If you follow Union closely, you have heard how pleased we were with our community’s response to the pandemic during the 2020-21 academic year, with 85 percent of our students in residence and more than half of our classes held in person. Our plan is for a fully in-person, residential experience this year, which is exciting to anticipate. With 99 percent of our community vaccinated, and testing and masking protocols in place (at least for the time being), we are ready to go.
As you may know, I am living this both personally and professionally, since my oldest daughter is a sophomore. It’s been interesting to wear the administrator cap and the dad cap simultaneously, but I sincerely have never been prouder of Union. Despite going to college during a global pandemic, my daughter made great friends (let’s go Union track and field!) and took on leadership roles in the Minerva System. I watched her rise to academic challenges, thrive in her classes (next step, organic chemistry) and make this campus her home.
I share all this with you to underscore that even during these incredibly challenging times, Union has remained true to itself. We are a place of connection, with the emphasis on the “and” vs. the “or” in a student’s experience; a place truly looking out for every student.
Today, the importance of the residential experience has never been more apparent. To help even more students take full advantage of our abundant opportunities, Union has refocused some co- and extra-curricular programs. A comprehensive residential curriculum known as U Journey launched during our orientation program with new traditions, such as the Minerva Olympics. We aim to engage students while promoting life skills along the way.
Things are similarly exciting on the academic side. We are putting the final touches on a revised Common Curriculum that will challenge students to confront big questions in two thematic areas – race and identity, and global issues – through coursework drawn from multiple academic perspectives. We also will strengthen and add to our engineering curriculum, which will include inaugural programming in connection with our new Templeton Institute for Engineering and Computer Science.
As you begin your school year, please let your students know that we understand these past two years have been filled with extraordinary challenges. While our admissions process remains competitive, we also have tried to ground ourselves in what we call “COVID grace,” acknowledging the realities students have faced during these past 18 months. As always, our entire team is here to share more about Union with you and your students. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can partner with you.