By Rick Koubek, President
Dear MTU Community,
This has been quite a week — for our community, for our state, and for our world. Who could have imagined on Monday that we would be where we are today? As I began writing this letter on Thursday afternoon, I just received word that the NCAA canceled playoffs and our basketball team is heading back to Houghton, as will the hockey team due to the WCHA playoff cancellation. By the time I was making final edits, Governor Whitmer had announced that all of Michigan’s K-12 schools would be closed through April 5.
For Michigan Tech, the COVID-19 situation evolved at breakneck speed. On Monday, six working groups convened to plan for the potential of a COVID-19 virus spread on our campus and in our community. By Wednesday morning, it became evident that the University would need to take immediate preventive measures, one being to transition all classes to an online format before Spring Break ended.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of people who contract the disease will experience mild to moderate symptoms. However, there are those in our community and on campus who are at higher risk for experiencing much more serious complications. And, we know the virus is highly contagious.
When contemplating how our campus should respond and the challenges associated with some of the options proposed, I was reminded of my first few weeks at Michigan Tech. When I started, the Administration building was shut down and my office was temporarily located in the GLRC due to another unprecedented event facing our community. Over those first few weeks, I watched the remarkable response by our entire community to rally around those who needed help, in spite of their own situations. This is when I saw the true spirit of our community in action.
This past week, I’ve often thought of that spirit of community when we set about putting preventive measures in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in an effort to allow our local health care providers the opportunity to keep up. We implemented these changes knowing that they would, unfortunately, be disruptive and complicated. But they would also allow our community, faculty, staff, and students the maximum flexibility to adjust their behavior as necessary for their own personal health and well-being.
We are all indebted to our faculty, staff, and students for the tasks they are and will undertake in the next few weeks. No doubt it’s a challenge, but that’s where Michigan Tech excels.
So, thank you on behalf of the campus and local community for all you are doing to help keep our families and students safe.