Amid concern about the coronavirus, the University of Mary is taking proactive steps to address any situations that might arise that would impact our students, faculty, and staff. We have taken precautionary measures to help students remain healthy. Hand sanitizers will be provided throughout the university, and new bathroom signs reinforce the need for diligent hand washing practices as one of the best ways to prevent spreading germs of all kinds.

As we learn more about the virus, this webpage will remain up-to-date with campus information and communication regarding COVID-19.

Campus Updates

The following information has been communicated to the University of Mary campus community.

Members of the University of Mary Community,

The sun is setting over the Missouri River, and I’ve just returned to my office from the Lumen Vitae University Center.  It’s suppertime for the small band of students left on campus, and we waited at the window of Susanne’s to pick up our orders from the Grille or sample the Hoisin pork with Asian garlic noodles.  The temperatures should reach 60 degrees within a day or two.

Now that the dust has settled a bit from the drama of last week and online courses are all underway, we have all had a chance to catch our breath and consider what the coming months may have in store.  There’s a whole lot of uncertainty about that, of course, but I spent a good bit of the day on the phone with state and federal officials to gain a clearer sense for projected timelines and how things may unfold.  I’ve also had the benefit of huddling quietly with President’s Council to seek their wisdom.  (We did keep good space between us.  In fact, two VPs were on videoconference from home.)

Taking all things into account, and based on what we have learned, I’m able to share a few updates with you:

Commencement

It’s become clear that we can’t hold Commencement as scheduled next month.  The CDC’s 8-week prohibition on mass gatherings and large community events of over 50 persons is still projected to be in effect, even if the national “15-day pause” is not extended.  We’ve received many messages from 2020 graduates hoping that our annual Commencement Exercises might proceed as planned.  Those set to graduate have already experienced so much disruption, and I know that

But the obvious situation on the ground is such that, while this is a sad and difficult decision, it’s not a tough call.  A month from now we can’t host an event that typically draws so many thousands of people into one place.

Commencement also marks the crowning event of the year for me and for our faculty and staff.  Both the graduates and the University do so much hard work to get to that day, and it’s a bitter disappointment that we cannot mark the occasion with the usual festive rites of celebration.  Under the circumstances, here is the course we have chosen:

  1. Those set to graduate will, of course, have their degrees conferred upon completion of program requirements.  It’s just that this will happen by mail and without ceremony.  The Office of the Registrar is tracking this, will provide excellent service and mail out diplomas, and they are prepared to answer questions.

  2. At 2:00 pm on Saturday, April 25, 2020, I will plan to host a livestream to offer some words of encouragement and a blessing for those who would otherwise have been in cap and gown at the Bismarck Event Center at that hour.  It will not be anything like a “virtual graduation,” but we hope it gives the University a somewhat intimate and personal opportunity to express how proud we are of our graduates and their achievements.

  3. Rather than tentatively scheduling a diminished ceremony at a later time, we will hold a combined Double Commencement on April 24, 2021 … almost exactly a year later.  We will provide a special-edition honor cord for all of the 2020 graduates to wear with cap and gown as they walk across the stage and receive their hoods and plaques.  And – for the benefit of both classes celebrating their graduation – we’ll amp up the celebration party on campus afterwards with a live band, lots of festive food and drink, and a massive fireworks display.

To all of our graduates:  I’m so proud of you, and I’m really sorry.

 

Year Round Campus

It also gives me no pleasure to share with you that we are going to have to re-vamp the YRC experience for this summer.  The information we are receiving about when we may be able to resume housing large numbers on campus is not encouraging.   Doing so by the May 11 launch of the summer term looks very unlikely, and it does not work for us to try to patch together the rich and formative residential experience we dream of offering for YRC Fellows half-way through.

As such, the residential component of the program and the YRC Seminar are suspended for this year’s Fellows.

The promise of reduced time to degree completion, a core component of the program, is still possible.  YRC Fellows and others can still take a full load of classes through the summer.  But these courses will now be online, and the Deans of the University are working carefully to select the faculty who can truly deliver the most enjoyable and enriching online experience.

In these uncertain times, we also want to take special care that we are doing what we can to offer a wide range of our talented faculty the possibility of doing some extra teaching in the summer term. Of course, all of this depends upon summer enrollments and may require some moving and shifting, and we ask for patience as we work to move the summer semester online

This also serves as an invitation for any members of our community, even those who are not YRC fellows, to enroll in classes this summer.  Registration is now open, classes begin May 11, and the experience will be robust and engaging.  If you are interested, contact your academic advisor or the Dean of your School and we’ll get you connected to the classes you need.

 

Non-Residential Academic Programs

We have had quite a few questions from non-residential programs that offer instruction in the summer (like Physical or Occupational Therapy) or from blended programs that are mostly online but have summer institutes on campus (like Bioethics or the Ed.D.).  Of course, we want to resume in-person classes when we’re able, but we’re just not sure now when that might be.  Count on your program directors to keep you informed, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

 

Travel

The suspension of University-sponsored or grant-funded travel has now been extended to the end of May.  Those seeking exceptions should consult with their Vice President or the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.  International travel sponsored by the University is on hold at least until July.

***

I wish I had more cheerful news for all of you today.  But my mind and heart have been filled these past days with the 46th Psalm, prayed so often by our Sisters

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. … For the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.

The Lord is with us, for sure.  Stay well!

In Mary,

Monsignor James Shea

President

Good Afternoon University Faculty and Staff,

I am emailing you with a Monday update on the COVID-19 situation. We continue to adhere to the protocols provided to us by the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) to protect our community. Attached you will find the “Guidance for Congregate Living Settings and COVID-19,” released officially by the NDDOH on Friday.  Monsignor had obtained an advance copy that we had already been working from, so we were “ahead of the ball.”  I want to thank General David Anderson and the rest of the Emergency Response Team for their great assistance, counsel, and wisdom.

Updates from Emergency Response Team:

Just under 100 students will be remaining on campus. These students will be moved into either Greg Butler (women) and Hillside (men), and those in the apartment community will remain in their apartments.

Roers Hall will be used as the facility for self-isolation (or quarantine, if that should happen).

