See UD's plans to return to teaching, learning and research on campus this fall with measures in place to promote safety and lessen the risk of COVID-19 spread.

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President's Blog: From the Heart

From Coast to Coast — Together

By Eric F. Spina

Dayton Flyers are way out in front when it comes to building community.

From a living room in Seattle, a deck in Cape Cod, and the president’s residence in Dayton, Alumni Association President Ray Blakeney, Vice President Jen Howe and I engaged in a virtual conversation Wednesday evening with nearly 150 alumni, who joined from the comfort of their own homes — or porches.

The hour flew by as our free-flowing conversation hit on the University of Dayton’s plans for the fall semester, favorite campus moments — and some fun and surprising endeavors we never thought we’d undertake as #flyersathome. (Hint: My family has now seen every episode of the addictive Netflix series, The Great British Baking Show.)

“It felt very intimate and engaging — even though the participants were literally coast to coast!” one graduate jotted in the “chat” section of our Zoom room.

We are all looking for new ways to connect — and stay connected — with one another during these extraordinary times. We are all hungry to be part of a supportive community, one that shares a history and cares about each other. That’s what being a Dayton Flyer is all about.

I invite alumni and friends to listen to the conversation, but here’s a short recap on our plans for the fall. With the backing of public health officials and the advice of a crackerjack panel of local medical professionals, the University plans to welcome students to campus over two weeks in August, with classes starting on Aug. 24.

Campus will look and feel different, no doubt, but it will still be *our* campus, and that is what is motivating the UD community. Everyone will wear masks in public spaces, and we’ve reconfigured classrooms and dining facilities to support social distancing. Most classes are expected to be taught in traditional classrooms, but others, such as those that typically meet in a lecture hall, will be offered online. Some classes will be a hybrid of in-person and e-learning. Like many other residential universities in the nation, students will leave at Thanksgiving break and complete their courses at home.

Other staples of college life will change, too. A-10 fall sports may start late or be moved to the spring. And while students won’t be able to “adopt” a Dayton-area child for the traditional Christmas on Campus festivities, alumni leaders are already thinking about how to involve students in Christmas off Campus events around the country.

Our fall events for alumni and friends, such as the Alumni Awards dinner, will go virtual. Others will be rescheduled for the spring. Jen Howe, vice president for advancement, uses a sports analogy to explain our efforts to promote safety: “Campus life in the fall will be like a closed basketball practice.” But once a vaccine and therapeutics are readily available, we will welcome alumni and friends with open arms. I can’t wait for that day.

I’m an optimistic person by nature, and I believe this. With faith, agility, flexibility, patience, humility — and, ultimately, grace — we will emerge from this time an even more resilient university. As I offered a virtual wave and smile to alumni as we left the “porch” conversation, I also know our sense of community will be even stronger.

(From a live cooking class to a chat with Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley ’98, the University of Dayton comes to alumni where you are. Please check out all of our virtual events, professional development opportunities, and faith formation resources at UDigital. See our plans to return to teaching, learning, and research on campus this fall with measures in place to promote safety and lessen the risk of COVID-19 spread.)

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