Dear friends,

I’m reaching out to the Mount Union community today to share some news with you.
The administration of the University, in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, has decided that we will not return to face-to-face instruction for the rest of this spring semester. Guidance and requirements from both federal and state authorities related to the COVID-19 outbreak necessitate this decision. We cannot safely be together in classrooms and laboratories. Teaching using remote/online/digital means will continue for the rest of the spring semester.

Although most students have returned to their permanent places of residence, we do have a few students living in University housing now for a variety of reasons. These students will be allowed to remain on campus. Undergraduate students who have University housing, but are residing elsewhere now, will be provided specific details in a follow-up communication that we expect to send tomorrow about when to come to Mount Union and move things out of rooms, apartments, or townhouses. For the sake of safety, we don’t want to create a crowded, hectic move-out situation, so we will be structured in our approach. Graduate housing will remain open. Tomorrow’s follow-up communication will also provide details regarding refunds for unused room and board and the resulting adjustments to student accounts.

We do not believe it will be possible to assemble in large numbers on campus by mid-May, so we will not be able to hold our Commencement on May 16. We know how important it is for students, parents, faculty, and staff to celebrate together the hard work and achievements of our graduates, so we are committed to holding a proper – and memorable – Commencement ceremony as soon as we can safely do so. We will send you information about this when planning is completed. Those of you who complete your degree requirements on schedule this spring semester will receive your diplomas by mail.

That’s the news, now for a little perspective. For our students, the situation stinks. If you are sad, upset, and disappointed, your reaction is realistic and normal. The cancellation of theatre and music performances, athletic practices and competitions, and club and organization activities is very disheartening. The disruption in your classroom routine and the abrupt physical separation from friends and mentors are difficult to handle. I know it is hard for you. It is essential, right now, for you to focus on what is most important and control what you can control: participate in your classes, get your coursework done, and finish the spring semester successfully.

The University sent out an email earlier this week that provides details about ways to connect with the Student Success Center, the Counseling Center, and many other University offices and services. You can access all this information on the Campus Offices and Resources Updates site of the COVID-19 website. We are here, we are working, and we are ready to assist our students and their families.

For our faculty, administrators, and staff, thank you for your hard work in responding to this crisis. Decisions that made sense on one day have had to be changed the next. The pace and scope of the changes to which we are all trying to respond has been amazing. I appreciate your patience and flexibility. We will need these qualities, in abundance, in the coming weeks.

To our alumni and friends, we appreciate and need your encouragement and support. Stand with us.

Mount Union’s people have met and overcome many obstacles in our 175-year history. We will rise to the challenge once again.

Dick Merriman
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