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Published on September 03, 2020

President's Message

President NunezI write to our alumni and friends at a unique time in human history. While the immediate future is full of uncertainty, I can share with you how Eastern has been meeting the challenge of COVID-19. I could not be prouder of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of our Eastern community during this pandemic.

When students left for Spring Break on March 13, we told them to prepare for two weeks of online instruction when they returned. Our employees left campus that day as well, and when the realities of the pandemic became clear, we joined Connecticut in working, teaching and studying from home for the balance of the semester. With only a week to prepare, the faculty moved 1,500 classes online! We helped 2,200 students move safely home and packed and stored the belongings of those who could not manage to do so on their own. We conducted hundreds of advising, counseling and other support sessions online and stayed connected using a range of online tools. 

Even as we vacated the campus in March and finished the semester online, Eastern was having an outstanding year. The Board of Regents approved two new majors in Data Science and Anthropology. A faculty committee finalized new learning outcomes for our liberal arts core, and other committees developed the next strategic plan and an employability model to enhance our graduates’ marketability in the workforce. We also worked on our accreditation Self-Study. On May 19, we held a virtual commencement and the YouTube video we created has had more than 8,000 views. Under the circumstances, it was an exceptional year.

As you read this issue of EASTERN Magazine, we are preparing for the fall semester, when we hope to feature a comprehensive mixture of “hybrid” on-ground courses and online instruction. With 6,500 signs posted across campus to remind the community of healthy hygiene habits and safety guidelines; 500 new hand sanitizers; plexiglass partitions; reduced room capacities; and a host of other safety protocols, we are committed to doing all we can to provide students, faculty and staff a safe campus environment. If health conditions change, we are also prepared to move to a fully online semester.

This issue of EASTERN Magazine tells of some of the efforts made since March to provide an outstanding liberal arts education to our students. It tells the stories of heroic alumni working in the healthcare industry to save lives. Another story tells of dozens of volunteers making face masks for local care facilities. Everyone is doing something to support the battle against COVID-19.

This is a seminal moment in our history and potentially the threshold of new beginnings. Whether innovations in medicine or other new discoveries are in the making, the pandemic has brought a new appreciation for our frailty as individuals and our need as humans to stay connected. At Eastern, we remain together even as we are apart. Thank you for being part of what has made our University strong throughout our history. We will endure.

Elsa M. Núñez