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Dear Members of the John Carroll University Community,

As I sat down to write this message, I looked out my office window at the Hamlin Quad and felt a smile come across my face at the sight of two students tossing a frisbee. It was a hopeful sight in an often confusing world. For almost a year, our campus has been void of these simple interactions. 

In the coming days, as students continue to move into our residence halls and we prepare for spring classes to begin, I encourage you to take a moment to appreciate the common, everyday scenes that take place around us -- warm greetings between colleagues in the hallway of the Administration Building, students holding the door open for one another at the Lombardo Center, and classmates reuniting for the first time since March. 

Even still, as we patiently wait for the full rollout of a vaccine, the pandemic will impact our daily way of life. Our movements, actions, and decisions on-campus and in the neighborhood and community must be guided by our care for one another through adherence to health protocols. Each of us must act responsibly to ensure that our campus remains safe. Some in our community will continue to live, learn, and teach from their homes. We must ensure they continue to feel connected to John Carroll in a virtual setting. 

For many of us, the dawn of our new semester and the joy of being together is clouded by the historic and unsettling events taking place in our nation. The violent images of the United States Capitol under siege on January 6 remain etched in our minds and hearts as we continue to pray for those who were killed and injured. Along with the other AJCU presidents in our joint statement, I strongly condemn the violent efforts to disrupt our democratic process. On our campus, we must work together to seek understanding and reconciliation as we recommit ourselves to the ideals of fairness, justice, racial equity, and inclusion to which our nation aspires. For this reason, I have asked Dr. Tiffany Galvin Green, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Dr. Ed Peck, VP of Mission and Identity, to organize activities for our community to foster dialogue and understanding, and to pray for our nation and its leaders. More information will be shared from their offices.

Our anticipation now turns to the Inauguration on January 20 and the peaceful transfer of power that is a hallmark of our great democracy. In preparation for this day, may we draw inspiration from the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate on Monday. I encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on his I Have a Dream speech and his vision for America.

We know that more challenges await us during these uncertain times. For those who need help, our University Counseling Center (216.397.4283) and Campus Ministry Department (216.397.4717) are available to support you. Let us continue to help one another as we move onward together and ignite a hopeful future. 

Yours,

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President, John Carroll University

Dear Members of the John Carroll Community,

As we prepare to turn the page on 2020, it is important to remember our many blessings and offer gratitude to those who make our lives better. With that in mind, I offer my sincere thanks to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and families whose perseverance, passion, and faith helped us overcome an unprecedented year.

VIDEO: A Holiday Greeting from Michael and Jill Johnson 

In the face of many challenges, I have seen the strength of our community on a daily basis. The effort that our faculty and staff have made to deliver the John Carroll education and experience in a virtual setting has been creative and tireless. The resilience of our students to adapt to unwanted circumstances has been inspiring. The continued support of our alumni community has been reassuring. Indeed, the flexibility of our JCU parents and families, whose children returned home unexpectedly, has reminded us about the power of family.

Please enjoy a safe and relaxing winter break. I hope you will close your laptops, log off Zoom, and use this time to rest and recharge. Jill and I are grateful to walk next to you on this journey. During this holiday season, we pray that each of you will find peace, joy, and good health in the year ahead. From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year. 

Best wishes,

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President, John Carroll University

Dear Members of the John Carroll University Community,

There is no denying that this semester has been unlike any other we have experienced. The pandemic has changed the way we learn, socialize, and live on a daily basis. We long to be together, in person, with our campus community, our friends, and our extended family, particularly around the holidays.

Though we may not be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional ways this year, we should still find the opportunities to give thanks for things in our lives that have not changed: our faith, friendships, family, and the John Carroll community that brings us together while we are apart.

I encourage you to spend time resting and relaxing away from your computers in the coming days. I am thankful to our students, faculty, staff, and alumni who make John Carroll a strong, faith-filled institution that develops leaders who impact the world in so many ways.

I am also excited to begin welcoming you back to campus for the spring semester. Please watch the following video to learn more about our Spring Plan.

VIDEO: Looking ahead to the spring semester

From my family to yours, I wish you a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving.

