On Monday, March 23, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. announced classes will remain online for the remainder of the semester that and Commencement will not be held in-person on May 15.
“I promise you that on May 15, 2020, the day of your scheduled Commencement, I will confer your degrees via a live-streamed event,” Father Peter wrote. “When it is safe to gather, will honor you in person at Villanova. We are currently exploring dates and will share details with you as the plans are finalized.”
“It’s extremely heartbreaking to think that we have been working towards this goal essentially our entire lives, and it now feels unfinished and almost like all of our work and effort was futile,” senior Isabella Nardone remarked. “On a more selfish note, I feel like I’ve been robbed of my senior spring and some of the last moments with my friends who have become my family over the past three and a half years. We never got to say goodbye and leave our mark in a fashion in which we could have chosen for ourselves.”
In an email sent to students, faculty and parents, Father Peter explained changes in University operations for the near future due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Given recent developments, it became clear that we cannot return to our normal routine as quickly as we all had hoped,” Father Peter wrote.
This news was not a surprise to many students, but it certainly did not make this new reality any easier to digest. Mairead Ferguson, a sophomore in the Villanova School of Business, said, “I think it’s really sad but 100% expected and the right thing to do.” She echoes many voices within the community, understanding these necessary steps for the University.
Classes will remain online for the rest of the semester, and students who lived on campus will be able to retrieve belongings from their dorms after April 15 at the earliest, according to Rev. John P. Stack, Vice President for Student Life.
Classes were moved online beginning March 16, and students were asked to leave campus by March 15. These actions by the University came after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf began placing restrictions on large, public gatherings and closed all schools in the state due to COVID-19 concerns.
Students still living on campus will be able to remain living on campus for the foreseeable future.
Father Peter also announced all planned on-campus events for spring semester have been cancelled. Small internal meetings may still be held, while following social distancing guidelines.
Father Peter stated the Bursar’s Office will be in contact with students on how they may receive refunds and credits for meal plans and housing.
All University support services including learning support services, Campus Ministry, the Student Health Center, the Division of Student Life, the Career Center and the Counseling Center are still available to students virtually.
“Our full-time and part-time faculty and staff will receive their normal compensation and benefits for the foreseeable future,” Father Peter wrote.
Also announced was a temporary hiring freeze by the University. According to Father Peter, all verbal job offers will still be honored.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are 33,404 cases of novel coronavirus, with 400 deaths related to the virus, as of Monday, March 23. So far, there have been 644 cases in the state of Pennsylvania and six virus related deaths, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The University Student Health Center has confirmed one student tested positive for coronavirus after leaving campus. In Delaware county, where the University is partially located, there have been 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“Never could I have imagined the far-reaching and lasting impact COVID-19 would have,” Donohue said. “Let us hope that we will soon be able to resume our normal activities.”
The University will provide updates regarding operations due to COVID-19 on its website should the ongoing situation change any further.