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August 19, 2020

Email from President Foster to Campus

Dear fellow Mavericks,

Pardon the provocative subject line but I needed to get your attention.

As President, I'm used to being confronted with challenging issues and difficult decisions. The decision to re-open campus for in-person learning and on-campus living was not one I made lightly. There continue to be many sleepless nights. I trust you know the feeling.

As I walked across campus today, I was reminded of a wise statement by Eleanor Roosevelt. "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

We have a choice. We have chosen to look fear in the face. We have chosen to listen to our medical and health advisors. We have chosen to take their guidance to adapt our operations; to invest millions of dollars in new safety protocols; to be innovative in how we deliver education; to be resilient. We have chosen to give ourselves whole-heartedly to our mission. Why? Because we value life.

And some of you are now thinking, what good is any of this if we succumb to COVID-19 in the process?

Lives truly are at stake, and not just from the threat of COVID-19. Not reopening campus will have a disproportionately negative impact on first-generation, lower-income, and minority students — two-thirds of our student body. Not reopening and not providing students with the education they deserve very likely will lead to a delay or complete loss of job placement, lifetime earnings and overall wellness. Not reopening in the short-term can be sustained through our careful stewardship of resources in the past, but a protracted delay would lead to crippling impacts on scores of people across this valley and beyond. I value these lives — your life — and that's why we've chosen to be courageous and reopen.

Now back to the concept of choices.

Working together we will continue our mission and do it safely. But it takes all of us pulling together, working for the common good, being a bit selfless and giving up some niceties in the short-term. The academy has endured through pestilence and plague, wars and more. We can do the thing we think we cannot do if and only if we act together.

CMU students have choices before them as each Maverick maps the future of their education. Together, we can protect life.

The first choice for students is scheduling and completing a COVID-19 test. The alternative is to enroll in online courses. Students without a test will not be able to attend in-person courses or join the campus community. Students who have chosen not to complete test will need to contact IRIS to have schedules converted to online where possible or dropped when an online option is not available. The second choice for students to make is adherence to social distancing requirements, masks and other protective measures. These solutions are not perfect or easy but have been developed for CMU by health experts. Choosing to participate begins with the online COVID-19 course that all students must choose to complete in D2L. The alternative for students not able or willing to participate is to move to online courses; mask waivers are only granted for medical reasons and require a doctor's note.

The third choice students will make is whether to participate in ongoing COVID-19 symptom checking and testing. Students who choose to be on campus must use technology to check and report their symptoms daily. Ongoing symptom checking will help control and reduce the frequency and longevity of campus outbreaks. Not supporting the campus community by checking for virus symptoms means students will need to move to online only classes. If selected throughout the semester for random testing, your support is needed and not doing so puts the rest of the campus at risk.

Students have complete control over their choice to attend college. CMU does not have a choice when it comes to abiding by the law and adapting best known safety protocols and operations for campus. This means CMU implemented Colorado state orders (the law) local health agency requirements (the law) and best-known practices for reducing risk (best available science).

CMU remaining open is not a right and is not guaranteed. State and local health orders, and the level of willingness by students, faculty and staff to work together in cooperation will determine the ability of all Colorado universities to remain open.

Making a local decision for yourself about your education can be aided by a global view of just what a privilege college is when considering 94% of people in the world do not have the opportunity of higher education, and are not in a position to make these choices. The choice to be a part of CMU is each Maverick's to make. We hope you join the Mavily this fall in-person and help shape the future of our world through the experiences you will have, and the knowledge you will gain, during your years at CMU.


Tim Foster, President