March 12, 2020

Dear CBU Community,

We find ourselves living in an extraordinary and unprecedented time. As we begin today, I am so grateful and encouraged that, even as we face a unique and unexpected set of circumstances, our Christian Brothers University community has risen fully to the challenge. I want to thank our Trustees, my colleagues, and our faculty, staff, and students for your wise guidance, your tireless support, and your unwavering commitment to our community here on this campus and throughout our world.

As I hope you have all heard from me in our communications the past several weeks, the health and well-being of our community has been — and continues to be — at the forefront of my mind and the minds of my leadership team as we have carefully planned our response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

It is important for me to first remind everyone that there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Christian Brothers University at this time. While, as previously announced, we do have two community members who have self-quarantined out of an abundance of caution, both have remained in daily remote communication with us and remain free of any symptoms. We offer them our continued support and prayers as they complete that period of self-monitoring.

At this time, after careful research and thoughtful consideration of all available options, my leadership team and I — along with our Board of Trustees — have decided to transition our academic operations to remote learning, in an effort to do everything within our power to mitigate the spread of the virus. We do not make this decision lightly, as we know that this transition will cause some significant temporary disruptions in the lives of our faculty, staff, students, and their families. However, we feel it is in the best interest of our campus and our community to take such action in following public health recommendations for social distancing and virus mitigation.

As this is an unprecedented moment for all of us, we expect that there are situations and questions that we have not fully answered. So, in the coming days, we will continue to receive and respond to all individual concerns to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff and the health of our broader community.At this time, I can provide you with the following information:

  • Our faculty and staff have been making considerable progress towards preparing us for this moment, but in order to ensure we are providing the best instructional opportunities for our students, we will be cancelling all classes starting tomorrow, Friday, March 13 and continuing such class cancellations through Tuesday, March 17. 
  • Beginning Wednesday, March 18, we will move to a remote format for all courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 
  • We hope to resume in-person instruction on Tuesday, April 14, after the previously scheduled Easter holiday break, but we will continue to monitor the situation and keep everyone informed. 
  • Students who are able to do so are asked to move out of on-campus housing by no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17. Since, at this point, we are uncertain that we will be able to return to campus following the Easter holiday break, we encourage students to take as many of their personal belongings as possible with them when they depart campus between now and Tuesday. Students for whom leaving campus will be extraordinarily difficult — for example, international students or those with extenuating circumstances — should apply to Residence Life to remain on campus. An email will be sent to all students in on-campus housing later today with further instructions for accessing and completing that application.Let me stress that we are committed to working through the challenges we may face in making this transition in an equitable and caring manner, as befits our Lasallian principles of providing a quality education in an inclusive environment that values and respects all persons. We will be assessing the housing circumstances of all students who apply on an individual basis and we will continue to do our best to support our residents in this challenging time. 
  • From a business operations perspective, Christian Brothers University remains open and such operations will continue during our time of remote learning. Staff and those faculty with operational responsibilities will continue to report to campus as they are able. Individuals who fall within high-risk categories such as older adults or those with serious chronic medical conditions are encouraged to work with their supervisor or the Director of Human Resources to determine what options may be available for remote work. 
  • Our campus dining, library, recreation facilities, and student support services will remain open and available to students through Tuesday, March 17. We are making plans to continue to provide student support and other academically-focused services available online as students pursue remote courses. We will provide additional information, including any changes to on-campus services — such as dining and recreation facilities — over email, via social media, and on our website. 
  • All on-campus student events will be cancelled beginning tomorrow and continuing through April 14. We will contact all members of the community who have scheduled events on our campus to discuss the most prudent options available. 
  • At this time, our Athletics Director is working closely with the NCAA and the Gulf South Conference to determine the best course of action for athletic contests and practices. Our student athletes are encouraged to stay in close contact with their coaches and check their CBU email daily for more information. Our fans are encouraged to follow the website and @CBUBucs on social media for the latest announcements. 
  • Students who currently participate in our work-study program should expect additional information from their supervisors, our Office of Financial Aid, or the Career Center. 
  • As I near the end of my list of announcements, I want to address one very special group of our community members about whom many of you have inquired — our Christian Brothers. I am happy to report that the nine (9) Christian Brothers who live on our campus are in good spirits and doing well. They continue to pray for our community as we do for them. Our campus nurse has been checking on the Brothers regularly, and we will assist them should any additional medical support be needed. 
  • Finally, many of our graduating students and their families are starting to make plans for Commencement, scheduled for May 9. At this time, we are still planning to hold our ceremony as scheduled. Should we feel at a later date that it is in everyone’s best interest to cancel or reschedule, we will promptly inform our graduating students and their families.

Again, let me reiterate that I am certain we will have some additional unique educational circumstances such as internships and clinical placements that may require special accommodations. Our faculty, staff, and administrators will be working with students in those circumstances to ensure we continue to provide the best possible educational opportunities and will provide additional information as we work through any questions that arise.

Less than a year ago, I visited Christian Brothers University for the first time as a candidate for your presidency. I certainly did not know then that I would be standing before you in such extraordinary circumstances making announcements such as these. But I want to assure all of you that I am even more committed today than I was then to the success of the students, faculty, and staff of Christian Brothers University. This is a difficult decision for us to make, but we feel it is the correct and responsible decision to make at this time.

As you have questions, we encourage you to reach out and work with us. Students, please keep in close contact with your professors and academic advisors. Faculty and staff, likewise, your department chairs and supervisors, deans, and the executive team will remain available for any questions you may have. And for our alumni, friends, and the greater Mid-South community, please reach out if you have any questions about how this decision and others we will be making will be impacting Christian Brothers University.

We will continue to provide regular updates to our campus community through email, social media, and on our website, Later today, we will also be posting to that website an email address you can use to reach us with any questions you may have.

As a member of the Lasallian educational community founded 300 years ago, we often turn to our founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, for words of inspiration. As I close, these words seem appropriate: “Have much care and affection for the young people entrusted to you.” Here at Christian Brothers University, we take those words very seriously and I assure you, they have informed our decision-making process throughout this ever-evolving situation as we carefully and thoughtfully consider both the young and the young at heart. Today, I would ask all of you to join us in having much care for all those around us as we support each other with cooperation and grace.


Jack Shannon
President of Christian Brothers University