Op-Eds Opinion

It’s Going to Take More Than a Leap of Faith: Mary-Beth Cooper’s welcome letter

By President Mary-Beth Cooper

In keeping with unprecedented times, I pen a welcome back letter that looks different than the six previous letters I have written since beginning my tenure as President of Springfield College.  Over the last five months, our lives have changed in ways that were previously unimaginable. Masks became our new (and vital) accessory, Zoom meetings and virtual gatherings replaced in-person adventures, and social distancing entered our lexicon as a safety measure. The constant since March, though, has been questions. When one question was answered, another one quickly took its place. As we move ever so closer to the happy return of our students at the end of August, many questions have been answered, as you have seen reflected in our plans and recent communications. However, questions remain.

Each step of the way, we framed our decisions and responses through Humanics and with respect for the distinctiveness of our campus experience and campus community. We heard from students how much you wanted to come back to campus and we committed to making that possible – as long as it was safe to do so.

I am optimistic that we can be successful. It will take a commitment by each and every one of us to do what is needed – wear our masks, keep socially distant, respect the new set up of classrooms, Cheney, the Learning Commons, Wellness Center, and Campus Union. This requires a new way of thinking about how we interact with each other and requires us to be intentional and thoughtful ahead of time so we keep our friends and colleagues safe. The next several months will be a demonstration of our mission – leadership in service to others. The others, in this case, are your classmates, teammates, friends, faculty, and staff. Let’s make protecting one another as important to the Springfield College community our number one priority.

I am deeply grateful to the great many faculty and staff who spent countless hours this summer developing our plan, even as the circumstances around us evolved. You will see the outcomes of their work throughout campus and we are indebted to them for their dedication.

I am enthusiastically awaiting NSO, Cultural Connections, Pre-Camp, and staggered move-in days, knowing that they will be different this year. Even still, we will heartily welcome our new students and renew our connections with returning students. We are navigating troubled waters, but we will weather this pandemic and prevail. Over 135 years of Humanics and living our mission will serve as our guide. I can’t wait to see you all and to be together (safely) on campus.

Featured Photo: Evan Wheaton/The Student

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