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We have made it to the last week of classes for the Spring semester!  Let’s hang in there and finish strong!

This has been a semester like none of us have experienced before – and Spring commencement will be like none before, either.  We will have a virtual commencement ceremony that will post on Saturday, May 9 - one week later than the original ceremony would have been held.  We will have a traditional commencement – with graduates, faculty, friends and family participating virtually.  A program for that ceremony will be sent to our graduates in advance.  Each graduate’s name will be called – and this is where you can break all the rules of protocol!  I encourage each graduate to express themselves by wearing whatever it is you want to wear.  Caps can be decorated to your heart’s content!  Family and friends – being socially distant of course – can cheer, chant, holler and let the air horns blow!  Be sure and take pictures of your individual celebration and share with us!

Our hope is that this pandemic will end, and that we will be able to gather to celebrate both spring and summer graduates on Saturday, August 1st.  These plans will be according to whatever CDC guidance will be in place at that time.  We probably won’t shake hands – but graduates will be able to walk across the stage, get their diploma covers - and grab a magnolia from a mag chain that we will have on the stage.  Stay tuned for more word on this.

We are working with IHL, with the other universities in our system, and with various professional higher ed organizations to plan how we can use the federal CARES Act funds to provide funds to assist students and to prepare the University for the time ahead.  We are awaiting more guidance from the Department of Education but we are gathering information from multiple sources. 

Summer courses will continue to be held on-line or through alternate delivery methods.  On-line orientation sessions will soon be happening.

No one knows what re-opening for normal operations will look like.  Again, we will be working with IHL and the other universities in our system to develop criteria that will be used to determine when and how we phase in this reopening.  We are fortunate that we have a 13:1 student faculty ratio to begin with, so social distancing might be accomplished here a little easier.

Campus looks empty right now – but we actually have a lot going on!  We are planning for the new year. We  are implementing new academic concentrations that in sports management, non-profit advocacy, non-profit management.  The BA in Political Science has been converted to a BS in Political Science and the BS of in Family Studies has been renamed to the BS Science in Family Science.  

The Grounds crew has been busy pruning bushes, trimming trees and keeping our campus beautiful.  Facilities and custodial staff have been able to access areas that are normally occupied during the day to do work to prepare for our return.  Taylor and Keirn are GONE – and before long the rubble that remains – along with the temporary fencing around that area will be gone, too. The ground will be prepared for the construction of the new Culinary Arts building.

I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy.  Check back on our website often – and make plans to join us in the celebration as we welcome the newest members of the Long Blue Line.

Nora Miller,
President, Mississippi University for Women