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Ringing Rose

A letter regarding the fall term

Dear Luther Community:

As we enter fully into the Spring/Summer (Sprummer) Term, I would like to reach out to all of you in light of last Friday’s announcement, by Laurier, that the fall term will be offered in an online format.  

By the time that you receive this e-mail, it will have been roughly 70 days since we entered this uncharted territory on March 16. The situation now no longer seems so ‘unparalleled,’ in that we have had weeks to grow accustomed to, and weary of, physical distancing, remote learning and teaching, and working from home. But the future is still full of uncertainty, and while predictions and our slowly growing experience with pandemic realities can guide us to a certain extent, it will be a long and slow process of moving forward toward whatever the “new normal” looks like on the far side of this pandemic.  

In the meantime, Luther — in co-operation with Laurier, our federated partner — is trying to make decisions in this ever-changing environment on the basis of the best information we have available at the time. In all of this, the pre-eminent concern guiding all of our decision-making is the health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty. This is why we made the decision to remain primarily in an online, remote teaching and learning environment for the Fall 2020 term. It was a difficult decision and we considered a variety of options. However, in the end, the risk was too high that we might open up in-person instruction only to be forced to shut down once again. It would be irresponsible to subject our community to that level of disruption. Our students, prospective students, their families, as well as our staff and faculty, have all been awaiting some certitude about the fall term so that we can all proceed accordingly. And while it does not diminish the frustration or disappointment in the decision to continue online delivery of instruction, this is also a direction being undertaken by universities across the nation. 

Depending upon the progress that is made toward limiting community transmission of the virus over the coming months, our faculty and staff are discussing the possibility of resuming some limited face-to-face instruction for very small, graduate-level courses for the fall term. Any such efforts will need to adhere strictly to public health directives and employ all the appropriate physical distancing and infection-control protocols. As you can imagine, there are many considerations associated with this possibility and I will continue to work with our program directors and faculty to identify courses that would fit these criteria.   

Since we are currently employing a remote course-delivery format that will continue into the fall term, our faculty are also working to explore what additional steps need to be taken to support student learning, health, and well-being during this time. At the same time, Laurier is working diligently to explore how student services such as the Writing Centre, Accessible Learning Centre, and the library can continue to undergird our students’ academic success.    

All of us at Luther, both faculty and staff, take great pride in you — our students — and in the quality of education that we strive to provide even in these extraordinary times. But learning and teaching is always a collaborative effort that requires the commitment of each one of us if we are to confront these difficult and uncertain times in a manner that will allow us to emerge intact and even stronger. So if you have needs as a student, please contact your instructor or academic advisor, sooner rather than later, so we can help you resolve the situation. Similarly, if you have questions or concerns that are more appropriately directed to your program director, a staff member, or me — as your principal-dean — please reach out. In the meantime, know that Luther’s faculty and staff are working hard to adapt to our new challenging reality and to support your academic success. 

It hardly needs to be said that these are trying times for us all. It is becoming increasingly apparent that whatever the new “normal” becomes, it may look significantly different than that which we left behind on March 16. Nonetheless, I continue to believe that there are opportunities for learning, wisdom, and new life hidden within this disruption — if we have the openness to recognize them.  

So, stay home, stay safe, and all best wishes and blessings to you, your families and friends, 


Rev. Dr. Mark Harris 


Martin Luther University College 

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