Yours,

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President, John Carroll University

Dear Members of the John Carroll University Community,

Each year, Veterans Day is an opportunity for our nation and the John Carroll community to express our gratitude to those who have bravely served in the armed forces. 

Over time, our faculty, staff, students, and alumni have answered the call to protect and serve the United States in times of peace and war. They have ensured the freedom that we so often take for granted as citizens. Please join me in thanking all of our veterans for their incredible sacrifice. 

John Carroll’s Military Science Department dates back to 1950. Over the last seven decades, the Army ROTC Battalion — now known as the Wolfpack Detachment — has trained thousands of men and women who serve our nation with character and integrity. In a matter of months, the next class of commissioned officers will enter active service, the Army National Guard, or the Army Reserve. 

Please take this opportunity to reflect on the importance of this day and give thanks to those in your life who have served or are serving.

Sincerely,

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President, John Carroll University

Dear Members of the John Carroll University Community,

I am saddened to inform you that Father Gerald Sabo, S.J., beloved member of the Jesuit community and Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature, passed away suddenly on Saturday evening. He was 75.

Father Sabo spent forty years teaching Slovak, Russian, and Eastern European Literature at JCU. A native of Connecticut, he joined the New England Province of the Society of Jesus in 1969 and was ordained a priest in 1980. He celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Jesuit last year. 

He was an alumnus of Fairfield Prep and Fairfield University, both Jesuit institutions in Connecticut. He studied Theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, now part of Boston College. He also earned a doctorate in Eastern European Languages at Yale, but modestly played down his Yale connection preferring to be called “Father” over “Doctor.” 

Father Sabo transferred to the Midwest Province and joined our faculty in 1981. He was the last Jesuit at Schell House to have moved from Rodman Hall in 1997 and served as rector of the Jesuit Community from 2007-2013. At the time of his death, he was working on a magisterial history of Slovak Literature. 

He loved John Carroll and was a fiercely loyal friend and devoted teacher. He knew generations of alumni and was always glad to hear from former students and parents. 

Please join me in extending condolences to Fr. Sabo’s family, the Jesuit community at Schell House, and the Department of Classical and Modern Languages. Campus Ministry will share funeral arrangements when they are available. 

Yours, 

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President

Dear Faculty and Staff,

My thanks to those who are reviewing and providing feedback on the draft of our 2020-2025 strategic plan for John Carroll University. The input that our community continues to provide is a valuable resource for us as we build on our Jesuit, liberal arts core and invest in our future. 

For those who have not had the opportunity to engage with the draft, you can find it in the JCU Faculty and Staff Google Drive. Today, I would like to call your attention to the opening pages of the plan to ensure that you understand where we are and where we are heading as an institution. 

A Vision for John Carroll University 

John Carroll University’s strategic plan for 2020-2025 comes at a critically important time in the institution’s history. The convergence of three major developments is having an unparalleled impact on the university’s ability to compete and remain financially strong: (1) the need for innovation to keep pace with changing student demand, (2) structural deficits that are not sustainable, and (3) the impacts of COVID-19.

The new strategic plan must continue to build on John Carroll’s academic strengths and Jesuit tradition, but also differentiate and position us to compete more effectively in the increasingly competitive market for higher education through innovation in its curricular and co-curricular programs. Over the course of many years, we have fallen behind peer institutions with respect to the affinity that attracts new students and tuition dollars. Tuition revenues have remained flat while costs continue to grow. The plan seeks to answer how we become more attractive to prospective students given the multitude of opportunities available to them in order to grow enrollment and revenues. The plan must be comprehensive and envision everything from our academic program priorities and administrative units, to our enrollment strategy and marketing support, to enriching our student experience beyond the classroom, to broadening our student populations and ways of delivering our educational experiences, to our technological platforms, to our community partnerships and collaborations.

While innovating, the university must simultaneously reduce its cost structure to address historical budget deficits and lay the foundation for long-term financial strength. The university is undergoing a $20 million cost restructuring that includes $15 million in longer-term cost reductions to address structural deficits and another $5 million in temporary savings for fiscal year 2020-2021 that are directly related to costs and uncertainties associated with COVID-19. With a goal to thrive and not just survive, the university must change the way it operates, generate new resources, and reallocate existing resources, all while preserving the core of our Jesuit Catholic education.

