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Archive of COVID-19 Updates

A history of our response to COVID-19 pandemic.

All Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

All Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Commencement 2020 - Update from the President & the Provost: 04/15/20

April 15, 2020

Dear DeSales University Community:

In addition to the health and safety of our community members and the strength of our academic programming, a chief anxiety during the current suspension of campus life has been hosting a graduation worthy of the accomplishments achieved and strong relationships developed by our graduates during their time with us. Despite the necessary safety measures during this pandemic that precluded on-campus Commencement exercises and their accompanying events from occurring in May, our graduates certainly deserve a celebration commensurate to their hard work and perseverance. We will deliver. 

After much deliberation and careful consideration, we have decided to hold a virtual ceremony to confer undergraduate and graduate degrees on Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 11:00 a.m.  Additional information will be sent and posted in the weeks ahead, including tune-in information.  Holding this virtual conferral of degrees allows the university to recognize our graduates at the time when they have completed the requirements for their degrees which will be mailed to them shortly thereafter. While nothing could ever substitute an on-campus Commencement ceremony, we are impressed with the virtual option we have secured.  We are working to customize this experience to make it as special and memorable as possible for our Class of 2020.   

In addition to this virtual event, we will honor and celebrate the Class of 2020 in an on-campus ceremony at a later date, possibly during Homecoming Weekend in late September. We will confirm the date and details as soon as possible, once we have a better understanding of when such campus activities are deemed safe. Given the fluctuating predictions on when life will return to normal, we cannot provide, with any certainty, a definitive future date for on-campus Commencement exercises. Additionally, such unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic creates a hardship for students and their families who would need to plan travel to campus. We have been in touch with other universities about their plans and our approach is consistent with what other educational institutions are doing.

We realize the disappointment our graduates and their families may be feeling about the disruption to our traditional Commencement activities. However, we are working to design an event that feels both official and celebratory, including plans for our DeSales community to share in the celebration online and via social media.

The Commencement website will continue to be updated with the latest information. We extend our deep admiration for the Class of 2020 and the desire of the faculty and staff to give you the very best send-off we can. We look forward to celebrating you in-person together in the fall.

With best wishes,

Rev. James J. Greenfield, O.S.F.S., Ed.D. ’84
President                        

Bro. Daniel P. Wisniewski, O.S.F.S., Ph.D.
Provost

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A Video Message to Students from Fr. Jim: 04/03/2020

Hello, Bulldogs!

I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. In fact, that has been a daily prayer since Spring Break. I share here a brief video message to assure you of my care and concern as we conclude our second week of online class instruction.

Please take five minutes to watch/listen to my greetings »

Please take five minutes to watch/listen to my greetings »

Please be assured of my prayers for you and those you love during this coronavirus pandemic.  

Peace,
Fr. Jim

 

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Presidential Notice - COVID-19 Update: 03/21/20

V+J
March 21, 2020

Dear University Community,

While I have been writing to students/parents, board, faculty, and staff with distinct messages these past few days, I now communicate to the entire University community.  Due to the ever-evolving universe of the pandemic we are living in, and in light of a conference call I had yesterday with representatives from Governor Tom Wolf’s office and more than 60 other college presidents from Pennsylvania, I share the following:

  • DeSales University will maintain its online instruction platform until the end of the semester.
  • Students who need essential items from their residence halls should contact University Police at 610-282-1002.
  • We will soon announce plans for students to pick up their personal belongings from the residence halls.
  • At this time, commencement remains an open question due to the ongoing measures Governor Wolf may put into effect for Pennsylvania; however, I assure all graduating students that we will celebrate you!
  • Faculty and staff should work from home.  If anything is needed from campus to facilitate working from home, please contact your supervisor.
  • If you cannot work from home, please do not come to campus.  Call your supervisor with any questions concerning your responsibilities during the campus closure.

Since prayer remains a chief priority for us, Sunday Mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent will be available online from Wills Hall Chapel beginning at 10:30 AM tomorrow at desales.edu/mass or on our Facebook page and YouTube channel.

I conclude with a message of gratitude.  Thank you all—students, parents, faculty, and staff—for your patience, prayers, support, and solidarity during this season of crisis.  Our patron, St. Francis de Sales, wrote:  “It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially." As we move ahead in dealing with the COVID-19 global pandemic, I ask you to be aware of those who need us most now—to pray for or to reach out to them, albeit virtually, with our characteristic DeSales University generosity.
 
My prayers are with you and those you love.
 
Peace,

James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84
President

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From the Provost - Faculty Update: 03/20/20

V+J 
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

As we reach mid-week, I pray that you are staying healthy, and that you and your students are adapting well to online instruction.  Again, please know how edified I am to hear of the many success stories from faculty in a variety of disciplines who are Zoom-ing, or engaged in other online activities, with their students.  Thank you for your commitment to meeting our students’ educational needs.

Today, I contacted our undergraduate and graduate students, providing them with FAQs about academic concerns.  They are also posted on the COVID-19 Updates webpage.  I call your attention to some changes made to the timeline for undergraduate academic advising and pre-registration, and updated policies for course withdrawal and the pass/fail option.  These changes have been vetted by the Academic Oversight Committee and the President’s Cabinet, and were made with our undergraduate students’ best interest in mind. 

This week may have begun with much emotion and energy: some excitement and some anxiety.  We have only just begun, and I pray we will persevere in our efforts.  To aid us, I offer the following guidance from a letter of spiritual direction written by our patron Saint Francis de Sales: 

There is nothing more agreeable to the divine majesty than perseverance in the practice of the insignificant little virtues, such as patience and gentleness; and they render more perfect those who persevere in them to the end, than do the greatest virtues…  Love all virtue, praise all, but follow not nor aspire to any vocation save that which divine Providence has placed you, and put all your heart into that alone.

