Update on Fall Semester from President Pfeifer

May 29, 2020

Dear New and Returning Students,

We have come to the end of an academic year unlike any we have experienced before. We praise God for blessing us through the semester and in keeping us safe. On behalf of Bethany’s faculty, staff, and administration, I write to express our admiration for your determination and positive spirit amid the challenges you’ve faced during this COVID-19 pandemic. While drastically different than what any of us expected, this semester has provided its own lessons in patience and perseverance.

I am delighted to share with you that a large number of returning students eligible to re-enroll for the fall semester have already done so. We cannot wait to see you next semester. I am equally pleased to note that our application numbers for new students stand at a record level. We warmly and eagerly welcome our new first-year and transfer students. We are delighted you have chosen Bethany.

We face ongoing uncertainty as the battle against this pandemic continues. I am sure a question on many minds is whether the Bethany campus will be open for “in-person” classes in August. Perhaps you saw the most recent video message I delivered earlier in May. In that message, I stated that “to the best of our ability, we plan to be open for face-to-face classes in the fall.” That is our intention. Because we believe so strongly in our Christian campus community and in the close mentorship between our faculty and students, we will do everything in our power to welcome you to campus in August—in person.

Please understand that campus life in the fall will continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and will be different! In order to prepare for an in-person opening in the fall, I have charged a broad campus leadership team to develop a comprehensive plan for conducting the semester that provides for the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and guests; follows Minnesota Department of Health guidelines; and is well-integrated across all aspects of campus life. While we will share details about this plan in the coming weeks, for now I’ll confirm the plan will outline procedures for mitigating the coronavirus across all aspects of campus life from academic learning in the classrooms, to life in the res-halls and dining center, and for all activities.

In the event that we experience a surge in the spread of the virus in the coming weeks, our plans for an in-person opening could change. If significant health and safety risks dictate, we are prepared for and will not hesitate to shift to an alternative scenario. It is our intent to announce a final decision regarding our plans for our fall opening no later than July 10. Providing we’re able to announce “in-person” on campus classes, at that time we’ll also make available details regarding our mitigation plan.

In Psalm 91, the Lord gives us promises that we can all trust together: “You will not fear the pestilence that stalks in the darkness. Because you have made the MOST HIGH your dwelling, no harm will befall you.”

With fearless confidence in our faithful God, we look forward to seeing you this fall.

In Christ’s service,

Gene R. Pfeifer, Ph. D.
President, Bethany Lutheran College