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Dear Campus Community:

We are well into the Fall 2020 Semester, and I continue to be proud of the way we have adapted to an unusual semester resulting from the challenges the global pandemic has presented. We are six months into the pandemic, and it appears the fight will continue for a while.

The unfortunate fact is COVID-19 remains a threat that can only be contained by certain measures, like adhering to the Norse Nine principles. Masking, social distancing and limiting gatherings will be part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future.  Because this is our stark reality, we have made the difficult decision to hold a virtual Commencement Ceremony to honor our December and Summer graduates.

I know the reaction from many of you will be great disappointment and frustration- for both yourself and our most recent alumni. We asked our May graduates to join the December Commencement, so we could celebrate all of our 2020 graduates together. I understand and truly share your regret for what should be, but I also must keep the health and wellbeing of the campus community top of mind. Gathering a crowd together indoors would not be responsible given the COVID-19 risk. We are working to make this virtual event special and have plans to include personal elements in the ceremony. The virtual commencement will be streamed at 11:00 am on Saturday, December 12, 2020. Please keep an eye out for more information in the coming weeks.

As we reviewed the current environment to make the decision on Commencement, we were also looking ahead to the Spring 2021 semester. Our plan for spring will be very similar to “NKU Moving Forward” presented to you in the fall. Course formats will include in-person, online and hybrid. Courses that require an in-person element, like a studio or lab, will be given priority, as well as classes for first year students and graduating seniors.

The one change that you will see for the Spring 2021 semester calendar is replacing spring break with a series of shorter university holidays that should reduce the risks associated with traditional spring break travel. Therefore, there will be three additional university holidays when the campus will be closed: Monday, February 15, Friday March 12 and Friday April 2. The semester will start and end as scheduled, beginning on January 11 with the last day of classes April 30, 2021. The MLK Jr. Day of Service – Monday, January 18, 2021 - will be virtual next year, and our colleagues in Student Affairs are planning a meaningful event. Details will be shared soon.

Finally, we are extending winter break for employees to begin on Monday, December 21, with staff resuming both in-person and remote operations on Monday, January 4, 2021. We are also giving faculty and staff an extra day off before Thanksgiving. We hope you take Wednesday, November 25 to spend some time with family, friends and loved ones if you are safely able to do so.

Now more than ever, it is important to take care of both our physical and mental wellbeing. We know many are feeling the fatigue from the crisis of the past several months. Please know you are not alone in how you are feeling, and there are resources available to help support you, like NKU’s Health, Counseling and Student Wellness. Even in these uncertain and turbulent times, I believe we have reasons to remain optimistic. NKU is in a unique situation to evolve as our nation adapts to the pandemic and comes to terms with economic and social justice issues. Since its inception, NKU has not been afraid to change, and this positions us to emerge from this period as a more student-ready, regionally engaged university.

Thank you for all you do in support of each other and our students. 

Ashish Vaidya