If I can be of assistance or if you have questions/concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.  Let us continue to pray for all the sick and those impacted by the COVID-19 virus, especially the poor.

With best wishes and blessings,
Brother Daniel P. Wisniewski, O.S.F.S., Ph.D., Provost

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Staff University Operations Update: 03/17/20

University Operations – Update: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear University Community:

I send this update / clarification as a result of Governor Tom Wolf announcing additional mitigation efforts effective Tuesday, March 17th that expanded previous efforts put in place for Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Allegheny counties.  My previous communication to you on University Operations dated March 15, 2020 only addressed the aforementioned specific counties that at that time had been identified for aggressive mitigation efforts.

Based on this recent communication from the Governor, our plan of action remains unchanged in that the University will remain open for operations in a primarily online model of operation to the extent possible.
 
I provide additional guidance to address the new statewide mitigation efforts as follows:

  1. The Governor indicates that “freedom of travel will remain, but all Pennsylvanians are asked to refrain from non-essential travel.”  If you can work from home, you should do so with coordination from your supervisor. 
  2. You can come to campus to gather any equipment or materials to facilitate your working from home, but please practice safe social distancing protocols. This includes employees from the counties that were previously identified for an aggressive mitigation phase.
  3. If you cannot work from home, please come to campus for further guidance from your supervisor on how your work schedule will be structured in the following weeks. Your supervisor will adjust your schedule to promote social distancing within your area (this would include employees living in counties previously identified for aggressive mitigation).

I appreciate your patience during this ever-changing situation. Please stay alert for updates on this page. Thank you for your flexibility and commitment to DeSales University.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Snyder
Vice President for Finance and Administration

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COVID-19 Student Life FAQs Update: 03/14/20

March 14, 2020

Dear Students:

As a follow up to Fr. Jim Greenfield’s email earlier this afternoon, I share here more specifics related to the student experience and, hopefully, answer some questions raised throughout the day. We remain grateful for your patience, flexibility, and understanding as we work through these challenging times.

Many of you are asking fine questions about immediate next steps and long-term expectations.  I repeat the plan Fr. Jim’s shared with you earlier: Until further notice, DeSales University will conduct classes using an on-line learning platform.  Also, while we are trying to address your questions with our communications and website updates, I realize that some of your questions may not be addressed. 

To this end, in the next 24 hours, we are setting up an email: COVID19@desales.edu for you and your families to ask all of your questions. Members of my staff will receive these and direct them to the appropriate party for a response, beginning Monday. 

Do I have access to the Residence Halls?

Students whose only option for safe housing and secure food is on campus will be permitted to return to their residence halls.  Exceptions are made ONLY for students who need to be on campus for clinical rotations, internships, or other academic requirements through the approval of their faculty advisor.  If you do not meet one of these aforementioned exceptions, you are asked not to return to campus at this time.

If you need essential material from your room to participate in your on-line classes, please contact Campus Police at ext. 1250, or directly at 610-282-1002, and make arrangements to gain access to your room.

Will I be able to attend Mass if I am on campus?

Although Bishop Al Schlert, diocese of Allentown, has lifted the obligation to attend Mass, Sunday Eucharist will be celebrated at 10:30 AM at the Wills Hall Chapel for anyone on campus.  Daily Mass will be available at 12:05 PM at the Wills Hall Chapel.

Will I have access to the Wellness Center?

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911. The Health Center will work by phone appointment only for those students on campus. Anyone wishing to speak with a member of the Health Center staff should call the Health Center at 610-282-1100, ext. 1776. Please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible. 

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or your local crisis intervention hotline.  The Counseling Center staff will email their current clients this week with information regarding their treatment plan. If you are not currently a counseling center client and would like information on options, please contact Wendy Krisak, assistant dean of students for wellness at wendy.krisak@desales.edu

I am on campus, will I have access to food?

Students who have been approved to reside on campus will have access to the dining hall (DUC), beginning Sunday, March 15 for dinner from 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM.  Until further notice, the following will be the hours beginning Monday, March 16:

  • Breakfast: 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
  • Lunch: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Dinner: 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Please note that all food venues other than the DUC will be closed until further notice.

What should I do if I have difficulties with the on-line learning platform?

Please remain in touch with your professor at all times regarding any challenges you may be experiencing.  Although your instructor may not be able to rectify a problem, it is helpful for her or him to know about your situation. 

The student support services include:

  • Help Desk (ext. 4357,helpdesk@desales.eduor text chat from MyDSU). Issues will be escalated to CERT as necessary.
  • Distance Education Student Orientation Course in Blackboard
  • The Resources tab in the red bar at the top of Blackboard
  • The Zoom Support and Technical Help menu items on the left navigation panel within specific Blackboard course

A more detailed resource list will be forthcoming from the Office of the Provost & Academic Affairs.

Will I be able to have access to the Career Development Center?

The Career Development Center will be available to all students and alumni via remote communication (i.e. Zoom, phone, email). If you would like to schedule a remote appointment please contact us at Career@desales.edu or our direct office line 610-282-1100 x1738. The Career Development Center will operate off of the university work week of Monday-Friday 8:45am-4:45pm, unless further noted.
 
Updates on upcoming programs will be announced in a timely manner, in accordance with university direction.  Please check emails and social media regularly.
  • @DeSales University Career Development Center - Facebook
  • @dsucareer - Instagram
  • @DSUcareer - Twitter
Please know you still have full access to all of your career resources through your MyDSU portal, under Career Development Center.
 
