Dear Mercy College Faculty and Staff,
I thought I should provide you an update on plans for the fall as the first day of classes approaches.
I want to begin by thanking all of you who have devoted time this summer to preparations for the fall. Many of you have been part of the College’s internal task force of five workgroups to evaluate multiple possible scenarios for the fall. Both faculty and staff have given generously of their time this summer to help the College chart its path for the coming semester. You are aware that colleges and universities have taken a variety of approaches to the coming semester. Some opted early to remain fully online for the fall. Others, along with Mercy, created plans for hybrid solutions that would give students the opportunity for some face-to-face instruction while continuing to use online instruction as a supplement. A few intend to return to a normal level of face-to-face classes. Across the past month, you have probably seen accounts of how institutions who have already begun the fall term have fared and how some of them have pivoted again to remote instruction.
Mercy’s hybrid plans for the fall, which include roughly comparable amounts of online and face-to-face instruction, was born out of a sense of mission and service to our students. To learn more, visit our dedicated OnCampus Plus webpage. When asked, a majority of our students expressed a desire for some measure of face-to-face instruction. We also had reason to believe that many of the low-income students the College serves do not flourish in completely remote educational settings.
But I want you to know this. Our plans for the fall are not chiseled in stone. We know full well that circumstances for Mercy, as well as the state and the country, are in flux. As we attend closely to our own situation in the coming months, as well as to developments around us, we might well need to change course. We are prepared to do this. No one’s pride is tangled up with the decision to partially reopen.
Of course, as with the decision of how we will start the fall, the decision of what steps we might take to revise our course during the fall will probably not be the subject of unanimous agreement. I appreciate all of you who might have made a different judgment, and who might make different ones as we go forward. I promise that the College will try to attend to every voice even when we do not agree.
One other principle that guides us is one of even-handedness. We could not imagine how to create the necessary plan for serving our students in the coming months if we permitted each faculty or staff member to decide individually whether to be present at one of our campuses or to serve remotely this fall. So, no one was accorded that autonomy. Leaders across the College have tried to accommodate some preference or desires where consistent with the purpose of serving our students. And the College is making health-related accommodations as appropriate. Some colleges and universities with a less mission-centered need to serve students face-to-face have been able to provide more flexibility to their employees. All I can say is that these institutions are generally not serving the mission that drew so many of us to Mercy College.
In any event, I look forward to seeing many of you soon and wish you a pleasant end to the summer.