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April 1, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I am aware that some of you are upset about the two mental health days that were announced by Interim Provost Kearns.  I understand.  On the surface it may appear arbitrary, especially when some of you requested that breaks be planned in the schedule and that did not happen, because at that time breaks appeared to be highly risky under the COVID-19 circumstances.  However, I want to assure you that this decision did not occur lightly, and did not occur without serious consideration of several factors.
So what changed and what happened?  Over the last three weeks, I received many communications from students appealing for a mental health break.  Some of the communications were heartbreaking.  It reminded me of feedback that I received from students regarding the fall semester that did not include any break.  I was also reminded of tragedies that have occurred in other places due to mental health issues. Consequently, I became very concerned.  I spoke with Interim Provost Kearns about working with the faculty to find two nonconsecutive days to provide the students with a break.  I also discussed my concerns with the Cabinet.  The Provost and the Cabinet were all reluctant because of the disruption they felt it might cause.  I pressed the matter with Interim Provost Kearns and requested that he appeal to you for your kind consideration of two mental health days on April 13 and April 21.  I also spoke with the University Senate Executive Committee and requested their support.
Based on the information we had at the time of planning the spring semester, we believed we made the right decision to eliminate break days to guard against student travel and protect the health and safety of everyone on campus.  Unfortunately, the disturbing rise in reports of mental health issues by students as we have progressed through the semester merited, in my view, a reevaluation of that decision. 
I sincerely apologize for the disruption to your class schedules and any distress this is causing you.  I seek your kind understanding and support for this decision to cancel classes on April 13 and 21 so that our students can have this needed break. 

Thank you for understanding and for your support.

Dr. K.
Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., Ph.D.
President and Professor

Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., President

  • 138 Fenton Hall State University of New York at Fredonia Fredonia, NY 14063

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