All questions in regard to internships should be directed to Ms Kathy Krause, Coordinator of Experiential Learning - Kathy.Krause@desales.edu, and your faculty supervisor.

What is happening with clubs, programs, and student activities through the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership?

Student Engagement and Leadership (SEAL) has been reviewing all events, meetings, and programs that are currently scheduled through our office for the foreseeable future. This includes student clubs and organizations. We are aware that some of these events might be postponed or cancelled.  We are exploring alternative ways of engagement during this time.  In addition, we are working with the SGA to review its programming, which includes the SGA Formal and Class of 2020 events. 

If you have questions or concerns you can do one of the following:

  • Email seal@desales.edu
  • Follow the Instagram pages for @desalesSEAL, @desalesCAB, @desalesuSGA, @desalesuOrientation and @classof2020_dsu.  
  • With your MyDSU credentials log onto ENGAGE for updates https://desales.edu/engage

What is going on with athletics?

NCAA will not sponsor any spring sport championships. Additional information regarding athletic teams will be communicated as decisions are made by the MAC conference advisory committee. Coaches will communicate directly with student athletes on how they will move forward.

See Bulldog Athletics COVID-19 updates 

If I am not allowed to reside on campus, will I get a refund?

In the coming weeks, we will address the issue of refunds for room and board in a fair and equitable way for all students living in campus residence halls.  Since we do not yet know how long resident students will be away from campus, we do not know the amount of this reimbursement.  We will communicate and process these refunds when we have more information about the duration of this present situation.

What will happen with my student mail and packages?

Students should have packages and mail sent to their place of residence during the period in which our residence halls are closed.  Please do not send packages and mail to your campus address.  More information about mail will be posted on the website next week.

Will this FAQ be updated as things change?

Further information about campus resources will be updated on this site.

Please remember that our campus resources are available to you. We will continue to update these FAQs on COVID-19 as this situation continues to evolve.

We will communicate as necessary, via website, email and social media, as we move forward.

Sincerely,
Linda Zerbe, Vice President for Student Life

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From the Provost - Faculty Update: 03/15/20

Dear Faculty Colleagues,
 
On this “Ides of March,” I write to you with some announcements and housekeeping items in anticipation of our first week of campus-wide online instruction. But, before anything else, I want to reiterate the appreciation expressed by Father Greenfield in his message to you on Thursday: THANK YOU!!! I continue to be impressed by the way our DeSales faculty rise to the occasion and “step up” during times of change, as evidenced by the number of faculty who attended the various CERT workshops during the past week. Your adaptability with the delivery of your courses is commendable.
 
In addition to my gratitude, I also share the following words of advice from our patron Saint Francis de Sales: “Please, be patient with everyone, but, first of all, with yourself!” This week will be a sharp learning curve for many of us, faculty and students alike. Most importantly, this week is an opportunity for you to re-establish communication with your students after the break, ensuring that they are able to use the technology utilized in your online course delivery. Amid the concerns about health, we are asking our university community to adjust to a “new normal” of instruction for the foreseeable future, and so I hope and pray that you draw upon our patron’s wisdom and call to mind the above quote when teaching may become frustrating. As our CERT colleagues remind us, keep it simple for now.
 
Some have raised the question: Do faculty need to be on campus to prepare and teach their classes online? I recognize that many of you are now caring for children who are home due to K-12 schools closing, or may be concerned with the compromised health of you or family members. Faculty are not required to be on campus for instruction. However, I do ask that you keep your department chair and/or division head informed of your schedule. I encourage the faculty to use Zoom as needed to maintain participation in scheduled meetings of university committees and other commitments. 
 
In the coming week, I will be meeting with the Academic Affairs team to review our deadlines and policies, determining which may need to be adjusted in light of a change in course delivery. As questions arise, please direct them to us through your division head. Again, so that you can best deliver your course content in an online environment, I encourage you to be creative and flexible in your instruction. This may mean altering or shuffling items (topics, assessments, etc.) originally outlined in your course syllabus. Please communicate any such syllabus changes with your students, and with your department chair and/or division head.
 
With regard to communication with your students, in addition to maintaining virtual office hours (via Zoom or email), I strongly encourage you to post Announcements in Blackboard explaining how your course will run: synchronous (“live”), asynchronous, etc. These announcements can also be automatically emailed. This will facilitate clarity in your course delivery, expectations, and deadlines. 
 
If you are conducting a synchronous class, please do so during your regularly scheduled class days and times, and inform your students. CERT recommends you record these synchronous sessions. Some of the faculty plan to teach live or record lectures in a classroom. Classrooms will be locked, but you can call campus security (ext. 1250) to unlock them. Please plan accordingly with regard to this, especially if your instruction is live. I encourage faculty who use classrooms to begin to plan future lessons to be taught from home, in the event the health climate of our region forces the campus to close. 
 
I want to give a HUGE “shout-out” to Eric Hagan and his colleagues in CERT who, with very little notice, prepared a schedule of workshop options so that our faculty is well-prepared for our university’s movement to online education during this crisis situation. I am very grateful to their collaboration and commitment to the educational mission of DeSales University! Attached is a schedule of CERT Emergency Training Sessions March 16-20 2020 for those who continue to seek assistance from our CERT team. So that the CERT staff is not overwhelmed with questions, if you consider yourself a “super-user” (experienced, well-versed and comfortable) with using online education technologies, please inform your division head. In referring peers to peers in learning online course delivery, we can be as efficient and effective as possible in becoming familiar with online education. 
 
Finally, I call your attention to the updates posted on this COVID-19 Updates page of the university website, especially the recent Student Life FAQs for students/families. I encourage you to visit this website often to keep track of what information is being shared with students and families. In the near future, a set of Academic Affairs FAQs will also be disseminated to students and faculty.
 
