The following message was sent to the entire University of Portland community on Friday, March 20, by University president Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C.:
I pray that this message finds you safe, healthy, and weathering the current challenges as best you can.
I write today to make two difficult announcements. It was my fervent hope that making these announcements would not have been necessary. However, developments in the past days and hours necessitate my communication of these deeply disappointing decisions.
First, the University will not return to in-person instruction during the Spring 2020 semester. Online instruction will continue through the end of the semester. In the coming days, the Office of the Provost will provide further details on the academic implications of this decision. For students who reside on-campus, the Office of Residence Life will be in touch soon with additional information on move-out and the retrieval of belongings. Students who are currently residing in on-campus residence halls will be permitted to remain through the end of the semester if they so choose. Our Residence Life team will be flexible, understanding, and accommodating with all residential students in the weeks and months ahead.
Second, the University will not hold in-person Commencement Exercises this May. The Office of the Provost is developing plans for an online Commencement and will communicate those plans as they are developed. Traditional Commencement Weekend activities such as the ROTC Commissioning, Nurses’ Pinning, and Baccalaureate Mass will either be canceled or held in a virtual format.
Some may be wondering why the University has waited until today to make these decisions. Others may feel that the University is making these decisions too rapidly. I, personally, understand both of these perspectives. Throughout this process, the University has endeavored to make decisions that are data-informed and consistent with our mission. As we’ve coordinated with public health officials, communicated with students and faculty, and learned more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is progressing, we’ve determined that now is the prudent time to make the decisions I communicate today.
As I stated in my video message from this past Tuesday, I know that this pandemic has upended plans. We know how much you treasure being on The Bluff. Your disappointment is our disappointment, and I’m truly heartbroken. The tough decisions we’ve made are rooted in our desire to keep members of the UP community safe and do our part as an institution to stem the tide of this pandemic.
Please know that I am praying for you, your loved ones, and all who are being impacted by this pandemic. May God bless you and keep you during these trying times.