First of all, I hope this finds you and your loved ones happy and healthy on our first day back from Spring Break. As you are no doubt aware, Erie County has been declared as existing in a State of Emergency due to the very high probability of community spread of COVID-19. Such declarations alter many aspects of our lives – personal, professional, family, and faith. I understand first-hand what that disruption feels like; it was brought into stark relief this morning when I picked up my children’s books from the gym of their school at 7:00am. The look of disbelief on the faces of other parents was unmistakable. As you know from prior emails from Dr. Clemo, Dr. Steadman, your Deans and Chairpersons, and myself, instruction will be delivered online from March 18th to 30th. This is a disruption to our work lives the likes of which I have never before experienced, and I suspect, neither have many of you.
Yet, this disruption shall pass. How we handle it will define us, and, by extension, the College for years to come. For now, with the concern for childcare, the worry for vulnerable relatives, and the general underlying anxiety that comes from deviating from the normal patterns of our lives all seems overwhelming. We must also remember that our students feel this just as acutely, if not more so, than we do.
I write to you today with no formal guidance, but rather with a request from one friend to another: please be kind and compassionate to all that you encounter, most especially our students. Guide and aid them, support them and be understanding when the inevitable outcome of this extraordinary time manifests in very real hardships for them. Do what is in your power to prevent circumstances from interfering with our students ability to get the one thing most closely associated with social mobility and stability – their education.
Remember that there are faculty and staff that have the experience and the training to help you implement the shift to online instruction; do not hesitate to reach out to the relevant folks. If you don’t know who those folks are, reach out to me – if I don’t know, I will find out for you. Don’t forget to bounce ideas off of your peers. D’Youville contains such an impressive collection of scholars and educators that it would be silly not to leverage that knowledge and expertise, especially in times like this.
Together, with a spirit of caring and a dedication of purpose, we can emerge from this trial stronger and more capable than we entered it. Our students and the community will look back at us remember that we did live up to our mission. Let us never refuse to serve.
With Deepest Gratitude, Jeremiah
Jeremiah Davie, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology
Department of Biology and Mathematics
President – Faculty Senate
Buffalo, NY 14201