May 4, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Thank you for your ingenuity and adaptability this semester, as we responded to these challenging and difficult times due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. I will share with students shortly our plans for the upcoming historic virtual commencement, along with details for in-person graduation celebrations and ongoing work to reopen for the fall 2020 semester. I also want to wish you well this week of final examinations; please know you are in my prayers.
We will celebrate our graduates’ remarkable achievements at our virtual degree-conferral ceremony on Saturday, May 16, as well as at school and college commencement celebrations and hooding ceremonies on Friday, May 15. View details on all of these ceremonies.
Additionally, for students needing to complete clinical hours related to requirements in health sciences programs, we are actively planning scenarios to best assist them. Our individual colleges and schools are assessing options and opportunities related to clinical education requirements, as well as safety protocols and policies.
Also, we continue to plan for an in-person, on-campus commencement to celebrate our graduates’ milestone accomplishment. Currently, we are looking at hosting ceremonies, including a baccalaureate Mass, on Sept. 18 and 19, as well as events and activities for our graduates to reconnect with classmates the week of Sept. 14. If that is not possible due to global, national, state, or local public health recommendations and guidelines, we will need to propose contingency plans. Whatever we do, the safety of our graduates, their families, and the community is a priority.
We are also planning to reopen campus, including our residence halls and facilities, and return to in-person education for the fall semester, including our programs in Phoenix, and are continuing our ongoing review of study abroad programs for the fall. Again, the safety of our campus community, and wider Omaha and Phoenix communities, is paramount, and we will follow global, national, state, and local health recommendations and guidelines.
Here, too, University and school and college leaders, along with Creighton’s daily-convening Critical Incident Response Team and other focused work groups, have been working hard reviewing and considering various protocols and scenarios.
While health experts expect coronavirus infections to begin a deceleration phase, we are concerned about a second wave of the virus, which could be especially difficult to identify as we approach the winter months, with cold and flu season.
There are many important details that need to be critically, creatively, and thoughtfully addressed before any plan can move forward, including the establishment of screening protocols and care contingencies for students who contract or are exposed to the virus. Of course, the quickly evolving nature of the pandemic will require us to be nimble and flexible in our planning and eventual return to on-campus learning.
In this planning, we will be mindful of faculty and staff concerns as well, assessing various scenarios, while paying particular attention to underlying health conditions that may increase a person’s vulnerability to contracting the virus. As we prepare for fall, I am also excited for sustained creativity and energy for summer courses, with expanded online offerings that begin May 11.
Finally, I would like to remind you that you have an opportunity to return to campus this week for the purpose of collecting items to continue to work productively from home. Please complete the online sign-up form to reserve a date and time. We ask that you follow safety precautions, such as wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing, and refraining from bringing other family members or guests into the office with you.
I will have more to share soon regarding proposed days and times for in-person graduation events, and the start and end dates of the fall semester. In the weeks and months ahead, I will share other important updates, too.
Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication to Creighton University in these unprecedented times.
As our planning for the fall progresses, I will be in touch.
Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD