The heart of McMaster has always been the people who call the University home
August 12, 2020
Dear Members of the McMaster community,
With temperatures over 30 degrees this week it definitely feels like we are still in the middle of summer. This has been anything but a normal summer though, as you are all well aware.
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support and for the tremendous work to continue the academic work of the University throughout the pandemic, as well as keeping key parts of campus operating safely, and planning and preparing for the Fall term.
As you will recall, we set our course for Fall in early June when we made the decision to minimize the activity on campus and conduct the Spring/Summer and Fall terms online, with few exceptions. Our focus throughout this pandemic has been on the health and safety of every member of our community, and we also wanted to provide as much consistency and stability as possible, particularly for our students. To meet those goals we have had to make difficult decisions, including restricting residence places to a limited number of students and scaling down a number of service areas.
The framework that we first shared in April continues to guide our decisions.
McMaster Guiding Framework for Planning Decisions for September 2020 and Beyond
- For the 2020/21 academic year, we will continue to deliver on the academic and research mission of the University, while prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of all members of our community.
- In doing so, we will remain focused on supporting and enabling the success of our students, delivering a high-quality learning environment and overall student experience.
- Our goal is to welcome new and returning students back to campus as soon as this can be done safely and in accordance with Public Health guidance and government protocols. Priority will be given to those programs where physical access is necessary in order to complete academic requirements and enable students to complete their courses and graduate.
- We will maintain our focus on research excellence and on supporting the work of our researchers across all disciplines, as well as enabling and advancing our long history of creativity and innovation.
- We will continue to uphold our core University values, principles and policies, including our focus on inclusivity, accommodation and respect for one another, and our collegial decision-making processes. Any revisions or updating of policies will continue to be developed through the University’s pre-existing governance processes.
- We will continue to make fiscally prudent decisions that support our ongoing stability and success as an institution, balancing risk with opportunity.
- We will continue to work together as a community to support our students, faculty and staff across the University and will ensure that information, plans and decisions are communicated clearly and promptly.
Our gradual return to research is proceeding smoothly. I am confident that, while the Fall term will definitely be different this year, our students will still have access to all the supports they need to be successful, and our academic programming will be equally innovative and engaging in the virtual environment.
As we continue to prepare for Fall, we are also turning our minds to planning for the Winter term. Our new Provost, Susan Tighe, will be leading our approach to planning for Winter, along with academic and other leaders from across the University. Our Crisis Management Team has evolved into a group we call “Back to the Future.” This group includes the President and Vice-Presidents, the Deans and academic and administrative AVPs; this group continues to meet weekly to discuss issues and next steps and inform the operational decisions made by the President and Vice-Presidents’ group (PVP).
The Return to Work Group, which includes operational leads from across campus, works through the details of the processes, supports and supplies needed to prepare the campus and implement the decisions made. In addition to these groups, significant planning is underway across all Faculties and units; the commitment of our faculty and staff to this work continues to be outstanding.
As most of us continue to work from home, campus may seem far away. But the University is so much more than a physical location. The heart of McMaster has always been the people who call the University home. The energy and creativity that you and your colleagues bring to our community has not been diminished by the pandemic.
Thank you for all that you continue to do and especially for all of the work being done to make the Fall term a success. As we head towards September, we will continue to communicate developments. Please watch the Daily News and the COVID website for updates and information.
Messages from leadership