You did it! You have successfully navigated the pandemic this semester. I am so proud of all of you, and grateful that you would not be deterred by a challenge of global proportions.
St. Ignatius urges us to show our love not in words, but in deeds. And this year, dear students - no matter your faith, no matter your backgrounds or beliefs - you honored the Jesuit mission. When you offered a wave, even when you wanted a hug, or when you stayed on campus, even when you longed to roam, when you put on the mask - no matter when or where - you showed the love you have for your friends, your family and the community around us all.
During the spring semester, when the pandemic first became a reality for us, we all felt the pain of losing so much of what makes Le Moyne unique: from performances at the PAC to game day on the playing fields, from the Spring Fashion Show to Earth Jam to Scholar’s Day to Commencement. And in the midst of so much disruption, you nonetheless urged us to reopen in the fall. You saw that beyond the wonderful events that distinguish our calendar year, the Le Moyne education was worth any effort to preserve.
Our faculty, staff and administration studied the data for months beginning last March. They pored over research studies and epidemiological models, and consulted with local, state and federal health authorities. Our Central New York community made enormous sacrifices on our behalf and gave us a head start by keeping the infection rate low all summer. We learned that by opening our College for instruction and implementing a robust testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine program, we could keep our infection rate well-below the parameters established by New York state. When we got off track because of lapses in the protocols we established - which thankfully wasn’t often - we were not deterred. We assessed the situation and quickly got back on track.
We relied on the facts of science, the insights of the social sciences, the ingenuity of the most recent technological innovations; we pored over the lessons of history, wrestled with the ethical dilemmas that still attend those lessons, listened to the stories of those in need, and we prayed for guidance in all we do. In other words, we drew on the same Jesuit, liberal arts education that we’ve delivered to students for over 75 years. We used the wisdom of the ages, along with the creative energies of the modern age, to drive good decisions on behalf of our community.
None of our efforts could have succeeded without the strength and determination of our students. When we modified our classrooms, laboratories, study spaces and dining areas, you worked with us without complaint. We asked you to remain physically distant, to sign the Dolphins Declaration, to forego so many of the pleasures of being young and in college. You did all of that, too. Critics questioned whether or not your generation had the grit or the generosity to meet the challenge of this moment. But I never doubted your character or your courage. On other campuses with different kinds of students, there was a struggle to inspire a feeling of kinship and community. Not here, and not from you.
This is the worst global health disaster since the flu pandemic of 1918. In this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, you’ve shown the world who you are, that you have intellect, resilience and compassion, all in equal measure, to do remarkably hard things - and do them with grace, good humor and integrity.
As many of you know, this semester I’ve lived in a house just a few hundred yards from the residence halls. I wanted you to know that I was close by, that I would do my best to guide you through this crisis. What I discovered, however, is that you inspired me. I’ve never felt more proud of Le Moyne students or more privileged to be the president of this extraordinary institution.
God bless you all,
Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D.