Journey Ahead Update: From the Desk of President Whitaker
Without question, we are in for the most complex year of operations we have ever experienced at Anderson University. And yet, God is already blessing and encouraging us. With His help, I have no doubt that we will navigate the Journey Ahead—and be stronger for it.
Our COVID-19 Task Force and Journey Ahead teams are prepared for contingencies and challenges by readying our campus for flexibility and rapid adaptability. Making predictions is always difficult; it is never more true than it is right now. Yet, all of us are laser-focused on our core purpose of teaching and learning, and committed to allowing the words and example of Christ to guide our way. We get to lean on one another and help one another in a spirit of gentle love and kindness.
You are a vital part of this effort!
As we prepare for the first Move-In Day on Wednesday, August 12, let’s commit together to begin the 2020-2021 school year stronger together. I’m asking each of you to practice servant leadership and personal responsibility in line with Paul’s encouragement to the church at Philipi: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
What does that look like in practice? It comes first with the recognition that how we behave affects those around us—in ways good and bad. Our actions, attitudes, deeds, and words ripple outward; what we do and say are not self-contained. When we demonstrate love toward one another, lift each other up, and make sacrifices for the good of our community, hope and unity blossom. That should be our goal always, and it’s never been more important than it is right now.
Now, let’s talk in practical terms. It’s clear that the more quickly COVID-19 is controlled, the more quickly life can get back to normal. Making small sacrifices now—such as following the protocols we’ve established: wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing, practicing good hygiene, and keeping away from others when we may be ill—will keep us from having to make large, drawn-out, and more painful sacrifices later.
This is not theoretical; we’ve seen it in action already. During two weeks in July, we hosted 10 Base Camp orientation sessions for new students and their families. These sessions were a rousing success and a brief glimpse into what the 2020-2021 year will look like here at AU. Our new students and their parents told us repeatedly that they appreciated the steps we have taken. They also expressed what we’ve heard from so many of you: that a return to face-to-face and hybridized instruction and the campus experience is their hope and desire. And they put their words into action, joining faculty and staff in following the Journey Ahead guidelines and protocols while demonstrating their commitment to our stronger together approach to reopening campus.
Of course, Base Camp was much different than what we’re all used to experiencing. This year on campus will be as well. But we can do it. We will do it. And we will do it stronger together.
Finally, I strongly encourage you to make a regular habit of visiting our Journey Ahead web page. Major changes to University operations will be communicated directly, but the site is updated often. After all, if we’ve learned anything these past several months, it’s that things can change rapidly. Rest assured, our entire team is focused intently on preparations for the Journey Ahead, and part of that is providing additional guidelines and protocols as necessary.
Diane and I love each of you dearly, as does the entire Anderson University community. We are eager to see your smiling faces again and remain in steadfast prayer for your safe return home to AU.
Evans P. Whitaker, Ph.D.
President and Professor of Management