  • The main doors of Roers will not be used by anyone in isolation or quarantine. Until further notice, the NW door (which enters directly into the 2nd floor corridor) will be used by anyone in isolation or quarantine.  We will disable all M-Card access for all others and post a sign to the door.
  • To continue to provide hospitality to our students on campus, we have prepared Dining Services to be able to take care of anyone in self-isolation or quarantine.
  • We have worked out an agreement where Kyle Darras at the University of Mary Student Health Clinic will continue to serve us well by staffing the clinic Monday – Thursday. After hours and all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Kyle or another licensed nurse practitioner who has been briefed on our situation at the University will be on standby for phone consultations with students who may be experiencing symptoms.
  • All students remaining on campus had personal training sessions with Monsignor and have signed a release agreeing to aggressive social distancing practices and the protocols for dining now that the Crow’s Nest has been closed by the Governor’s executive order last week.
  • All students remaining on campus have been registered for the Attendify app, which allows us to communicate with them rapidly.  It also allows them to ask us questions and communicate with each other.  We have put resources on Attendify for what precisely to do if they have symptoms, the social distancing protocols they agreed to, dining information, spiritual and mental health care, and much more.

From 10:00 am - 10:30 am every day, Monsignor, Father Shea, or Father Vasek will celebrate Mass by livestream from Benet Chapel.  All are welcome to participate at www.youtube.com/universityofmary/live.  The videos will also be archived to our Youtube channel under “Holy Mass in the 2020 Pandemic.” All prayer intentions sent to [email protected] are being printed and placed at the foot of the altar. 

For Faculty and Staff mail service will now move to a once-weekly delivery.  If particular mail is needed more frequently, you may call the mailroom at 701-355-8378 to coordinate an earlier pick-up.

Let us continue to pray for one another, our students, and especially for those most directly affected by the pandemic. 

God bless you,

Jerome J. Richter

Executive Vice President

Members of the University of Mary Corporate Faculty and Staff,

Eight days ago I sent a letter to you and to our students about the developing COVID-19 pandemic. It seems like that was such a long time ago!

In that first letter, I said that we would be cancelling our scheduled meeting for Monday and conveying the content of the letter by email. Well, it turns out that I cannot keep that promise to you, because none of the agenda items have been left intact. These circumstances have touched nearly every aspect of our life at Mary.

The tenacity and integrity of our community in these times has been astonishing! I’ve been spending 18- hour days at the university, but I know many of you are up before me and finish your work after me each night, along with caring for your families and attending to all the many cares and anxieties we are all facing. There is a human cost to that, I know.

Let me express to you a grief that I trust God will one day turn into a blessing. But it is a grief that has been growing deep within me:

It has been so perplexing to spend many, many hours pouring enormous amounts of energy struggling through a decision and all its details, only to find everything suddenly shift under our feet. For a long time I’ve thought that it is really good and humbling for us occasionally to crash up against our limitations. But to have it happen all day, every day, is a stern test of simple human resilience. I know many of us have been feeling this way.

It tries your soul.

And there has also been this grief in the way that our students, especially our seniors, have had their lives upended even while we – with all of our capacity and talent and devotion – cannot protect them from that. Cancelled athletic seasons, concerts, plays, awards banquets, annual traditions of college life … and the closeness of maturing friendship and their common life together in Bismarck, Rome, or Arizona … it has all come to an eerie and seemingly empty halt.

Still, we relentlessly trust that Providence is at work in all of this, for their good and our good. It has been amazing and beautiful to read the warm and grateful comments that students have left on their departure forms, notes left in our office, or the many public and private messages we have received through social media. They are a testament that, in the midst of it all, our students do feel well cared-for, and that is surely central to our mission. For that, I am so very grateful to you.

Instead of our original agenda for last Monday, I am able to share with you a few nitty-gritty updates:

  • As the dust settles on campus, it looks like we will have about 130 students left in our residence halls. They have identified to us that they do not have other viable options, and we have reassured them of our commitment to care for their needs as best we can. The ND Department of Health has been very helpful, providing us with clear guidance for congregant settings during the pandemic, and I am meeting with all of the remaining students and residence life staff in small groups later today to impress upon them the importance of these common measures, for the safety of all. The Emergency Response Team has also been preparing our protocols and procedures should anything develop, also identifying our resources and reserves of assistance.
  • Our last Mass on campus for the foreseeable future was held yesterday, with many tears. We will be livestreaming Mass each day at 10:00 am from Benet Chapel, beginning this morning. Follow “University of Mary Ministry” on Facebook or Instagram to access the daily link. We will also post and archive each of the Masses on our UMary Youtube channel soon afterwards. Do you have particular prayer intentions you would want us to hold in prayer, especially during the daily Mass? Send them to [email protected], and we’ll print them out and place them at the foot of the altar, remembering you and your needs each day.
  • We are still in the full swing of recruiting for our 2020 freshman class, and the admissions team brought in ten more deposits this week! We are also gearing up for our first “virtual SOAR” this week: www.umary.edu/VirtualSOAR. I’m very proud of Chip Hinton and his team, as they do so much to keep our eyes on the bright horizon of the future.

Everyone, this is a season of unanswered questions, and I’m sure you must have many. We are doing the best we can to keep up, and we don’t have all of the answers. But we welcome your questions. Teaching faculty can be in contact with their respective Deans and with the Office of Academic Affairs. Others can reach out to their supervisors. Failing that – or should you get a challenging question from a student or parent – [email protected] is still being manned by our COVID-19 Task Force.

I’m praying for all of you, and I’d humbly also be grateful for your prayers for me.

In Mary,

Monsignor James Shea

President

Good afternoon, Students of the University of Mary:

In the midst of this busy day of transition, I just wanted to take a moment to check in with all of you and provide a brief update:

  1. You may have heard that the first evidence of a case COVID-19 in North Dakota resulting from community spread has just been confirmed in Mandan, the city just across the river from our main campus.  This means that the person diagnosed had no history of travel and no contact with anyone confirmed to have the disease.  This, along with the two cases diagnosed yesterday in Bismarck, is a sobering cause for concern and a reminder of how important it is for us painstakingly to observe social distancing protocols.
    In the last 24 hours, everything I shared with you in my letter on Sunday has become yet more urgent for us right here in central North Dakota.  For those still on campus or who are hoping to remain on campus, this is a concern you should share with your families as an update, and it is really important for you to be following all CDC guidelines without fail as long as you are here.
  2. We received word this morning that the Diocese of Bismarck is suspending all public Masses until further notice.  We will have Mass today at 4:30 pm.  Tomorrow for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Masses will be at 9:00 am and 12:00 noon, all in Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel.  These will be the last Masses on campus until circumstances change.  Father Shea and I are discussing ways to provide spiritual care for our students in the days and weeks to come, to include the possibility of livestreaming Masses for you from Benet Chapel.  Stay tuned.
  3. For those of you traveling from campus yet today, especially by car, please take good care.  There is a weather advisory today and tomorrow, which we shared with you through the UMary app and social media.  Please do not place yourselves at risk should conditions become dangerous, especially if you were considering travel by night. Carefully monitor the weather and road conditions, which you can find at dot.nd.gov/travel-info-v2.
  4. The COVID-19 form can be found at my.umary.edu.  This information and instructions were sent to you yesterday by email and on the UMary app.  In order to make plans for the care of all of our students, we require your response by the end of the day.  Thanks so much.

