What a year it has been! Never has the opening of an academic year been so full of uncertainty, adjustment, and unpredictability. Ever the same, though, is the overwhelming commitment to and support for our students that begins with an unwavering dedication to Springfield College. The challenges we faced were sizable and it felt as though the finish line was always moving.
We feel good about what we have accomplished. Students came back to campus for 10 weeks, studying in face-to-face, remote, and hybrid classes, with a vibrant, yet socially distanced campus environment. The decision to accelerate by two weeks our planned switch to remote learning made sense in light of an unexpected spike in positive cases. I remain impressed by how our community—from faculty, staff, and students to our alumni, city leaders, and neighbors—came together during this crisis toward a common goal—to continue to make Springfield College the best institution it can be.
While we certainly are not taking a victory lap, I am proud of our entire community and I am grateful for the ways our alumni and donors helped us along with encouraging messages for our students, financial contributions to student assistance funds, and innumerable other expressions of support via the wide range of communication vehicles.
At the same time, we have strengthened our resolve to take action to promote an antiracist community environment that listens to and honors all voices, particularly those from historically marginalized groups. In this issue, you will read more about the advocacy of our current students and our alumni, who have started and sustained critical conversations around race at Springfield College. Recognizing that this work is on-going, these conversations are encouraging that we have created a valuable opportunity for dialogue and to align the many diversity and inclusion efforts underway on our campus.
I am ever mindful of the cost of higher education, and continue to believe that Springfield College is competitively priced compared to peer institutions. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on families, though, is real. Keeping Springfield College affordable is a high priority. The cost of attendance for the upcoming year is a regular agenda item for our Board of Trustees at its fall meeting, which was held virtually in September. In recognition of the effects of the pandemic, the Board voted unanimously for a 0 percent tuition increase for 2021-22. I appreciate the Board’s sensitivity to all the ways the pandemic has affected Springfield College families.
Over the last several years, and certainly more frequently since March, I have been asked with increasing frequency whether or not Springfield College will survive. While the challenges before us are considerable, the College is strong. Living our Humanics philosophy will always be our touchstone. Humanics is manifesting in new ways, particularly as technology takes a greater presence and priority in our day-to-day lives, but our relevance is amplified as service to others becomes an increasing imperative.
Our work this fall has proved what I have known all along, that the Springfield College community is resilient, committed, inventive, and creative. The College is better for everyone’s involvement in the wide range of expressions of our mission.
Springfield College has faced challenges before. There will be many bright days to come. We will not only survive. We will thrive.
Because we are Springfield College.
Mary-Beth A. Cooper, PhD, DM