Reflecting and Looking Ahead | Student Message from President Bergman Posted on May 26th, 2020 by

TO: Gustavus Students
FROM: President Bergman
SUBJECT: Reflecting and Looking Ahead
DATE: May 26, 2020

You did it, Gusties! Today officially marks the last day of final exams, and with it, the completion of our academic year. It is my sincerest hope that when you reflect on this semester in the years to come, you remember not only the challenges we faced but also the unanticipated lessons we learned.

The liberal arts equip us to apply an interdisciplinary lens to the great challenges of our time, thoughtfully explore the intersections of raw knowledge and our shared humanity, and tailor our actions to the ever-changing world we live in. When you look back, I want you to remember the content of your classes—the facts and figures and formulas. More importantly, however, I want you to remember that people matter—that no crisis is too daunting, no problem too complex, and no challenge too great for us to face together in community. For all of us, this spring has been a laboratory experience in life. Let us carry its lessons with us as we move forward together.

And we are moving forward. Even as I compose this email, 12 campus action teams consisting of students, faculty, and staff are developing strategies and detailed plans that will allow us to be together on campus this fall. These teams are digging into areas ranging from residential life to dining service to safety and prevention measures. Our plans will be both comprehensive and flexible, allowing us to respond to the evolving conditions of the pandemic while emphasizing in-person, on-campus learning as our primary goal. Let me be clear: we intend to have students move back to campus and begin classes as scheduled on Tuesday, September 8. We will continue to partner with the Minnesota Department of Health, follow government guidelines, and adjust plans and schedules as necessary. I am confident that our community is operating from a position of strength at this time of uncertainty.

We will be in contact over the summer with more information as these plans are developed and finalized. For now, I hope you can take some time to reflect on the incredible growth that you experienced this spring. Then look to the future. How can you take the lessons of resilience, adaptability, and perseverance with you? How will these principles, along with your liberal arts education, shape your journey through the years ahead?

To the Class of 2020—Congratulations! My thoughts are with you as you leave Gustavus and prepare to navigate your first job or begin graduate school. Please know that we remain committed to celebrating your achievements with a commencement ceremony once we can safely host large gatherings on campus. In the meantime, I invite you to join me and other members of the Gustavus community as we commemorate Saturday, May 30—a date that has long been marked on your calendar—with an online graduation celebration beginning at 2 p.m. central followed by virtual department and organization receptions.

At the end of every academic year, my heart overflows with gratitude and pride. This is even more true today. Gusties, I cannot thank you enough for the ways that you have responded to adversity this spring. You looked out for each other on campus and from afar, partnered with your peers and faculty to support one another, and lived each day with a spirit of care and compassion.

The future is bright for Gustavus, and the future is bright for society, because of people like you.

You’ll hear from me again soon. In the meantime, take a few days to relax. Tell your families and friends that you love them. Breathe deep. Stay safe. And think of us here on the hill. We’ll be thinking of you.

Yours in community,

President Bergman



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