A Message to W&J Alumni from President Knapp

Dear W&J Alumni,

I am writing to thank you for your many expressions of support during this challenging time, and to update you on our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You may rest assured that our overriding priority in this crisis is the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.  Our goal is to ensure that all of our students are able to complete their coursework for this semester, especially our seniors who are preparing to graduate in just a few weeks.  To accomplish this the College has moved all instruction online to allow students and professors to work together from remote locations.  This was no easy achievement for a college that offers no online instruction, but I am immensely proud of our faculty for working diligently over the last week to redesign their courses for technologically enabled delivery.

As we navigate in these uncharted waters, we are in continuous communication with leaders of dozens of colleges and universities in our region and across the nation.  Together, we are solving unprecedented problems and developing shared practices, so that W&J’s response to the pandemic mirrors that of many other institutions.  For example, we all must be cognizant of the needs of students who are unable to return to their homes due to travel restrictions, financial barriers, or access issues for online learning.  We, like other colleges, are continuing to house a small group of students who we required to document their needs for on-campus resources.  Like all of our students, those remaining on campus are receiving their courses through online instruction to ensure appropriate social distancing.  Further safety measures include closing dining venues and moving to a takeout-only model; closing our fitness center; closing our library, canceling all campus events and gatherings, including admissions activities; sanitizing surfaces in campus buildings throughout the day and closing spaces not deemed essential; and limiting access to many campus facilities to those with an updated swipe card.

I know you also share our concern for the well-being of our faculty and staff.  Please know that I have assured our employees that they need not worry about job security or compensation during this time. There will be no lapse in medical benefits and we will provide flexibility and the paid time off needed to handle child care, illnesses and other challenges during this emergency.  We have also dramatically reduced the number of employees on campus through telecommuting and other arrangements for those whose positions are not critical for campus continuity.  Our faculty are encouraged to deliver online instruction from home for the sake of their own health and safety.

I am grateful that so many of our alumni have offered encouragement and assistance during this time of crisis.  As you might imagine, it has been necessary to cancel or postpone planned alumni gatherings for the foreseeable future, but we hope to see all of you at Homecoming this fall.  Meanwhile, for those who wish to support students whose families are experiencing financial hardships in this crisis, contributions to our GIFT Fund are specifically designated for this purpose and deeply appreciated by students in need.

We will continue to prioritize safety and a sense of stability for our students and employees in a situation that changes as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Our policies are designed to change as needed, and you can keep track of new developments at www.washjeff.edu/coronavirus.  If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact Michele Hufnagel, Interim Vice President for Development & Alumni Engagement at mhufnagel@washjeff.edu or call 724-223-6503.

At this time more than ever, we at W&J are thankful for the support of our community of caring alumni.  You can be confident that your alma mater is rising to today’s challenges with an unwavering commitment to our timeless mission.

Juncta Juvant,

John

John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor

Stay informed with official updates from Washington & Jefferson College.