As always, I trust this finds you and yours in good health.
Congratulations again to The Citadel Class of 2020! Virtual Commencement this past Saturday was a tremendous success. Although we all of course would have much preferred to gather in person, it was heartening to see our entire Citadel family engaged, sharing congratulations and thanks to our cadets and students. This includes over 6,000 messages on our website alone!
The pandemic caused a severe disruption to our normal business model. Our actions protected the safety of our faculty, staff, cadets and students, and assured cadets and students were able to finish the academic year and maintain progression toward their degree. We all applaud the creativity and level of effort enabling our Citadel family to make the transition, even as we consider our way ahead, and how we intend to return to our traditional model.
It is our aim to begin 2020 Fall Semester on time in August, and in-person. Our first priority throughout this crisis was, and will remain, the health and safety of everyone. Our staff continues studying best practices, and we are learning a lot from the Marines as they stage recruits on campus for observation before shipping to Parris Island for boot camp. Although we are proud to serve this important national security mission, it’s important we set conditions for the return of The South Carolina Corps of Cadets and the in-person experience for which The Citadel is known.
The heart of The Citadel brand is our Corps of Cadets and the residential, military model used in achieving our mission to produce principled leaders. With that in mind, developing plans for the return of the Corps is a primary focus. We are enormously proud of our Graduate College, veteran, and active-duty students, and believe they also benefit from face-to-face interaction with our outstanding faculty.
It’s important our entire Citadel community understands the development of our online program in recent years was instrumental in the ability of our faculty and staff to quickly pivot to full online education as a result of the pandemic, and I know the quality of instruction remains high.
In public discourse, it’s common to see references to institutions adapting to a “new normal.” As the situation develops, we may need to adjust plans and perhaps details of our ‘normal’ schedule or procedures to adhere with laws, orders and best practices as the crisis continues. We must be ready, willing and able to refine how we operate on campus to maximize everyone’s safety. Barracks, classrooms, the mess hall and other centers of concentration could see changes to operations, as will campus generally. These will be dictated as the situation warrants. Some initial thoughts:
-Testing. We are working with a number of State, commercial and community partners to procure and employ adequate and effective testing for everyone on campus, and be able to repeat tests as required.
-Schedule and Execution. Our intent is maintaining the traditional schedule of Matriculation, Reconstitution, and the beginning of in-person academics to flow as normal, while following established pandemic protocols. However, we may need to alter how these milestones are executed. We do not yet know how we will need to adapt our fall sports and campus event execution. I can tell you we intend to preserve as much of these elements of campus life as possible.
–Accommodations. The senior team, in consultation with our medical staff and using the latest data and guidance, is updating plans for how we handle on-campus cases of COVID-19. We will accommodate continued instruction for those impacted, and work with individuals requiring added precautions.
-Summer Schedule Refinements. Based on current conditions and guidance, and the continuing threat posed by COVID-19, we transitioned all Summer I courses to online only. A small number of Summer II session courses, particularly those with lab elements, will be offered face-to- face, with conservative social distancing procedures in place. The remainder are adapted to an online only model. The Citadel Success Institute (CSI) for this summer is cancelled, but we will offer a robust online orientation course for all incoming cadets. Details will follow later.
I’ll close by thanking everyone for their patience, hard work, and support in this uncertain time. I want our cadets, students, and families to know continuing to educate in the traditions of The Citadel remains my primary focus. Our faculty and staff are working diligently to maintain instruction and keep campus operating, all while preparing for the return of the Corps and students.
Stay Safe, Go Dogs!
Glenn M. Walters ‘79
General, USMC (Retired)