Message from the President (May 13, 2020)

Students, faculty and staff,

I continue to be impressed and humbled by how our community has responded to the unprecedented set of circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With an unwavering focus on the success of our students and their continued learning, we have navigated these turbulent times with great care and accomplishment, including having over 1,000 students complete their degrees this spring. The spirit of St. John Baptist De LaSalle is alive in all our efforts. Our innovation and creativity has served us well, and will continue to be drawn upon as we transition to the summer and plan for the fall.

While we have embraced the flexibility, convenience and accessibility of online education for over a decade, personal interaction with and among students remains at the core of our Lasallian identity and mission. De La Salle has taught us to walk side-by-side with our students and guide them along their journey.  A fundamental commitment within our mission is, “a spirit of association which develops community in all teaching, learning and service.”  It is more important now than ever to recommit ourselves to this spirit of association as we reflect on how best to fulfill our commitment to an excellent educational experience at Lewis University. Now that the Spring Semester has concluded and summer classes are underway, it is time to turn our attention to our plans for the fall.

As we look to the fall semester, we approach our decision making process with a heavy dose of humility, knowing that circumstances will continue to change and that we are not fully in control of many of the factors determining the final composition of our fall semester.  In spite of this uncertainty, it is our intention to have face-to-face instruction on our campuses for the Fall 2020 Semester including residential living. We will do this in a thoughtful, deliberate and systematic way, embracing best practices of the American College Health Association (ACHA) and complying with requirements of the Restore Illinois plan as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Will County Health Department. The key aspects of our operations will include the following:

Health and Safety
A focus on the health and safety of all members of the Lewis community will be our highest priority. We will establish new safety protocols and procedures on our campuses. These will include measures such as the use of face coverings, social distancing, staggered business hours, modified class schedules, hybrid course delivery and increased disinfection and cleaning. We will continue to educate our community about prevention measures, making current information from public health entities available, and having screening protocols and the ability to do contact tracing in place.

Faculty and Staff Return
We will implement a phased approach for the return of faculty and staff from remote work back to campus over the course of the summer. This will be staged and progressive over time. We will continue to provide support and attention to each student as we return to a more typical office presence office and an active campus life.

Face-to-Face Instruction
We will resume face-to-face instruction while adopting a number of protective measures in this new environment.

  • We plan to keep the current published class schedule supported by additional online and hybrid instruction.  In most cases, this would involve a weekly face-to-face class meeting with corresponding online instruction.
  • All experiential courses, such as labs and flight courses, will meet with modified schedules to ensure social distancing.
  • Thanksgiving will mark the end of face-to-face class meetings for most undergraduates and the final weeks of their semester will be completed fully online.
  • Off-campus experiential learning will take place as permitted by external partners and may extend into December. 
  • We will retain an array of options, guided by our Lasallian mission, that are adaptable to any sudden changes or circumstances.

Residence Halls Reopen
Our residence halls will reopen for the Fall 2020 Semester. This will require a wide range of innovative practices and approaches. Our student services and residence life staff will adjust residential environments, dining services, and student activities to balance health and safety with building community and campus life.

Under the direction of our provost, Dr. Christopher Sindt, the Crisis and Emergency Planning Team (CEPT) is expanding the scope of their current work and establishing teams to coordinate our planning under each of these four areas. I cannot thank the members of this committee enough for all that they have done and continue to do to ensure our safe return to campus.

Additional plans and details will evolve over the course of the next few months and as we receive guidance from key external entities.

I want to thank you for your patience and resilience in the face of this uncertainty. This will continue to be a very fluid situation, which will require new levels of collaboration and cooperation. The strength and commitment of the members of the Lewis family continue to be our strongest asset.

This pandemic also has presented us with a unique opportunity to reimagine how we work, learn and support each other. I am confident we will emerge from this period even better prepared to support our students.


David J. Livingston