July 17, 2020
Dear Gonzaga Students and Families,
I am reaching out to you today with a brief update regarding Gonzaga University’s planning process for Fall 2020.
As the number of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 across our nation continues to rise, and with it the number of hospitalizations and fatalities – there is understandable, growing concern on everyone’s part regarding the viability of certain activities, including resuming face-to-face instruction at colleges and universities. Acknowledging that different parts of the country are experiencing varying levels of incidence and impact, public health officials are clearly alarmed and additional restrictions are being re-introduced in some states that Gonzaga students call home.
I want first to assure you that we are acutely aware of this reality and in fact, these circumstances have already impacted certain dimensions of our operations. Two significant examples: late last week we made the difficult but necessary decision to close our campus in Florence, Italy to student programs for the fall semester. Earlier this week, our athletic conference (the WCC) made the decision to push back the start of fall sports until September 24th; additional decisions regarding intercollegiate athletics are sure to follow.
Core to the mission of Gonzaga University are the academic programs we provide. Our faculty are incredibly talented, creative and committed, and together with our Provost, Dr. Deena González, the Academic Deans, and many administrators have been working tirelessly to examine options and develop plans for fall in a highly dynamic and evolving circumstance. We are committed to doing everything we can to sustain our students, the faculty with whom they study, and the staff who support them in as safe and effective a manner as possible.
I want to acknowledge that this situation is an incredibly challenging, stressful, and frustrating one for everyone. I wish that it were easier, and that our nation was not facing an increase in cases, but rather the decrease we all were hoping for when this summer began. Even in the face of this pandemic, our Governor and the local health district remain supportive of resuming in-person instruction if we, collectively, can do so in accordance with the most contemporary public health guidance.
Next week is a critical week for Gonzaga in regards to its planning efforts. The members of our Pandemic Response Task Force have been hard at work since early May, and I am grateful for their tireless efforts. My colleagues and I are committed to providing you with the best and most comprehensive information we possibly can regarding our plans for the fall, and promise to have additional information to you by July 24th. Thank you for your communication, your insights, your support and your patience.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.