November 18, 2020

Message from President Wiewel11.18.20

Dear Lewis & Clark Community,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I can’t express enough the gratitude I have for every member of our community. We have reckoned with great uncertainty during the pandemic, and the support of our wide community has buoyed our efforts. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends have all made our success possible.

Meanwhile, we see that much of the country and the world are again headed in the wrong direction as the community spread of COVID-19 is rampant. In response to rising case numbers in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown JD ’85 issued new directives last Friday. In-person classes, research, and other instructional activities are permitted under the new state restrictions, and we expect to continue these as previously planned for the time remaining this fall. However, as we wind down the semester, social gatherings and other activities are again sharply curtailed.

After two initial COVID-19 cases when students returned in August, we made it through most of the semester without a single additional case. Over the last two weeks, among students taking classes on campus, we’ve seen new cases in the single digits, and all of the students are, or have been, in isolation. A small number of additional close contacts have been quarantined. Our protocols and procedures have been working, and our community’s adherence to public health rules and care for each other has been key to our ability to keep infection rates extremely low. We will use what we’ve learned this fall as we aim to replicate our success in the spring semester.

As we begin to look toward the new year, it is important to note how the election outcome may soon affect higher education and the work we do at Lewis & Clark. President-elect Biden has signaled executive action on the following key areas:

  • Plans to increase Pell Grants and forgive a portion of student loans.
  • Reform of federal work-study programs to support public service.
  • Policies favorable to the return of international students in greater numbers.
  • Plans to re-engage in international climate action and agreements.
  • Plans to increase spending on research.
  • Changes to Title IX that will make it easier for victims of sexual assault and harassment to come forward.

We will continue to follow these and other important developments as the presidential transition progresses. Our affiliated higher education organizations and lobbying groups will continue to represent our interests in this time of change.

Here at Lewis & Clark there is much work yet to be done as we close out this semester, but I am proud and heartened at what we have accomplished together so far in 2020. We have been tested this year, no doubt. Thank you for the trust you have put in us and each other.

Alice and I wish you safety and good health as we approach the holiday season. Best of luck on your studies and teaching and personal and professional lives. We’re looking forward to a vaccine and being able to express our deep appreciation and thanks in person soon enough.

All the best,

Wim Wiewel