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President's Blog: From the Heart

Return to Campus

By Eric F. Spina

(View the video message. Read the text below.)

Warmest greetings to you, my fellow Flyers!

I pray that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy and that this time away from our campus has deepened your relationships and your resilience, your fortitude and your faith. For our new students: welcome to our special community! We can’t wait for you to bring your diverse talents and gifts to UD and, in return, to benefit from our special Catholic, Marianist learning and living environment.

Like me, I know you’re eager to be on campus, to return to a sense of normalcy. The GREAT news is that with each passing day we gain more confidence that we will indeed be able to reassemble as a community in August. Speaking truthfully, though, we should all understand that as we re-enter campus in the fall, there will be changes, and some will be difficult for all of us to wrap our heads around. In many ways, though, life at UD will be as it ever has been. As we await a vaccine, let’s celebrate the blessing of togetherness while accepting the few inconveniences we will endure together.

Over the past few months, we have proven that we can build community from afar — and we absolutely will be able to do the same once we’re together. These are times, though, that call for a deeper kind of commitment to community. A commitment to caring for one another as brothers and sisters, as you would your own family.

That means putting the health of our community as everyone’s top priority.

That means accepting some inconveniences for the health of your roommate, your favorite professor, the friendly cashier in Marycrest’s dining hall.

That means accepting some trade-offs so that public health officials will continue to support our desires to learn and live together in our UD community.

That means realizing, with humility, that the lessons we all learn during this virus may not be found on a traditional syllabus, but that they will carry us forward in life and prepare us to face any challenge with an open mind and a willing spirit.

And while we’re in these times together, it’s a shared adventure that will foster deeper bonds and greater teamwork among you and your fellow Flyers. Despite new public health protocols, much of what makes UD such a special community will not change. You’ll still be able to hang out on your front porch with friends, participate in clubs and organizations, duck into the Chapel for Mass or reflection, even catch the first-ever UD film festival at a local drive-in theatre.

As you read through the University of Dayton’s Return to Campus Plan, you’ll see that the plan’s underlying philosophy mirrors our Catholic, Marianist charism: We will do our utmost to protect and support each member of our community, particularly the most vulnerable among us. We will make a mutual commitment to one another to promote safety in our classrooms, dining facilities, residence halls, apartments, houses, labs, and offices — as well as in learning opportunities outside the classroom.

This plan is not a blue book filled with all the answers. We’re working out implementation details, and this will be updated as the state of the pandemic changes this summer and in the fall, and as we receive additional guidance from our distinguished medical panel and our public health officials. I encourage you to visit the UD Path Forward website, which will be updated on a regular basis as the plan is further refined and as the public health situation changes.

I appreciate all who participated in town halls and surveys — and provided valuable feedback. I especially commend the work of nearly 100 faculty, staff, and students who carefully thought about campus life and have recommended ways to provide an authentic UD learning and living experience while balancing our overriding desire to keep each other safe.

We promise transparency in communication as we travel together down the path forward. May God bless each of you. I look forward to welcoming you to campus in August.

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