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Checking In On Your First Day, March 30, 2020

Dear Students:

I have been thinking of you all day, as you finish day one of taking classes remotely. People keep talking about the “new normal”; however not much is normal about this time.

So many of you have emailed notes of encouragement and praise for the faculty and staff who are working so hard to support your studies. I have been sharing your notes with members of my team, many of whom have worked every day for the past three weeks. And I want to give a special shout-out to our digital support team, which has led more than 100 workshops and loaned nearly 150 laptops and other devices to our community in support of our spring courses.

To the seniors, I want you all to know that you have been especially in my thoughts. The last semester of college should be a very special time, as you reflect on what the past four years have meant to you. I so regret that you will miss cherished traditions like Senior Ball, Baccalaureate and Ivy Day. Before you left, you brought a smile to my face when I witnessed you romping around campus in your caps and gowns, heard primal screams and saw photos of the student-organized commencement.

But you will not miss out on a Smith-organized Commencement! It is too early to make an announcement about where and when, because of the extreme uncertainty of the times. That said, we will celebrate the many accomplishments of the great class of 2020 on campus when it is safe and practical to do so.

I know that you are keeping in touch with your professors. Dean Susan Etheredge and I would welcome the opportunity to keep in touch with you as well. To that end, we will be hosting virtual student teas, beginning this Friday with three teas for seniors; subsequent teas will be open to any member of the student body. You will receive information about how to sign up in a later email. By necessity, these events will have to be BYOT (bring your own tea). We very much look forward to conversations with you about your studies, how you are staying connected with one another and what is lifting your spirits. For me, it is FaceTiming with my five grandchildren, ages 7 months to 5 years.

During this crisis, we are doing our best to be good neighbors. As you may know, we are offering campus housing to support Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and we are providing 250 cots and 80 meals per day to help the city of Northampton provide care for the homeless population. I hope this makes you proud of Smith.

Finally, please know how much we miss each of you. Nothing is the same without you, of course. I look forward to the day when I can welcome you all back to campus as students or alums. Until then, stay safe.

With love and friendship,