COVID-19: Campus Communication

Update from President Jim Collins

April 6, 2020

 

Alumni and Friends, we wanted to make you aware of the message below that was sent to our campus community this afternoon.

 

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

I offer warm greetings to you and your families as we begin a very unique Holy Week and Spring break. Further, I extend my continued appreciation for all the ways you have helped the Loras community transition to a new way of life for at least the rest of the semester.

I write to offer a few brief updates:

Context

When I communicated with you last Monday, March 30, the number of negatively tested cases in the state of Iowa for COVID-19 was 6,162; the number of positively tested cases was 424. As of today, the number of cases tested as negative is 10,653 and the number tested as positive is 946.

In Dubuque County, there are 25 confirmed cases v. 21 a week ago today. The Dubuque County health experts expect that we will reach near apex figures within the next two to three weeks.

Student Refunds/Credits

Loras colleagues and I have reviewed the over 800 page stimulus package to better determine protocol, guidelines, and applications. Further, we have analyzed all room and board charges along with the corresponding financial aid packages as it relates to student cost of attendance.

As previously indicated, we will provide all affected students a communication next week regarding refund options. Graduating seniors will receive a cash refund; returning students will be given an option regarding a carry-forward credit for next year and/or a cash refund for this year. Thanks to several parents’ outreach, we will also offer a no refund/tax-deductible contribution to Loras option.

In the end, we project a $1.2M expense to cover refunds/credits. While certainly fair to all students and families, this represents a significant and adverse impact on the budget.

A couple of students have inquired about parking fees, etc. Loras plans to make no other refund provisions just as we do not plan to increase technology fees given the significant additional costs we’ll incur to support on-line course delivery and/or student support services, faculty/staff mentoring, etc.

Pass/No Credit Grading Option

As communicated by VP for Academic Affairs/Academic Dean, Dr. Donna Heald, last week, the faculty and academic administration have approved a pass/no credit option for students to consider. I have seen the initial considerations and I am quite impressed by the favorable options that will be provided for students.

Dr. Heald will provide basic information this week and will send more information early next week so that all details are clearly delineated. Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding.

Summer Course Offerings

A few students have reached out regarding our plans for summer course offerings. While we have not made decisions on a number of activities, programs, and offerings for the summer months, I wish to highlight that most of our summer offerings are delivered on-line. Further, most of the other “in-person” courses are prepared to deliver “on-line” if we need to move in that direction.

For students, I’d suggest that you register for summer courses as you wish and know that most will be delivered regardless of platform.

Class of 2020 Commencement

Senior Class leadership and the Loras administration are in regular communication with regard to how appropriately honor our graduates. We had a good “zoom meeting” with Madi Abele and RaeAnn Klimesh this afternoon. It was heartening to learn that over 200 graduating seniors responded to the recently administered survey. We will meet again next week to review a couple of potential options and will let graduating seniors know the plan in the near future.

Loras Together

In all my years at Loras, I have almost always swelled with great pride for ways in which the campus community has pulled together in both the best and worst of times. In these challenging weeks, I have been so impressed by all the ways in which you have been supportive, demonstrated patience and forgiveness, provided support for one another, and modeled empathy and human dignity.

Loras Student Food Pantry – We continue to host about 20 students on campus due to their extenuating circumstances. While campus dining continues to provide their generous “grab and go” service, I am so touched by the number of campus community members who have provided food and supplies for these students. Thanks to your generosity, we have at least another week’s supply available.

Loras Together Tee-Shirts – Since we established the mantra of “Loras Together” once this crisis was made real to most of us, there has been a request by students to create Loras attire with this branding especially evident. Further, they asked that we provide some small amount of the sales to be given to area health care provider needs. We have made this happen. To that end, please access the link to brand Loras and to make a difference in our local health care community. https://shop.envisiontees.com/loras-together/shop/home

Health Care Provider Support – Loras’ Engineering/Mathematics faculty are using our unique 3D printer and equipment to develop health care provider shields/masks. Loras, Clarke and UD presidents are working with the CEO’s of Unity Point/Finley and Mercy One to provide area health care providers with overnight accommodations as their professions prepare for an APEX overflow of COVID-19 patients.

Going Forward

I try to walk and run a combined total of 8 miles each day. It is therapeutic – physically, spiritually, and personally. Yesterday, I ventured through the Loras campus for the first time in 18 days. As things turn green, the place looks beautiful, but I still left sad. I miss our students and my colleagues. Loras is not about buildings, it is about people. You are missed, loved, and appreciated.

As we venture forward, I ask that you join me this Holy Week in a daily offering of the Loras Prayer – see immediately below. You are in my prayers. I hope I am in yours. Mostly, I hope we are all keeping Loras front and center.

God Bless,
James E. Collins ‘84
President
Loras College

Prayer For Loras College

God, we have no God but you.

You are worthy of all honor and glory.

To you we give our whole hearts and minds, our hopes, our desires.

We entrust to you all the tests and challenges before us, for without you we can do nothing.

You promise to remain always with us, with Loras College,

in the presence of your beloved Son, Jesus, and in the

counsel and peace poured out through your mutual Spirit.

Stir up this Spirit now in every person who composes the

Loras community: students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, parents, guardians, and friends.

Bestow wisdom and light, faith, humility, and courage for

the way that lies ahead.

Free us to embrace your will, and equip us with what we need so that Loras will flourish and your name be known.

We give you thanks today for life and love, and we will sing your praises,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in company with Blessed Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and Joseph our steadfast patron, now and forever. Amen.