Commencement and Other Updates
Dear LMU Community:
As I shared in my Jan. 29 letter to the LMU community, we are excited to welcome you back to our campuses in fall 2021 for in-person instruction, housing, and co-curricular activities in a safe, responsible manner, aligned with mandates from public health authorities. We remain focused on playing our part to stop the spread of the virus, and I share the following updates that aim to keep us on course.
We will host the 109th Commencement exercises virtually at their scheduled dates: Saturday, May 8, 2021, for undergraduates; Sunday, May 9, 2021, for graduate students; and Sunday, May 16 for LMU Loyola Law School. Regrettably, current and expected public health restrictions will not allow us to host large gatherings by May, despite hopeful signs of declining numbers and anticipated improvements in vaccine availability.
We will host an in-person celebration worthy of these momentous milestones as soon as we can do so safely and responsibly. Last spring, we also promised the Class of 2020 that we would invite them back for an in-person ceremony when circumstances allowed. LMU reiterates that vow to our 2020 alumni and extends this commitment to the Class of 2021. We are planning a special series of in-person events, and I assure you that we are planning them with the LMU creativity and splendor that you deserve. We will share further details later this semester with ample advance notice so that you can plan and make your travel arrangements. Please review LMU's Commencement 2021 website for updates and additional information.
Provost Town Halls
In the spirit of our continuing commitment to transparency and community engagement, I will host a virtual town hall for faculty and staff on Thursday, March 11, from noon—1:15 p.m. and one for students on Friday, March 19, from noon—1:15 p.m. We will share further information in the coming weeks and you can visit our town hall website for the latest updates and schedule. I will also have the opportunity to answer parent questions during Family Week 2021. Please visit the Family Week website to learn more and to register for the week’s activities. Later this semester, our division, college, and school leaders will separately announce information sessions for faculty and staff to address issues specific to their areas. President Snyder will continue providing our community with updates via presidential video briefings, which include an opportunity to submit thoughts and suggestions for future briefings and community communications.
LMU continues to work closely with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and L.A. County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) to advocate on many issues for our community, including vaccination availability for students, faculty, and staff. Last week, the state clarified that higher education will be included in the next phase of vaccine distribution. Though LACDPH is not vaccinating the education phase yet, they expect distribution later this month. We will share further information in the next several weeks. We encourage you to consult with your primary care physician, and if recommended and you are eligible, obtain a vaccine through your health provider or at a county vaccination site. You may check your eligibility status for the vaccine at the LACDPH Vaccine Distribution website.
Fall 2021 Return to Campus - Alternative Instructional Space and Campus Co-Curricular Activities
Each of the schools and colleges is currently working diligently to schedule as many courses in-person as possible with state and county physical distancing guidelines in mind. We are also preparing contingency plans that include alternative spaces to accommodate larger classes. We will equip these spaces with similar classroom accommodations and technology to assure an excellent, consistent instructional experience for all students.
We will also offer an array of co-curricular experiences. We anticipate that these activities and programs will consist of in-person, hybrid, and virtual activities, often held outdoors. Fortunately, our spacious campuses and sunny L.A. weather are well-suited to our transitional needs.
International Travel (suspension extended)
In alignment with guidance from public health authorities, and, so that we may have the best chance to return healthy in the fall, all university-sponsored international travel is suspended through August 2021. This suspension includes study abroad, programs with international components, research trips, conferences, immersion trips, volunteer or work programs, service learning, fellowships, or professional development activities. LMU will continue to evaluate restrictions and recommendations from the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, and update our policies accordingly.
We continue advocating with our elected representatives and public health authorities to ensure we can provide you with the optimum LMU experience as quickly as possible. We recently endorsed the newly introduced TREAT Act, which would allow our California-based Student Health and Student Psychological Services team to consult virtually with LMU students, even if they reside in other states because of the pandemic. We are also working with members of Congress and the Biden administration to advocate for additional relief funding, and support pending and future COVID relief bills.
Thanks to our individual and collective sacrifices to stop the spread, I believe we will enjoy the bells of Sacred Heart Chapel together when we return next fall. Please remain vigilant: Our choices honor the lives of those we have lost to COVID-19 and our choices protect our families and each other. Please join me in praying for the safety and wellness of all Lions.
Thomas Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost