Dear Mustang Family:
The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting all of us – the way we learn, live, work and play. I wanted to update you on how we continue to approach this situation at SMU.
First, we hope that you and your families remain safe and healthy. Our hearts go out to those who have been impacted by the virus. We extend our warmest wishes for a swift recovery to those who are sick. And we are inspired by the many SMU alumni on the front lines working tirelessly to care for others.
Since our last update in March, we have extended online learning through June and postponed SMU’s spring Commencement to August 15. Now we are turning our attention to assessing the financial impact this pandemic will have on our SMU community. We are evaluating various scenarios coming out of the stay-at-home restrictions and the financial implications thereof to share with our governing board in early May. We are exploring every aspect of our operations to reduce expenses while mitigating impacts to the extent possible on our students, staff and faculty.
In particular, our students are the most vulnerable. Some have experienced loss of income and are having to consider if they are able to return to the Hilltop. And many of our recently admitted students are also having to re-examine their plans to go to college. We are planning an appeal in the coming weeks to help these students pursue their goals of graduating from SMU.
Amid this disruptive environment, we find numerous examples of creative and generous ways our community is responding. Here are just a few:
- Lucy and Andy Rieger ’09 reopened their family’s whiskey distillery in Kansas City, Missouri to make hand sanitizer for hospitals, nursing homes and the community.
- Dr. Brandy Schumann, clinical associate professor of counseling at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, offers valuable tips for parents reassuring kids during this pandemic.
- SMU alum Hubert Zajicek, M.B.A. ’06, a doctor and founder and CEO of Health Wildcatters incubator, helped create the Health Hacking Crisis Network to find quick solutions to problems like the face-mask shortage among healthcare workers.
- Staff members at the Deason Innovation Gym at Lyle School of Engineering are using 3D printers to create face shields to protect medical workers on the front lines of this pandemic in Dallas.
- To help Mustang businesses through challenging economic times, SMU is launching a new online business directory on the SMU Network, a career-focused social platform exclusively for verified current SMU students and alumni.
- SMU Mustang football quarterback Shane Buechele and his girlfriend, Paige Vasquez, have teamed up with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson to raise funds for an emergency assistance fund for local residents affected by COVID-19.
On a more personal note, I miss the vibrancy and energy of having our community together, so I dropped in on a few online classes this past week. We continue to engage and meet with our committees, volunteer groups and the Board of Trustees through video and audio conference calls.
Thank you for your warm prayers and kind words of encouragement. Feel free to reach out to any of us if you have any questions or needs. We are a resource for you during this stressful time, and we will get through this challenge together. We are moving ahead with plans for the fall and look forward to welcoming back our alumni and friends to our beautiful campus. Until then, please stay safe and healthy.
With deepest gratitude,
R. Gerald Turner