Community Message: January 13, 2021

A message from President Harring to the Muhlenberg community

 Wednesday, January 13, 2021 01:05 PM

To the Muhlenberg Community,

The College re-opened on January 4 with the start of our four-week winter term. For many, the longer holiday break was a time for rest and renewal. Though, as we look forward to welcoming more students back on campus for the spring semester, we also need to reflect on recent events that deeply affected each of us and our community.

We mourn the passing of two students, Autumn Fargiano ’22 in November and Dylan Gleason ’21 just after the New Year. Both of these students touched the lives of so many within the Muhlenberg Community with their energy, passion and joy. Their absence is a loss for our campus and will be deeply felt by their friends, professors and staff mentors.

On Wednesday, January 6, we witnessed a violent mob breaching the Capitol of the United States in an attempt to subvert our democratic systems. They prominently carried symbols of hate and oppression, with the Confederate flag along with other racist and anti-Semetic emblems moving freely through the Senate and House chambers. We cannot escape the pervasive racism that was on display for all to see.

At Muhlenberg, our institutional values compel us to act in ways that support equity, inclusion and respect for human dignity. We are committed to making change on our campus and in our community through individual and collective action.

We are now in the midst of the College’s first Winter Term. When we created this to allow students flexibility in managing their course load, we had no idea how popular the program would be. Currently, there are 867 students enrolled in 67 courses including five Foundation of Success seminars. All courses are remote and early reports from faculty and students indicate classes are going well.

Planning for the Spring is also moving forward. We currently have 1,300 students committed to living on campus with another 180 or so living off-campus. Course registrations and housing assignments are largely completed and the campus is ready to welcome students back under our new guidelines. Before the winter break, students received an email from the Office of the Dean of Students outlining requirements that must be met before students can return to campus. A reminder about these requirements and the deadlines for completion was sent last week. We also encourage families to familiarize themselves with these changes before your student returns to campus. Later today students returning to campus residences will receive details regarding move-in, further pre-arrival instructions and details regarding the “re-orientation” program that all students will participate in the week before classes begin.

The Centennial Conference continues to meet and discuss available options for the spring season within the current context of the pandemic. We will share any information as soon as it is available.

Several colleges and universities have recently delayed the start of their in-person Spring Semester. Some of you may be wondering if we might follow this pattern. Almost universally, the institutions issuing delays were originally slated to begin classes in January and are now pushing their start to February. As reflected in the 2020-2021 academic calendar, Muhlenberg’s Spring plan included a February start to allow for the winter term and in anticipation of the predicted increase in cases surrounding the holiday months.

The new year is typically a time to recharge as we look forward to the renewal of spring. Despite recent challenges, there is still much to look forward to with our return to campus and our hope for a brighter 2021.

Wishing you a new year filled with hope, promise and good health.


Kathleen Harring