This innovation and restructuring are occurring as the world is adapting to a global pandemic. COVID-19 has created unprecedented uncertainty in our finances while fundamentally changing the way we teach and interact with our students. During the spring of 2020, the crisis required John Carroll to move from primarily face-to-face instruction to completely online delivery of courses and virtual support services. We expect there to be longer term impacts on our institution, primarily with respect to how we engage with students and their willingness to return to classroom instruction. Our historical face-to-face, on campus mode of instruction is being replaced by a hybrid approach, where some course elements are designed ahead of time and made available on demand (asynchronously), while live (synchronous) components are taught through in-person, classroom instruction that fosters active engagement between students and faculty.

The overall vision for John Carroll that has emerged from the strategic planning process is bold and highly achievable. The plan is based on research and analysis related to the current and future demand for academic programs and John Carroll’s ability to compete for students in those programs. The plan realigns our program mix to areas of enrollment and revenue growth that will differentiate John Carroll and sustain the institution going forward.

Not surprisingly, the vision starts with our commitment to academic rigor, a faith that does justice, inclusive excellence, and care for the whole person. We will continue to inspire individuals of intellect and character to learn, lead, and serve in the community and around the world. Grounded on our Jesuit heritage, we will build upon our strengths in the liberal arts to advance innovative, rigorous programs for a diverse community of students.

Leveraging our location, alumni network, and historical strengths, John Carroll will enhance its reputation through investments in curricular and co-curricular programs related to health, business, analytics, and experiential learning. Why these areas? The focus on health builds upon our strength in pre-health majors and biology in particular, business education, and proximity to world-class healthcare institutions that are among the largest employers of our graduates. John Carroll is well positioned to become a leader, regionally and nationally, in health professions and the business of healthcare. The Boler College of Business, home to three of our four largest undergraduate majors and Master of Business Administration programs, is itself well positioned to grow in both size and reputation. The growth of analytics and “big data” as an interdisciplinary focus offers John Carroll additional areas of focus in which to compete, as through the new Kramer School of Accountancy and Information Sciences. Last but not least, John Carroll will continue to provide students with a culture of care, where they experience a deep sense of belonging and thrive as engaged learners who become inspired, discerning leaders in service for and with others, as through the new Donnelly School of Service and Social Innovation.

I would like to thank the entire John Carroll community for their time and hard work in the planning process and commitment to the future of the University. It is remarkable what we accomplished this past year while continuing to deliver our first-class educational experience, serving our students outside the classroom, and rebuilding support structures, all while adapting to a global health crisis.

Onward On and go Blue Streaks! 

Michael 

Dear Students,

I hope this note finds you well as you navigate the remote semester. Beginning this week, we will share a weekly update with our community about progress during the fall and plans for the spring. 

Planning for Spring 2021

We know how much you want to return to campus for the spring semester. As we work to deliver the best possible remote educational experience this fall, our COVID-19 Task Force and University leadership are also doing everything in our power to return to campus in January, including investigating rapid surveillance testing programs, expanding contact tracing capabilities, and designating and preparing additional quarantine and isolation spaces. Our goal is to re-open our residence halls and classrooms following winter break with these protocols and our existing health and safety plan in place. We must also acknowledge factors outside of our control that may impact our ability to return, including directives from the State of Ohio and public health agencies.

Upon return, we know there will be positive cases in our community. Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 17, we identified 102 cases of COVID-19 in our student and employee population through baseline testing, contact tracing, and self-reports. This number includes multiple clusters of cases amongst students living in the vicinity of campus. As detailed below, our focus for the spring semester will be on preventing and minimizing cases on campus and among our campus community; utilizing our health and safety protocols to maintain a healthy campus and prevent further spread; and providing support and assistance for those who are impacted. 

Ahead of the spring semester, we are improving our existing health and safety plan in the following areas:

  • Surveillance testing: The ability to offer a surveillance testing program with rapid results is key to our ability to repopulate our campus in January. We continue to work toward the best solution to this issue. Additional information will be shared in our weekly updates. 

