headshot of CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder
President Emerita Barbara R. Snyder

President Barbara R. Snyder shares a message with CWRU community to start the semester

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

August 24, 2020. 

Ever since we announced our modified fall calendar in June, this date has dominated our thoughts, flashing regularly in our minds much like a large LED billboard. 

Academics, housing, student life, testing and more—no matter the area, all of our planning and effort have focused squarely on this first day of the semester. 

It is, as ever, the moment the campus comes most fully alive.

Unfortunately, many of our students cannot be with us on campus. Some are abroad, unable to get to Cleveland because of visa issues. Others are elsewhere in the U.S. because health conditions required that we allow fewer to live in university housing. Please know you are deeply missed, and our faculty and staff are doing all they can to ensure you are able to engage as much as possible, no matter where you live. 

One powerful example of this commitment was our faculty response to the Aug. 6 change in housing policy. Within just a few days, nearly 150 courses transitioned to remote instruction to provide additional options. In addition, more than 700 courses are being offered via independent study. The people who quickly changed to all remote last March, then spent the summer developing courses for specific instructional approaches, came through for their students yet again this month. 

Our staff have made plenty of their own adjustments, from rapidly reassigning student suites and rooms after the housing policy change, to responding to hundreds of parents’ questions, to tweaking orientation schedules to minimize infection risks further. Students have contributed as well, serving on return-to-campus planning committees, engaging with administrators, and developing programs for classmates. 

I deeply appreciate every single person who played a role in making this first day of classes possible. 

In the days and weeks to come, we will need even more of this collaborative spirit, especially with regard to health and safety. We will wear masks indoors and out on campus not only to protect ourselves, but everyone else around us as well. We will maintain physical distance, wash hands frequently and disinfect surfaces often for the same reasons. And, when we are told to quarantine or isolate away from others, we will listen. 

All of these steps are inconvenient at best. But even more, we want to be able to keep as many of you on campus as possible—teaching, learning, discovering and benefitting from each other’s presence. So many have done so much to reach this day; it is our collective responsibility to honor their efforts by doing all we can to help keep the campus community healthy.

With profound gratitude,

Barbara R. Snyder