Dear Shenandoah University community,
I am so honored and proud to be part of the Shenandoah community. You have risen and met challenges none of us ever imagined. You’ve made the best of an unexpectedly virtual university experience, with classes and meetings conducted at a distance while you’ve remained at home to stem the spread of COVID-19. You have used services like Zoom creatively and even crafted group performances and conducted science labs with this technology. And, you’ve reached out to members of your communities in need whenever you can, whether via online communication or a more low-tech method, like leaving a note in an elderly neighbor’s mailbox to offer your assistance.
I cannot imagine how you could have handled this unprecedented experience any better. Thank you, thank you, thank you — I just wish that I could say that to you in person!
As promised last month, I am sending you updates today on where Shenandoah stands regarding Graduation, Summer 1 classes, and Housing (including crediting of student accounts and retrieval of belongings):
Residential Housing Updates
Virginia is under the governor’s stay-at-home order through June 10, and Shenandoah is doing everything possible to abide by that order and to do our part to “flatten the curve.” That means that it is not safe for you or others to return to campus yet to gather your belongings. Students, I fully understand how much you want to have your belongings with you — but please, please, be patient for the good of everyone. And let me assure you that while you are away, your belongings are safe.
Residential students will receive an email from Residence Life later this week outlining options for coming to campus to retrieve, or pack and ship, or pack and store your belongings. The email will include a link to a response form where you can select the move-out or shipping option that works best for you.
We’d previously announced that Shenandoah will prorate residential room and board (and commuter meal plans) for the spring semester. Because this process necessitates an individual approach governed by Federal Financial Aid guidelines to each student’s account, it is a time-consuming process and we appreciate your patience. You will see a credit adjustment to your student account by Friday, April 17. (If there was an outstanding balance on your student account, any credit adjustment will be applied directly to your spring 2020 outstanding balance.)
On that same April 17 date, you will receive additional information on how to access that refund with multiple options:
- Credit to next year’s tuition, room and board (with a 2% bonus)
- Direct payment to you
- Choose to help other Shenandoah students who are in great financial need
First Summer Session Is Online
Part of the governor’s stay-at-home order, which took effect March 30, states that all Virginia institutions of higher education must temporarily cease in-person classes and instruction. This means Shenandoah’s Summer 1 classes that are set to start May 26 will be online, although there may be opportunities for students to come to campus after the governor lifts the order. Students, you may want to take advantage of these summer classes — most offered at a very low tuition rate — to get ahead in your major or minor, to fulfill some general education requirements, or to get yourself on track to graduate early! More information about summer offerings is available on the university’s website.
Commencement for the Class of 2020
Commencement is one of my favorite days of the year, and I am heartbroken that Virginia’s stay-at-home order will not allow us to gather for our traditional ceremony on May 16 to celebrate our extraordinary students. We are so incredibly proud of our graduating students; we know how hard you have worked for this day and how disappointing this is. Please be assured that we WILL celebrate commencement with you IN PERSON, ON CAMPUS, when it is safe to do so.
We recently polled graduating students for their input, and a majority of the more than 500 respondents indicated that Homecoming Weekend in October would be a good time to do this. Accordingly, we are currently planning University Commencement on campus for Sunday, October 18, 2020 – and we can also celebrate our August 2020 graduates. We are hopeful that a celebration of several thousand people will be permitted by then; more details will be forthcoming once public health officials indicate that we can move forward.
In the meantime, we cannot let May 16 pass without celebration! Please plan to join us with your families and friends for a short-but-meaningful virtual commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 16. More information on this university-wide virtual ceremony will be available soon. Schools and programs that typically hold their own hoodings, pinnings, and other recognitions in addition to university commencement are scheduling those celebrations as works best for their students. Please look to hear from individual programs for those details.
We will keep you updated on all graduation celebrations in future communications and on the university’s coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, which is continually updated with new information.
Shenandoah is a caring, supportive community. That was true before this pandemic, and will continue to be so after as well. And Class of 2020, you will forever be a truly special class to all of us — for many of us, your graduation will signal the hope we all have for the future.
And remember, whenever we are faced with challenges, SHENANDOAH RISES.