Today I write to all members of our college, students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends. Each of us is experiencing upheavals unimaginable a few short weeks ago.
At King’s, we are blessed in this emergency by virtue of our human scale; we’re a small university driven by relationships to one another and to our shared experience. Equally, our exceptional relationship with Dalhousie University has allowed us to work together to bring leadership to our students and our sector at a time of great uncertainty.
As I explained this afternoon in a communication addressed directly to our students, I am immensely proud of them. This situation has been heartbreaking for them, and for us as we watched them leave. While decisions have been painful to make, they have been the right ones. I have been inspired by our students’ resolve in their commitment to a higher calling of public safety and common good. As sad as separation is, we will be together again. I say this even, and perhaps especially, to our graduating class, to whom I have made a personal commitment to find a way to celebrate their achievement together, when we can.
Through rapid changes, our residence students continued to receive support from our Dean and Dons, our Facilities team, the Dining Services team and our cleaners. Their nimbleness, compassion and adaptability, coupled with the speedy support offered to our students through their families and friends, has resulted in our ability to safely house the six remaining students who, for various reasons, are unable to leave.
Additionally, I thank our other administrative offices. The Registrar’s, Bursar’s and Advancement Office’s teams have collectively been exemplary in their delivery of services to the whole King’s community while themselves adjusting to change, including working from home. Our Chapel, Library and Athletics staff have provided solace to students while weathering shared disappointments as cancelations of major college and student events, celebratory gatherings and Chapel services in the season of Lent and Easter became required.
This week, our faculty members have again demonstrated their solidarity with our students. Together with Vice President Peter O’Brien and our Program Directors, they have changed to a new mode of course delivery while supporting our students with their many questions and concerns. In a way that is telling of their deep feelings through this, they have also been championing efforts to keep us all engaged. Last week, I shared a lecture by Dr. Angus Johnston made available through Dr. Neil Robertson and Halifax Humanities. This week, we share Oedipus the King, given in Halifax Humanities by the late Dr. Peggy Heller, on the suggestion of Dr. Robertson and Dr. Susan Dodd, the Acting Director of the Foundation Year Program.
Our unique bookstore remains open for online business as usual. Manager Paul MacKay is offering personal bicycle delivery within the city, in addition to delivery through the mail for those who are farther away. I think you will find the online offering of the bookstore quite amazing. There are some great podcasts with authors who have recently visited King’s.
To our many alumni, you are also on our mind. I urge you to reach out to each other and hold our community tight. Many of you are regularly in touch with each other. For others, I hope this is a time to reconnect and engage with those friends who experienced King’s along with you.
As King’s alumni, I encourage you to consider reaching out to connect with any current students you may know and their families, to offer them encouragement and hope in this particularly hard time. Discovering they are already part of a wider alumni family could be very encouraging for our students.
It was only last month that we gathered to remember the one hundredth anniversary of the great fire at our Windsor, N.S. campus. In my remarks that day I urged us all to think about how devastating it must have been for King’s people of the day, especially after having survived the War and the Spanish Flu pandemic. Like them, we will persevere, by being kind to one another and by serving our local communities and our country with humanity and purpose.
As we navigate the days ahead together, I will bring you updates each week. These days are still likely to hold more tribulation, but I remain steadfast in my confidence for our future. We will be forever changed by this collective experience, and, I suggest, more focused on the relevancy of our journalism and humanities curriculums in light of these events.
I wish you all continued good health. There are better days ahead.
President and Vice-Chancellor