To: CCSJ Students, Faculty and Staff
From: President Dr. Amy McCormack
Dear CCSJ Community,
It has been four weeks ago today since the official work from home order went into place for Indiana. We have all been hearing about a phased plan to reopen businesses, and CCSJ has also begun to discuss. I am in constant contact with presidents at other independent colleges in Indiana, as well as the associations that represent colleges and universities in Indiana and across the country. We share some commonalities and yet some big differences and we are all trying to figure out what is best for our own situation. I am so appreciative of the collegial nature of our discussions and how we can help each other.
Governor Holcomb has extended the work from home order through May 1, but has clearly communicated that it may be necessary to extend the date further for different counties. I continue to track the daily updates on COVID-19 on the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) website. I watch trends in the state, Lake County and surrounding counties at the Indiana State Department of Health. We also border Chicago and Illinois, and I recognize that actions in both could impact CCSJ. My heart is heavy for those who have been touched by this terrible virus – physically, economically, mentally, and emotionally. It is a difficult time for so many, and I often think of a saying that I recently heard, “We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.”
We have started to talk about when and how we begin to come back to some form of life and activity on campus. If there is any return to work in mid-May, it will need to be in accordance with state and federal guidelines and closely monitored with policies and procedures in place. The end of the semester and a virtual Faculty Education Day are on May 8th. We know that school districts will be teaching online the rest of the year, so many parents are working from home and homeschooling. Faculty and staff members have been able to work effectively from their homes, and have done an incredible job serving students, maintaining operations, and managing multiple new activities during this challenging time. Although I have always known that CCSJ has navigated some tough times in the past, our deep commitment to mission, compassion for others, and determination have been proven again and again as we all respond to a rapidly changing world caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Strategic Enrollment and Retention Committee and Faculty Education Day will be focused on scenario planning for the fall semester. On May 1, the Senior Staff will focus on what an appropriate phased reopen looks like for Calumet College of St. Joseph, and I will share our plan. The Commencement Committee is preparing for a virtual commencement to recognize and celebrate our graduates. The Vice Presidents are also tasked with thinking through fall enrollment implications, which are very difficult to predict at this time, but it is essential that we have contingencies identified for classes, schedules, and the organization that will help us continue to be efficient and effective.
On Good Friday, I shared that CCSJ was approved for a loan under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, and we have since received the funds. We have also received 50% of the funds under the CARES act and the DOE has just issued further guidance on the student allocation. We continue to register students, but there are many who are waiting to register for various reasons. There are some prospective students that want to visit campus before registering and others that are waiting to better understand their financial situation. There are some students that have indicated they are waiting to see if we will be in person or online. It is my hope that May will bring some clarity and June 1st will provide better data for our planning and decisions.
I can’t help but think about the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and how so many people on Planet Earth have been impacted by something that could not have been predicted. In approximately 30 days, trillions of dollars have been mobilized to address the COVID 19 pandemic, and that is just in the United States. The coronavirus has demonstrated that we are a global society, but as with the coronavirus and the environment – we might be in the same global storm, but we are definitely not all in the same boat. I pray that this storm will pass. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.
Dr. Amy McCormack