Editor's note: This story first appeared in the spring 2020 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.
This was not my original introductory letter. We were all set to take this edition to print when my previous message, while still relevant, became slightly less pressing. My intention was to discuss the challenges that colleges and universities like Concordia are facing in light of the announced closure of our sister school in Portland, Oregon. Of course, I wanted to ease the concerns of readers who care so deeply about Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. Recently our Board of Regents joined members of our senior leadership team to look forward together at the future for Lutheran higher education and the leading role that Concordia is well-positioned to assume. All of that remains true, of course, but the whole world has changed in ways that none of us imagined a few months ago.
This revised letter is being written during the first week following spring vacation. Normally, this is a wonderfully busy week on campus. Classes resume, choirs are back from tours, athletics teams return from trips, and everyone is refreshed and ready for the homestretch of the academic year. These are not normal days. As I walked on to campus today, I saw only a few people, and we were careful to keep a safe distance from one another. I met with our same Board of Regents via interactive video utilizing Zoom technology. By this same method our leadership team has been meeting twice each day for a couple of weeks. Faculty and students have also been convening their regular classes through distance learning—a plan that no one expected to occur when everybody scattered for the break.
To say the global pandemic, Covid-19, has been disruptive would be a huge understatement. Obviously, you do not need me to tell you that because your own lives have certainly been disrupted in no small way. At Concordia all of the things we look forward to in the spring semester—including Commencement—have been cancelled. We are doing our best to make sure students are able to complete their courses and to care for them as best we can from a distance, but the rest has been laid to the side out of an abundance of caution and an abundance of care.
Since we are still in the midst of this situation, it is not easy to see how everything will eventually turn out. It would be disingenuous for me to suggest that I have no concerns for Concordia, or for the future.
Nevertheless, our faith is in the One who did not distance Himself from our perilous predicament. Christ came to bear our sins and carry our sorrows. Concordia belongs to Jesus—as it always has, and as it always will.
We commend ourselves and our future to the Lord. We also remain committed to the fulfillment of our extraordinary mission, and we look forward to the prospect of brighter and better days ahead. My hope is that upon reflection of our response to this extraordinary crisis we will see that it was our finest hour. As I have watched my colleagues in action in recent days there is already evidence for that. I also hope that these days will draw us nearer to Jesus who draws near to us even when everything else around us crumbles. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
God bless and keep you.
Rev. Patrick T. Ferry, PhD
The spring 2020 Concordian hit mailboxes the end of April. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.