First and foremost, I hope that you are well, and I want to thank all of you who have quickly adapted to this new pandemic-related environment that we find ourselves in. It is hard to believe that it has been just over a week since we moved to virtual campus operations and only two weeks since we suspended face-to-face classes. In many ways, it feels much longer.

This truly is an unsettling time, but I am impressed, as frequently I am, by the responsiveness of this University community to doing the right thing. I am impressed too – but not surprised – in learning of the various acts of generosity and caring that many of you are extending to friends, colleagues, and the wider community, as we face this public health crisis together.

One of the most immediate and critical adaptations our University community made was to address the manner in which we, in the normal course, deliver classes and exams, and I want to take this opportunity to again thank students, faculty and staff for their recognition of the change in status quo requirement, and your willingness to work together to respond. I know this transition has been a challenge for many, and I have been hearing from students with concerns about end of term grading in particular. Please know that we are listening – your administration and your instructors – and committed to doing what we can to address these particular challenges.

While it is perhaps difficult to focus on things other than the pandemic, it is critical that we do so. I will be continuing work to finalize the Strategic Plan which will guide us in the coming years, and work also continues on development of the MSVU budget. So much wonderful feedback has been gathered already with the completion of six months of extensive strategic planning consultations both on and off campus. The situation we are in right now will pass, but our need to articulate objectives and strategies that will guide and shape our future remains.

Despite the very real impact that the pandemic has had on our ability to operate with a “business as usual” approach, work will continue on a wide variety of initiatives – from research, to university advancement, to planning for Convocation ceremonies (which, as you know, will now reflect a joint spring/fall ceremony in the October-November time frame), to planning fall curriculum, to preparing for new cohorts of students, and a myriad of other initiatives.

I want to assure you that we continue to work hard to not only maintain awareness of the increasing pandemic-related issues, but we have in fact been working to be ahead of the curve wherever possible. Members of the leadership team participate in daily update calls with the Province and our internal Rapid Response and Management Forum Teams work with me to make determinations as issues are presented. You should know that all decisions have and will continue to be made with the health and safety of our MSVU community as the determining factor.

Truly, teams from across the University have risen to the challenges as they have presented themselves, teams from Student Experience, Faculty, Human Resources, University Relations, Finance, Facilities, Health Services and IT&S, our Board of Governors and our Senate (I am afraid to leave anyone out as this has been a remarkable ‘all hands on deck’ endeavour) – my genuine and abiding thanks is extended to each and every one of you. My intention is that MSVU will, to the greatest extent possible, be in a position to reestablish regular operations post-pandemic.

Despite the move to working remotely, we will continue to work hard to keep you apprised of the evolving COVID-19 issue and we will continue efforts to keep us connected as a university community – as colleagues – and as friends. As an institution devoted to education and research, we may understand better than most that the sharing of credible information is truly a critical factor in successfully navigating any issue, particularly one of this magnitude; you have my commitment to continue to do just that.

Please stay safe and healthy, and please continue to follow the guidelines as established within MSVU and by the Province. Finally, please do not hesitate to reach out if you need assistance; ultimately, we are all in this together, and together is the way in which we will come through it.