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Working together during uncertain times with optimism

While it may be difficult to equate the current public health crisis with optimism, I feel a sense of hope when I see how our community has come together. Our work now will allow OCAD University to thrive as we begin to plan in earnest for the fall and our role in a post-COVID 19 world.

On Tuesday, April 15, the OCAD U team led by Darrell Currington delivered 1,500 3D printed visors to a local hospital so they can assemble face shields for their health care workers. In one week, Advancement raised more than $6,000 for the COVID-19 Emergency Bursary Fund. These are just two examples of how the OCAD U community is joining together in face of adversity.

As I have said in my previous messages, these are very extraordinary times. Learning that the state of emergency was extended to May 12 was likely difficult news for everyone. However, I take comfort that as a community we are supporting one other and finding ways to be innovative and creative while fulfilling our academic mission during a very challenging time.

I want to express my sincere and deep appreciation to our faculty and staff for their ongoing commitment and dedication during this very stressful period as they work from home. Many employees are facing the additional challenge of balancing work with caring for children, their parents, or friends. Day-to-day activities we once took for granted – such as buying groceries – have become more complex as we take precautions to ensure our health and safety.

I know there is a small contingent of employees working on-site to maintain health and safety standards for staff and contractors who need to be on-campus to provide essential services. Thank you for your contributions to maintaining these operations.

These past few weeks have highlighted our collective resourcefulness in our ability to support one another and our community. But to keep this momentum going, we need to take care of ourselves.

That is why OCAD U is implementing Wellness Wednesdays while we work from home. Every Wednesday, beginning on April 22 from noon to 5 p.m., we are designating this as an “offline” afternoon for employees to focus and/or take care of personal matters. More information will be shared with faculty and staff on April 17 by Human Resources.

Spring/summer course offerings
To our students, I also acknowledge this has not been an easy time for you. I thank you for your ongoingpatience and understanding as our faculty and staff continue to work diligently through the disruption of our regular operations to support you in completing the winter term.

The Academic Emergency Response Committee of Senate (AERC), working in close collaboration with our academic leadership and support teams, has undertaken detailed planning for the spring and summer semesters to deliver courses remotely given the extended state of emergency. The AERC is considering overall academic strategies appropriate to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 16, we will be announcing the plans for the spring and summer course offerings, so please make sure you check your email. Our focus is on creating positive faculty and student experiences within an accessible and engaging teaching and learning environment.

Looking ahead to the fall
OCAD U anticipates the fall semester with excitement as we look forward to welcoming new and returning students. We will provide our dynamic OCAD U learning environment consistent with our Academic Plan and spirit of creativity and innovation.

The University is closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation and we are in close communication with Toronto and Ontario public health authorities and members of the Ontario university community.

We continue to work within the Council of Ontario Universities and Universities Canada to present the case for increased financial support from the Ontario and Canadian governments, especially for our students as well as for OCAD U and the university sector. At the same time, we have started our budget planning process, recognizing we will be faced with difficult choices and decisions given the anticipated impact of COVID-19 on enrolment and ancillary revenues.

hope that you all keep safe and healthy at this time, and thank you again for all of your continued support. 

Warm regards,

Dr. Sara Diamond, C.M., O.ON., R.C.A., ICD.D
President and Vice-Chancellor