As ever, I’m praying for you.

 

In Mary,

Monsignor James Shea

President

Dear Colleagues:

The pace of COVID-19 transmission across the country demands that we move faster to assure social distancing in alignment with public health direction for reducing the rate of virus spread.  The most recent confirmed case, in Morton County, is the first known case in North Dakota of community transmission. 

A number of our employees have already been working from home.  The university remains open, but we need to move in the direction of a more comprehensive remote work protocol. 

I would ask that supervisors work with your vice president or athletic director on plans to transition all or some of your team members to working from home.  This way, we will be putting the process in place should the need arise for more universal implementation.

We understand that there is work that absolutely must be done on site.  The vice presidents and Coach Lennon have been updating their lists of essential employees whose work can only be done on site.

All employees who are working on site are expected to very carefully observe social distancing protocols and all recommendations of the CDC to do our best to minimize exposure, especially as we will have a small community of students living on campus.  We do not want a case of community spread to arise on the campus due to employee travel back and forth from Bismarck/Mandan.

All employees working from home do so with the understanding that we may need to bring them back to campus or ask them to take on new or different duties as our response to the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

So many of our students bid a tearful farewell to campus this morning and are on their way home.  Let us accompany them with our prayers.

God bless you,

Jerome J. Richter

Executive Vice President

Members of the University of Mary Community:

In the last days, the ND Governor’s office and both Bismarck and Burleigh County have declared states of emergency relative to the spread of the coronavirus.  These are actions taken to prepare our state and local communities for the earliest evidence of community spread of the virus.  The first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in North Dakota came through out-of-state travel. Since then, two additional cases have been confirmed.

The University of Mary already has an Emergency Operations Plan in place and, as you know, a COVID-19 Task Force and President’s Council have been working on operational decisions and strategic communication for our community. 

 As an added measure, I yesterday appointed an Emergency Response Team.  The responsibility of this Team is to meet and prepare for the possibility of a confirmed case of COVID-19 on our campus or an outbreak of cases in Bismarck/Mandan.  This team has been in contact with and is receiving up-to-date briefings from the ND Department of Health, the North Dakota University System, and the COVID-19 State Unified Command of the Division of Emergency Management (the latter of which has the most current national intelligence on the spread of the virus).  We are coordinating and planning in this way for your safety and the safety of our community.

The Emergency Response Team is being chaired by Jerome Richter as Chief of Staff, assisted by General David Anderson and other members of the University of Mary community.  Please give them your full support and continue to look for updates on www.umary.edu/covid.

In Mary,

Monsignor James Shea

President

Members of the University of Mary Community,

I have some difficult news to share with you.

I’ve personally spoken twice earlier today with the ND Department of Health to confer and seek clear guidance.  They have been really helpful, noting that the actions we have taken and communicated meet or exceed all guidance/directives that have been offered by them or by the Centers for Disease Control.  We specifically discussed the low risk of community spread of the virus in small classroom settings, which we have implemented.  We had their “blessing” for our plan, along with their commitment to work with us moving forward.

All along, our intention has been to preserve your experience of education and community in the midst of rapidly changing circumstances.  So long as we could attend to both your flourishing and your safety, this has been our guiding principle. 

But I’ve just spoken with the Health Department again, and new federal directives in development will make it impossible for us to continue with in-person classes.  I’m very sorry about this, and I know it will be a bitter disappointment for you – our students, faculty, and staff.  We have been surprised by how few of you thus far have chosen to transition to online instruction.

But anticipating the possibility that travel between states may soon be restricted, it seems important to act on this new information with enough time for students to return home, if they wish. 

Our final day of in-person classes and regular campus schedule will be tomorrow, March 17, and the remainder of the week will be reserved for travel and to allow our faculty the chance to transition all of their classes to a fully online format for the rest of the term

Classes will begin again on Monday, March 23, now continuing into what had been scheduled for finals week.  And so the last day of the term will be April 23.

Residential students wishing to remain on campus as they complete their courses online will need to inform us of this intention using a form that will be provided to all students. We will circulate that form so that you have it sometime tomorrow.

I am also concerned for any of our students who are now placed in a situation of exceptional hardship, and we are considering how we might best be there for them at this time. 

I’m sure that there will be many questions as we navigate the days ahead, and we will do our best to answer them as they arise.  These have been difficult days for all of us, I know.

In the midst of it all, we are seeking the face of God and His providential care for all of us.  Please know this for sure: with all of my heart, I am holding you in my prayers.

In Mary,

Monsignor James Shea

President

Dear Students of the University of Mary,

I want to write to you personally about everything that has been happening these past days. You have been steadily on my mind and in my prayers.

We have set upon a course, for the moment, which offers you the choice to remain on campus with each other and continue your education here. With that choice comes a serious responsibility for each other, and that is central to our Benedictine value of Community. Circumstances are fluid, and things may change, but our hope is that we can safely make it together to April 17, the end of the spring semester.

The coronavirus is spreading rapidly through our country. If you were all home for Spring Break, as is the case right now at many universities, it would probably be imprudent to have you return to campus from so many places. But because you are here, the opposite may be true. The spread of the virus depends upon the movement of people.

It also depends upon the gathering of people.

And so I am asking you:

  1. Please radically restrict your movement.
  2. Please practice social distancing.

Cancel your travel plans. Do not go into town unless you really need to. Be more alert to your surroundings and interactions and hygiene than before, especially in public places. Give each other a lot of space. For the time being, stop hosting visitors on campus in the residence halls.

This may seem drastic and unnecessary to you. You are probably young and healthy, and you are hearing that this means the symptoms will be mild for you, even unnoticed.

But consider these things we have been learning:

  1. The coronavirus is highly contagious.
  2. The way it has spread in other parts of the world indicates that, by now, everyone should assume the virus is present in their community even if there have not yet been reports of the disease.
  3. The disease caused by the virus is considerably more deadly than the ordinary flu, especially for the elderly and those with existing medical conditions.
  4. If it spreads too quickly, it will overwhelm our health care system. We have to work together to slow the spread of the disease so medical science has more time to develop solutions.

These facts mean young and healthy persons with mild symptoms or no symptoms are actually a very serious risk to others, because they can be the most effective in transmitting the disease to the vulnerable without realizing they are infectious.

Remember all the times freshman year I told you that college is not the end of childhood but the beginning of adulthood? The essence of adulthood is having the capacity to take responsibility for others.