  • Contact tracing: The coordination of contact tracing and care for students requires significant time and effort. To accommodate our current and anticipated needs, we now have 17 active contact tracers who have been certified via the Johns Hopkins contact tracing protocol. Prior to a return to campus, we expect that at least 25 certified contact tracers will be needed to manage on-going cases.
  • Quarantine and Isolation Space: We are reviewing our residence hall room assignments to identify adequate space for quarantine or isolation. 

Academic Support

We know that remote learning presents a new challenge for many students. If you are in need of additional academic support, please start a conversation with your professor or academic advisor. Those in need of additional support should contact the Academic Success Center, Student Accessibility Services, or their dean’s office. Students are also receiving regular updates from the Academic Continuity Group, chaired by Dr. Mike Martin, with information that is relevant to academic success, engagement opportunities, and friendly reminders. The first two Academic Continuity messages of the fall are available here: Sept. 10 and Sept. 19

Mental Health Support 

Remote learning can lead to feelings of isolation, and the pandemic has led to anxiety and uncertainty for many in our community. We take the mental health and wellbeing of our students and community members very seriously. The University Counseling Center is here to help you. On Sept. 14, a message was distributed to students regarding mental health services available to students via the Counseling Center. Please do not hesitate to contact the office directly at 216.397.4283 or counselingcenter@jcu.edu

Student Engagement Opportunities

We are pleased to announce John Carroll’s partnership with Presence, a software platform that manages, tracks, and promotes student involvement in hundreds of student activities throughout the academic year. Carroll Connect provides student organizations and University departments an online platform where they can manage and promote organizational, programmatic, event-planning and marketing functions in an easy web-based software program. 

Students can connect without an additional log-in or requirement to create a personal profile. Once on the site, students are able to see upcoming events as well as review and engage with any student organization or University department of interest. 

Mass of the Holy Spirit 

At 3:30 p.m., we will celebrate our annual Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Church of the Gesu (across the street from campus) where we ask for God’s blessings for the new academic year. Those wishing to attend in person can do so with proper face coverings and physical distancing. Our Campus Ministry department will also livestream the Mass via YouTube so our entire community can participate.

Moving Forward 

We will distribute a weekly update to students and families throughout the fall semester focused on John Carroll’s COVID-19 response, our planning for the spring, and additional student engagement opportunities. Thank you for your patience, flexibility, and resilience throughout the last six months. 

Yours,

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President, John Carroll University

Dear Members of the John Carroll University Community,

I am proud to announce that John Carroll University is once again ranked #2 on the Best Regional Universities in the Midwest list by U.S. News & World Report. It is the 32nd consecutive year that we have been ranked in the top 10. 

We are thrilled to be the top-ranked regional institution in Ohio, and the highest-ranked Jesuit university in the Midwest. Our Blue Streak community can take pride in knowing that our mission of inspiring individuals to excel in learning, leadership, and service in the region and in the world continues to be recognized.

Please read the full announcement here.

Best wishes,

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President, John Carroll University 

Dear Students,

I write to you today with an update about our plan for the fall semester. 

As an institution, we have two priorities right now: protecting the physical and mental health, safety, and wellbeing of our community, and providing the best possible academic and student experience through the lens of our Jesuit Catholic mission. With these priorities squarely in focus, we have made the difficult, but prudent decision to maintain remote learning and off-campus living through the end of the fall semester. We care deeply about you and your overall experience, and bringing you back to on-campus living and learning at this time is simply not the right decision.

After extensive study and consideration, we made this decision based on predictive public health data about the way COVID-19 spreads within residential campuses and their surrounding communities, additional data gleaned from asymptomatic testing of our students, careful benchmarking of best practices and experiences at other universities, and the increase in cases in the State of Ohio among younger adults. Yesterday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that 35 percent of COVID-19 cases in Ohio during the last seven days were in the 18-22 age group, an alarming number. Collectively, this information gives us pause.

In early August, we conducted predictive modeling based on a publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association that helped us better understand the potential impact of the COVID-19 virus on our campus and community. In conjunction with other factors, the analysis and need for asymptomatic testing gave us enough concern to initially delay our return to campus for three weeks to assess the evolving situation and study options to avert the potential for an outbreak that would disrupt the educational process and college experience. During this pause, we monitored the situations on other campuses as we implemented phase one of our asymptomatic testing program. However, our models didn’t predict the degree of rapid viral spread observed on many American campuses large and small — a situation that threatens our nation’s efforts to extinguish the pandemic. In retrospect, the decision to delay wasn’t easy to make as we understood the potential impact on students, staff, and faculty, but we firmly believe that it was the correct decision. 

