Update from President Kurt Dykstra, July 2, 2020

Dear Trinity Students and Recent Graduates:

Greetings from campus.  In Palos Heights, it is hot, muggy, and sunny – weather that promises to continue throughout the Independence Day weekend.  In short:  It is July.

I email you today, in July, to give you an update about December.

On June 20, Vice President Becky Starkenburg emailed you with updates to our Fall calendar and COVID-19 campus planning.  You also recall, I trust, my email on April 29 announcing that the Spring 2020 Commencement would be moved to a separate ceremony on December 19 (in essence creating two ceremonies on December 19, 2020).

You might be wondering how these recently-announced changes to the calendar, and the ongoing State of Illinois restrictions, impact the significant milestone-marking moment of these Commencement ceremonies in December?  That is why I email you today.

Unfortunately, we need to postpone both the scheduled December Commencement and the re-scheduled Spring 2020 Commencement (both to have happened on December 19, 2020) to May 8, 2021.  This, obviously, is not ideal nor is it what we want to do.  A Commencement is an important moment to celebrate the significant achievements of our graduates.  It is an important moment for the institution to give a visible indication and reminder of its mission.  Most importantly for the graduates, of course, it is the cumulative moment of years of hard study and work – not to mention the chance to celebrate their achievement with family and friends.  For all of these reasons, and more, postponing the December Commencement (and postponing again the May 2020 Commencement) is not anything that we as a college want to do.

However, as we have reviewed the State of Illinois Restore Illinois plan and as that plan has been interpreted and implemented, there is no realistic way that we could hope to gather together in person in December for these ceremonies.  Illinois now is in “Phase 4” of the reopening plan – which limits public gatherings to no more than 50 people.  There is little likelihood that Illinois will move to “Phase 5” by December, as that phase requires a “vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period” according to the State of Illinois directive.

Let’s not mince words:  This has been, is, and for the foreseeable future will be a period marked with particular frustration and unique disappointment.  While we admit this, we also affirm that God loves this world deeply and cares for his people immeasurably.  With the Apostle Paul we can say that we are “convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There will come a day, and we pray that it is soon, where we will again gather together in person to celebrate and worship.

As we move into the fall, I will provide you with further updates on whether we will hold a “virtual conferral ceremony” for our December 2020 graduates (similar to what we did in May 2020) and what such a ceremony might look like.  At this time, however, I wanted to give you this unfortunate news about December with enough time so that you and your families can plan accordingly.

For those of you reading this email who will be back on campus in a couple of months, we eagerly anticipate your return.  For those who graduated in May 2020, we sincerely long for the day when we will welcome you back to your campus home.

Thank you, stay safe, and continue to be a Romans 12:12 people.

Yours most sincerely,

Kurt D. Dykstra, President

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