May 15th, 2020 @ 3:12 pm | Author: Alan LaFave, D.M.A.
This past week spring semester 2020 came to an end. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief to have pushed through the challenges the coronavirus presented us, but it was something of a bittersweet ending without many of the festive gatherings that typically abound this time of year.

We didn’t skip the celebrations, but the events were held virtually, including our commencement ceremony and senior honors program. Under the circumstances, those events were successful, and we did some extra things to make sure our students’ accomplishments were honored appropriately.

Let me share some excerpts from a couple video presentations I made last week to students, faculty and staff.

Excerpts from Message to Students

As we began spring semester 2020, none of us could have anticipated the emergence of COVID-19 and the significant impact that it would have on our campus, community, state, nation and world. Never could we have imagined delaying your return to campus following spring break and then moving classes online for the remainder of the semester. This unprecedented health crisis has led to challenging times, but through hard work by all, it has also increased our ability to create and innovate. It has honed our entrepreneurial spirit.…

Those of you who graduate on Saturday have been especially hard hit — missing out on the last weeks together with your classmates — and your mentors — on the campus you’ve given so much to and have come to love. Thank you for your countless contributions to VCSU. Please know how incredibly proud we are of each of you; know how much we wish we could shake your hand on Saturday. Your achievements are noteworthy, and your abilities and experiences will propel you into a future full of opportunity.

To all of you — those who leave us for new beginnings and those who will return in the fall — I continue to marvel at your can-do spirit and strength in the face of adversity. Your efforts — and those of the faculty and staff here who care so much about you — define this university. My wish for all of you is to stay healthy and maintain your optimistic outlook. Work hard and enjoy life to the fullest.

We look forward to seeing all of you soon— in person — and once again sharing together what it means to be a Viking. Thank you to each and every one of you for your efforts this semester. It has not been easy, but you have persevered. Take pride in that accomplishment, and let it make you stronger as we move forward together.

Excerpts from Message to Faculty and Staff

As we come to the end of our spring 2020 semester, I want to take a moment to provide a few updates: the success of this semester, our plan to move “safely together, forward together” as we plan to open for face-to-face instruction this fall, and our need to address emerging budget adjustments due to COVID-19’s impact on the state’s economy.

First, I want to extend my deepest thanks to all of you for your flexibility, understanding and contributions in helping VCSU successfully navigate these past eight weeks of working and teaching from a remote environment. While the challenges you have each encountered during this time have been different for each unique situation, one thing is certain — your innovative and creative spirit has shown brightly during this time. Comments I’ve received from your supervisors, students and parents have been highly complimentary of your work. Thank you.

As we begin preparing for a successful restart in fall 2020, our Emergency Management Team has been meeting regularly to develop and refine considerations, actions and protocols for this return to face-to-face instruction. Be assured that we are taking recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Dakota Department of Health, and the American College Health Association all into consideration as we develop this plan.…

As you are probably aware, the recent budget guidelines from Governor Burgum propose a 10% reduction in our funding formula payments for the 2021-23 biennium. We are fortunate that our continued enrollment growth and wise planning from past budget declines have put us in a solid fiscal position. However, responding to a 10% reduction in funding formula support will take cooperation and collaboration from all of us to identify areas of potential savings. I ask you to begin thinking not only of places for tightening our belts, but also areas for potential investment that could lead to growth that benefits our entire institution.

Thank you again for a wonderful year. Thank you for all you do to add value to what we do at VCSU, and thank you for your participation, ideas and work as we move forward together for a successful fall opening and a plan to adjust our budget for the 2021-23 biennium.

Thanks to Our Alumni and Friends in the Community

Let me close with a word of thanks for the support we receive from our alumni and all of our friends in the community, state and region. Regardless of the challenges VCSU has faced over time, you have been steadfast in your support of this great institution. We cannot navigate any academic year without our partnerships with you.

This spring we haven’t been able to provide you with some of the typical activities that we all treasure — Viking athletic contests, music recitals and concerts, art exhibitions and gallery receptions, to name a few. But with your help, we’ve been able to continue our mission of providing a tremendous academic program for our students. Thank you.

We aren’t out of the woods yet, but it’s our intention to have campus open in the fall. Let’s work together to make that happen.

Go Vikings!