Dear members of our Shenandoah University community,
Welcome. I am so glad you are here! This is a very long, but important communication. Please take the time to read it in its entirety.
Students, you have settled in on a campus for the first time ever, or have returned to your undergraduate or graduate studies in the midst of a pandemic. Faculty and staff, you returned to work in the most unusual and difficult of situations, often incorporating new methods of teaching while continuing to maintain high standards.
You have all decided that you wanted to be here — to grow and expand your experience within our Shenandoah environment that prioritizes both care and rigor. I know that you didn’t make this decision lightly. You have invested a great deal of trust in Shenandoah, and we are doing everything we can to assure you that your trust is warranted. We will take care of you here, as we care for all of those in our community. But it will take ALL of us to make this work.
While it is too early to confirm the number of new students Shenandoah University will enroll this year, it is expected that we will have our largest entering undergraduate class (first-year and transfer students) ever! In total, Shenandoah will have around 755 new undergraduates this year. In addition, we are welcoming our second-largest incoming graduate class of 577 students. This year, the top three states where new first-year students come from are Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania; 28 states are represented overall in the entering class.
While many outward elements of Shenandoah life have changed this semester, the essentials of Shenandoah remain the same: a dedication to providing enhanced safety protocols, compassion, rigorous academics and transformative educational experiences.
COVID-19 testing was required during Move-In Days for all our residential students; we did so to help create a safer campus environment. That’s why we also staggered our move-in times and created our first virtual Welcome Week activities. We have entry-tested all residential students and will move toward additional testing of a broader group of Shenandoah students later this week.
We will share information about Shenandoah’s confirmed cases on our COVID-19 Dashboard, which will be updated weekly by noon on Mondays. The first update will appear tomorrow, Aug. 24. You can continue to find all of our COVID-19-related plans and resources online at su.edu/coronavirus.
During our Move-In Days, Shenandoah community members turned out with enthusiasm (and with masks, observing social distancing, and with clean hands and environments) to help students make their way around their new campus home, because at Shenandoah, we understand the deep importance of personal connections. I felt those connections this afternoon as I was able to greet each new student at three carefully planned — and socially distanced — Convocation events.
This personalized approach is also reflected in our ShenFlex format for classes, which combines a face-to-face core with the ability to both learn and teach online. As you’ve seen around campus, the Shenandoah class experience will also incorporate our entire footprint more this year, with classes of reduced in-person sizes occurring in a wide variety of spaces, including outdoors in large tents. Please know we are doing our level best to offer courses in the safest way possible.
We’ve also expanded our on-campus living options. The final two houses in The Village for upper-level students, The Q and Dove’s Nest II, are now open. Additionally, the university has renovated and added more rooms in East Campus Commons and leased the former Clarion Inn and Conference Center/Perkins restaurant (now called South Campus Commons and Buzzins, respectively) across Millwood Avenue to provide more living space and dining options for students.
Yes, things will feel different, as we all wear our masks (they’re required in all buildings, except when you’re in your own room or alone in your office), continue to maintain social distancing both indoors and outdoors (you even need a mask outdoors whenever you can’t keep your distance) and keeping our hands and environments as clean as possible. But other things are constant at Shenandoah: there are smiles behind those masks; classmates, faculty and staff are always willing to listen and help; and whenever you need support, it will be there.
If we function as one entity, one Shenandoah constellation, we will rise together and experience a semester to remember.
Thank you to each of you who are one star among many,