Community Message: April 7, 2021

A message to the Muhlenberg Community from President Harring

 Wednesday, April 7, 2021 01:06 PM

To the Muhlenberg Community,

It’s hard to believe that we are midway through the spring semester. As we look forward to events that mark the end of the academic year, we also are planning for the year ahead. I am happy to share that the 2021-22 academic calendar marks a return to a regular schedule. Classes will begin on August 30 and commencement is scheduled for Sunday, May 22, 2022. This June students can resume in-person summer courses, local work and internships, and research on campus. Students participating in these experiences are eligible for campus housing.

To provide students more time to prepare for registration as we transition from Capstone to the new Workday platform the timeline for fall semester registration has been adjusted. The fall 2021 course schedule will be released on April 15. Rising seniors will begin registration on April 27, followed by rising juniors on April 30 and rising sophomores on May 4. Students should consult with their faculty advisors on course selection.

Housing selection for fall 2021 will begin the week of April 12 with the MILE housing lottery. Students who are eligible for this process should refer to their Muhlenberg email account for messages from the Office of Housing & Residence Life (HRL) for instructions. There will be general housing lottery information sessions—including a roommate meet and greet—on April 19 and 20. General lottery numbers will be released on May 3 and the lottery itself will take place May 25-28.

We understand that both course registration and housing selection are important events as students prepare for the next academic year. A typical spring semester calendar would have these events at least a week apart. However, changes in the schedule would have led to registration and lottery taking place simultaneously. In recognition of the time and attention students devote to both registration and housing selection, we have moved the start of the general housing lottery to May 25. More information is forthcoming from Housing and Residence Life.

I continue to be proud of the way our campus community and, in particular, our students, have adhered to College COVID policies and guidelines. As the region saw an increase in positivity rates, we also experienced an uptick in positive cases at the end of March. We immediately put our COVID plans into action, which quickly mitigated further spread. A big thank you to our Health Center and Student Life staff, as well as the students impacted for working together to help ensure the health of our campus community. After moving to Alert Level 3: High Alert, we were able to adjust to the Alert Level 2: Moderate Alert once test results confirmed that many affected students were already in quarantine or isolation. This week the positivity rate in our community was 1.1%, well below that of Lehigh County (13%) and the state of Pennsylvania (9.4%). However, we need to remain vigilant as Pennsylvania and a number of neighboring states (New Jersey and New York) continue to experience increases in new COVID cases this week.

As a part of our commitment to building an inclusive and equitable college community, I asked the President’s Diversity Advisory Council (PDAC) to lead a series of Community Conversations to allow us to reflect on our shared community values and envision a Muhlenberg that promotes a deep sense of belonging for everyone. Invitations to register for one of these conversations—to be held between April 13 and April 23—will be sent out soon to students, faculty and staff. I encourage you to participate in this opportunity to connect with members across the College and participate in this dialogue.

Yesterday students received an invitation to complete the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates survey. This survey was created by the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center. The findings will provide valuable information that will inform how we continue to improve the racial climate and experiences for our students. I hope all students will share their perspectives by completing this survey.

Finally, while we are not yet through this pandemic, we have passed the one-year mark since the virus impacted life at Muhlenberg. Student leaders are in the process of organizing an event to remember and reflect on the last year, with guidance from Ira Blum ’10, director of Hillel and the Leffell Center for Jewish Student Life. The event will feature voices from across the Muhlenberg community along with an interactive component to collect and preserve our experiences from the past year. The event will take place later this month on campus and via livestream.

Our community is known for its strong sense of care and compassion for one another. As we reflect on the past year, the challenges and accomplishments, may we recommit ourselves to our values—extending grace and understanding to each other and working together to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.


Kathleen Harring