As we approach the end of this extraordinary semester, I want to express my gratitude to our entire community of students, faculty and staff and share how proud I am of the Mason Nation. We have truly come together to respond to this crisis.
Our faculty and staff are being challenged in ways we never imagined, and yet we continue to deliver on our mission and keep our students on track to earn their degrees. This Friday we will host a Virtual Celebration of the Class of 2020, and I’m thrilled to say that we will be recognizing 9,728 students who have completed their degrees. Please join us at 2 p.m. for the livestream on GMU-TV.
As we move forward, we continue to work on plans for the fall semester, focusing on our education mission and our commitment to the health and safety of our community. As I stated last week, our intention is to bring students back to campus and resume face-to-face instruction in the fall, with appropriate guidance of public health officials and with modifications as needed to ensure the safety of our entire community. Most of Northern Virginia remains under a stay-at-home order through late May, based on public health conditions not yet conducive to opening. We will be making our plans for the fall semester based on the best available information about expected conditions in late August, and will build in contingencies allowing for adjustments if the information changes.
As I shared last week, I tasked a group of senior leaders at Mason several weeks ago to consider and analyze options based on data and the best information available at this moment. This group, named the Patriot Tiger Team and comprised of university leaders from both the academic and administrative units, delivered a thoughtful report to me and my senior leadership team this week. Please join me in thanking the Tiger Team for their hard work and dedication to Mason. You can read the report here.
On Wednesday, Interim Provost Mark Ginsberg, Senior Vice President Carol Kissal and Chief of Staff Dietra Trent joined me for a conversation with the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate and two student organizations about fall planning and the challenges ahead.
We also have also established a portal on the provost’s website where you can share your comments and questions: https://provost.gmu.edu/about/Fall2020Comments.
This report is not a directive, but a framework for our discussion that is intended to further our conversation and guide us in making the best decisions for Mason in the weeks and months ahead. There is still much to consider, and I look forward to hearing from our community. We hope to have further clarity on these issues by early June, and will share more details then.
It bears repeating that this is an unprecedented time, not just for George Mason University but for the world. Our decisions are far from easy, and we are not going to make a perfect decision because there are no perfect options. We are faced with an enormous challenge, but I know that we are up to it.
The one thing I can commit to unequivocally is that we are in this together.