July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

Presidential message

I join other university and college presidents, including those at Jesuit institutions, in strongly opposing the guidance for international students recently released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Under these new federal guidelines, students at institutions that have announced they will only offer online classes in fall 2020 must either depart the U.S. or transfer to an institution offering in-person or hybrid coursework.

It is estimated that this requirement would affect around 1 million international students studying at universities and colleges nationwide, as well as some 17,000 international students at Jesuit universities and colleges.

Before this regulation, international students living in the U.S. were not allowed to study at universities that offered only online education. However, colleges and universities are now in need of more flexibility in terms of course modalities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing realities the future spread of the virus presents.

At this challenging and unprecedented time, to thrust more uncertainty and apprehension upon international students, and possibly upend their lives and educational pursuits, is unjust and unfair.

Fortunately, at Creighton, we had anticipated most of the guidance as we prepared for students’ possible need to participate in hybrid instruction courses. While Creighton is preparing for in-person courses for the fall semester, we are also developing hybrid, remote and online options for certain situations.

Under the new guidance, our international students must be enrolled in at least one in-person course, but can otherwise be enrolled in online courses. Our hybrid and distance courses will be acceptable as long as the student is in at least one fully face-to-face, in-person course.

However, should the spread of the pandemic require us to go fully online again, like we did during the spring semester, according to the new guidance from ICE, our international students would have to depart the United States or transfer to an institution offering in-person or hybrid coursework. We are actively exploring options for international students to be able to remain on campus or in the U.S. to complete the semester.

Should we need to go completely online, our Global Education Office (GEO) estimates that this would impact at least 180 continuing and new international students.

I am grateful for the work of René Padilla, PhD, vice provost for Global Engagement, and his team for reaching out to all of our new and returning international students in order to collaborate on a best plan of action for each student given the mounting federal and state requirements. GEO has also been in communication with each school and college about the status of these students.

Global education and outreach have helped shape my life and have been key priorities for me since I first arrived at Creighton five years ago as president. Our diverse student body adds to the fullness of a Creighton education, as global competencies become increasingly important in the lives and careers of graduates today and into the future.

Notably, our most recent commencement in May included graduates from 28 countries. We all benefit from the presence of international students on our campus, as they provide important intersections for dialogue and conversations and wonderful opportunities for learning about and understanding diverse cultures.

Through the Creighton Global Initiative, the Global Scholars Program, and most recently the Common Home Project, which incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to global sustainability issues, we have expanded our global programming, adding to impressive, ongoing programs in the Dominican Republic and study abroad opportunities.

In collaboration with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and member institutions, I urge Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Hon. Chad Wolf, to immediately withdraw the recent guidance regarding international students.

As the AJCU so aptly shared in its statement: Jesuit education is a global endeavor with a centuries-old history of promoting peace, cooperation, reconciliation, and justice.

Indeed, Creighton is proud to be a part of that tradition, and we join in solidarity with higher education institutions nationwide in demanding that international students be allowed to continue to pursue their educational dreams in the U.S. with confidence during this time of so much uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD