Dear Alumni and Friends,
All of us continue to process how much has happened over the past several months, and I write at a moment where there remains uncertainty about what lies ahead, which is challenging in so many ways. I wanted to take this chance to update you on how we are planning for fall and responding to global and national events as they impact our campus and community. As you know, LSA is a truly remarkable liberal arts college, and I am grateful for your passion for our mission.
The liberal arts are always needed, and they are especially vital now as we collectively confront a global pandemic and respond to urgent calls to dismantle structural racism and systemic inequality. Our students graduate with powerful abilities to solve complex problems, with rigor and empathy; they also have honed their skills at communicating clearly and with integrity, as well as creating community across differences. Our global alumni community is living proof of these values. Each day you are making a positive difference in the world through your personal and professional lives. Our students aspire to do the same, and your support helps make that possible.
LSA alumni have been essential to meeting the challenges of the past few months, from donating time, resources, and expertise to support students doing virtual internships, to providing financial support through the LSA Student Emergency Fund and the LSA Need-Based Scholarship Fund to support the students who need it most. Everyone here is extremely grateful for all you have done and continue to do.
Here is some more information on what’s happening on campus.
On June 22 President Schissel announced that U-M will have a public health-informed, in-residence fall semester. This means that students may take classes entirely online, or in hybrid formats (in-person and remote), so that we can accommodate different needs and circumstances. Safety and well-being for all members of the LSA community continue to be the top priority, and great amounts of flexibility and innovation will be required to deliver a powerful and purposeful learning experience for our students. You can read more about the university’s plan to return to campus at this website. The plan includes large classes being offered completely online; personal protective equipment for students, faculty, and staff; changes to the academic calendar; and more. And let me acknowledge here that as many details as we do know, there is still much to figure out.
We are very much looking forward to engaging with our students this fall, both in person and online. The energy students bring to LSA is irrepressible and irreplaceable, and they continue to inspire me and to remind all of us that they are key drivers in making positive and purposeful change in the world.
That kind of change is badly needed. During this global pandemic we have also worked to respond to systemic racism that plagues our country and weighs heavily on our community, especially our Black students, faculty, and staff. I wrote a message of solidarity as an expression of unequivocal support for the Black community and as a statement of our commitment to the anti-racism work that we must do as a college. We’ve held a virtual community town hall, and we are committed to confronting and dismantling the biases and barriers that impede full inclusion within our community.
Our international students are also facing challenges and barriers to their education and experience that are deeply troubling. We are seeing ongoing racism and xenophobia against our Asian and Asian American faculty, staff, and students, a situation worsened by misperceptions of coronavirus and recent federal policies restricting Chinese student visas and limiting research. I stand with President Schlissel’s statement in support of Chinese students and scholars. In addition, all international students' situations have become more tenuous after Immigration and Customs Enforcement declared that student visas will no longer be valid if a university moves to online-only instruction. We remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting international students, scholars, and faculty; they have long been and continue to be vital members of the LSA community.
To say that this is a challenging time is an understatement. However, I continue to take heart and inspiration from our mission and our students, faculty, staff, and you. Here in LSA, we continue to reimagine the world, bringing our expertise to bear on pressing questions about the human experience and the natural world and fostering the next generation of leaders and change-makers. Thank you again for all you do for LSA. I hope you continue to take care of yourselves and those around you. Be well and Go Blue.
Best wishes from Ann Arbor,