All of this is not about self-protection, and the last thing I want is for you to be afraid or to turn in upon yourself in anxiety.

This is about love, and love casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18).

Love is the reason we are changing our behavior.  There are vulnerable people around us who are at grave risk. This is a chance for us to make choices not simply to protect ourselves, but to care for others who are depending upon us to protect them by our choices.

At Mary, we say that we stand for Life. We fight for those who need us, even if we cannot see them. Students, this is a concrete chance to come together and do just that. In this uncertain hour, we can act and do good.

  1. Please radically restrict your movement.
  2. Please practice social distancing. 

Let’s do our best to get to April 17 together.

Have courage, brave students!  And thanks for receiving these requests from me in the spirit of affection for you with which I write them.

In Mary,

Monsignor James Shea

President

Dear Students,

In the letter Monsignor Shea sent to you earlier today, he asked you to:

  • Radically restrict your movement (to include cancellation of travel plans and to refrain from going to town unless necessary)
  • Practice social distancing

I am emailing you this evening, with additional important information about how we, as a community, will need to work together to do our part in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community. Towards this goal, effective immediately, it is important for all of us to comply with each of the following:

  1. Avoid activities where involving large groups of people - small groups (no more than 30 people) are permissible on campus using the following protocols:
    1. No one present is sick or has any reason to think they have been exposed to the coronavirus
    2. All shared surfaces are disinfected before and after the meeting or activity
    3. All participants wash their hands thoroughly (more than 20 seconds) upon arrival and upon returning to their student residence
    4. Food and drink are served individually
    5. Try maintain a distance of least 3-6 feet between participant and as much distance as possible should be maintained between participants and their belongings
    6. Avoid touching (e.g. hugs, handshakes, etc.)
    7. Think prevention when sneezing or coughing (use tissues or your elbow to prevent the spread of germs)  
    8.  Where possible, classes with more than 30 students will be moved to larger venues where the distance between students can be increased 
  2. Until further notice, refrain from hosting off-campus guests on campus and in the residence halls:
    1. We live in an age where technology will enable us to remain in contact with off-campus friends – please let your friends from off campus know they should not come to campus to see you  
    2. Also, effective immediately, the Overnight Guests policy in the Residence Halls (page 33 of the Student Handbook) is suspended until further notice – meaning no overnight guests will be allowed
  3. Focus on staying healthy
    1. Get some exercise and spend time outdoors - Student Recreation & Wellness will be announcing ways for you to exercise (plans include an early start to the summer bike program and there are plans for some contests for walkers
    2. Eat healthy and get adequate sleep
    3. Use this time to maintain an active spiritual life by reading Scripture and praying
  4. If you feel sick or learn you have had contact with someone who is ill, do not go to the clinic – instead call the clinic or your medical provider and follow their instruction
  5. If you feel anxious – or if you have a friend who feels anxious reach out to a friend, residence director, instructor, advisor, or coach and remember, professional counselors at CHI St. Alexius Health are available 24/7:
    University of Mary students and their dependent children are eligible for free and confidential counseling (up to five sessions) provided by licensed mental health professionals. You may meet in person with a counselor at their location in downtown Bismarck (1310 East Main Avenue) or you may opt for online sessions using the HIPAA compliant ZOOM video service. You may make an appointment by calling 701-530-7195 or 800-327-7195. They also offer a 24/7 crisis line at the 701-530-7195 number. 
  6. Please continue to monitor the university’s COVID-19 site at  https://www.umary.edu/student-life/campus-safety-security/health.php for updates. Questions may be submitted to the [email protected] address.

The Student Development Team will update you about activities and protocols via the University of Mary APP as more information becomes available. In the days to come let’s make it our priority to care for one another and let us pray as a community to our God, who in his love and care for us, tells us to call on Him in times of trouble (Psalm 50:15).

Social Distancing and Prevention Poster

 

God Bless,

Dr. Tim Seaworth, Vice President for Student Development

Members of the University of Mary community,

In his letter on Thursday, Monsignor Shea announced, among other things, “Athletic travel will proceed according to the guidelines of the NSIC/NCAA and with additional institutional precautions.” There have been quite a few developments since then, and it is important to bring everyone up to date.

Over the past 48 hours, the University’s athletic community has experienced unprecedented safety decisions that have shut down all internal operations involving student athlete participation and competition. Legislative rulings from both the NSIC and NCAA have established the guidelines currently being followed within our athletic department. These guidelines include:

  • The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) announced the suspension of all athletic activities for each of its 16-member institutions. This includes all travel, competitions, practices, countable strength & conditioning, and meetings/film review (all countable athletically related activities - CARA). The suspension will remain in effect until March 31, at which time the NSIC will re-evaluate the status of the situation.
  • NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors canceled the 2020 Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships in all three divisions.
  • The American Collegiate Hockey Association announced it has canceled the 2020 National Championship Tournament which was set to begin in Frisco, Texas on March 19.
  • The Division II Administrative Committee adopted emergency legislation to establish a temporary recruiting dead period in all NCAA Division II sports, effective immediately.  The dead period will remain in effect at least until April 15, at which time the Administrative Committee will re-evaluate the status of the situation.

The NSIC and NCAA legislative actions have affected all of our athletic programs regardless of in-season or off-season status. It is especially disappointing for our athletes and coaches who were at the end of their seasons and prepared to compete in their National Championship tournaments – we sympathize with these athletes, and I would ask that all of us join in offering them appropriate encouragement and moral support. The ‘What If’ will always haunt these athletes. This historical legislative action was administered only because of the necessity of circumstances for the well-being of all Americans, and is truly an invitation to Virtuous Sacrifice on all of our parts.

The Athletic Department will continue to monitor and evaluate the status of spring sports potentially restarting their seasons. Training rooms, weight rooms and athletic facilities will be available for voluntary use only through the spring semester for our athletes. Athletic programs will continue to monitor the academic progress of their Scholar-Athletes as usual and can offer academic assistance where needed. Father Vasek, our athletics chaplain, will also be available to visit with any athlete upon request.

While these are truly challenging and uncertain times, I am confident that the actions in place, will allow our community to remain strong and safe. We will strive to practice the virtues of Prudence in our leadership, Courage in our resolve, Temperance in our choices, and Justice in our decisions.

God Bless!

 

Dale Lennon                                                                           Jerome Richter

Director of Athletics                                                               Executive Vice President

The following resolution was adopted by the North Sun Intercollegiate Conference Board of Directors on Thursday evening upon the recommendation of the conference’s athletic directors:

NSIC COVID-19 Athletic Activities Suspension

The NSIC has suspended all athletic activities effective immediately through Tuesday, March 31st. Non-conference competitions already travelled to are left to institutional discretion up to March 16th, at which time all athletic activities must cease.

