Messages to the Community
I hope you and your families are safe and well, and that you have been able to take time to rest and recharge. With less than four weeks to go until the start of classes, I would like to update you on our planning and progress for the fall semester.
Today, I sent the following message to our incoming international students, roughly twenty of whom will now be unable to join their classmates on campus because of a US government rule that is ill-conceived and antithetical to the values and interests of this nation. This is an extremely disappointing outcome for all of us, and we will continue to oppose these policies and to support our international students during these difficult days.
I write with good news, something in short supply these days. As you may have heard, earlier this afternoon the Trump administration rescinded its July 6 guidance (and related July 7 FAQ) that would have seriously endangered the ability of international students at colleges and universities across the country to pursue their educations.
Since the beginning of last week, when the US government announced guidance that could, if enacted, seriously harm the ability of international students to continue their educations, we have been working to support our students and to block these harmful policies. This is a brief note to bring you up to date at the start of what will likely be an important week in this battle.
It has been two and a half weeks since I announced our plans for the fall semester and, since then, many other colleges and universities—including nearly all of our peer schools—have announced their own plans. I am writing today to review some key aspects of our plan as well as to provide some updates since our announcement.
It has been just over twenty-four hours since the Trump Administration indicated that it would be issuing new rules that could adversely affect the ability of international students at most American colleges and universities—including international students at Bowdoin—to continue their educations.
I am sure you saw yesterday’s news that the US government issued guidance foreshadowing rules regarding the status of nonimmigrant students who hold F-1 and M-1 visas with respect to both online courses and residence at schools that offer either hybrid or fully remote models.
As many of you know, this Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth in America—the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Originally recognized in Texas forty years ago, Juneteenth is today celebrated in forty-seven states—including Maine—as either a state holiday or a ceremonial day of observance. [...]
I have been involved in the work of diversity and inclusion as a white ally for thirty years—in the business world running a diversity and inclusion effort, as a mentor, in my research and teaching, and here at Bowdoin. I believed that I was doing good work, that I was making a difference. But these past few weeks have caused me to reflect on this work, and it is clear that, whatever I have done—am doing—it is not enough. [...]
I am writing to update you on where things stand for the fall and the work underway in that effort. [...]
So much has happened in this country since I wrote last Friday about the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Many of you have shared with me your thoughts on that message and on the state of our nation. I have been reflecting on the events of the last several days, with gratitude for your insights. [...]
I have been sitting here at my desk staring at the blank page on my screen for quite a while. I am thinking about George Floyd. This is a moment for eloquent prose that helps to explain, heal, and create solidarity within our community at yet another instance of pain, anger, and confusion. [...]
Tomorrow we will confer degrees on our newest graduates. The act of awarding those degrees makes this Bowdoin's 215th Commencement, even though it will be unlike any in our history—the formal ceremony has been postponed until next year. [...]
Tomorrow is the last day of exams, bringing to a close a semester unlike any in the history of our College. I can almost hear a collective sigh of relief that we have made it to this point. [...]
I write to invite all of you to participate in the celebratory moment that marks the graduation of this year’s class. It will take place on Saturday, May 23—the day we would have celebrated Commencement. [...]
As you may know, the US Department of Education today released new federal Title IX regulations governing, among other things, how colleges and universities respond to cases of sexual misconduct. We are in the process of carefully reviewing the rules to make sure we have a full understanding of how they will affect our polices, processes, and procedures here at Bowdoin. [...]
Today is Honors Day, the moment each year when we celebrate great achievement by our students and take pride as a community in the awards and departmental and program prizes they have earned. [...]
Last week, I met with the members of the Division of Student Affairs for a Zoom “town hall.” On Monday I made my regular report at the (virtual) faculty meeting. And last night, I hosted another “town hall” with Dean Janet Lohmann that was “attended” by more than two-hundred students who asked really thoughtful questions. [...]
Thankfully, to our knowledge, our campus remains free of COVID-19 infections, but as I noted last week, the pandemic has impacted the lives of students, alumni, and their families, and it continues to cause very real hardship and heartbreak across the country and around the world. In fact, we learned yesterday that the spouse of an alumnus died a week ago from complications of COVID-19. [...]
It would be something of an understatement to say that we all look forward to the return of a normal campus life—having faculty and students all together in classrooms and our other teaching spaces, taking meals in Thorne and Moulton, seeing events and performances in Kresge and Pickard, watching games in Morrell, Watson, and on the playing fields, walking the Quad, and simply being with friends and colleagues to share a laugh or a tear. We will return to this education and way of life when it is safe, and I very much hope that it is sooner rather than later. [...]
We remain thankful that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our campus community and, because of adherence to social distancing practices, the state has been spared the surge that was anticipated. And there continues to be news around the country and world suggesting that new cases may have peaked. [...]
As I write, the snow flurries continue outside. That’s right—it’s nearly mid-April and Mother Nature remains firmly in charge, dropping about three inches of seriously heavy wet snow last night in Brunswick and up to twenty inches in other parts of the state.Today, there are 586 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine, with seventeen deaths. The good news is that 246 Mainers have recovered, and we know of no new cases connected to our campus community. [...]
I hope you are all well and safe, and that your remote courses are going well. One of the disheartening aspects of this public health crisis is that you are not able to spend your last weeks on campus together, helping one another celebrate your years here, reliving your memories, acknowledging your many individual and collective accomplishments, enjoying Maine, having fun together, and taking part in Baccalaureate and Commencement in the presence of your friends and family. I am very sorry that this is so. [...]
We began this week knowing the news around COVID-19 would get worse. Today, New York reported the deadliest day yet from the disease, while here in Maine, the number of confirmed cases climbed above 500. There are also, however, some hopeful signs, in particular that New York may have reached its peak. [...]
I had hoped to be able to write to you today about how we will manage the variety of activities that normally fill the summer months here on campus, including summer jobs, fellowships, research, camps, events, conferences, and other activities. Unfortunately, we’re just not there yet. [...]
I am writing to discuss two important issues that stem from the novel coronavirus pandemic—our financial situation and the prospects for a return to campus in the fall—and the work underway to address each issue. [...]
We learned today that a second member of our campus community has been tested and is presumed to have contracted COVID-19. [...]
Fortunately, there is a limited amount to report today on the COVID-19 front at Bowdoin and in the area, although an increasing number of you are dealing with family and friends who are affected, and we all know from the news that there are very serious issues in many places. [...]
Late this afternoon, we learned that a member of the campus community has been tested and is presumed to have contracted COVID-19. [...]