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Message from Concordia President Graham Carr

‘We’ve taken decisions aimed at protecting the health and safety of our community’
March 27, 2020
By Graham Carr

Dear Concordians,

I hope that all of you are looking after yourselves and that your families and friends are in good health.

Nearly two weeks have passed since the declaration of a public health emergency in Quebec. It is an understatement to say that this period has been disruptive for all of us.

As individuals, as couples, families, colleagues and friends, our lives are suddenly bounded by requirements of self-isolation, quarantine, physical distancing.

Things we took for granted two weeks ago about our workplaces, our study spaces, our homes, our financial situations, our plans for the weeks and months ahead seem suddenly remote as we’ve been plunged into an alternate reality.

None of us can help but feel the stress of the moment. On both personal and professional levels we’re all doing our best to adapt, or trying to.

For the university, as an institution, this is also a period of adaptation. In consultation with government and other universities, we’ve taken decisions aimed at protecting the health and safety of our community.

We have mobilized efforts to enable our students to finish their terms and to support critical research activity.

I've said previously that we need to be flexible and resourceful, and that we need to be patient with each other. We’ve announced a number of academic accommodations to ease pressures on students and our faculty have been magnificent in converting as much of our course programming as possible to remote delivery.

Understandably, there are sometimes more questions than answers as we navigate this new and rapidly changing situation.

We are endeavouring not only to be as responsive as we can to the current reality, but also to anticipate what may be coming as we plan for the future.

I extend two additional messages to our students as well as our staff and faculty.

University to launch COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund

Message to students from Concordia President Graham Carr

Dear students,

I can only begin to imagine how upending this crisis is for each and every one of you.

I sincerely hope that, for the vast majority, the academic steps we have taken will enable you to finish your courses and put a successful close to the term.

I also recognize, as does our whole community, that many of you are now experiencing unexpected financial hardship because so many businesses have been forced to close.

The prospects for summer employment are uncertain at best and many of you are no doubt very concerned about your ability to pay for food, rent or tuition. For some of you, the COVID-19 crisis has also placed additional burdens of family care on your shoulders.

In the past few days the federal and provincial governments have announced various relief measures that will provide some support, and I urge you to explore the links below. 

COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund

To complement the government initiatives, I have two announcements. First, Concordia will create the COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund of $500,000 to help alleviate economic hardships. We will also launch a public appeal to our community and donors to augment the fund, as well as to increase support for other student services.

Details of the COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund and application process will be worked out in the coming days and shared with you as soon as possible.

Second, in recognition of the financial exigencies many of you will continue to face in the months ahead, we will do two additional things. For this term, Winter 2020, we will waive any fees relating to accommodations (e.g., fees for medical leaves (MED), deferrals (DEF), incompletes (INC), etc.; a detailed FAQ will follow). We are also postponing the tuition payment deadlines (for the summer 2020, fall 2020 and winter 2021 terms as per the details available here).

All of us recognize that these measures, by themselves, will not alleviate the tensions and anxieties many of you feel. Therefore, please also familiarize yourself with the various mental health support systems in place at the university.

We are here to help you. We have confidence in your abilities and talent. Despite the current situation, you will surmount this. We know that you have bright futures ahead of you.

We want you to succeed.

‘We are in this together and will come through it together’

Message to staff and faculty from Concordia President Graham Carr

Dear staff and faculty,

The first thing I want to say is thank you.

During the past two weeks, it has been inspiring to witness and be part of the extraordinary collective effort you have made to move the university to a different footing.

We have always prided ourselves on Concordia being a university that is there, above all, for its students. Many of you have proven how much you wear that conviction by the incredible efforts you’ve made to guarantee the academic term.

I am well aware that many of you are carrying out your responsibilities under conditions that are sometimes extremely complicated and difficult.

Some households have seen their income unexpectedly drop because of the business slowdown. Many of you are working remotely in homes that don’t lend themselves to privacy, trying to balance work with care for kids and parents on a schedule and in an environment that was never designed for this.

And of course the backdrop, the cause of all of this, is the pandemic.

It is extremely challenging to be productive under such conditions. This is all the more reason why I am so appreciative of your efforts.

The same goes for all our staff who are in essential services and continue to work on our campuses to carry out their duties — even though they are often working in isolation or as a skeleton crew because our campuses are deserted.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the tremendous work of my executive team and other university leaders who have been solid and solutions-oriented throughout.

There is no sugar-coating the situation. And none of us can really forecast what the immediate future will bring.

Still, there are also many reasons to feel positive and uplifted by each other.

Some of our faculty members’ innovative adaptations of course materials to online formats have been truly brilliant.

And hats off to those departments who took to the challenge as a collective project.

Yes, we are all Zoomers now, but it’s great to learn how some units are using Zoom not just to work, but to socialize, stay in touch and support each other.

Finally, many members of our community have responded to public calls to become COVID-19 volunteers. We are producing an inventory of materials and equipment that could be deployed elsewhere to address the health crisis.

And several of our researchers are running projects or doing media interviews that directly contribute to our understanding of the current situation and that address immediate needs of our community.

Next week, we will begin to feature more of these stories in our campus updates and daily news feed on the web.

In the meantime, please look after yourselves. Continue to follow the directions and advice of our public health authorities. That’s important for all of us.

Please continue to do all the things you do to make Concordia such a great place.

And rest assured that we are in this together and will come through it together.

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