Special notice

COVID-19

3/23/2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

As I write this from my desk looking out over the College Hall lawn, my heart goes out to each and every one of you with deep gratitude for continuing to live out the mission of Bluffton University during these turbulent times.

Bluffton University remains open and operational, while observing the guidelines for virtual working and learning environments as we begin a new order from Governor DeWine to “stay at home”. Gandhi tells us that “[a] small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” and this campus community is continuing our mission even as we stay at home and save lives.

From students and faculty who are together navigating remote learning, including our IT and library staff members who have worked diligently to make sure that everyone can access platforms and resources, and others like the LRC who continues to tutor students regularly, and so many more, we are demonstrating an unquenchable faith in Bluffton University. Thank you all for your patience, your grace and your caring for and about one another.

As much as all of us would like to come back physically to campus yet this spring, in light of the Governor’s new order to “stay at home” and the increasing number of coronavirus cases nationally and the climbing number in Ohio, and our desire to keep the Bluffton Village community safe as well as abiding by guidelines to protect our most vulnerable citizens, it does not seem possible at this time. As we work together to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus:

  • Bluffton University will remain open and operational to support our students who are learning remotely as well as the few students who remain on campus. Almost all of our faculty and staff are working from home, but there are a few essential employees who will be on campus practicing social distancing and the other guidelines recommended by the CDC and Governor DeWine’s office and in accordance with the “stay at home” order.
  • Bluffton University will continue with remote learning for the rest of the semester. We are doing our best to support our students and families during this time, so please see below for additional information about financial adjustments.
  • The Student Life Office will be in touch with you after April 13 to coordinate times for you to pick up anything left in your dorm room. Your rooms will remain locked and all of your things are perfectly safe for as long as you would like to leave them there for the spring semester.
  • The Heartland Athletic Collegiate Conference (HCAC) officially cancelled spring contests. For our senior student athletes, I am so sorry that you are not able to compete. However, the NCAA has granted an additional year of eligibility for any senior student who would like to return for additional learning and compete with your team. Interested students should talk with Mr. Phill Talavinia or Ms. Kim Schimmoeller about possibilities to add an additional major or begin a graduate degree.
  • We will need to postpone in-person Commencement until we can safely gather together. Seniors, although we are postponing graduation, delaying our celebration will not delay your degree. Please send me any feedback that you may have as to the best potential times for rescheduling at president@bluffton.edu

A few important additional updates/clarifications are below.

Financial adjustments

Bluffton University will take the following actions to reflect the shortened period most students will use University housing and meal plans during the spring 2020 semester:

  • Prorated housing credits will be placed on student accounts for the period of time students are unable to return to their campus housing. These credits will roll over to the next academic year for returning students. If the student will not be living in University housing during fall 2020, the credit will be applied to tuition charges for the next academic year.
  • Balances of both General Meal Plans and Beaver Bucks will roll over to the next academic year. The University is waiving all current limitations on the amount that may be rolled over.
  • Those students who were granted approval to remain on campus during this time and continue to live in University housing will not be eligible for the credit and/or roll over.
  • Seniors graduating in May will receive a prorated housing and meal plan credit on their student account. The credits will first apply to any outstanding balance owed to the University. If the account balance is paid in full at graduation, the University will issue a refund to the student in the weeks following.
  • There will be no financial credit provided for tuition since faculty instruction continues on a remote basis.
  • The housing credit and meal plan rollover is null and void if the student does not return in fall 2020; this excludes graduating seniors.
  • As explained above, all financial credits will be applied in the June 2020 billing cycle.

Should the State or Federal Government make any new decisions regarding reimbursement to college and university students, we reserve the right to modify these adjustments.

If you have questions, please call or contact Art Woodruff at 419-358-3320 or email at woodruffa@bluffton.edu. We would also ask for your patience and support as we work through this process together; it is the first time in the history of the University that we have attempted this type of financial adjusting on such a large scale.

Cross cultural:

Last Thursday evening, Dr. Paul Neufeld Weaver, director of global education, met with students registered to participate in May cross-cultural experiences to update them on our evolving plans.  At this point, we are planning that the experiences in Germany, Arizona and Kentucky will be moved to later in the summer. The Greece experience is being cancelled. The August Guatemala experience is still scheduled as planned.  Students will be working with Paul and Elaine Suderman to determine how the adjusted dates work for them or to make alternative plans. Any questions should be directed to Paul Neufeld Weaver.

May Day 2020 events on May 1-2 are cancelled:

We have made the decision to cancel all May Day events scheduled for Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2. The alumni office plans to explore possibilities for some Virtual May Day activities to honor this venerable Bluffton tradition. 

Bluffton University remains open and operational, while observing the stay at home guidelines for virtual working and learning environments, and we will continue to be in contact with one another throughout the rest of the semester, as together we learn and cultivate that which we know to be honest, good and true.

Blessings to you and your family as we continue to stay in touch while we stay at home.

President Jane Wood

 

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