September 1, 2020
Good morning everyone,
There is a new freshness in the air and the fall term is just around the corner. Let me first welcome all our new students to the Carleton community! You are joining us at an unusual time, but you can be sure our community is rallying to make you feel at home and help get you off to a strong start.
First off, in partnership with CUSA and other student associations, we have prepared an amazing virtual Fall Orientation starting on Sept. 6, 2020. Over 400 student volunteers will help welcome our new Ravens to the Carleton community. Some highlights of the week include:
- A number of ice breakers and speed mingling activities
- Virtual games, including a variation of Epic Bingo and The Price is Right
- Nicholas Wallace, America’s Got Talent illusionist
- Bob Ross at Home Paint Night
- Once Upon a Time at Poetry Land with Just Jamaal
- Pop-up drive-in movies on campus, and
- Arkells Study Break, an online interactive storytelling and song request experience with members of six-time Juno Award winners, the Arkells.
Our professors and course instructors are ready to offer high-quality online courses and programs, and I invite you to learn more about our teaching and learning efforts and how we engaged students as partners in designing exciting courses! Our co-op program – one of the largest in Ontario – has quickly adapted to COVID-19 and over 600 students have already confirmed placements for the fall term. We are well prepared because – like most Canadian universities and unlike many American ones who now find themselves in a difficult situation – we started to plan for an online fall term several months ago.
On campus, research activities have resumed and our MacOdrum Library has partially reopened as a study space for a maximum of 50 students, faculty and staff at a time. It goes without saying that physical distancing and masks are required. While library stacks are still closed, the print collection is available through curbside pickup and mailing, and digitally via the HathiTrust Digital Library service. In the same vein, recreational and athletic facilities and programs are also moving toward a phased reopening, with the Fitness Centre scheduled to open its doors with limited capacity on Sept. 8 and a hybrid model of virtual and in-person fitness classes planned for fall.
Unfortunately, we must postpone our fall Convocation ceremonies to a later time, but we look forward to the day when we can all celebrate the 6000+ members of the class of 2020 in person. In the meantime, we will virtually celebrate our graduates in November.
Our annual Throwback, which usually brings about 10,000 alumni back to campus, will also be virtual this year. It starts on Sept. 26 and will include the official launch of our recently approved Strategic Integrated Plan on Sept. 28. As we celebrate our shared past and all our successes over the past 78 years, we also look forward to our future with renewed resilience, ambition and optimism. I continue to be fully confident that our Carleton community will get through the current public health crisis and come out the other side stronger, more inclusive, and more united than ever.
Planning ahead remains the key to our successful adaptation to these unusual circumstances and, as we head into the fall, we are already preparing for the winter. Following the key principles outlined by the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) working group, we will continue to place the health and well-being of students, staff, faculty and the broader community above all other considerations. Following discussion at a recent special meeting of Senate, CUSP has finalized its recommendation that the winter semester proceed online, with some leeway for selected optional instruction on campus (e.g. specific labs, capstone projects, recitals) if circumstances allow.
It will be strange not to welcome 35,000 people to our beautiful campus this fall, but it does not have to be sad. Our community is strong and there is a lot on the go as we usher in the new academic year. Together, we will have a successful fall term and a great year!
I wish you all a beautiful day,
President and Vice-Chancellor