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AU News

A Word of Encouragement from President Whitaker

March 18, 2020
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Anderson University continues to take this public health emergency seriously.

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Anderson University COVID-19


March 19, 2020

Dear Trojan Family:

Clearly, the rise of the COVID-19 emergency is unprecedented in recent times. It is a threat, and any threat of this nature and magnitude will naturally cause people to respond with varying degrees of concern and even “fear and trembling.”

Anderson University continues to take this public health emergency seriously.  I am very thankful for and express appreciation to our COVID-19 Response Team and the many leaders throughout our university who are proactively addressing university operations in this rapidly changing environment.  I commend them for their dedication and exercise of responsibility on behalf of our Trojan Family.

Some may view our caution as exceeding.  I truly hope that turns out to be the case, yet when it comes to the well-being of our people, we would far rather be safe than sorry.  Our primary desire is to keep our students, faculty, staff, and community as safe as possible, and to stay ahead of where we see this situation potentially moving.

It is possible that the challenges associated with COVID-19 may remain constant for a relatively short time before they get better.  Earlier estimates of an expectation that 3-4% of the population will be infected are no longer valid.  We do not have an accurate estimate at this time, but we have just learned that the infection rate is expected to be higher than previously thought.  It will greatly depend on how well we as a nation follow instructions from health officials on preventing the spread by social distancing and other prudent measures like washing hands thoroughly, etc. eve we can expect things to improve after the initial waves of highest spikes in confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, our preparations and prudent exercise of caution enables us to significantly reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on our Trojan Family, our economy, and our community. The illustration below graphically represents this “flattening the curve” effect.

Anderson University COVID-19

Faithfulness as Individuals and as an Academic Community

Above and beyond the science, we are people of faith.  For those of us who are believers, we know in our hearts that this is God’s world and He is in control.  

Twila Paris’ is a contemporary Christian artist who became popular in the 1980s and 90s.  I love the lyrics of her song, “God is in Control,” and would like to share them with you as a reminder of our Lord’s plans and protection.

This is no time for fear
This is a time for faith and determination
Don’t lose the vision here
Carried away by emotion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control, oh God is in control

History marches on
There is a bottom line drawn across the ages
Culture can make its plan
Oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control, oh God is in control

These lyrics are rooted in Joshua 1:9 (NIV):

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Here is the context from The Message:

Preparations for the Conquest of Canaan

1  After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant: 2  “Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. 3  I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on – just as I promised Moses. 4  From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River – all the Hittite country – and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. 5  All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. 6  Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. 7  Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. 8  And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. 9  Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1-9)

In this strangely different time, our faithful determination of which scripture and Twila Paris speak gives us the opportunity to live out what Christ teaches us about love and service.  Even as we take care of ourselves, we also love our neighbors.  And who is our neighbor?  It’s anyone we see.  As we practice caution, embody love, gentleness, and compassion, we encourage one another and we protect the health of our community, especially those who are must vulnerable – those with underlying health conditions and our senior adults.

No doubt, COVID-19 is a major disruption in our normal lives, but it will not change who we are and what we do.  During this temporary parenthesis in our typical relatively stable lives, our educational mission and our character as a Christ-centered university will absolutely not change.  We have work to do.  We have goals to accomplish.  We move forward.

Commitment to our Clients

Students and families, I want you to know that you are far more than “everyday routine customers” to us! Students, you and those you will serve in the future with your considerable gifts are the focus of our work.  In the truest sense of the word, you are our clients to whom we have a professional responsibility and, more than that, you are family, for whom we care and love.  We are focused to serve you to the best of our ability during this time.

Second only to our immediate duty to the health and welfare of our people is our opportunity to modify our operations so that we may keep our students on track toward the completion of coursework for the semester and ultimately toward graduation.

We already miss seeing students on campus, and we cannot wait until you are able to return.

Meanwhile, I am deeply grateful to our dedicated, amazing teaching faculty for the continuity of instruction they will remotely provide students.  They are supported by our world class Center for Innovation and Digital Learning (CIDL) staff who keep us on the cutting edge of technology-enabled coursework delivery.  During these days, our faculty and CIDL staff remain at the heart of our service to students.  They are all especially appreciated!

We are also deeply grateful to all our larger staff who are working both on campus and remotely.  For everyone’s welfare, we are operating on campus with only those employees who are essential to the campus-based operations.  As of today, March19, all others are working remotely for what we expect will be a few days until we can resume normal operations, hopefully soon.

A final word to seniors and others anticipating graduation:

I’m really, really sorry that your college experience is ending during this national emergency.  Who would have imagined it?  I can only imagine your disappointment. As much as I don’t want to mention it, you should know that an on-time Commencement is still in question.  It’s just too early to know if we can hold Commencement activities May 8-9.  In time, it may prove necessary to postpone the Commencement ceremony and related activities.  Our undergraduate commencement speaker this year is South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.  We do not wish to postpone unless it is prudent and/or necessary.  If we must postpone, we do not yet know if Governor McMaster will be able to come as planned.  Rest assured, however, that regardless of our Commencement date, those of you who will have earned your degree on time will have timely access to any transcripts indicating your accomplishment you may need for employment, graduate school or similar purposes.  We will keep you posted on this entire commencement issue.  

Trustee Involvement

Members of our Board of Trust are aware of changing operations and are supportive of the actions we take to protect our campus and community.  The Board of Trust Executive Committee is appropriately engaged.  They review our plans and actions and give support to our efforts.  We are grateful to them for their ongoing oversight of our work and for the love that they continuously express for our mission and our campus family.


Everyone’s prayers the health of our campus family as well as for our nation and world are needed now and throughout this situation.

On behalf of the Senior Leadership Team, the COVID-19 Team, and the Board of Trust, Diane and I want to thank you for your understanding, patience, and cooperation.  We will continue to keep you posted on new developments all the way through this until the COVID-19 challenge recedes.  Because of the love and promises of our wonderful and faithful Lord, we are confident.  We do not fear.  His provision will be sufficient.



Evans P. Whitaker



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