March 8, 2021
Dear Pitzer Community,
I hope this message finds everyone well as Spring Break begins. While we take some time to recharge, I’m sure many of us are also taking time to reflect that March marks one year since we moved from an on-campus learning experience to a virtual one, a year since the world seemed to stop in its tracks.
When I wrote to you on March 11, 2020, to explain our plans for closing campus and transitioning to online learning, I said I was confident that, with your support, we would meet the extraordinary challenges of the coming days and months. Today, I write to say thank you—the magnitude of both your support and the challenges surpassed anything I could have imagined that day.
Thank you to the students, from those who have had their college lives upended for more than one academic year to first-year students who have never studied on the Mounds. Thank you to the faculty who had to learn how to teach and reach students through a camera instead of in a classroom. Thank you to the staff who have worked round the clock to protect the health of our community and keep the College running remotely.
Along with my gratitude, I would like to share some updates today regarding Pitzer’s response to the pandemic and plans. As I mentioned in an earlier message, Pitzer will remain remote for the entire spring 2021 semester following Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidance. The College continues to plan for a safe return to on-campus living and in-person learning in the fall.
Student Health Services (SHS) has received approval to dispense COVID-19 vaccines. We do not know yet when SHS will receive a supply of vaccines but will share this information once it is available.
We began on-site testing of employees recently, and more information for faculty and staff who regularly come to campus to work is available here. Higher education employees in California are now eligible to be vaccinated. I encourage everyone in our campus community to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and able to schedule an appointment.
I also want to let you know that a committee of students, faculty, and staff has been meeting regularly regarding plans for Commencement. Conversations about graduation ceremonies and celebrations for both the classes of 2020 and 2021 continue. Plans for these will be announced soon.
In closing, let me say thank you again. It will take years to fully understand this past year. We know there has been untold hardship, loss, and pain. We also know we can feel enormous pride about what we have accomplished at Pitzer over these past 12 months. We were mindful of the future and of each other. The College supported students facing housing insecurity, adjusted course-load requirements, provided room-and-board refunds without adjusting financial aid, and avoided pandemic-related layoffs and furloughs. And although we’ve all been tapped out, we didn’t tap out, we kept showing up. This community held more than 35,000 Zoom meetings and hosted more than 75 webinar events. I know that too took a toll.
I appreciate everyone’s patience and persistence as we continue to work toward being together on our beautiful campus. You have helped sustain this very special community in perhaps its most extraordinary time, and I am grateful.
Best wishes for a restorative break and a successful conclusion to the spring semester.
Melvin L. Oliver President