During this time, no athletic activities may occur. This is to include competitions, practices, countable strength & conditioning, meetings/film review, etc.

There will be no off campus in-person recruiting contact and evaluations, institutional policy will dictate on campus recruiting contacts and evaluations. Correspondence via text and telephone calls remain permissible if otherwise permitted per the sport’s respective recruiting calendar.

The suspension ending on March 31st was determined after evaluating conference handbooks to meet sport conference championship qualification. 

Reevaluation of the remainder of the academic year schedule will occur through the duration of March with an announcement following a Board of Directors decision.

 A. Prevention Plan
  1. Concerned employees who consider themselves at risk may reach out to HR to discuss opportunities and develop a plan.
  2. Please take ownership of your work space and regularly clean/disinfect your area – phone, keyboard, chair arms, etc.
  3. Employees unable to report to work due to their own or a family member’s COVID-19 confirmed illness will have use of any accrued PTO or Extended Sick Leave (ESL). The prerequisite of using 3 PTO days before ESL will be waived. Employee is obliged to inform their supervisor in the event of any absence.
  4. Employee absences due to their own confirmed illness or the need to provide COVID-19 related support at home during this time will be excused.
  5. Employees unable to report to work due to a COVID-19 daycare or school closure that requires them to be home with their children may work remotely, if feasible. If remote work is not an option, the employee will have use of available leave balances, including ESL.
  6. Supervisors are encouraged to review all positions to determine remote work feasibility and request the appropriate technology support needed to accommodate eligible employees.
  7. Supervisors should consider cross-training of essential business functions.

 B. Containment Plan

  1. Employees with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater are required to stay home.
  2. Employees absent for three or more workdays will need to provide a medical return to work release. The Campus Health Clinic is available to provide this determination.
  3. Consider alternative work arrangements (remote work arrangement).

C. Additional Measures

  1. Recruiting: Until further notice, hiring managers shall use technology for interview purposes before having a candidate travel to campus from outside of the Bismarck-Mandan area.
  2. The Campus Health Clinic is available to provide return to work determinations when an employee has been out for 3 or more days.
  3. Please respect each individual’s right of privacy. Keep any medical-related information confidential.

This document may be revised and amended at the discretion of the university. Any revision or amendment will constitute a new document and supersede any prior document.

 

Bonnie Dahl, Director of Human Resources

Dear Colleagues,

 

In time of crisis, it is common to experience stress and anxiety as we all do our best to care for family members, friends and the students we serve. President’s Council has asked that I be in touch with you to remind you of the following resources:

  1. If you are at an elevated risk for the COVID-19 virus due to other medical conditions and/or age, please contact me to explore how we can work together to find options to help keep you well.
  2. Confidential counseling (three free sessions) is available to you or any immediate family member through the University of Mary’s Employee Assistance Program through CHI St. Alexius Health. You may meet with a counselor from the privacy of your home using the HIPPA-compliant ZOOM program. 701-530-7195 or 800-327-7195.
  3. Spiritual support is available through University Ministry. Please stop by the Saint John Paul II Center for University Ministry, located in the Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership, or call 701-355-3704.

We are a community. If you need assistance, please let me or your supervisor know how we can help!

 

Best Regards,

Bonnie Dahl, Director of Human Resources

Dear Students,

In a time of crisis, like the one we are now experiencing with COVID-19, things can change from day to day. There is uncertainty and we all share concern for those who will be most affected. We all react differently to this type of stress. It is not uncommon to experience anxiety or to worry about family, friends and ourselves.

I would like to remind you that in times like this it is good to seek support from family and friends. It is always better to face challenges together than alone. It is also wise to seek professional support if the stress or anxiety you feel persists.

Please keep in mind the following support that is available to you:

1. University Ministry

Located in the Saint John Paul II Center for University Ministry within the Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership our chaplains, Father Robert Shea and Father Anthony Baker are available to pray with you and for you. University Ministry will continue to offer daily Mass and prayer. You may contact them at 701-355-3704.  Our chaplain for Marauders athletics, Father Craig Vasek, is also happy to hear from any of our scholar athletes who are seeking spiritual care.  His number is 701-355-5168.  You can also send a message to [email protected] to connect with any of our available spiritual resources.

 2. Counseling Services through CHI St. Alexius Health

University of Mary students and their dependent children are eligible for free and confidential counseling (up to five sessions) provided by licensed mental health professionals. You may meet in person with a counselor at their location in downtown Bismarck (1310 East Main Avenue) or you may opt for online sessions using the HIPAA compliant ZOOM video service. You may make an appointment by calling 701-530-7195 or 800-327-7195. They also offer a 24/7 crisis line at the 701-530-7195 number.

We are a community. If you need support you may also reach out to your instructors, advisors, coaches, residence directors. We are here for you – make the call!

 

God Bless,

Dr. Tim Seaworth, Vice President for Student Development

As the University of Mary, along with the external community, transitions to the use of technology and online resources in response to the COVID-19 emergency, it is important for students to be mindful that all University of Mary policies for students are applicable in the online, virtual environment. As stated on page 4 of the University of Mary Student Handbook (in the second paragraph under the heading “Description”):

University of Mary Students are responsible to access a current copy of the Student Handbook and are subject to comply with the policies, regulations, and procedures it contains. This expectation includes all undergraduate, graduate and special admission students as well as students enrolled online, at the university’s distant sites and campuses, and those enrolled at the main campus.  

 

You will find a copy of the Student Handbook here:

https://www.umary.edu/_resources/pdfs/StudentHandbook-2019.pdf

 

When interacting with others in an online environment, it is important to continue to practice the Benedictine values of Respect and Community. It is not acceptable, and the university will not tolerate bullying, harassment, or discrimination. Students who are targeted as well as those who observe any such behavior are encouraged to report it to the appropriate university officials. In addition to the policies contained in the Student Handbook Each student is responsible to be familiar with and abide by each of the following policies:   

 

If you are the target of prohibited behaviors or if you know of someone who has been targeted, you are encouraged to make a report. You may do so online, or you may contact a university official.

If you would like to file an online complaint, The Conduct Grievance Board oversees the investigation and resolution of complaints alleging misconduct identified in the Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Harassment, Hazing, Retaliation or Title IX Policies listed above. A description of the Conduct Grievance Board as well as information about how to file a compliant may be found at:

https://my.umary.edu/ICS/icsfs/Conduct_Grievance_Board_Revision_Approved_by_EC_of.pdf?target=dc6c784e-6e7b-45cd-b992-3d713c3c7b55

The Executive Vice President, Mr. Jerome Richter, chairs the Conduct Grievance Board and you may contact him at [email protected] or at 701-355-8072. 

