President Davis welcomes students back for a new academic year

President Davis addresses the crowd from a podiumEditor’s note: this message was sent to Linfield students, employees and retirees on August 26 in The Linfield Ahead newsletter.

Dear Linfield community,

The start of another academic year is approaching quickly. Fall classes begin Monday, orientation and athletics are already in full swing, and a refreshing energy is palpable on both of our campuses. This is one of my favorite times of the year, and I hope you’re feeling similarly enthusiastic.

At the same time, we’ve all seen the news reports about the delta variant and the fact that intensive care units are stretched to their limits across the country, including in both counties where our campuses reside. The governor announced the resumption of a statewide outdoor mask mandate starting tomorrow, and our response to the pandemic remains fluid. We must remain on alert to pivot our policies to meet the ever-changing situation. That’s just reality.

We should all be proud that Linfield University will start the semester as one of the most vaccinated campuses in the nation. More than 97% of our students and virtually all our employees have uploaded documentation of their vaccination status or exemptions as of this morning. Breakthrough cases can occur, but vaccination prevents most individuals from experiencing serious illness or hospitalization. Doing our best to keep the community healthy is, of course, what led us to mandate vaccinations for the year.

This fall, Linfield is welcoming 380 new students — 320 first-year students and 60 transfers — of which 35% are students of color and 42% are the first in their families to attend college. Students are drawn from 13 states and speak 17 languages in their homes — Arabic, Cantonese, English, French, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Nepali, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese. This is not only an academically gifted class, but a reminder that Linfield’s future – and the future of higher education – is increasingly diverse and multi-cultural.

Graduate students will increasingly be a part of the Linfield community, as well. Last Friday, in the summer hooding and pinning ceremony for the School of Nursing, Linfield granted its first graduate degrees since the 1990s. Two days ago, the School of Business held a welcome for the first cohort of graduate students in its new master’s program. And starting next week the Masters in Sports Science and Analytics will launch in the College of Arts and Sciences. Residential undergraduate education will always be at the heart of what we do, but the broader picture of what a Linfield education can provide continues to expand.

The new W.M. Keck Science Center is materializing before our eyes and is on track to be completed by the end of December 2022. New sidewalks were completed ahead of schedule and before students arrived, providing access on the west side of Walker and north side of the science complex. The renovation of Graf Hall is scheduled to begin August 30 and renovation of the Murdock Hall areas will start next summer. Mac Hall, which was removed, will be commemorated with a marker now being worked on by a committee of faculty, staff, alumni, and community members.

And on Monday, nearly 150 (masked) employees gathered in Dillin Hall to start the vitally important process of drafting a new strategic plan for Linfield. They brainstormed ideas for the university’s future around three broad themes: what things we already do that we should focus upon; what things we don’t do that we should consider; and how we better unify Linfield around its core mission of serving students. Those ideas will be shared with the entire community, and there will be many more opportunities to participate in the strategic-planning process in the months ahead. The future of Linfield depends on decisions we make, and no matter your department or function, I invite all employees to participate.

You will be hearing much more in the days ahead about all the additional steps Linfield is taking to improve safety and security for students and employees and about how we will continue to adapt to a worldwide pandemic. These are mission critical. But I hope you will also be able to step back and see the wider view, to appreciate how fortunate we are to be at this unique institution at this historic moment.

I can’t wait to see our students all over our campuses again, in classrooms, in Starbucks, in the ELC, and elsewhere. I can’t wait to welcome back faculty and staff I haven’t seen, in some cases, for months. I can’t wait to celebrate our shared successes with all of you.

Ultimately, I hope you are inspired, as I am, by the promise this new academic year represents.

Be well and be blessed,

Miles K. Davis, president