This past weekend, we celebrated Mass of the Holy Spirit virtually with our first year students, their families, and many other members of our wider campus community. Although there were only 35 of us in total in the chapel, I have heard from many how much they enjoyed being together in prayer and worship. Now that we are in our third week of the semester, our classes are in full swing, our testing protocols have begun and all of us are settling into new routines for this unusual semester. I want to thank all of you once again for the incredible commitment and creativity that you have shown in supporting our students, virtually and in person on Mount St. James. Each of you plays an important role in the educational experience our students enjoy at Holy Cross. Your dedication under the challenging circumstances that we have faced in the past six months is the reason that their experience this semester will be fulfilling and transformative, whether they are studying on campus or remotely.
Unfortunately this semester we cannot gather in person for our typical fall reception, but I would like to invite you to a virtual President’s Fall Welcome Address which will be livestreamed on September 22 at 4:45 p.m. You can access the address here. I will provide updates about the fall semester as well as information about how we are approaching a decision about the spring, and I will share a few other important announcements as well. I hope you will join me.
In the meantime, I want to update you on some important work that we are undertaking with strategic planning, as well as remind you about the upcoming visit of our NECHE review committee.
This year, at a time when higher education is facing new and unprecedented challenges, including a critical national conversation around social and racial injustice, the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a national election, we are moving forward with strategic planning, crafting a shared vision for the future. This strategic planning work will help us to identify bold strategic priorities that will help us focus our work and allocate our resources for the years ahead.
As you may recall, last semester, our consultant on this project CFAR and the chairs of the Strategic Planning process, Ellen Keohane and Ken Mills, hosted a series of conversations with faculty, staff and students. From those conversations, key areas for further exploration have surfaced. Ellen and Ken have worked with members of the Executive Team and others across campus to identify faculty and staff to lead these working groups and to be part of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. The full Steering Committee, which includes the co-leads for each Working Group, is as follows:
- Ellen Keohane, Chief Information Officer (co-chair)
- Professor Ken Mills, Chemistry (co-chair)
- Jane Corr, Chief of Staff
- Margaret Freije, Provost and Dean of the College
- John Hill, Director of Communications
- Liberal Arts: Professor Rosa Carrasquillo, History, and Professor Timothy Joseph, Classics
- Community: Professor Daniel Frost, Spanish, and Lynn Verrecchia, Senior Associate Director, Admissions
- Student Experience: Professor Sarah Petty, Chemistry, and Michelle Rosa-Martins, Director Office of Multicultural Education
- Diversity, Equity and Social Justice: Professor Ericka Fisher, Education, and Amit Taneja, Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Mission and Identity: Professor Mary Conley, History, and Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, Director, Office of College Chaplains
The Working Group leads will be reaching out in the coming days with invitations to join each of their Working Groups.
Throughout this process, we will continue to engage faculty, staff, students, and alumni through meetings, surveys, and email. We will share the work as we go, regularly communicating updates and asking for feedback. Community engagement and transparent communications will be cornerstones of this effort.
As you have heard from our Accreditation Steering Committee, our accreditation visit by the New England Commission on Higher Education, or NECHE (formerly known as NEASC), is taking place September 27-30. The NECHE review committee is headed by Dr. Joanne Rooney, President of Loyola University in Chicago, and includes several representatives from other colleges and universities who bring expertise in diverse areas of higher education teaching and administration. This year, the visitation will be virtual, and will include a variety of meetings and open sessions with various campus constituencies including students, faculty and staff. The open sessions will be held on Monday, September 28, as follows:
1:00 a.m - 12:00 p.m All Staff
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. All Faculty
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. All Students
5:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Pre-tenure Faculty
I encourage you to participate in the process through these open sessions, and offer my gratitude to those of you who have dedicated your time and insights to this critically important process to date. Those who are unable to participate in scheduled sessions because they are observing Yom Kippur should contact Denise Schaeffer regarding other possible arrangements.
Thank you all again for all that you are doing for Holy Cross and for our students. You are all in my prayers, and I look forward to being with you virtually next week.
Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.