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August 21, 2020

Dear CMU Faculty and Staff,

We all awoke from our sleep on Monday to find a layer of ash on our vehicles and homes. The sun was obstructed from view. On top of a global pandemic and regional wildfires, social tension continues throughout the nation. Despite this Monday morning reality, we all arrived on campus and reopened our university.

This week we honor your work and efforts.

No return to campus plan or series of protocols work without the creativity, adaptability and commitment you have showed in moving forward. Living through current events makes it difficult to expect how people in the future will describe our actions. After this first week back, I believe future people will assess what we have carried out and applaud the efforts and the fact that we did our best to advance the mission of CMU amidst uncertainty, disagreement, and ever-changing conditions.

This week our plan continues to receive national recognition from medical experts. We are moving forward on pilot projects for wastewater testing, saliva testing and are completing a highly successful baseline testing effort that few other universities have achieved. Now efforts are shifting to symptom checking, random testing and contact tracing. I have received updates from the contact tracing team and their work is important and appreciated.

You also noticed that student leaders are joining the chorus asking for greater student responsibility as CMU Vice President Angel Bautista issued a call to action to fellow students. Hundreds of students and staff have signed the ‘do the right thing’ pledge outside the University Center and many more will do so in the days ahead.

Next week is uncertain. We do not know what the future will bring. Ash or no ash, and no matter what the virus does, I am proud of where we are today. I will be thankful and appreciative on Monday as I arrive, and we begin our second week of campus life.

Sincerely,

President Tim Foster