Fall term is now well underway and, looks much different than years past.
I still have those wonderful, familiar feelings that come along with the slight nip in the morning air and the sunlight shining through the changing leaves.
While those feelings remain true, we also know that it will be a season unlike any most of us have experienced in our lifetime. The pandemic remains very much a part of our lives, and is affecting each of us in unique and surprising ways. With respect to COVID-19, we have been working all summer to develop and deliver a robust safety plan that upholds current Public Health directives yet remains agile enough to anticipate and respond to changes as soon as they are announced. I am very proud of the work our COVID Committee has done to produce a great safety plan, in alignment with public health and approved by the provincial government.
Within the context of the pandemic, life continues to unfold. As always, some events are joyful and some are truly devastating. We are a close-knit community and when our members are grieving, we feel deeply for them. Our hearts go out to Susan MacAlpine-Gillis and Janice Varvel on the recent deaths of their husbands. We send our deepest love and condolences to Susan and Janice and their families.
Within the context of our COVID reality, our graduate and continuing education classes are back in session. Having all of our courses online means more options for students – anywhere in the world – looking for excellent theological education at a uniquely ecumenical university. This Fall we have students studying online from Abu Dhabi to Ghana, Halifax to Vancouver Island, and in the U.S. In fact, we are pleasantly surprised to find our enrollment at a higher rate than we had originally anticipated this September, with everything that is going on.
I’m pleased to say that our Leadership Learning initiative is also underway. In June, we hosted our inaugural event, Faraway, So Close with international peace practitioner, Paul Hutchinson. Beginning in October, the Leadership Learning program will feature an exciting series of online monthly sessions, led by esteemed, thoughtful and engaging facilitators. The Leadership Learning initiative is also partnering with Mount Saint Vincent University to present the virtual forum, Black Women in Leadership: Sharing and Shaping our Journey. For more information on any of these events, please contact our Director of Leadership Learning, Sherie Hodds at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve also been busy continuing to improve campus in ways that make sense in the context of COVID-19. We’re strengthening our IT capabilities to support distance education, taking the opportunity to carry out needed maintenance, such as re-roofing the 1898 Building and replacing the main water line onto campus. We are very grateful that these projects are made possible with our capital funds, since our operating budgets remain tight under the current circumstances.
Finally, we’ve also moved our administrative offices out of the residence and into other buildings, to make room for socially-distanced student residents. It is so gratifying to see our team coming back to campus. We recently celebrated our return with a small outdoor picnic within public health guidelines. Even masked up and socially distanced, it was wonderful to see and appreciate people just simply enjoying the sun and being together.
I hope you have each found your own moments of blessing during this time. Thank you so much for your support of AST and each other as we move forward.
Rev. Canon Neale Bennet
Atlantic School of Theology
660 Francklyn Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3B5
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