I wish you much success in your return to teaching after Spring Break! If I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
 
With best wishes,
Brother Daniel P. Wisniewski, O.S.F.S., Ph.D.
Provost

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Presidential Notice - COVID-19 Student Update: 03/14/20

Dear Students,

I write to share some more important information.  But, first, I say THANK YOU for the way you are handling this disruptive and unprecedented challenge to your DeSales experience.  I have heard from many of you in the past few days, and I am proud of your patience and understanding in this labile national emergency.  Rallying around our Salesian mission, and in the words of our patron, St. Francis de Sales, we will continue to “do all through love and nothing through fear.” 

For our undergraduates, I have contacted Samantha Mullin, president of the Student Government Association. She has asked Joseph Freemont, vice president of mission, and Kayla Homan, senior class president, to join in a conference call this evening to discuss your student concerns with me. Having the input of your elected leadership is helpful as we prepare for the weeks and months ahead.  

I am confident that our graduate program directors and ACCESS staff are fielding concerns and answering questions from their respective programs.  

I hope you recall from my email of Thursday, March 12: “One important learning for us as we navigate the University through this crisis is how new, relevant, and urgent information comes quickly and regularly.”  This insight resounds with great volume. Since Thursday when I last wrote to you, President Trump declared a national emergency, and Governor Wolf announced the shutdown of all Pennsylvania K-12 schools for two weeks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Based upon this new information, and the number of our community members that this will impact, I share the following as a result:

  • Those students whose only option for safe housing and secure food is on campus will be permitted to return to their residence halls beginning on Sunday, March 15. Also, exceptions are being made for students who need to be on campus for clinical rotations, internships, or other academic requirements. Our student life staff has contacted all students who registered for a return to campus to understand their needs and discuss options. If you do not meet one of these aforementioned exceptions, you will be asked not to return to campus until further notice.
  • The Labuda Center is closed until Wednesday, March 18, for deep cleaning as a measure consistent with our emergency response protocols. After consultation with a primary care physician, an employee from that building with flu-like symptoms was asked to be tested for the COVID-19 virus as a precaution.  Therefore, Performing Arts students who were given permission to return to campus are asked to come no sooner than Wednesday morning.
  • In the coming weeks, we will address the issue of refunds for room and board in a fair and equitable way for all students living in campus residence halls.
  • In terms of issues related to the student life experience, Linda Zerbe, vice president for student life, will soon post a memo on our dedicated web page with relevant information in an FAQ format.

Again, my first concern is the safety of all members of the University community—especially our students.  We recognize that many details still need to be worked out, and emerging questions will be addressed moving forward. This is an extraordinary moment in our history as we face this rapidly evolving public health crisis. I deeply appreciate your support and patience.

Peace,
James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84
President


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Campus Environment Update: 03/13/20

As we continue to monitor COVID-19, the Campus Environment department is coordinating with the University’s administration at the highest levels to support the health and well-being of our campus community.  Thus far, we have taken the following proactive measures in response to this fast-moving situation:

  • Diverting resources away from cosmetic cleaning such as floor buffing and reallocated them to disinfecting and sanitizing. Special focus is being given to frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, railings, table tops, elevator controls, etc.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing public bathrooms multiple times daily.
  • Providing disinfectant in the laundry rooms and front desks of every student residence hall for student use while maintaining our long-standing best practice of cleaning EVERY bathroom, sink, and vanity in student housing at least once every seven days. 
  • Sanitizing campus fitness center equipment daily. Sanitizing products are also available in each fitness center; users are encouraged to sanitize equipment before and after each use.
  • Stockpiling additional supplies such as soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning products to ensure inventory levels never run low. 
  • Training the University’s custodial partners on our current protocols.

In addition to these measures, the Campus Environment department requests your assistance in maintaining a safe and healthy campus.

  1. First and foremost, please adhere to personal hygiene and social distancing procedures outlined in previous health bulletins released by the University.  
  2. Second, please immediately report any location on campus where supplies such as hand sanitizer, soap, paper towels, or toilet paper has run low or been exhausted via www.desales.edu/workrequest so it can be replenished.

Campus Environment will continue to work with the University’s administration to ramp up resources and adjust our protocols to respond to the situation as it evolves.

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Staff University Operations Update: 03/15/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

Dear University Community:

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to develop with increasing numbers of cases in our nearby communities including Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties being identified as ‘aggressive social distancing counties’ by the Governor’s office, we understand the stress and concern that this serious situation is causing all of you. Therefore, in response to these rapidly changing conditions and circumstances, the following guidance is being provided for University operations through March 31, 2020:

  • The University will remain open for operations, but will move toward primarily an online model of operation to the extent possible.
  • If you live in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester or Delaware counties, please stay home and follow the Governor’s state-imposed “aggressive social distancing” restrictions for at least two weeks in an effort to combat the fast-moving coronavirus. Please contact your supervisor to let them know of your situation and determine whether it is possible for you to work from home during this period of time.
  • If you can work from home, please contact your supervisor to discuss your circumstances and secure approval to work from home. You can begin this online work model tomorrow, Monday, March 16, 2020.
  • If you can work from home and you are not living in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester or Delaware counties, you can come to campus to gather any equipment or materials to best facilitate your working from home, but please practice safe social distancing protocols.
  • If you cannot work from home and you do not live in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester or Delaware counties, please come to campus for further guidance on how your work schedule may be structured for working on campus for the following weeks.
  • Faculty should follow the guidance provided by Brother Daniel P. Wisniewski, O.S.F.S., Ph.D., Provost, in a communication sent earlier today, Sunday, March 15, 2020: Faculty are not required to be on campus for instruction.
  • You will be paid through this period of time in accordance with your regular pay structure regardless of your current situation or circumstances, which you should discuss with your supervisor.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this rapidly changing situation and please stay alert for any updates located on this page at www.desales.edu/coronavirus-updates. Your dedication and commitment to DeSales University is greatly appreciated; and, your safety is of paramount concern to the leadership team of the University.

