July 23, 2020

Dear CBU Community,

Today, I am writing with enthusiasm and hope as we, as a Lasallian community, prepare for the start of our Fall 2020 semester.

While it may be a semester unlike any we have ever experienced here at Christian Brothers University, it will share the same fundamental principles that have sustained Lasallian education for over 300 years: a dedication to high-quality education and a steadfast commitment to a respectful, inclusive, and supportive community for all.

President Jack Shannon Addresses the CBU Community, July 2020
President Jack Shannon addresses the CBU Community – July 23, 2020

After careful consideration of the public health and medical data available to us, and in consultation with the Shelby County Health Department, our Board of Trustees, and other public health and education experts, we will be reopening our campus in early August. We will be offering face-to-face instruction, complimented by a range of online, remote, and hybrid course offerings.  We will also be welcoming students to campus in our residence halls, albeit in a reduced capacity of single bedroom occupancies.

We recognize that this decision comes with some risks.  However, we believe it is the right decision for our campus community and, perhaps most importantly, the educational and developmental needs of our students.

Our students and faculty benefit greatly from being in community with each other as they experience the richness of intellectual exchange and social engagement that is only available in the unique environment of a college campus.  For many of you, we know that CBU is a safe haven.  It is a special place for you that is akin to a second home.  Recognizing that, we want to welcome you back to campus as we continue to walk with you on your journey towards your degree.  We believe that it is our mission to provide the kind of Lasallian education that develops minds, touches hearts, and changes lives, and that we are best able to carry out that mission as we often repeat – “together and by association”.

In order to safely educate and engage with each other, we will be reducing our campus density by increasing our remote instructional options and by modifying our physical spaces with assigned seating in classrooms, directed traffic flows within buildings, and adjustments to our dining options and shared public spaces.  Further instructions on these changes to our daily life will be provided before you arrive on campus. 

Beginning on Monday, July 27, students will begin to see changes on your academic schedule as some courses are moved online or to a hybrid format.  Our Academic Services team will be working closely with all students to make sure you have the options you need to move forward in your degree program.

Regrettably, in order to reduce campus density, we will also be reducing our campus housing availability as we move to single-occupancy assignments.  We have done our best to ensure that those with the greatest need for on-campus housing have been assigned to a room.  Information regarding housing assignments will be sent via email next week.  Students will be required to confirm acceptance of their assignment quickly, as we will maintain a waiting list to afford as many students as possible the opportunity to join us in one of our residences.

As we are all thinking more about our health and safety these days, we will be enhancing our Health Services Center with an expanded range of services and additional partners to provide for our testing and tracing needs.  We will also have quarantine housing options available should, God forbid, any residential student require this option, and we will have staff readily available to assist those students with their needs.

At CBU, we value and cherish our Lasallian sense of community.  It is something that sustains us and distinguishes us as a university.  At no time is that need for a commitment to community greater than the present, and so we have established the CBU Compact, a pledge that all of us will be signing.  This pledge affirms that we will respect each other, abide by public health and safety protocols, and as a community, will do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of each other as well as our friends and family.  Everyone – faculty, staff, and students alike – will receive a copy of the CBU Compact with additional information about signing this document and how each of us can fulfill this pledge to our Lasallian community.

In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you for all you do in support of Christian Brothers University.  Although we are part of an international network of Lasallians and one of six Lasallian universities here in the United States, we are a unique and vibrant community with our own set of challenges and opportunities before us.  Over the past few months as we have worked through our initial transition to remote learning and prepared for what a reopening plan might look like, we have creatively and nimbly addressed the challenges we have faced by relying on what makes CBU so special – each other.  I have seen example after example of how you have made personal sacrifices in support of a greater good.  For this, I am grateful to count myself as one of you. 

The months ahead will require a renewed commitment to each other as our smiles may be hidden behind masks and our favorite campus events are moved to online formats, but together I know we will do all that we can to ensure not just a safe return to campus but a fulfilling, enriching, and rewarding fall semester for all of our students.

In Lasallian Community,

Jack Shannon
President of Christian Brothers University