Saint Mary's NewsroomCampus Connection
An update from the president to alumni and parents
This past spring, we’ve been tested by the COVID-19 pandemic and through the racial divides that continue to challenge our communities, most recently highlighted by the killing of Mr. George Floyd and the events that followed. Yet, even amidst such uncertainty and challenges, I’m proud of the strength and determination shown by our students and witnessed in all of their accomplishments. Their ability to adapt, persevere, and succeed, despite circumstances beyond their control, will continue to serve them in the weeks, months, and years ahead. I hope you will enjoy this newsletter, as it contains updates about our university and provides details of the ways our students are making the most of their college years.
— Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D. (Summer 2020)
Saint Mary’s has decided to open the Winona Campus for in-person instruction and on-campus experiences as scheduled in August 2020. This return will be accompanied by accommodations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to promote the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff.
The return-to-campus plan for Winona will feature a condensed fall schedule. In addition, classes will be held on Labor Day, Sept. 7, and during what would have been the October break (Oct. 12-13), thus eliminating any breaks and thereby providing continuous in-person instruction and on-campus engagement until Thanksgiving week. Students will be able to return home after classes on Nov. 24. Remaining coursework and final exams or papers will be completed online by Dec. 4.
Students are strongly encouraged to stay on campus throughout the entire term. The modified schedule is expected to limit exposure from visits home for the Thanksgiving holiday. It will also help mitigate the effects if an outbreak were to occur during finals, which coincides with the traditional start of the flu season.
Saint Mary’s planning team has created detailed strategies for operational changes and facilities modifications to guide the work as we prepare for students to return to campus. In addition, they have created risk assessments and contingency plans to help the university effectively address any outbreaks should that occur. They will continue to work on planning not only for this fall, but for January and the spring semester. More details about these plans can be found on our website.
You’re invited to join Responding to Racism: A Lasallian Dialogue on Thursday, June 25. This virtual panel discussion, an initiative of the six Lasallian colleges and universities throughout the Lasallian Region of North America, including Saint Mary’s, invites the Lasallian and Catholic family to come together for conversation and action to work for racial justice and equity. Learn more and register.
Saint Mary’s is also taking initial action steps internally and externally to listen, learn, and be of help to one another and our richly diverse communities. These initiatives can be found in Message from the president which was released on June 1.
A few of our undergraduate students are sharing a glimpse into life during a pandemic — how they stay organized, stay on top of their classes and jobs, stay active, and stay connected — all while being away from campus. Watch this series of short videos to get an inside look into what life as a college student while distance learning is like.
Graduating seniors were honored on May 22 in a virtual ceremony, the first of its kind for Saint Mary’s. Faculty, staff, students, their families, friends, and supporters took part in celebrating our 198 graduating seniors and all of their academic accomplishments. The ceremony can be viewed at smumn.edu/commencements2020. Congratulations to our Class of 2020!
Saint Mary’s has partnered with Chartwells for more than a decade to provide student food and catering services on the Winona Campus. Over the past year, Chartwells has worked with Saint Mary’s to develop plans for renovations and expanded meal plan options. Plans include significant investments by Chartwells to the Toner Student Center, specifically the renovation of the Cardinal Club, including a market and new food concept (summer 2020) and a refresh of the Dining Hall (summer 2021). Based on student input, meal plan options will also be expanded to provide greater flexibility.
The signs at the front entrance of the Winona Campus are being removed in preparation for construction of a more extensive remodel and upgrade to the campus entrance thanks to private philanthropy from an anonymous donor. The four components to the front entrance remodel include:
- The signage at the main entrance. The six pillars will be replaced with two 45-foot stonewalls, one on each side of the main entrance road.
- Upgrading the reception booth (guardhouse). It will be closer to the highway and increase in size.
- The wall surrounding the garbage dumpsters on the west end of the Toner Center. The dumpsters are being hidden behind a new stonewall.
- Work in the plaza. The plan calls for removing concrete and increasing the amount of grass area to increase student use and for better ecological response.
Saint Mary’s recognized outstanding students, faculty, and staff during a virtual awards ceremony May 15. Individuals who have exhibited outstanding leadership and service through co-curricular activities at Saint Mary’s are recognized annually. Visit smumn.edu/studentawards2020 to view this year’s ceremony.
For the past 52 years, Saint Mary’s has honored two seniors, one man and one woman, who have demonstrated the ideals of scholarship, character, leadership, service to colleagues and the university community, as well as genuine concern for the needs of others. This year’s Outstanding Senior Awards were presented to Michele Remer and Ben Borash (pictured above).
Saint Mary’s recognized outstanding students by awarding several academic honors. These awards, which include honors from various academic departments, are typically given out at Honors Convocation during the Celebration of Scholarship event. View the list of award recipients and please join me in congratulating them.