Sincerely,

 
Robert J. Snyder
Vice President for Finance and Administration
 



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Faculty and Staff Work Related Guidance Update: 03/12/20

Dear University Community:

I write to provide a few details for us as employees as we continue to advance through our University’s response to the impact of COVID-19.

To date and to our knowledge, no member of the University community has been infected by the coronavirus.

I thought it would be helpful to clarify the following:

  • While students will participate in on-line instruction next week, the University campus is open and all employees are expected to come to campus according to their regular work schedules. 
  • If you feel sick with a fever or cough, experience difficulty breathing, or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, please exercise normal precautions and contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19 or if your symptoms require you to visit an emergency room or urgent care center.
  • Employees who have additional concerns or special health considerations should contact human resources to discuss their situation, along with their supervisor, for possible options for their work environment.
  • Employees can practice everyday prevention measures like frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your mouth, nose and eyes and practicing social distancing to the extent possible, which includes ideally maintaining around a 6-foot distance between people.
  • All existing human resource policies will apply regarding absences due to illness.

DeSales University is following the formal directions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with respect to COVID-19. The CDC has asked institutes of higher education to follow the specific instructions of their state and local health authorities. To date, directions and guidelines related to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania focus on the normal precautions, which have been outlined in previous communications.  

Please feel free to contact your supervisor with specific questions.

Thanks for your ongoing commitment to our University.

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From the President — Faculty and Staff Update: 03/12/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

Dear Colleagues,

I write to update you again on our response to the coronavirus.  But, first and foremost, I say THANK YOU!  I am proud of the way we are handling this unprecedented crisis.  Many of you have been importuned in one way or another, and I know the weeks ahead will be uncertain.  The faculty has been launched into an exciting—and for some, new—teaching platform that requires added work.  I am especially grateful for your patience.

I highlight two changes since my communication yesterday.  First, joining our LVAIC partners, we will maintain the online learning platform until further notice. Second, I have authorized the opening of our residence halls for residents who may need to return to campus.

James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84, President

We have joined Cedar Crest College and Moravian College, our neighboring schools in the Lehigh Valley, in a shared announcement, released to local media outlets, about our plans regarding COVID-19.  We welcome this collaboration.

One important learning for us as we navigate the University through this crisis is how new, relevant, and urgent information comes quickly and regularly.  Whether the needs of our students or the latest advice from the CDC, essential details need to be considered in light of both our planning and what we have already decided.  As you know, we are moving to on-line, virtual instruction, beginning Monday, March 16.  I highlight two changes since my communication yesterday.  First, joining our LVAIC partners, we will maintain the online learning platform until further notice.  Second, I have authorized the opening of our residence halls for residents who may need to return to campus.

Here is what I shared with all students today:

Today, I inform you that we will maintain online instruction until further notice.  Additionally, our residence halls will be open for any residents who need them until on-campus instruction resumes.  DeSales University is your community of learning and living during your time with us, and we understand that some of you will find it best to live among us as you participate in this on-line instruction.  While we are not encouraging you to return, we recognize the needs of any student who chooses to return to campus, beginning Sunday, March 15, 2 PM.  Our willingness and efforts to accommodate you are consistent with our mission to respect each student.  We will temporarily modify our policies: no non-DSU guest visitation and no alcohol on-campus until classes resume.

To welcome a student back to campus, we ask you to complete this registration form.  Subsequent inquiries will focus on recent travel and other issues related to COVID-19.  You will also be reminded of the necessity of social distancing.  Of course, if you are ill on Sunday, please do not return to school until you are well.

In closing, I remind you to consult our dedicated web page regularly and be alert for new communication. As Bob Snyder shared today, to date and to our knowledge, not one member of our community has been infected with COVID-19.  We remain committed to protecting the health of all community members and ensuring the strength and continuity of our academic programming.

Again, thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate uncertain terrain in the weeks ahead.  I ask you to pray for those whose health and life are impacted by COVID-19. 

Peace,
James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84, President

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Residence and Dining Halls Update: 03/12/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

Dear Students,

I write to update you again on our response to the coronavirus and remind you that DeSales University is continuing normal operations to support our academic mission—even as we plan for the possibilities that could affect campus life at some point in the future.  As announced yesterday, we are moving to on-line, virtual instruction, beginning Monday, March 16.    

We have joined Cedar Crest College and Moravian College, our neighboring schools in the Lehigh Valley, in a shared announcement, released to local media outlets, about our plans regarding COVID-19. We welcome this collaboration.

One important learning for us as we navigate the University through this crisis is how new, relevant, and urgent information comes quickly and regularly. Whether the needs of our students or the latest advice from the CDC, essential details need to be considered in light of both our planning and what we have already decided. To this end, we have decided to amend one part of the plan Linda Zerbe, vice president for student life, communicated with you concerning the residence halls.

Today, I inform you that we will maintain online instruction until further notice. Additionally, our residence halls will be open for any residents who need them until on-campus instruction resumes. DeSales University is your community of learning and living during your time with us, and we understand that some of you will find it best to live among us as you participate in this on-line instruction. 

While we are not encouraging you to return, we recognize the needs of any student who chooses to return to campus, beginning Sunday, March 15, 2 PM. Our willingness and efforts to accommodate you are consistent with our Catholic, Salesian mission to respect each student. We will temporarily modify two policies: no non-DSU guest visitation and no alcohol on-campus until classes resume.

