Paul Weithman ’81 | August 7, 2020
In betting that Notre Dame can safely reopen, house students and conduct classes for the fall semester that opens next week, the administration is embarking on one of the boldest experiments and making the one of the biggest gambles in University history.
The highest stakes of all, of course, are the health and well-being of Notre Dame students, faculty and staff, and residents in the South Bend area who are unconnected with the University but who stand some risk of being infected as the campus population swells.
As high as those stakes are, they are not the only ones. Notre Dame has made enormous financial investments in reopening. The money spent on the HERE campaign, on students’ pre-matriculation COVID-19 testing, on securing quarantine space and on outfitting classrooms with technology for remote learning all will have been squandered if Notre Dame needs to shut down shortly after reopening.
The gamble is also huge for administrators. University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., has shown the ability to stick courageously with difficult and unpopular decisions, not least when he faced a firestorm for awarding an honorary degree to Barack Obama. For all his courage and accomplishments, this experiment may well be how history remembers his presidency.
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