For all other types of student misconduct, you may make a report to the Director of Student Life, Sarah Eberle at [email protected] or at 701-355-8126.

 

Accommodations in an Online Environment

I would also like to take this opportunity to advise students that it is possible you may need an accommodation in an online environment that you do not need in a classroom setting. Should you need this type of assistance or have questions, please contact Dr. Lynn Dodge, Student Accessibility Services Coordinator at 701-355-8264 or at [email protected]

To all members of the University of Mary Community,

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to take a moment to share preventative steps being taken by the Office of Physical Plant to help keep our community safe.

  1. Hand sanitizing pump bottles have been placed in the following locations on campus:
  • Lumen Vitae Atrium / Bookstore
  • Crow’s Nest Campus Restaurant
  • Marauders Cove
  • Gary Tharaldson School of Business lobby
  • Welder Library circulation desk
  • Casey main entrance
  • School of Education reception desk
  • Business Office reception desk
  • Admissions reception desk
  • Student Development office
  • Hospitality Center reception desk
  • Wellness Center desk
  • Chesterton’s counter
  • Bismarck-Butler Center reception desk
  • PT building on Rosser.
  1. Sanitizer dispensers and/or sanitizing wipes will be installed in the fitness center, weight room, and athletic training rooms.
  2. Custodial staff are disinfecting frequently touched public surfaces (classroom tables, door handles, handrails, drinking fountains, toilets, sinks, etc.) on a daily basis, M-F.
  3. Frequently touched public surfaces in residence halls and dining centers are being disinfected daily, 7 days a week. This is occurring on an enhanced schedule from the usually scheduled cleaning rounds.
  4. For additional protection, the following extra measures are being taken within the Crow’s Nest:
    1. All patrons are required to use hand sanitizer when entering the Crow’s Nest (sanitizer dispensers have been installed at the entrance).
    2. All tables will be disinfected between each use.  Patrons should take care not to be seated at a table that has not yet been cleaned. 
    3. Patrons will be reminded not to bring cups, plates, etc. back to the servery, but instead to use clean dishes on each trips.
  5. Cleaning supplies (disinfectant, rags, gloves, and safety data sheets) are being provided in all RA offices for use by students and/or RAs.
  6. Refresher training will be provided for all Physical Plant staff on safe work practices and OSHA requirements related to the current concerns.We are taking additional steps to protect all of our employees, providing both for their safety and the safety of our students.
  7. Please wash your hands frequently with soap and water and observe all other preventative measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and the ND Department of Health.  Continue to monitor www.umary.edu/covid.

If any additional or specialized cleaning is requested, please submit a work order to the Office of Physical Plant at www.umary.edu/repairs, or contact the Office of Physical Plant at 355-8310 with any questions or concerns.

Respectfully,

Luke Seidling, Director of Physical Plant

Dear Faculty and Staff,

The University of Mary thanks you for your understanding and attention as we navigate through the quickly-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to offer a clarification about something Monsignor Shea mentioned in his letter to the community yesterday. Following guidelines issued by the government and advice from legal counsel, the university is immediately suspending all university-sponsored and grant-funded travel until the end of the semester. All non-essential travel on university business is suspended. This includes faculty and staff travel to conferences, meetings, and other professional development opportunities.

We would expect that most or all existing travel reservations would have been made through our account with Corporate Travel Planners. We have notified them to be ready to assist you with the refund process. Call them at 833.708.0730 if you have travel within two weeks in need of cancellation. If the travel is to take place after March 27, email them at [email protected]. We are finding that airlines and hotels are providing enhanced flexibility with cancellations and refunds in light of these circumstances. If you have any questions about any other existing reservations, please consult with your respective vice president or the athletic director.

As you know, the university has a duty to provide a safe work environment for all our employees, and this is a duty we take very seriously. That duty also extends to the students who are remaining on campus, in our classrooms, residence halls, and other facilities. For this reason, the university strongly discourages all employees working on our main campus from traveling beyond the Bismarck-Mandan community for personal reasons through the end of the semester. We are seeing that the situation on the ground could rapidly evolve during the course of even a short trip. Because of our legal obligation to all employees and students and our legal right – in light of these circumstances – to impose reasonable, fact-based restrictions when there is a threat to the health and safety of others, please know that any elective travel for personal reasons could prevent your ability to physically return to campus.

We appreciate your flexibility and understanding as we continue to monitor this fluid situation.

Respectfully,

Dr. Diane Fladeland, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Jerome Richter, Executive Vice President

Dear Members of the University of Mary Community,

As you know from previous communications, the university has been closely following events and public health recommendations surrounding the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The health of our students, faculty, and staff is a top priority at Mary. So is our educational mission. There has been an increasing sense of tension between these priorities as concern about the coronavirus has escalated over recent days.

The first case of COVID-19 in North Dakota was confirmed late last night. Even though it was diagnosed in a part of the state distant from our main campus and was contracted through out-of-state travel contact, this news obviously merits our attention and our careful, steady consideration.

As the final weeks of the spring term draw near, our current intention is to continue to offer in-person classes for our students and a rich experience of community on our campus through the end of the semester. Nevertheless, given all that we know and what we can anticipate based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we need to proceed with an abundance of caution and provide, as best we can, for rapid changes in circumstances. We are taking into account a number of clear factors:

  1. COVID-19 appears to pose the greatest risk to older adults and those with underlying and chronic health conditions. The CDC and the ND Department of Health has emphasized the need to avoid non-essential contact with elderly populations.
  2. Although the health risks seem lower for younger, healthy adults when they contract the virus, they can still serve as carriers of the virus to more vulnerable individuals.
  3. Large gatherings of persons in close quarters pose an increased risk.
  4. Limiting exposure to oneself and others by limiting unnecessary movement, personal contact, and travel can mitigate risk.

