About Manchester

Manchester Update - April 30


From: President <President@manchester.edu>
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2020 4:40 PM
To: All Colleagues <AllColleagues@manchester.edu>
Subject: Manchester Update - April 30


Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this week I watched a clip of a news station’s COVID-19 daily update called “What day is it?” Their meteorologist would come on each day and answer, “Today is Tuesday!” … “Today is Friday!” and so on. I feel disconnected that way sometimes and suspect that you do, too.  So I’ll start this update with a reminder that tomorrow is the first day of May. Yes, May!  A-May-zing!

Planning for reopenings

As we enter May, we are planning for the time when we can all return and work on campus again. A working group is developing a plan for Manchester to move forward. Thank you, in advance, to Abby Van Vlerah (convener), Brandee Estes, Erin Foreman, Lea Johnson, Tommy Smith, Trent Towne and Alexis Young, all of whom play key roles in the transition and/or have health care expertise.

They are addressing questions like these and more:

  • How can we use testing, if and when it becomes more widely available, to help our working community stay healthy?
  • How will we use masks and appropriate distancing as we work in the same office suites and buildings?
  • What standards will we follow for cleaning our buildings?
  • How will we continue to help colleagues who need to work at home because of health risks, children at home from school or other reasons?

We will offer summer housing to students who need to stay on campus or have internships, research assignments or summer jobs on campus. We have canceled summer programming on our campuses through June 14, and Cabinet is looking at whether we might resume it for the balance of the summer.

We also are planning for students to return in the fall, with contingencies if we can’t start face-to-face courses immediately. I’ll share more about this in the coming weeks. 

As I have said before, the advice of experts – scientists, physicians and public health officials – will guide our decisions at Manchester. We also will heed the directives of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is expected to announce Friday whether he is extending Indiana’s Stay at Home order and which, if any, restrictions he will ease.

Virtual June Board of Trustees Meeting

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held virtually on June 12 and 13. An in-person meeting would have required trustees to travel from across the country and many of them, including me, are considered vulnerable because of age. 

On the bright side

When we look on the other side of a downside, we sometimes discover a bright side. I offer you two:

One is that all of our students now have success advisors, thanks to the dedication of the Student Life staff and others. Having a go-to person for advice is particularly important this spring as students cope with all kinds of concerns, such as learning remotely, their family’s finances, and their health and the health of loved ones.

Two, I am heartened that we have learned to use new technology and software and are becoming increasingly comfortable with it. For example, we have had Microsoft Teams for a long time, but didn’t use it that much until circumstances required it. Many of us are more adept with Zoom, too, and we have used it to help build community. We are lifelong learners, indeed.


This week’s gratitude is from Debra Lynn, who shared this blogpost with me. Debra and Scott Humphries were planning to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday in May to close the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorus season.

With Debra’s characteristic resilience, they have rescheduled the concert for March 14, 2021, and are calling it Beethoven’s Belated Birthday Bash.

Debra will conduct the composer’s Mass in C major, Op. 86 which, she says, provides a fitting range of emotions for what we all feel during these days of uncertainty. “May this be our Happy Birthday anthem,” writes Debra. “Not only to Beethoven, but to ourselves as we are born anew into good health, warm embraces and a fresh perspective on all our blessings.”

Thank you, Debra. We have much to look forward to!


Dave McFadden
Manchester University