March 19, 2020, 4:00 p.m. CDT
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Families and Aggie Network,
Our nation, state and we here at Texas A&M University face serious challenges from this global pandemic. This extraordinary situation with COVID-19 coronavirus requires applying everything we are as Aggies – leadership, loyalty, integrity, excellence, respect for each other, and, of course, selfless service – to navigate daily challenges. During this moment of uncertainty, I understand the stress and anxiety many may feel. And yet, I have great faith in our Aggie community. We will get through this together and demonstrate again Aggies’ capacity to surmount every challenge.
Just today, Brazos County Health District reported that one of our students in Brazos County tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to New York. We have confirmed that the student was not on campus after travelling to New York. We send our best wishes for recovery and are supporting our student and the health authorities. There are no other known cases among Texas A&M students, faculty and staff at this time. We continue to monitor developments and will keep you apprised.
Like many of you, in addition to concern for all who may face such a diagnosis, I am deeply disappointed that circumstances have forced us to postpone or adjust so many of our timeless traditions. I think of the thousands of students whose hearts were set on walking across the stage to receive their diplomas in May. I think of those who were looking forward to honoring a loved one in person here at Muster. Of dozens of events related to the 101-year-old Family Weekend tradition. And I think of those who dreamed of proudly receiving their Aggie ring, surrounded by family and friends at the Haynes Ring Plaza.
In recent days, I am reminded that these are not the only traditions that define us. So too does the character that the absence of these beloved events reveals inside us.
As we continue to monitor the best ways to respond to the unprecedented impact of this historic pandemic, I am sincerely grateful for everyone helping us address our two highest priorities.
First of all, I would like to thank all of those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff at our campuses in Texas, at our Qatar campus, and in support of our education abroad programs around the world. Our spirit of collaboration and compassion has been on full display as we continue to work diligently to assist students who have been impacted by our current state of affairs.
Secondly, I want to recognize the large contingent of faculty and staff who are helping us keep our core educational mission intact as much as possible by making the transition to online classes, further protecting the wellbeing of our campuses and local communities.
I would like to offer a few words about our operations as we are set to resume all classes next week online. We’ve seen a lot of campus closures across the nation. We remain open as circumstances allow with a full commitment to protecting the safety and educational environment for students who choose to come back to our campuses, as well as faculty and staff.
On our campuses, this translates to remote work where possible for faculty and staff while core on-campus services continue. The “new normal” for the time being includes a number of adjustments: online instruction, as well as online support, including counseling and advising, take-away-only dining and limited transportation with social distancing throughout all campus facilities.
While many of our students have returned or have chosen to stay at their homes elsewhere, those on our campuses will experience modified services to ensure safety and a productive learning environment. We encourage students and their families to determine the best choice themselves, be it in their homes or on one of our Texas campuses.
Our collective efforts have helped us respond to COVID-19 challenges as they arise, and we are also mindful that new developments and recommendations are constantly emerging, which is why we’ve created a central website for coronavirus updates across a range of relevant topics. As you all know, circumstances change on a rapid basis. I encourage you to visit the site often for the latest updates.
Although what we are undergoing now is certainly not part of the common Texas A&M educational experience, it’s not entirely unprecedented. More than 100 years ago, in response to the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, university activities were dramatically modified. Aggies learned then the lessons about dedication, resilience and service. And again today, this situation teaches us lessons of perseverance, innovation, compassion and loyalty to our communities, our state, our nation and our world.
With gratitude for all you’re doing and great appreciation for the privilege I have of being part of the Aggie community, I thank you for your patience and understanding as we get through this together.
Michael K. Young
President, Texas A&M University