With all of this in mind, I am able to share with you the following information:

  • For the time being, our students are most welcome to remain on or commute to our campus for classes to finish out the semester. We will continue to monitor this developing situation, and we are providing clear instructions for such students so that their experience can be as safe as possible for themselves and others, with minimal disruption.
  • Those students who believe that they would be safer somewhere other than our campus are free to make arrangements to that effect. These students should consult with each of their individual professors. They will be accommodated to the extent possible in completing their courses online through my.umary.edu (Canvas LMS). For any of the small number of courses that cannot be completed in this way for curricular reasons, completion of the course and the awarding of credit will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Residential students on a meal plan who choose to depart campus will receive a partial credit in their student account at the beginning of their next enrolled semester. The credit will be calculated based on the remaining weeks in the semester minus an amount for fixed costs which are, by nature, irrecoverable by the university. For legal reasons, I am told that we are unable to issue refund checks in this amount, but it will decrease the costs of the next semester. An exception is those who are set to graduate next month, who will receive a check upon completion of their final course.
  • Professors who, for any reason, believe themselves to be at greater risk are encouraged, at their discretion and in consultation with their Dean, to arrange to offer the remainder of their courses for this semester online. I would ask our students to be respectful and understanding of this personal decision.
  • Administrative and support staff, along with those employees of university partners who serve on campus, should stay in close communication with their supervisors and use their best, prudent discretion. Anyone who considers themselves at greater risk should consult with HR to determine an appropriate plan.
  • All classes and scheduled gatherings of more than 30 persons will be under review in an effort to find alternative arrangements, if possible. Those responsible for such classes or gatherings should write to the contact email at www.umary.edu/covid ([email protected]) for direction. One of the great advantages of being a smaller place under these circumstances is that the number of such classes and gatherings is manageable. The Office of Academic Affairs will excuse student absences related to illness.

We cannot at this time anticipate all of the changes to the calendar through the end of the semester or to upcoming travel plans, but I am able to inform you of the following:

  • The Rome Maymester has sadly been cancelled. Enrolled students should be in contact with the Office of Global Studies and with their academic advisor. Capacity will be expanded in the 2021 Maymester and even in each of next year’s semester-long programs to accommodate, as possible, those who wish to reschedule this experience. Those unable to reschedule who also need the core course offered during the Maymester, Benedict, Yesterday and Today, should consult with their advisor as soon as possible to survey their options.
  • All university-sponsored travel through the end of the semester is suspended, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis. Athletic travel will proceed according to the guidelines of the NSIC/NCAA and with additional institutional precautions. All university-sponsored international travel is suspended through the end of May. International travel departing in June is now under review, with a decision forthcoming by April 1.
  • The Vocations Jamboree next week, which is always a happy gathering with representatives of religious communities and service organizations from every corner of the nation converging on our campus, can no longer prudently be held. We had considered cancelling the Expo and proceeding with the keynote presentation, but that would involve a large gathering of students in the MAC, joined by many guests from surrounding communities.
  • All campus Masses are being moved to Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel, allowing participants more space between each other. The Lenten season has meant that Our Lady of the Word and Benet have been overflowing, with too many people in close quarters. For this same reason, through the end of the semester, we will be adding a 9:00 am Mass on Sundays and a 4:30 pm Mass on Wednesdays. The Sign of Peace and the distribution of the Precious Blood have been suspended, and priests are greeting people after Mass without the shaking of hands. If you’re experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms, your university chaplain has asked that you please do not come to Mass.
  • The Corporate Faculty and Staff Meeting on March 16 is being cancelled, with the intended content of that meeting conveyed by email next week.
  • The upcoming Spring Theater production, Pirates of Penzance, slated for March 20-22, has been cancelled, as has the upcoming Spring Choir and Band Concert on Sunday, April 5. Additionally, the Office of Student Development will be considering whether to continue or cancel other student activities on a case-by-case basis.
  • The Leadership Awards Banquet on March 31 will now be a simple ceremony, held in Founders Hall, live-streamed for family and friends who would have wanted to attend.
  • The 2020 President’s Club dinners, scheduled for next month, are being cancelled for the safety of our donors and friends.
  • The last day of the term will be April 17. Final exams will be held online or before that date at faculty discretion.
  • A decision about Commencement 2020 and surrounding activities will be made by April 1. For now, this culminating event in the university’s life remains on our calendar as scheduled.

The University of Mary remains open. University housing, computer labs, food service, the health clinic, university ministry, counseling services, and all other aspects of the university’s main campus remain open. The university’s COVID-19 webpage, www.umary.edu/covid, will continue to be our primary source of information and updates related to university operations.

I would earnestly ask those remaining on campus and continuing to attend classes in-person to observe very carefully all of the recommendations of the CDC websites and the ND Department of Health. Those links are available at www.umary.edu/covid. I would also offer the following guidance:

  • Please reconsider any out-of-state or any unnecessary travel until the end of the semester. This includes Easter travel. We are planning a full range of services on campus for the Sacred Triduum and will schedule a special Chapel of the Word for Easter. Special meals are also being planned so we can share fellowship together while reducing the risk of transmission of the virus to or from campus. If you do travel between now and the end of the semester, please inform your Resident Director and keep a careful record of those you come into contact with while you are away.
  • Observe additional sanitation protocols in heavy-use settings (the Crow’s Nest, fitness center, Welder Library, etc.). We will try to make abundant hand sanitizer products available in such spaces. This is also a good time for us to give each other a little extra personal space, modeling some of that stoicism of North Dakota’s German-Russian and Scandinavian heritage.
  • Please refrain from visiting Annunciation Monastery through the end of the semester. You can bet that the Sisters are praying for us, and their hospitality is unfailing. This is not a request that comes from them but from me, as an expression of extra love and care for our Sisters, some of whom would be at high risk were they to contract the virus.
  • If you are receiving Holy Communion at Mass, please be very mindful as you are receiving. We use large hosts and try to be careful, but it is helpful when those receiving by the tongue are very still, avoiding quick movements, and when those receiving by the hand hold their hands high and flat, not cupping them. If you have any concerns about contracting or transmitting something through the receiving of Communion, consider making a Spiritual Communion.

The spread of the coronavirus may necessitate changes in the way we interact, but it does not change what we do. The University of Mary will continue to operate and will continue to provide the highest-quality education possible to our students, and University of Mary employees will continue to serve those who have been entrusted to us.

This is a new and difficult challenge not only for our community at Mary, but for the broader community in Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota, our country, and our world. We will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation with local, state and federal public health officials. And we remain united in prayer for protection, and for healing for those who are already affected.

In the meantime, please carry on with your work and your studies. Do so with care for yourself and for those around you and continue to adhere to all the recommended preventative measures. But do not retreat from your commitment to your education and to the important work you do every day.

In Mary,

Monsignor James P. Shea

President

Greetings to all University of Mary Community Members, 

Amid concern about the COVID-19 virus, the University of Mary is taking proactive steps to address any situations that might arise that would impact our students, faculty, and staff. The health of our students and employees, as well as, the larger community is a high priority for the University of Mary.  A task force has been created and is working  to develop a plan to meet whatever challenges we may face as a community.

As noted in Dr. Fladeland's March 3, 2020 email, the University of Mary has already taken the precautionary step of returning Rome campus students to their family homes where they will be in isolation for 14 days as recommended by the CDC. After ensuring that they have not been exposed, they will have the option to finish their semester by working online or at Mary College at ASU in Tempe.