To welcome a student back to campus, we ask you to complete this registration form

Subsequent inquiries will focus on recent travel and other issues related to COVID-19.  You will also be reminded of the necessity of social distancing. Of course, if you are ill on Sunday, please do not return to school until you are well. 

I remind you to consult our dedicated web page regularly and be alert for communication from our University’s leadership.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter. And, again, I ask you to pray for those whose health and life are impacted by COVID-19.

Peace,
James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84

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Faculty - Classes Next Week Update: 03/11/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

DeSales University is committed to ensuring the safety of all members of its community as we prepare for the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. At the same time, we wish to maintain as much continuity to the educational experience which is at the heart of our institution. 

As Father Greenfield announced in his recent communication, the university will move to online instruction for one week: March 16-20, 2020, and resume in-class instruction on Monday, March 23, 2020. Faculty and staff may come to campus, but we ask that you adhere to self-quarantine if you have been exposed to the virus or your health places you at risk.  Please remain alert to updates made on DeSales University’s dedicated web page: www.desales.edu/coronavirus-updates.

We recognize that you have been given very little notice in the decision to move to online instruction next week.  n preparation for online delivery of courses, I offer the following resources and recommendation:

  • CERT is offering several workshops this week and next week; please see www.desales.edu/workshops. Also, see the course in Blackboard entitled “Campus Closure? Run an Online Class!” (under My Courses below No Term Assigned).
  • Review your course outline and scheduled activities/topics for the remainder of the semester, and consider shuffling and/or changing assignments/topics to accommodate online delivery of content in the coming week.
  • Communicate clearly and often with your students about the changes being made to your courses due to moving to online instruction for the next week. 

CERT recommends that the easiest way to convert classroom lectures to an online delivery is the use of Zoom. This can be done synchronously during regularly scheduled class meetings, or recorded for students to view asynchronously. The upcoming workshops offered by CERT focus on how to use this technology for those of you who are not as familiar with online instruction. 

We have asked division heads to identify faculty “super-users” of online instruction technologies. Division heads, the Academic Affairs Office, and CERT will maintain a list of such faculty members who are willing and able to assist you with learning the distance education technologies. I am grateful for the peer assistance these “super-users” are offering to their colleagues.

Please direct any questions or concerns to your division head.  We recognize that our response to this situation is happening rapidly, and therefore, we welcome your input.

I appreciate your commitment to the education and safety of our community at DeSales University. I recognize that a shift in course delivery may be challenging and require more time and creativity than expected at the start of the semester, and for that I am grateful.

Sincerely,
Brother Daniel P. Wisniewski, O.S.F.S., Ph.D.
Provost

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Presidential Notice - Classes Going Online Only Update: 03/11/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

Dear University Community:

I write at the midpoint of our Spring Break to share our University’s efforts to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 as we continue to track potential threats of exposure to those learning and working here at our Center Valley campus.  The most important concerns as we address this issue are to protect the health and safety of the campus community and to ensure the continuity and strength of academic programs.

We are vigilantly following the lead of health and governmental officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The CDC has asked institutes of higher education to follow the specific instructions of their state and local health authorities.  To date, directions and guidelines related to the Lehigh Valley focus on standard precautions, outlined on our dedicated coronavirus website.  This informs our present decision, which I discuss here.

DeSales University will resume classes on Monday, March 16, using on-line, virtual instruction; no classes will be held next week on-campus.  I offer the following reasons for this decision:

  • Since students are already home, we risk a premature return to school if a campus outbreak were to occur within the subsequent days.
  • To extend Spring Break—a reasonable response—with no on-line delivery of instruction would squander valuable learning time.
  • This affords us more time for the CDC and local health experts to monitor the spread of the virus and provide us with solid direction.

To this end and unless further updates state otherwise, students will return to their residence halls on Sunday, March 22, and resume on-campus classes on Monday, March 23.  Bro. Dan Wisniewski, OSFS, provost, will communicate with faculty shortly about on-line instructional resources.  Off-campus internships, clinical assignments, and student-teaching placements will continue as usual.  Students in the performing arts and student athletes should contact their directors and coaches with questions related to their activities and events.      

To date and to our knowledge, not one member of the University community has been infected by the coronavirus.

I am grateful for my colleagues who have written a COVID-19 Response Protocol, which details levels of University-wide responses based on the State Situational Descriptors of COVID-19.  With no activity of the disease among our community, we plan to enact aggressive prevention practices, such as multiple daily cleanings of public areas, desks, keyboards, residence halls, etc. and recommending frequent handwashing.  I direct you to this site of the CDC.  Any changes in our response will be announced widely on social media and email and will appear on our dedicated coronavirus website.

Our employees are essential to ensuring DeSales University runs safely and responsibly, and we plan to continue most University operations as far as possible.  Bob Snyder, vice president for finance and administration, will email all staff to provide additional, more detailed guidance on work-related questions.

I also realize that as we forecast the next eight weeks of this semester and then graduation, more questions will arise about specific issues.  I will communicate next week after we learn more information from relevant health officials.  My purpose in this email is to share our plans for next week. 

I thank you for your patience and understanding during this challenging time and ask you to join in praying for those whose health and life are impacted by this virus. 

Peace,
James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84, President

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Coronavirus Update: 03/11/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

No DeSales University community member has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

DeSales University traditional day students began Spring Break Saturday, March 7 through March 14.  As the conclusion of Spring Break approaches, we are finalizing a plan to address questions about on-campus classes, activities, and events. 

