The hero of Virgil’s epic masterpiece, the Aeneid, written over two millennia ago, offered his companions this comfort:
“Summon up your courage and dismiss grim fear. God will bring an end to these hardships, too. Perhaps one day it will be a happy thing to recall what we once faced.”
With the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) accelerating throughout Europe and North America, we face a grave crisis, whose impact on our social and economic health will be with us even when the very real danger to our lives has passed. But we are a resourceful and resilient nation, and we will emerge strong, energetic, and ready for the challenges of the future.
Even in this crisis, thanks to the generosity of our friends and supporters over the years, and the devotion of the outstanding staff at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), we are well-positioned to remain fully operational throughout this emergency. Our staff is working remotely to maintain existing programs and to develop new resources to help campuses confront challenges associated with COVID-19. In the coming days and weeks, watch for a new series of Higher Ed Nowpodcasts (on GoACTA.org) with college and university leaders discussing what institutions should do to adapt to a suddenly new environment. That is just the beginning.
It has been difficult in the extreme for American colleges and universities to adjust to the pandemic. These new and unprecedented challenges are requiring higher education leaders to innovate under severe time constraints. Professors are adjusting their courses to an online format on a few days notice, residential life has ground to a halt, universities are contemplating housing and meal plan refunds, and enrollment offices are having to reimagine recruitment strategies. Everyone needs to be sensitive to the reality that the impact on students has been painful and unnerving. College seniors who abruptly left campus after years of hard work are not just facing the disappointment that they will miss May commencement exercises and the opportunity to celebrate one of life’s most consequential milestones with their friends; they are also facing what might be the most uncertain labor market in years. Many return to families confronting dire economic circumstances in the wake of the directives to limit social interaction.
This is also a time for governing boards to lead by encouraging senior administrators and faculty to explore and adopt best practices across departments, seeking cost-effectiveness with an unwavering eye on maintaining academic excellence. ACTA is here to lend a helping hand to academic leaders across the nation in maintaining the highest standards of teaching and learning in these difficult times.
As Americans have done since the nation’s Founding, we will move forward with confidence in ourselves, our institutions, and our fellow citizens. We wish everyone good health and look forward to better times soon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Connor Murnane
PHONE: (202) 798-5450