you need some time to take a break. So, we have revised the spring semester building in some time to rest. We will take 3 Raider Rest Days. To accommodate, we will begin the semester on January 27 instead of February 1, as previously announced. We will plan opportunities for some fun and relaxation on the Raider Rest days and, of course, they will allow time for all to catch up on work.

As a country, there are important steps to take as we go to the polls to determine the next four years for our nation. I encourage you to do your civic duty and, if you haven’t already, vote. The polls are open tomorrow, and if you are voting in Shippensburg, ShipVotes is offering transportation. And when the election is concluded, we have to remember that even if we have different political views or ideas about how our country moves forward, that we are still one community and that we treat each other with respect and civility.

As a community, we must embrace and honor differing opinions, and share them in a way that honors all views. We are a campus of many cultures and perspectives. We must honor them all.

In just three weeks, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a time in the year where we mark our many blessings and the opportunity to remember those less fortunate. While we may not be able to serve people this year the way we have traditionally, there are still opportunities for giving. The Shippensburg Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring an annual holiday party for local children. If you would like to give, you can contribute to a toy drive on campus or virtually by November 16 at the CUB information desk.

While most of the fall 2020 portion of our COVID-19 race is complete, we do have a few more important paces to go. The race has been long and grueling so we are tired as we approach the finish line, but we cannot let up. Academically, we want to finish strong. Stay focused. COVID-19 is a fierce competitor and is on our heels. The virus is showing signs that it is not going away. The numbers are going up again just as the weather sends us inside and the flu season emerges. We have to stay ahead by wearing our masks, keeping our distance and washing our hands.

We look forward to celebrating Homecoming on November 13 and 14 and the return to home is right around the corner. Let’s continue to do all that we can to mitigate the virus so that we can finish the semester the way we began, on-campus.

Laurie A. Carter