Please remain alert to receive updates on DeSales University’s dedicated web page to learn developing updates and information on our response to coronavirus: desales.edu/coronavirus-updates

DeSales University is following the formal directions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC has asked institutes of higher education to follow the specific instructions of their state and local health authorities.  To date, directions and guidelines related to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania focus on the normal precautions, which are outlined below. 

For any member of the DeSales University Community, if you feel sick with a fever or cough, experience difficulty breathing, or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, please exercise normal precautions and contact your healthcare provider.  Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

DeSales University vigorously maintains its commitment to ensure the safety of all members of the campus community.  To this end, we have enacted the following measures while monitoring daily updates from the aforementioned national and regional health sources.

  • Postponing Spring Break travel: Due to the CDC’s travel recommendations for higher education, all university sponsored international trips were cancelled over Spring Break. We are exploring options for alternative travel times for these trips.
  • Engaging independent travelers: Students who have traveled internationally in the past three months on non-University-sponsored trips, please check current recommendations and travel advisories regarding Coronavirus, and inform the Office of International Learning of your travel plans by contacting Brian MacDonald, extension 1510.
  • Please remain alert for updates on the dedicated coronavirus web page at desales.edu/coronavirus-updates.
  • Enacting the Emergency Operations Plan, Pandemic Response Protocol: Our procedures are in place to deal with any potential viral exposure or infection on our campus.  Again, as reported above, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at DeSales University or in neighboring Lehigh County.
  • Enacting procedures to monitor reports from ill students, faculty and staff for potential symptoms and patterns of COVID-19: All community members exposed to or infected with COVID-19 are to contact Dennis Rasley, director of emergency services, 610-282-1100, ext. 1513, or at dennis.rasley@desales.edu.
  • Educating the campus community about symptoms and risk factors, while promoting ways to stay healthy: Please consult updates on the dedicated coronavirus web page at desales.edu/coronavirus-updates.
  • Preparing for faculty to teach online if our campus community becomes impacted by the virus.
  • Informing athletes returning from Spring Break travel: At the direction of Scott Coval, director of athletics, team coaches will inform student athletes of specific instructions.

We encourage you to learn about coronavirus and COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to follow guidelines from the PA Department of Health.

If you have questions, please contact Dennis Rasley, Director of Emergency Services, extension 1513 or the Health and Wellness Center, extension 1776.

We ask you to join us in prayer for those whose health or life are significantly impacted by this virus. 

 

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Health Bulletin: Emergency Services Update: 03/06/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

This is an update to the University Community to the health bulletin posted on February 28, 2020.

It is important to note that at this time, there are no suspected outbreaks of COVID-19 on the DeSales University campus.

Lehigh Valley, PA residents who have not traveled outside of the country in the preceding two weeks (or have close contacts who have not done so) currently have no risk for COVID-19. This could change in the future if COVID-19 gains a foothold in the U.S., which is why much effort is spent in early identification and isolation of known or suspected cases of COVID-19.

As spring break draws near and several students travel during this time, DeSales University continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and is in close communication with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. If you will be traveling out of the area during spring break, the CDC recommends the following guidelines to further prevent spreading of the disease and protect yourself while traveling:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you are sick, stay home and do not have contact with others
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. An uncovered cough or sneeze can project respiratory droplets 3 to 6 feet or more!
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Students with compromised immune systems should not travel internationally, or to currently affected regions in the United States.

Our custodial/housekeeping staff is working diligently in wiping down and disinfecting all hard surfaces (door handles, tables, desks) in all academic/administrative buildings and all residence halls.

The CDC also notes that COVID-19 is now present in the U.S. and spreading to various areas within the country. As a result, California, Florida, and Washington have declared a state of emergency. Please be vigilant in your travel plans. If you are traveling to any of these states, you may be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine per CDC guidelines.

If you believe you have been exposed COVID-19, it is important to consult with your primary care physician or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Be sure to call ahead to inform the medical provider of your recent travel and symptoms. DO NOT report to the Wellness Center in the Dorothy Day Student Union.

The latest information about the current outbreak can be found at the following CDC sites:

Additional updates will be posted as necessary. For any questions or concerns, please contact the Emergency Services Department at ext. 1513 or the Wellness Center at ext. 1221.

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Health Bulletin Emergency Services Update: 02/28/2020

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

It is important to note that at this time, there are no suspected outbreaks of COVID-19 on the DeSales University campus.

This is an update to the University Community to the health bulletin posted on February 6, 2020.

As spring break draws near and several students travel during this time, DeSales University continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and is in close communication with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. At the present time, the CDC has only recommended screening for individuals returning to the United States from China and South Korea. However, we urge any members of our University Community who may travel abroad during the spring break to follow current CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of infection. These include:

  1. Do not travel if you are sick
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  3. Be sure to practice good hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  4. Remain home when sick and avoid contact with others

If you will be traveling outside the United States over spring break, you should travel at your own risk and follow current CDC guidelines. We recommend that you be mindful of the potential associated risk of disruptions to your travel plans as well as reentry into the United States and your ability to immediately return to the DeSales University campus. This may include self-isolation for the recommended 14-day period. If you are exhibiting any of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, it is essential to following the current CDC guidelines to prevent further spreading of the disease to the University Community:

  1. Stay home except to receive medical care
  2. Separate yourself from other individuals and animals in your home
  3. Always call ahead prior to visiting your doctor
  4. Wear a facemask, if recommended by a healthcare professional
  5. Cover your cough and sneeze
  6. Wash your hands often
  7. Avoid sharing personal household items
  8. Clean all “high-touch” (e.g., door handles, light switches) surfaces daily with a high level disinfectant

The CDC is reporting that the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or could take as long as 14 days after initial exposure.

