MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT MARY C. FINGER TO ALUMNI AND FRIENDS
March 19, 2020
Dear Seton Hill Alumni and Friends,
We are certainly living in extraordinary times. Throughout our nation and our world, all of us have felt the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on our daily lives.
As we enter this period of uncertainty, we are strengthened by Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, whose faith and courage deepened during times of uncertainty. Keeping in mind the work and charism of Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Seton Hill Sisters of Charity, the university continues to make decisions to protect the health, safety and well being of those both on and off our campus.
Earlier this week we made the difficult decision to suspend face-to-face classes for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester and move to an online and alternative delivery format for all classes. Our faculty and staff have helped ensure that the transition to this learning format is as seamless as possible and that the academic progress of our students is sustained.
While Seton Hill also made the difficult decision to close the Residence Halls, the university is allowing our most vulnerable students to remain on campus, including international students, those with housing and food insecurity, those with family members at home with underlying health conditions and those who do not have reliable Internet service with which to access online classes. At this writing approximately 30 students will remain on campus.
As Seton Hill decided to move entirely to online instruction and to close the Residence Halls for the remainder of the semester, students will receive a prorated credit for room and board charges for the spring semester. The credit will be used toward an existing balance and/or toward a future semester’s room and board charges in the 2020-21 academic year. Graduating seniors will receive a refund and commuters with meal plans will receive a credit for the unused portion of their meal plan. The university has also made the resources of the Griff’s Food Locker accessible to any student in need.
We understand that moving from face-to-face classes to virtual formats is disruptive. However, as an Apple Distinguished School, Seton Hill remains well prepared for this learning environment. Throughout the last decade, Seton Hill has eliminated the digital divide among our students by providing each of them with mobile technology that provides them the tools they need to conduct class work. Our faculty continues to be supported through the Innovative Teaching and Learning Center, which educates them on best practices for delivering classes in an online format.
Students remain able to access academic support services, Reeves Library, Counseling, Disability and Health Services, and Career and Professional Development Center services virtually.
While the business of the university continues, all non-essential employees are working from home until further notice to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. Please know our Alumni Relations and Institutional Advancement staff members remain available to offer assistance to our alumni and friends throughout this unprecedented time.
Unfortunately, this rapidly evolving situation means Seton Hill is postponing Commencement and suspending regional and national alumni events for the time being in order to comply with guidance set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and national, regional and local governmental agencies. We are all working together to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and the community at large.
At this time, Alumni Weekend 2020 continues to be scheduled for June 5 to June 7. Should this change, we will provide you with an update as soon as possible. In addition, while we plan to offer on-campus housing for alumni during Alumni Weekend, we also must consider the housing needs of those students remaining on campus – especially international students – who are unable to return home. We are working at this time to house students centrally in the Sisters of Charity Residence Hall. We will continue to examine all options for Alumni Weekend and will stay in touch with any changes.
During these days of uncertainty, change and stress, I would like to share with you a message that Seton Hill University Provost, Sr. Susan Yochum, offered to the university community during the Fall 2019 Workshop for Faculty and Staff:
What do we need to be reminded of for this year - two words ……Hope and Grace. For Elizabeth Seton, in good times and difficult times, hope was always awake! Invite hope to be in your hearts at this time.
Grace means blessing or gift. We are very familiar with Elizabeth’s words, “Be prepared to meet your grace in every circumstance of life.” Be open to the gift, the grace of every encounter. Know that many times interruptions are grace filled moments.
Please join me in reflecting on these invitations from Elizabeth Ann Seton as we traverse uncharted waters. Be assured of the prayers of the Seton Hill University community and the Sisters of Charity for you and your families. I ask you to keep Seton Hill in your prayers as well. Please hold our students, faculty and staff close to your hearts. We remain grateful for your enduring support. Please stay healthy and safe.
Hazard Yet Forward,
Mary C. Finger, Ed.D.
Seton Hill University President