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Interim President Marcia J. White sent the following message to students today:

Dear Students,

Sometimes joy comes easily, sometimes we have to search for it. While the pandemic has meant the deferral of some of our usual celebrations, in this season of thanksgiving, I have found many things to be grateful for. One of them is that we have kept our COVID-19 rates lower than at other colleges and universities through your self-discipline and sense of community.

You are all heroes in my book. I’ve recorded a video message for you as you go into the Thanksgiving break because I can never express my appreciation for you enough. Know that you are a blessing to all of us at the College – you are the spirit of Saint Rose.

I am grateful for the student-athletes who created and signed a pledge saying they would honor the College’s COVID-19 prevention protocols and set an example. I am grateful for all of our student clubs and organizations, which have continued to find ways to safely foster community. I am grateful for our faculty, who found new ways to innovate in their courses and support student learning during a pandemic. And I am grateful to our staff and administrators, who work to keep our campus healthy and safe every day.

I know 2020 has given us pandemic fatigue. But we cannot lose hope or our love for one another.

As we celebrate our accomplishments, mark our centennial, and finish out the last couple weeks of the fall semester remotely, it is also time to look ahead.

Return to campus: As previously announced, we are moving the start of the Spring 2021 semester to Tuesday, January 19 as a COVID-19-related precaution. In the coming weeks, we will share information about protocols for returning to campus, so please look for that information soon. As the pandemic is a fluid situation and many decisions will rest with New York State, look for additional email updates from us over the December/January break.

Strides toward building our capacity for inclusive excellence: We have a long way to go, but I am proud that we have made strides in our capacity to be a more intentionally inclusive community. Our newly revised bias and discrimination policy and creation of a more equitable system for reporting and investigating bias; the recent hiring of Dr. Galen Gomes, the new director of diversity and inclusion; biweekly meetings to keep the community focused on this work; and the appointment of Yolanda Caldwell to the role of chief diversity officer demonstrate our commitment to inclusive excellence at Saint Rose.

Without the willingness of our students to speak their truths and support each other, even through their pain, we would not have come this far. We are grateful to you, and again, we promise that this work will continue to ensure that all students feel at HOME at Saint Rose.

Changes for spring: We are also excited to welcome a new food service partner, as I announced last week. Feedback from our students and families prompted us to partner with students to select a new dining vendor, who will be ready to serve you in January. Sodexo is student-focused and will be responsive to you, from your dietary needs to more flexible hours and meal plan options. As I told the Student Association at a meeting earlier this month, the heart of Saint Rose is our students, and meeting your needs is very important to us.

We proved this semester that when we pull together as a community, we can do anything. We learned to face challenges in a way that does not divide us, instead they brought us together. We learned to find joy and act in hope.

This semester was my first at Saint Rose as interim president, and I want to thank each one of you for an incredible experience – every student and family member I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know. You give me hope, and you deepen my love for Saint Rose every day. I am praying for a strong finish to the semester, a safe Thanksgiving, and a peaceful end to the year that has reminded us that the legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet — strength, faith, and spirit — are within all of us. That persistence will enable us to thrive through any challenge.