An Update and Easter Wishes from the President
Since we first announced on March 13th that in-person classes would be suspended, the St. Jerome’s University community has been adjusting to the new realities presented to us by the COVID-19 pandemic. The decisions we have made, including work-from-home measures and eventually closing the campus off to the public on March 21st, have prioritized the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, their families, and the broader community. This priority remains top of mind.
Over the last few weeks, we have been hearing stories of students facing new challenges related to mental wellness and fears over their physical health, loss of income, difficulty accessing materials related to their school work, completing assignments, and paying rent. Our Student Affairs team has been proactively reaching out to our co-registered students to let them know that we are there if they want to talk or if they need help with a situation. For those seeking ongoing counselling, we continue to direct students to Counselling Services at the University of Waterloo.
For students with urgent financial need, St. Jerome’s University will join the University of Waterloo and launch the SJU Student Emergency Relief COVID-19 Fund. We are asking alumni, friends, donors, and members of the SJU community to support this important initiative. When formally launched, I would ask that you consider supporting this fund in any way you can.
Our faculty and staff have also been adapting to the new COVID-19 realities. With our work-from-home measures, many of you are balancing full workloads, new domestic responsibilities, childcare, eldercare, and worries about the health of our loved ones, some of whom may be in front-line jobs. Feeling overwhelmed, out of control, stressed out, or just plain exhausted can become all-consuming. If you’re having these feelings and need some assistance, I would encourage you to reach out to Michelle Watson, SJU’s Director of Human Resources, who will be able to put you in contact with people who can help. As always, you will also find assistance through the Employee and Family Assistance Program, provided by Homewood Health.
As a way to provide additional resources for our faculty and staff adapting to these new realities, St. Jerome’s will be hosting an online session, led by a Canadian leader in workplace health and culture, entitled “Redefining Resilience.” Details of this session, which will take place in early May, will be forthcoming soon.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the Easter greeting card that went out earlier this week to the SJU community. There is a quote in there by Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, that reads, “The final word is love.” As we enter the Easter Triduum this evening, I hope you will take a moment to focus on those who love you and whom you love.
May the dawn of Easter bring you hope, joy, and comfort in these uncertain times.
Dr. Scott Kline
Interim President and Vice Chancellor