Welcome again to the new academic year - it feels so good to be back together, doesn't it? Even as we are acutely aware of the challenges COVID-19 presents to us all, and in solidarity with those suffering its consequences, we nonetheless have much to be grateful for. Yesterday I was able to meet several first-year students at the Center for Just Living Open House - they expressed how great their classes are going, how excited they are to be at St. Scholastica with new friends. It gave me a lot of hope to hear their stories.
I am so proud of the way I am seeing everyone be conscientious about masks and physical distancing as well. This truly is Community in action! Our greatest risk now may be complacency... we must not let up, or lose focus. Let's continue to be aware of our personal conduct and encourage each other toward best practices for health and safety. Wear your mask. Keep your six-foot distance. Wash your hands. Keep it going, Saints!Speaking of masks, our St. Scholastica-branded masks are now available through the Saints Shop! Find them here. Add one to your mask collection or buy one for a friend, family member or College supporter.
Alert levels on campus
We now have an important tool for better real-time awareness regarding COVID-19 and the College. Our Alert Level matrix spells out a color-coded series of alert levels about the risk to our learning community at any given time, and the associated public health measures in place at each level. These levels are based on data monitored on the Duluth campus weekly, including testing for and monitoring the prevalence of the COVID-19 virus on campus, as well as other key metrics in the City of Duluth, St. Louis County, and the State of Minnesota. We will be able to update the alert level quickly in the event things change; such decisions will always be informed both by data and by our judgment of current conditions. In addition to being on our Safe Return website, a link to the matrix will be featured in the weekly COVID-19 updates issued on Fridays by Mike Turner of Campus Safety and the Student Health Service. Thank you to Mike for his leadership on this, as well as those in communication for getting it prepared for the web page.
What a welcome
Welcome Weekend COVID-style was a great success at the Duluth campus. Our values were foundational to the whole program and evident all weekend. Thank you to Megan Perry-Spears, Dean of Students, Kaitie Selleck, director of student activities, interns Maggie Brown and Meghan Stordahl and their amazing Team Delta. A shout-out to Sarah Stewart for her keynote address about building a truly diverse neighborhood and community together. And three cheers to the wonderful folks in ResLife and Student Health Service who worked around the clock all weekend getting folks settled and safe, particularly Elliott Johnston, Chris Sandal, Vicki Andrews and Ramona Tran.
Our August Adventures leaders demonstrated creativity and flexibility in offering August Adventures safely while still providing a great springboard for students to start their St. Scholastica career! Leading the programs are Shawn Olesewski of Outdoor Pursuit, Jessica Ellingson of Campus Ministry, Sarah Stewart of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Natalia Miller of the Office of International Programs.
I am grateful to all who helped make this week's virtual Convocation ceremony so effective despite technical challenges. If you weren't able to view it live, the recording is still available on Facebook. A captioned version will be made available at a later date - watch the announcements for details.
Election resources from ACE
The American Council on Education has released an updated issue brief on student voting and on campus participation in political campaigns, which I encourage you to read. This factual guide is designed to educate campus administrators, faculty, and staff about community members' involvement in elections, such as hosting an event or volunteering for a campaign, and gives concrete examples of what is and is not likely to be viewed as acceptable. This edition gives explicit advice on student voting resources, particularly in this time complicated by the pandemic. Here is a link to the new brief: Student Voting and College Political Campaign-Related Activities in 2020.
An outstanding honor
Congratulations to senior Alexis Thomeczek, who has been named one of the Top 30 honorees for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year award. Over 600 outstanding female athletes were nominated for this prestigious national award, which honors academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership. It is one of the highest awards given by the NCAA. The overall NCAA Woman of the Year will be chosen later this fall. Well deserved, Lexi! You make us proud!
Peace and Justice on the way
Pandemic or no, the Alworth Center for the Study of Peace and Justice is moving forward with a virtual 2020-2021 lecture series on "New Immigrants - Familiar Stories?" Speakers will explore questions such as: How will the current major wave of immigrants affect the traditional American melting pot? How might these new Americans help us succeed as a nation in novel ways? What are the challenges and opportunities that these new immigrants offer to our nation? All lectures are free, and begin virtually via Zoom Webinar at 7:30 p.m. CST. The first features longtime National Public Radio correspondent Tom Gjelten on Sept. 30. Registration is required. For more information visit Spotlight.css.edu.
One Campus, One Read
We're pleased at the great response to our One Campus, One Read program! 154 faculty and staff have signed up to participate in discussion groups, which is above expectations. Information will be forthcoming on the groups, facilitators and getting hard copies of the book, A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. Though the signup is now closed, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the VPAA's office still invite you to readthe book, which features 16 of Minnesota's best writers providing a range of perspectives on their lived experiences BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in Minnesota. A free e-book version can be downloaded here: E-book.
Good news coverage
We've been generating lots of positive media coverage lately. Here's a sampling:
My sincere thanks again for welcoming our students in the multitude of methods in which we are teaching and learning this fall.
Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay safe!