Last week, we had to make a difficult but important decision as concerns about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) intensified in the United States, particularly within New York State. Without any reported cases among our students and employees, but in order to reduce the size of our population on campus, we embarked upon some large-scale precautions.
From March 16 to March 27, classes will move exclusively online, and most of our students have already moved out of the residence halls and returned home.
Although this decision produced some anxiety – seniors worried about completing their programs and missing out on important events and milestones, families scrambled to bring a semester’s worth of belongings home in a hurry, and faculty searched for creative ways to deliver their curriculum in a new format – we moved through it together.
With time and patience, we problem-solved our way through each scenario (see our FAQs), thanks to long hours on the part of our dedicated employees and a great deal of pre-planning in the event that we would arrive at this place. Students who needed to stay in our residence halls because of internships and other placements required for graduation were permitted to do so, as were our international students, some of our out-of-state students, and student-veterans.
It was not without some hardship. Unexpected travel expenses are significant for our students, especially as 41 percent of our undergraduates are Pell eligible, meaning the majority of students who qualify have household incomes of $30,000 or less. Students also feared losing their off-campus jobs if they were away for two weeks, and in the constant struggle of college affordability, that was as scary to our young adults as the virus itself.
We have been touched by the way everyone has rallied around our students so that they can continue their education while we protect our community and take steps to ensure public health. For those who have asked how they can help, ensuring that The Dennis McDonald Student Emergency Fund is healthy allows us to support our students in unexpected events like this one.
These are unnerving times for us all, as we are one of many colleges and universities to make these decisions. Our employees, like many workers in the coming weeks, are operating remotely if they are able, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
What is hopeful, is our continued care for one another, and the understanding and patience of those we serve. College is a time of personal transformation, and I believe we will come through these unprecedented times with new perspective and greater resilience.
Thank you for your support of Saint Rose. Please keep us in your thoughts as we hope to resume normal operations later this semester. I wish you well as you care for yourself and those around you.
Among the changes to College operations as a result of COVID-19 precautionary measures, events for the month of March were canceled, including athletics, several upcoming lectures, concerts, and our March 21 Accepted Student Day (though a virtual visit will be available).
Like our decision to move all classes online, we will continue to monitor the situation with local, state, and national health authorities before determining future plans. We have not made a decision about commencement, which is slated for May 9 at the Times Union Center. The speaker and honorary degree recipient is Ambassador Eric Rubin, who became president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) after his post as U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2016 to 2019.
We will make an announcement should we have to alter plans for the event.
Julia Gargano ’20, a senior in the music industry program, appeared on “American Idol” last month during the audition rounds of the show. After performing her original song, “Growing Pains,” Gargano received a golden ticket for Hollywood and heaps of praise from the celebrity judges, including Katy Perry, who said she was “top five” material and gave her a hug. See the performance, already released by “American Idol” here.
Dr. Amina Eladdadi, an associate professor of mathematics and Saint Rose graduate, applies her discipline in the fight against cancer. She has devoted more than 20 years to using mathematical models to study scientific data on cancer detection and treatment. Her current paper, a first-of-its-kind look at new-generation virotherapy, appears in Nature’s Scientific Reports.