April 1 message from President Kolison
Dear Big Blue Community:
Happy Thursday. It is time for another Thursday update.
Stabilization of COVID-19 Cases
I’m glad to see the number of positive cases stabilize after last week’s sudden increase. As of Thursday morning, we are down from 54 to 19 positive cases on campus. I am encouraged by this new trend. Thank you, students!! Let’s keep up our vigilance as we have only five more instructional weeks left.
Ongoing Challenges Precipitated by COVID-19 and mental health days
To remain open and functioning as an institution during the pandemic, we have had to impose a number of restrictions that affect the members of our community. These restrictions have kept us safe and functioning. However, despite our overall success in keeping the number of our positive cases low and in keeping the campus safe, it has become increasingly clear that the pandemic is impacting students, faculty and staff. For example, during the last three weeks, I received communications from students describing stresses they were experiencing.
Just last week, a student wrote to me questioning why I have kept the campus open for instruction under the circumstances of the pandemic. Of course, I empathize with the student, and have no doubt that the student is not the only person in our community with such a thought-provoking question for which there is more than one valid answer. I think questions like that point to the extraordinary nature of this academic year and to what we have had to do, and continue to do, as a community to rise to the challenges presented to us by this pandemic.
Today, a faculty member shared with me about feeling slightly burned out, and she was not alone among her colleagues. I am aware of faculty and staff members taking on more to keep the campus functioning and how that is adding to their stress levels.
I am grateful for everything that everyone is doing to keep the campus safe while simultaneously trying to give our students a positive experience. I want to thank you, and also to draw your attention again to the support that is provided by the university and available to you. For employees, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is free and confidential. For students, the Counseling Center has several resources available, including Emotional wellness and self-help resources. I will again say that seeking out help and support when needed is a sign of strength, not weakness!
As we have striven to find ways to address the many challenges we have faced on our journey through this pandemic, I am pleased to announce that the university, after serious consideration by the President and Cabinet, have designated April 13 and April 21 as mental health days for students. Classes will not be held on those two days.
I know this will not happen without some disruption in plans for all courses being taught. I recognize faculty will be making changes to their classes that they were not anticipating. Faculty, as I indicated in my letter to you this morning, I sincerely apologize for the disruption to your class schedules and teaching plans. Thank you for your kind consideration and for the adjustments you are making to your plans. I appreciate it greatly.
Students, I encourage you to use these days to de-stress, and take a breath. As I indicated earlier in this communication, we are five instructional weeks away from the end of the semester; hang in there as we approach the finish line.
Surveillance Testing Update
When you dropped off your self-administered surveillance test this week, you probably noticed you received a new style of test kit. This new kit will be used for the rest of the semester. The old swab kits will no longer be available.
Please note that when you drop off your test kit next Monday or Tuesday, the Chautauqua County Department of Health will also be utilizing Steele Hall for vaccination purposes. The clinic will be for a second dose of the vaccine for individuals who have already been administered the first dose. The area will be clearly marked and people will be stationed inside to make sure everyone goes to the correct location.
One final note about surveillance testing: the people who greet you and ask to see your registration for your test are employees or students who are volunteering their time to help keep our campus safe. Please know that they do not make up the rules or procedures; they simply want to help you. I trust we will all treat them with the same respect we would show any other professional colleague or friend. Thank you.
Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence
I am very proud to announce that three SUNY Fredonia students have been awarded the
SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence. This award recognizes students for outstanding achievements including demonstrated integration of excellence in areas of academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, or the arts. Please join me in congratulating the awardees
Elizabeth Hahn, who graduated in December 2020 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Music;
Braelin Scott, who will complete a B.S. degree with a major in Business Administration: Management and a minor in Leadership Studies;
Thomas Sheffield, who will complete a dual B.A. in Political Science and Music.
Awardees, thank you for making us all proud and for being students who have excelled in very special ways. Also, many thanks to the faculty and staff who support and nurture all students during their time at Fredonia.
President’s Award for Excellence Luncheon Postponed
Since we're unable to hold an in-person luncheon on April 21, we are moving the annual recognition luncheon to Wednesday, October 13, at noon. We have reserved the Williams Center MPR for this day, and will communicate more information as we approach the event this fall. I look forward to meeting many of you in person at this event.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message.
Very truly yours,
Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., Ph.D.
President and Professor