Dear Hollins community,
We hear you.
Thank you to the 659 members of our community who completed our recent survey about our reopening plan, and for sharing your feedback and ideas. Words such as “excited,” “anxious,” “hopeful,” and “concerned” resonated throughout your responses, and we are right there with you in experiencing these feelings.
We are also very grateful to those faculty, staff, administrators, and SGA leaders who took the time to talk with us about the plan. We shared the various scenarios we face and discussed two key questions:
- How do we deliver the best Hollins experience we can given the current constraints and changing landscape?
- What resources or support could be provided to enhance your comfort level with a face-to-face, on-campus semester?
What came through clearly in both the survey and in our conversations was that while a vast majority desires to be together in the fall, our community also wants greater individual flexibility in how they might receive their education and deliver their courses in the fall term.
To be clear, we remain fully committed to providing the best on-campus, in-person learning environment we can offer, given the conditions, for those who want it. That said, we are also exploring ways we can honor individual students’ and faculty members’ interest in greater flexibility and learning online, and to provide the best experience possible for them in that environment. Likewise, we aim to be responsive to the concerns of staff, and are exploring ways to accommodate the needs of our employees. Please understand that there will be inevitable and necessary trade-offs in our efforts to address the interest in expanded flexibility. You will receive additional information once changes made in this regard are finalized. We ask for your patience and grace as we navigate this space.
The desire for safety is one shared by all of us in the community. We want to be together and remain physically healthy, and we need to have our emotional and social needs met as well. A healthy campus can only be achieved if we ALL commit to doing it together. If, as our survey results suggest, 10 percent of us ignore these guidelines, this effort will fail.
No president, cabinet, faculty, student, or other individual or single group can assure everyone’s health and well-being without the support and effort of us all. In a sea of unknowns, what we do know is that we have to make our communal health our top priority. In order to be on campus, we have to prioritize mutual accountability and responsibility for our communal well-being. To that end, the Culture of Care commitment is forthcoming and will need to be signed by all within our campus community. Our togetherness depends on our ability and commitment to keep one another well. Every action counts and matters.
While we continue to move toward a more flexible reopening, the reopening plan continues to be dynamic and ever evolving in response to the pandemic. That is an essential part of our work. We were asked several times in our meetings to be as transparent as possible, and to communicate about these matters regularly. As such, you will receive weekly updates so that you are aware of our actions, and updates will continue being made regularly to our Carefully Onward reopening site.
We also heard a desire to understand not only the decisions we are making, but why we are making them. We have updated our FAQ at Carefully Onward to outline the rationale behind some of our decisions. We share this in order to be transparent and to help our community members make informed decisions.
I want to end by sharing the point made quite often in our conversations: We want our students back on campus. We want the campus enlivened with your energy and voices. We think it is especially important for our first-year students to come to campus and be engaged with the Hollins experience. We also want to honor the concerns of all in our community, even as it is clear how varied – and sometimes in respectful opposition – those concerns might be.
In this time of uncertainty, what I do know with absolute certainty is that we can only be together if we work together. With this pandemic, we are only as strong as the community member least interested in our collective health and safety. We heard as much from many of you – faculty, staff, administrators, and students – who mentioned “consequences” and “enforcement” as it relates to the Culture of Care. As such, we will be sharing next week our Culture of Care conduct expectations and outcomes for noncompliance.
We fully believe in this community and what it can be if we unite in committing to a Culture of Care to look out for and protect one another.
Mary Dana Hinton