Dear Lincoln Leaders,
At LCU we strive to be a community that loves and cares for each other and those around us. To put others before ourselves is the foundational principle of servant leadership. Most of our on-campus student body is young and healthy, and little threatened by the COVID-19 virus sweeping the world. But many of our faculty, staff, partners, friends, and our neighbors are a different, and more vulnerable, story.
We write to announce a series of decisions foremost intended to do whatever we can to help these members of our community and to encourage you to set your own example of others before self as the world watches what we do in response to this threat.
Large group gatherings and community-style living are fertile ground for the spread of COVID-19, and ordinarily we do both, but at this time we cannot responsibly do either.
Therefore we will be extending spring break to include the week of March 16. There will be no classes on campus during this week (current online courses will proceed as planned). Residential undergraduate students should use this time to collect their things and return home to their permanent residence. Students who do not need or wish to return to campus may leave their belongings in the residence hall for the time being. All students must be out of the residence halls by March 22. International students or other students who cannot leave may request permission from the Vice President of Student Development to remain in Student Housing; these cases will be treated on a case-by-case basis, and for these students, our food service provider has agreed to continue service through the end of the semester. Any residential undergraduate student currently experiencing fever, body aches, cough, runny nose, etc., may not return to campus until they are well, at which time they can arrange retrieval of their belongings.
Faculty will use this week to bring the semester’s remaining courses online. Thus beginning March 23 through to the end of the spring semester, all LCU instruction will occur online. We are working on a fair approach to pro-rating this semester’s room and board and crediting or refunding students, but more information is needed to actually implement this, so further information in this regard will be forthcoming. Please be patient with us.
Similarly, all campus events from now through the first week of May are cancelled including the Vine, the Christian Women’s Conference, and various partner events. Commencement is not being cancelled. We are hopeful that event may still be held at its scheduled time, but if it cannot be, then it will be rescheduled to a later date. For now any events beyond commencement remain calendared though subject to cancellation.
The university will also be curtailing employee travel. Our institutional livelihood involves ongoing contact with churches and partners. However, many of these individuals are the most vulnerable to the virus, so we will be requiring our employees acting on the part of LCU to manage as many of these relationships as possible using phone calls, text or email messages, or electronic conferencing.
Finally, university employees who have recently traveled outside of the US will be expected to self-quarantine at home for 14 days from the time they arrive home. They will be paid during their quarantine. Similarly, any employee who shows any sign of illness associated with COVID-19 – fever, body aches, cough, runny nose, etc. – should stay home until the symptoms have resolved. These employees will also continue to be paid.
Over the course of the next week, we are encouraging our employees who are at highest risk (age 60 and above, people with underlying medical conditions, etc.) to work from home, stay home, or minimize their contact with our students as they return to collect their belongings and leave. We have asked our employees to do this as a part of our efforts to provide them with a safe work environment; we ask that our students cooperate with these efforts.
These are weighty decisions made by a very fallible group of people. We have prayed and shed tears. We have fear and doubts. We are fully aware of the magnitude of the situation and the uncertainty of what will follow. It seems likely that our ability to recruit for fall will be hamstrung. It seems hard to imagine our retention will be as good as it was last year. It seems hard to see how we won’t lose money that we can’t afford to lose by foregoing campus events and activities that produce revenue. In so many ways, these decisions seem detrimental to LCU.
But to our residential undergraduate students we say simply that we are trying to model for you what we believe: that servant leadership means putting others first, and we believe that these actions can save lives. All of the available evidence suggests that very few of you are likely to be harmed by this virus. But it is deadly to the vulnerable. You have the ability to feed or suppress the spread of this disease with your actions. It can be as simple as washing your hands and minimizing group gatherings. In Italy, the disease spread faster because young people took cancellations like this as opportunities to increase their social activities and travel. Please live like the community we know you to be.
In recent years, our culture has expressed a growing, and frankly, understandable skepticism about whether the Christian community cares about the more vulnerable among us.
Help us show them that we do.
Don Green Jill Dicken Lynn Laughlin
Silas McCormick Brady Cremeens Frank Dicken