Dear Bluffton Campus Community,
As we near the end of the 2020 spring semester, I wanted to reach out with gratitude and appreciation for all that students, faculty and staff have accomplished in the last few weeks. With new recommendations emerging almost daily, our ability to adapt and continue our educational mission in the light of a rapidly changing world speaks to our resilience and the strength of our entire campus community.
I also write to share with you that as we ready ourselves to conclude this semester, we are looking forward to fall 2020 with hope and anticipation. We plan to follow our usual practice, which is to welcome our first year students to Bluffton University during Welcome Week (beginning August 28) and look forward to having all of our returning students back on campus by no later than the start of the regular academic year on Monday, August 31. As we all are learning to live with the new realities that are quickly becoming a part of everyday life, we also have increased knowledge of how to keep our campus community functioning and safe as we move forward. We are paying close attention to federal and state guidelines regarding best practices for health and safety as well as partnering with our local Allen County health officials. Bluffton University is committed to continuing to provide our students with our stellar community-based residence life experience, while they also are participating in our highly-ranked academic and athletic programs.
In order to be fully ready for a return to campus life that is as normal as possible, Bluffton University has been busy planning for resuming campus life. Because we have very few classes of more than twenty students, we are confident that we can provide face to face learning even if we are still required to practice social distancing. We also know that if we need to “learn in place,” the past semester has shown us how we can best move back and forth between remote learning and in-person learning if that need arises. We are grateful to have Bluffton Hospital, which is part of the Blanchard Valley Health System, as well as a walk-in clinic operated by Mercy Health within walking distance of our campus. We are working with local and state officials as together we determine the types of pre-testing and ongoing testing that might be needed in ensure the safety of all of our students.
We are anticipating a vibrant bunch of new Beavers this fall and can’t wait to see them racing their canoes during Freshman Olympics at the Nature Preserve pond. We also can’t wait to see all of our returning students back on campus and in the residence halls as we continue to prepare students for “life as well as vocation.” A liberal arts education is designed to shine light into all aspects of life. Bluffton University, as a faith-based University, looks forward with certainty and trust in all that we know and that which we will discover. We are BEAVERS All!
Blessings for the journey ahead,
updates for the end of the academic year:
We will hold Move Out on May 6-9 for students to return to campus and move out of their residence halls, return their keys, rented text books, instruments, pick up mail, etc. The Student Life Office will send an e-mail to all students with specific details of how and when the move out process will work.
It is still our plan and our intent to hold an in-person graduation for the 2020 class. We have a scenario planned for holding Commencement on Saturday, July 18, for those able to attend. Once we get confirmation from the Governor on large gatherings, we will communicate final details with seniors. Caps and gowns are on campus and all seniors will get them in time for graduation. Please know that based on regulations, there could be a ticket limit for guests per graduate. The event will be live streamed for all family and friends. If we are not able to hold Commencement on Saturday, July 18, our back-up date will be after Homecoming, on Sunday, October 11. We are looking forward to an extra-special celebration of our seniors and their families.
CREDITS AND REFUNDS
The Business Office is working to confirm the calculations from the last six weeks of pro-rated room and board that will be refunded (to seniors) and credited to returning students, assuming there is no outstanding balance owed. All room and board credits will be posted to student accounts between May 1 and May 15. If you have questions or want to confirm your contact information, including direct deposit is correct, please e-mail email@example.com
STIMULUS MONEY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
As part of the CARES Act, Bluffton University will receive funds from the Federal Government that are intended to be passed along to enrolled students who suffered disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each institution is given the authority to determine how best to allocate these funds to its students based upon the impact to its campus. As we understand that for undergraduate residential students there would have been additional travel costs in coming to and from the residence halls multiple times, as well as costs for setting up learning environments at home, and for traditional, undergraduate face to face commuter students there also could have been additional costs for setting up learning environments at home, Bluffton University is issuing the following amounts directly to students: All undergraduate residential students enrolled full-time as of March 18, 2020, will receive $500 per student and traditional undergraduate commuters will receive $200 per student. According to Federal guidelines, international students and DACA students are not eligible for the direct stimulus money. When the university receives this money, funds will be distributed as directed by the Department of Education.
Additionally, for students returning to campus next academic year, there will be some additional emergency relief aid available for students who have increased financial need because of the impact that COVID-19 has had on their personal or family’s financial situation. We are working to confirm a process for how to apply for this aid; please be watching for more details.