If you believe you have COVID-19, it is important to consult with your primary care physician or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Be sure to call ahead to inform the medical provider of your recent travel and symptoms. DO NOT report to the Wellness Center in the Dorothy Day Student Union.

Get the latest information at the CDC Coronavirus website

Additional updates will be posted as necessary.

For any questions or concerns, please contact the Emergency Services Department at ext. 1513 or the Wellness Center at ext. 1221.

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Health Bulletin: Emergency Services Update: 02/06/20

Note: this announcement no longer contains the most recent information. Please refer to the most recent updates at desales.edu/COVID-19

DeSales has been closely monitoring the recent coronavirus outbreak since it was first reported and has been in communication with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. At this time, there are no suspected outbreaks of the coronavirus on the DeSales University campus.

What is the University doing?

  • Monitoring the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to ensure the University receives the most up to date information on the coronavirus.
  • Communicating information regarding the coronavirus outbreak to the University Community to ensure awareness and implementation of CDC guidelines. 

What should I do?

If you recently traveled to China, all employees should contact the Office of Human Resources and all students should contact the Wellness Center in the Dorothy Day Student Union. 

If you begin to experience symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), all students should contact the DeSales University Wellness Center or a local emergency room immediately and any employees exhibiting symptoms should see their primary care provider or a local emergency room immediately.

The CDC has not recommended any additional precautions for the general public at this time. Remember to take every day preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs
  • Get a flu vaccine

If you feel sick with a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing and have recently traveled to/from China or been in contact with someone with the coronavirus in the last 14 days, seek medical attention. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and inform them of your recent travel and symptoms.

What Should I not do?

  • It is recommended that you DO NOT travel to China at this time
  • It is recommended that you DO NOT use facemasks. The CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks for the general U.S. public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

Is there a coronavirus vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against the coronavirus The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC reports that, in the United States, the flu is currently a far bigger threat to public health than the coronavirus.


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Presidential Letter to Students - COVID-19 Update: 05/19/20

V+J

May 19, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope you and those you love are safe and healthy.

I write with good news amid the challenges posed to us all by the pandemic. I am pleased to announce that we have established the Salesian Solidarity Fund to offer monies to students in need of assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This special fund will include monies from the federal government, the University’s operating budget, and generous donations from members of the extended DeSales community. I invite you to apply for aid designed to assist you with expenses that have arisen amid these weeks and months since the coronavirus forced us to the stay-at-home context. 

The DeSales Emergency Relief Fund (DERF), a fundraising campaign organized by our Office of Institutional Advancement, has raised more than $80,000 from our alumni, faculty, staff, and friends.  Additionally, I have directed that considerable monies be transferred from operations to the Salesian Solidarity Fund. Examples of reasons for possible funding requests include:

  • if you, a parent, or spouse lost employment;
  • if this unemployment prompted another financial challenge, such as a difficulty with paying for groceries, transportation, housing, prescriptions, etc.; or
  • if bills came due for essential dimensions of your or your family’s life, such as utilities, DeSales University tuition, mortgage, autopayment, etc.  

Significant federal monies have been provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  This is a grant for direct COVID-19-related expenses, such as for childcare, housing, healthcare, course-related needs, technology, etc.  We are grateful to the government for this act of social justice to aid our students and our fellow citizens in need.  We have not yet received the federal funding, but we are now welcoming grant applicants.

To apply for grants from the Salesian Solidarity Fund, please complete this online application, and we will soon be in touch with you.  These are not loans but rather one-time grants, so they need not be repaid.  The disbursal of these funds may take some time; we do ask your patience.  If you have any questions, please contact Joyce Farmer, director of financial aid at joyce.farmer@desales.edu.

The mission of DeSales University is grounded in the best of our Catholic, Salesian tradition.  Solidarity is one of the seven main themes of our Catholic social teaching, and we stand with our students when they are in need.  Thus, we will work to help you as much as we can, realizing that a large number of students are in need of assistance at this time. 

In closing, I ask you to continue to hold in prayer those impacted directly by the coronavirus, especially those who have died and their loved ones, those infected, and those working to help us during this pandemic, including healthcare workers, janitors who clean hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare facilities, and retail workers helping us procure necessities.

Together, our DeSales University community is strong, and I believe we are strongest when we celebrate and help each other.  This weekend’s Baccalaureate Mass and Conferral of Degrees for the Class of 2020 reminded me of the power of our community supporting each other to make sure each student who enrolls here can graduate.  Of course, I look forward to seeing you soon back on campus, and I cannot wait to see you on that stage when you, in time, will become a DeSales University graduate.  

Sincerely,
James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84
President

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From the Provost - Faculty Update: 05/27/20

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Within the next week, DeSales University will be participating in the Ithaka S+R COVID-19 Faculty Survey.  This survey is a companion piece to the recently administered Ithaka S+R COVID-19 Student Survey, of which you may be aware.

The faculty survey is intended to help DeSales improve engagement with and support for faculty members in this period of disruption as a vital contribution towards planning for the fall. It covers research and teaching practices at a distance as well as institutional communications. It also includes coverage of both the tools and approaches that faculty have employed in providing online instruction. And, the instrument will focus on faculty as researchers and the challenges you may be facing in accessing and producing scholarship at this time.

Should you receive the invitation to participate in the survey from Ithaka S+R, I highly encourage you to complete it.  Please follow the link below if you would like more information about this survey or Ithaka S+R.

More information: https://sr.ithaka.org/our-work/covid-19-faculty-survey-faqs/

With best wishes and blessings,

Brother Daniel P. Wisniewski, O.S.F.S., Ph.D., Provost

 

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