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Columbia Business Monthly

Clemson President Pens Letter to University Community

Mar 20, 2020 10:55AM ● By David Dykes

To the Clemson Community:

These are challenging times unlike anything I have seen in more than 30 years of working in higher education. I know many of you are concerned about your health, and the health of your loved ones – we are, too.

In fact, every decision we have made over the past few weeks – and the ones we will make in the coming weeks – has been with the well-being of the Clemson Family in mind.

In that spirit, and in alignment with the guidance from Gov. McMaster this afternoon, I am providing the Clemson community with the following update regarding University operations for the remainder of the current semester:

 

  • Classes at all Clemson University locations will be delivered online for the rest of this semester. We have been preparing diligently for this possibility, and I am confident that our faculty is more than capable of delivering high-quality content to our students so that their academic progress is not hindered.

 

  • The general closure of our residence halls announced this week will be extended through the end of the semester. On-campus housing will remain available only to those students who have previously been granted permission to stay due to an extenuating circumstance. Our Residential Life team is working on a plan to allow all others to return to campus to gather their belongings in a manner consistent with good public health practices. That information will be communicated in the coming days.

 We are working with the state’s Commission on Higher Education on a plan to address students’ investments in housing and dining services. Details will be communicated as soon as they are available.

 

  • All Clemson events, activities and gatherings are suspended at least through the end of the academic semester, May 8.

 

  • We have decided to postpone our May commencement ceremonies. Degrees will be conferred upon all those who meet graduation requirements, and we will explore alternatives to celebrate our newest graduates at a later date.

 Commencement is a highlight of each academic year and postponing ceremonies this spring is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, this public health emergency left us no other responsible choice. Rest assured, however, that we will do everything in our power to create a memorable experience for our graduates.

 

  • Finally, all non-essential University employees will be required to work remotely until further notice. Employees are encouraged to make use of videoconferencing and other virtual technologies to conduct meetings to the greatest extent possible and to continue to exercise social distancing principles at all times.

These are extraordinary times, and the situation continues to evolve rapidly. I know these actions, while necessary, will inconvenience many and may prove to be a burden for some among the Clemson Family, but we are there for you.

Please know that the entire University leadership team is dedicated to providing answers to all your questions as quickly as feasible and, to the best of our ability, providing solutions to the challenges that may arise for members of our community.

I am beyond thankful to all the Clemson employees who have worked tirelessly - and in many cases, around-the-clock - these past few weeks to respond to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic. Additionally, I want to offer a special thanks to our faculty who have moved quickly to prepare for online instruction so that we can continue to serve our students. You all have exhibited the very best of the Clemson spirit and for that I am grateful.

To all our employees, the coming weeks will be challenging as we adjust to a new temporary mode of working remotely. And for those who aren’t in a position to work remotely, the uncertainty is especially stressful.

We don’t have all the answers yet for how we are going to be able to support our employees in this crisis, but I can promise you we are steadfastly committed to working with the state and others to help our employees – especially our most vulnerable workers.

Finally, I want to leave everyone with a sentiment I shared with the executive leadership team during a meeting this week: First and foremost, take care of yourselves and those you love. Nothing is more important than health and family.

This is a serious situation, but we’re going to get through it by using common sense and by being kind, patient and thoughtful toward one another, especially the members of society most vulnerable to this pandemic. We are blessed to be part of a wonderful community of caring individuals who want nothing but the best for one another, and we’ll emerge from this pandemic strong and ready to tackle the future.

As always, the University is here to help in any way possible. We will continue to update the community regularly on our response to the pandemic through e-mail, social media and our comprehensive COVID update web site.

Please take care of yourselves and one another. I can’t wait to see everyone back on our campuses when it is safe to do so.

Go Tigers!

 

Jim Clements

President

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