Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Dear Members of the Wilkes Community, 

It has been about 10 days since we transitioned from face-to-face classes to remote learning. During that time, so much has changed in the world around us. Every day, and sometimes every hour, we receive new information about COVID-19. In the wake of this dynamic situation, we have had to reconsider just how realistic it is that we can return to campus in the coming weeks.

Based on the guidance of federal, state and local health officials, it is clear that the accelerated spread of COVID-19 will result in increased confirmed cases across our region and our country. With the imperative that we must do all we can to flatten the curve and protect all members of our community, Wilkes University has made the difficult decision to extend remote learning through the end of the semester, including final examinations. 

There are just 15 days of face-to-face instruction between April 6 and the last day of the semester. When you consider this relatively short time period, and the uncertainty of exactly when COVID-19 will peak in our area, we believe that this is the only responsible decision. This is heartbreaking for all of us, but particularly for our students, who call Wilkes University home.

Commencement: For our graduating students, the last six weeks of the spring semester are filled with celebration and eager anticipation. I want to assure you that Wilkes University will hold a commencement ceremony for our 2020 graduates. As of today, we have not made any changes to our May ceremony. If we find ourselves in a position where we have to postpone, we will choose a date in the near future when we can all be safely together again. And we will celebrate with all the pomp and circumstance our graduates have come to expect. We will make a final decision about commencement by April 15.

Refunds: We will also offer prorated refunds or credits on housing, parking and meal plans. As we stated, these are complex issues, especially when you consider financial aid implications. We continue to work on the best course of action for administering these monetary adjustments. Please be continue to monitor your Wilkes email accounts for more information. 

Residence Halls: I know how eager some of you will be to collect your belongings from residence halls. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate requests to visit campus until Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has lifted the order for non-life-essential businesses to close. When we can safely bring you back to campus, we will do so with a plan that maintains social and physical distancing. Residential students will receive more information as we monitor the status of the Governor’s order. If you have any items (i.e. medications) that are considered life-sustaining, please contact the Office of Residence Life.

Academics: As we continue to offer instruction remotely, the Provost’s Office, deans and members of the faculty will continue to communicate with our students on academic requirements and assessments, and ways we can support you during this extraordinary time. I am grateful for all they are doing to facilitate the completion of the spring semester with minimal delay and disruption. 

Workforce: Administrative offices will continue to operate remotely until further notice and are available to students needing assistance. All events are cancelled through the remainder of the semester. 

The ways that you are reaching out to each other and finding new and alternative ways to complete your academic work is heartening and inspiring. While we all feel a sense of loss at not being together on campus, we are no doubt developing new skills, new paradigms and new ways of connecting with each other. When this is all over, we will have the benefit of relating to each other in ways both familiar and newly developed.

With that being said, this is not the way any of us had hoped to finish the semester. This pandemic is unprecedented and with it, sadly, comes unprecedented decisions. Please know that even from afar, you have a Family of Colonels by your side, now and as you move into the next chapter of your life. At Wilkes, we are #forevercolonel.

I encourage you to continue to monitor the University’s coronavirus web page for the latest information. We will continue to communicate with you as new information becomes available. 

We can’t wait to be reunited with you again on campus. 

Paul S. Adams

Interim President