Academic Affairs is prepared to ensure students are able to complete courses online if necessary. Following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, we will have protocols in place in the event any student or employee becomes ill with the virus. Our Human Resources Department is prepared to implement policies for employees in the event of an illness. Our athletic department and others responsible for events are monitoring travel restrictions and are prepared to  respond appropriately with cancellations, if needed. The plan created by this task force will be the model for future health concerns, including the annual flu season.

As of now, we are taking precautionary measures within the residence halls, classrooms and offices to help students, faculty and staff remain healthy. Hand sanitizers will be provided throughout the university, and  bathroom signs will reinforce the need for diligent hand washing practices as one of the best ways to prevent spreading germs of all kinds.

Anyone who develops symptoms should stay home and contact medical providers by phone. We will continue to communicate with the entire community as we move forward. The following email address, [email protected], has been set up for you to send your questions if you are not able to find the information on the COVID-19 webpage, umary.edu/covid.   As is always the case for any media contacts, please direct any inquiries to our Media Relations Specialist, Tom Ackerman, in the Office of Public Affairs at [email protected].

Members of the task force cover a wide range of areas at the University of Mary and are listed below:

  • Dr. Alyssa Martin (Academic Affairs)
  • Alex Cournoyer (Residence Life)
  • Kyle Darras (CHI St. Alexius Health)
  • Bonnie Dahl (Human Resources)
  • Janel Sailer (Financial Affairs)
  • Brenda Nagel (Public Affairs)
  • Dale Lennon (Athletics)
  • Jerilyn Stocker (Community Relations/Events)
  • Luke Seidling (Physical Plant and Facilities)
  • Latifah Kraemer (Student Development)
  • Dr. Diane Fladeland (Academic Affairs--Task Force Co-Chair)
  • Dr. Tim Seaworth (Student Development--Task Force Co-Chair)

Good morning, members of the University of Mary Community, Board of Trustees, and Annunciation Monastery,

It’s been a harrowing two days since we announced the closure of our Rome campus. We’ve moved quickly since then to evacuate our students amidst reports that some expatriates in Italy were waiting many days before even reaching their respective airlines to arrange their travel. To intensify matters further, the American Embassy in Italy issued a statement notifying us that Americans returning home would be screened before boarding their planes and denied travel should their temperatures or health seem suspect, all the while suggesting that further travel restrictions were imminent. With that urgency in mind, we were able successfully to leverage a combination of travel partnerships, airline connections, frequent flier miles and corporate flier miles to secure flights home for each of our students and returning staff as early as Thursday, with our last students and staff departing in the early hours of this morning. In the meantime, Italy announced that it was mandatorily closing all its institutions of higher education.

Thus, we’re happy to report that as of 7:37am CT today, the last travelers of our students and staff departed Europe and have either arrived home safely or are midway over the Atlantic, set to arrive later today. They will spend 14 days in self-isolation before reuniting in Arizona, with flights already arranged for them. 17 of the 25 have chosen to go to Arizona. Our Arizona staff has been busily and excitedly arranging a warm (and sunny) reception for our students in Tempe. Upon arrival on March 20th, they’ll depart for a Southwest excursion to the Grand Canyon and resume their studies at Mary College at ASU.

Our Rome staff—Dr. Lombardo, Dr. Alessandra Franco, and John Dinkel—along with Madelyn Dinkel, Fr. Dan Eusterman, and Fr. Brad Sjoquist, are to be commended for their handling of the situation, along with their tremendous care for our students as they were so suddenly uprooted from an experience they’ve been looking forward to since before they started at Mary. Thank you for your prayers and support as we repatriated our Rome community. Know that our students and staff are safe as we continue to monitor the situation abroad.

In Mary,

Monsignor James Shea

President

University of Mary relocates Rome program to its Arizona campus 

As positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to make global headlines, the University of Mary is thankful no cases have been reported on or close to our Rome Campus in the Monteverde Nuovo neighborhood of the Eternal City.  The university has been carefully monitoring the situation on the ground in Italy, and all recommended measures have been taken to ensure the safety of our students. As early as last week, we informed the students that they were free to return to their homes in the United States, at their own discretion and in consultation with their families, and that those who chose to return would be able to finish their studies for the semester via technology.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has now upgraded its former Level 2 Travel Alert for Italy (“Practice Enhanced Precautions”) to a Level 3 Travel Warning (“Avoid Non Essential Travel”). Relatedly, the U.S. Department of State has now issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory (“Reconsider Travel”) for Italy and a Level 4 Advisory (“Do Not Travel”) for certain areas of Northern Italy.

In light of this, and not wanting our students to be in a situation where they are unable to return home, we have taken the decision to bring our Rome students back to the United States.  We will begin working with them immediately on travel arrangements, maintaining operations of the Rome Campus until the last student has safely reached America.

We recognize that this is a disappointment for the students, who have grown so close to each other as a community during these past weeks abroad and who have looked forward for so long to this opportunity to study in the Eternal City and to travel throughout Europe. 

Spring semester Rome students will return to their permanent place of residence to reside with their families for a transitional period of two weeks, so that they can recover from jet lag and so proper health screenings can take place.  The university is unable to accommodate returning students on our Bismarck campus.  The option will remain for them to complete the remainder of the semester’s classes in an online format so our students do not lose the academic progress they have made.

However, from about March 20 the operations of the Rome program will relocate to the University of Mary’s campus in Arizona. Returning students who have been screened by a qualified physician will have the choice to spend the final five weeks of the semester there.  Premium housing has been arranged within walking distance of our Arizona campus, there is ample classroom space at our facilities there, and a hiking trip is being planned to Sedona and the Grand Canyon.  While our Rome students will not be taking classes at Arizona State University, as the students who are part of the domestic exchange do, they will be finishing University of Mary classes together in-person and through teleconference technology.

The university anticipates making a decision about the Maymester session of our Rome program by the end of next week.

The University of Mary asks for prayers for the safe return of our students to their families and homeland while expressing deep gratitude to our staff and faculty in Rome and Bismarck who have shown them such care.

GUIDANCE FROM THE NORTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

The North Dakota Department of Health reminds all of us of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES

CDC Coronavirus Website

CDC Frequently Asked Questions

Seasonal Flu vs. Coronavirus

Coronavirus Symptoms

ND Dept. of Health Coronavirus Website

Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

UNIVERSITY OF MARY CONTACT

If after you've reviewed the resources available on this website, you still have questions, please email [email protected] and a member of our task force will be in touch.

For media inquiries, please contact Tom Ackerman, Media Relations Specialist, at [email protected]