Message to the Mercer Community from President Underwood

March 27, 2020

Mercer University Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

It is with tremendous regret that I inform you that we will not be returning to in-person instruction this semester, but will instead continue offering instruction in all our courses in a virtual format only. My hope was that we could provide those of you who are graduating at the end of this semester or term an opportunity to complete your time at Mercer physically on our campuses with your colleagues and faculty.

I have asked our University faculty and staff to develop opportunities over the next several weeks to honor the many achievements of our graduates. To the extent possible, we will do this in campus settings that will comply with the various mandates and suggestions of government and health care authorities. We will have traditional commencement ceremonies to celebrate the accomplishments of all of our graduates, though whether we will be able to proceed as scheduled remains uncertain. We do not want to make this decision prematurely. Please look for updates by mid-April.

Most of our residential students in Macon have returned home. A number, however, have remained on campus over the past two weeks as we transitioned to virtual formats. They have remained for a variety of legitimate reasons, including travel impediments, employment obligations, academic needs, and family health concerns.

I have asked Residence Life to work with any student in need of staying on campus for some or all of the remaining semester and we will continue providing student services to those who remain. An e-mail communication to all residential students (including those of you living in the Lofts) will be immediately forthcoming with instructions on how to check out of housing for those who are leaving, how to retrieve personal belongings if you are not presently on campus, and how to notify that office if you have reasons to stay in University housing or the Lofts. I have asked Residence Life to implement a process that promotes physical distancing, and that is flexible for students and families during this transition period. No one will be required to return to campus prior to the end of the semester to retrieve personal belongings.

We are working on a plan to reimburse students for unused board and university housing. The plan will include students who live in the various Loft developments immediately adjacent to campus that are a part of the University housing plan. You will receive further information once this plan is finalized, which requires careful analysis of financial aid implications.

As a final reminder, regardless of where you are located, you continue to have access to Student Health through the Mercer Medicine Hotline at (478) 301-7425. We are in the process of deploying a telemedicine tool that you can load on your smartphone. This tool will allow you to access medical staff including physicians and infectious disease specialists, regardless of where you are located. Please call the Mercer Medicine Hotline to access this tool.

I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with many of you over the past three weeks, either in person or electronically, as we have attempted to work through these unprecedented circumstances in a way that honors the student-centered values of our University. I remain incredibly grateful for the many expressions of grace and patience I have received from throughout the Mercer family, and I fully understand the expressions of frustration. Please be safe and healthy until I see you again.