On August 25, we began testing all residential students and student athletes during phase one of our asymptomatic student testing protocol. To date, we have received test results for 852 students, and while that testing is ongoing, it has so far revealed 26 positive cases in our community, including at least one “cluster” of cases among students living off campus. 

Although our positivity rate of 3.02% is relatively low, it is categorically higher, by tenfold, than the base rates at campuses that have already opened up and are experiencing problems. Those same institutions -- many of which you have read about in the news -- have seen significant spikes in positivity rates within seven to ten days of being on campus, resulting in pivots to online learning, illness and isolation of infected students for several weeks, strict quarantining of entire campuses, students returning home, and undue stress on academic and institutional operations and resources. 

Public health authorities are now anticipating a Labor Day surge in cases, which may not be fully reported until a week or more following the holiday, at the time our residential students would have mostly moved onto campus. An acute outbreak of significant magnitude on our campus would rapidly limit our ability to quarantine and isolate students. New guidance this week from Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other public health officials strongly advises against returning infected students to their families and permanent residences, as it would only endanger their relatives and hometowns.

We worked toward and hoped to make a return to campus this fall possible in every way. We spent the summer preparing a robust return-to-campus plan designed to keep our community safe. We took the additional step of delaying in-person learning and on-campus living by three weeks to study the evolving situation that gave us pause and obtain additional data premised on the best public health and safety practices. And now we are making the extremely difficult decision to continue remote learning throughout the fall. 

Given the data and anecdotal evidence that we are privy to, and in consideration of our stated priorities above, we are confident in this decision. Indeed, aside from the physical health risks of COVID-19, this is the least disruptive path forward on many levels, including for students’ academic success, mental health, and stress. We know you did not choose John Carroll University to take classes on Zoom, but we also know that a return to campus followed by a quarantine or a return home would be equally, if not more, disruptive and stressful for you. 

VIDEOView my video message to our students 

Many of you chose JCU because we are a community that cares deeply for the whole person. We train leaders and doers who use the tools and information available to them to think critically and with broad perspectives. We develop graduates who apply these skills in real world settings, making difficult, ethical decisions that impact their industries and communities. Our decision to continue remote learning throughout the fall semester is being made with cura personalis, or care for the whole person, in focus. 

While I understand that this will cause disruption and frustration for many, it will not change the value of a John Carroll University education in the marketplace. It will not affect our commitment to our Jesuit Catholic values. It will not impact our deep care for the whole person. And it most certainly will not change our commitment to delivering the John Carroll education that our students expect and deserve. 

Additional information will follow next week regarding the availability of access to campus buildings and resources during remote learning this fall. We will now focus on providing the best possible remote experience for you during the fall semester.

We are focused on our efforts to bring our students back to campus in January for the spring semester, assuming circumstances allow. We are continuing with the implementation of  health and safety initiatives for this semester and next, including those related to testing, contact tracing, and other health procedures. We also will continue to pursue a readily-available rapid testing option that would allow us to more quickly assess and protect our community. At the same time, we are asking students, faculty, and staff to take the following steps to help us prepare for the spring semester:

  • Please get a flu shot this fall, as recommended by public health officials.

  • Self-report positive cases to the JCU Health Center within 24 hours so we can continue to study the incidence of the virus among our JCU community and for use in health and safety planning this semester and next.

  • If you have been exposed or have symptoms, follow self-quarantine and self-isolation protocols.

  • Continue to wear your mask, practice physical distancing, avoid crowds larger than 10 people, and observe proper hygiene procedures.

  • Follow additional guidance from the University related to testing and other health initiatives. 

In the meantime, please join me in continuing to pray for all those who are impacted by the pandemic, and for all those in our community who are working to overcome this challenge.

Yours,

Michael D. Johnson
President, John Carroll University

Contact Us

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
President 
president@jcu.edu 
216.397.4281