This past January, when the coronavirus began to change our world as we know it, Illinois Institute of Technology found ourselves doing what have done best since 1890—providing our students with a world-class education—only this time with the added challenge of ensuring a heightened level of safety for our community during a global pandemic. Our successes since then have been thanks to the efforts of each dedicated member of our university community working together, whether on campus or remotely. Each of us has shown what it means to be an active, conscientious, and contributing member of something bigger than ourselves.
The graduates as well as the rest of our student body shifted to online learning for the duration of the semester after spring break. Our faculty demonstrated an uncommon commitment in their coursework delivery; the feedback from our students was overwhelmingly positive even though they had to sacrifice their traditional campus experience. On May 16 the Class of 2020 had a virtual Commencement, yet another unprecedented change.
Many of our campus staff regularly train and plan to respond to a range of crises, and in recent years, one of our training exercises focused on a disease outbreak. This planning and training rendered our leadership team better prepared to respond quickly and appropriately to COVID-19. We were able to safely shelter hundreds of students on Mies Campus who were unable to return home this spring. Many campus facilities and maintenance staff, public safety officers, and food and custodial partners continued to report to work to take care of these students. Their extraordinary care of our students is deeply appreciated.
Many alumni, too, have continued to support Illinois Tech during the pandemic by contributing to the Hawks 4 Hawks Hardship Fund. This program provides direct financial assistance to Illinois Tech students in crisis situations with 100 percent of the funds helping students facing unexpected hardships.
While we cannot predict the future, at Illinois Tech we are ready for the future, no matter what it may bring. Thank you for your support, which provides us a great deal of confidence in the months ahead. While we expect and are planning to welcome students to campus in-person for the start of the 2020 fall semester, what we know for certain is that the Illinois Tech student experience will continue to be rigorous and rewarding. After all, it is in the collective DNA of the Illinois Tech community to contribute to something bigger than itself.
Alan W. Cramb