Dear Students and Loyola Families,
The summer days are flying by, and we are looking forward to beginning the new academic year. The Evergreen campus is full of anticipation and excitement as we count the days to the arrival of students and the start of classes.
In just a few weeks, students will be here to help us open the stunning Fernandez Center for Innovation and Collaborative Learning, to enjoy a coffee from the beautifully expanded Starbucks, to celebrate the announcement of our next president later this fall, and to kick off a fantastic year with classmates and friends. You might be excited, or you might be feeling a little nervous about this new beginning. I assure you that is perfectly normal. We will start this year together.
Our COVID-19 Rapid Response Team and Policy Group are closely monitoring the movement of the delta variant of COVID-19, and we are confident the plans we have in place are well-thought-out and adaptable. Especially because we have required vaccinations for our community, we are confident that we can offer an exceptional educational, co-curricular, and extracurricular experience. Each of us plays a part in making good decisions to help keep our community safe, and I know we all want this to be a wonderful semester.
Earlier this month, we made the decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty, staff, and administrators, all of whom need to show proof of vaccination or be granted a religious or medical exemption by Sept. 13, 2021. At this point, 85% of our employees are vaccinated, and that number is moving steadily in the right direction as we approach that deadline.
Because we do have members of our community who have been granted exemptions from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and because we know there are cases where vaccinated individuals do get COVID-19, we have a full plan for isolation and quarantine, required surveillance testing for those with exemptions, and case management. Our Fall 2021 COVID-19 Operations Plan is available online, and we will amend it as needed as the semester continues.
Although we wish we did not still need a COVID-19 operations plan at all, we are well-positioned for the semester ahead. Thank you to each of you for doing your part to help keep our community safe and healthy.
50 Years of Women
During the 2021-2022 academic year, our university will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Loyola’s merger with Mount Saint Agnes College in 1971, which established Loyola as a fully coeducational institution. During our “50 Years of Women Celebration,” we will consider the accomplishments of co-education and mark the contributions that women have made to the Evergreen campus over the past five decades.
Loyola’s history is richer and stronger because of the inclusion of women in our community, and it will continue to evolve as we focus on being even more inclusive and welcoming. You can learn more on the 50 Years of Women site.
We will welcome families to campus for an in-person Family Weekend, Sept. 24-26. Among other activities and events, we are planning a celebration of the opening of the Fernandez Center for Innovation and Collaborative Learning from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24. I hope you’ll join us to discover that beautiful new space in person. I hope our students and their families will make the most of that time together. More information will be available on the Family Weekend website soon.
The news coming from Haiti and Afghanistan this weekend has been extremely troubling. Please join me in praying for all those affected.
Stay well and enjoy these last weeks of summer. The faculty, staff, administrators, and I all look forward to seeing you soon.
Amanda M. Thomas, Ph.D.