Christendom College will refund $970,000 in room and board fees to students for the period that they have been away from campus due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as announced by college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell this past week. The refund comes in addition to other initiatives that the college’s staff and faculty are undertaking to help keep students connected to campus digitally, as the entire community moves forward in facing this challenge together.
“It was with great sadness that I announced that students would not return to campus this semester,” said O’Donnell. “We had sincerely hoped that a return would be possible, if only for a short time. We will continue to do all we can to connect with students in an effort to enrich our online education with moments of connection, formation, and support. It is with great trust in Jesus Christ that we can say with certainty that our Crusader family will come through this trial stronger than ever.”
The college will refund room and board fees to students, covering March 15, 2020 to the end of the semester. Students can choose to either receive a check for the amount owed, apply some or all of the balance towards the fall 2020 semester, or apply some or all of the balance as a charitable donation to the college to aid prospective and returning students who will find attending or returning in the fall to be more challenging based on economic impacts.
In addition to the refund, the college has been working hard to recreate as much of the campus experience online as possible. Student formation programs have transitioned to online formats, including the college’s Strongholds student support groups. The groups, which help foster prayer accountability amongst students, are now meeting through phone calls and texts. Christendom’s chaplain Fr. Marcus Pollard is continuing to work hard to assist with the spiritual lives of the student body through sending out daily spiritual reflections and homework for students, along with a weekly video message as well.
For students looking for aid with their studies, the college’s academic support services team members have made themselves available online for students, whether through virtual meetings or phone calls, in addition to a weekly newsletter. The college’s peer tutors and Writing Center are now available online for students also, and the college’s library has expanded its online resources, including significantly expanding online databases.
In terms of student life, the college’s resident assistants have been working hard to keep their floors connected as well, with the resident assistants reaching out to every student from their floor each week and conducting special activities to connect their floors.
The college’s counseling services are now available online, both through Zoom and via phone for the students. Director of career development Kristin Stephens has made herself available virtually or by phone for students and has begun hosting live online workshops as well, such as a workshop on how to write a cover letter. Special events, such as Coffee House — the college’s annual comedy night — have been held online, with more such virtual events planned in the future.
During the regular academic year, philosophy professor Mike Brown holds trivia contests with the student body during lunches. Rather than letting that tradition fade away, Brown brought the experience online through Zoom, now holding these trivia contests twice a week for students and their families. He has also hosted philosophy meetings for the student body and created cooking videos as well, based on recipes he offers through his personal catering company.
New video series for both students and alumni have also launched over the past two weeks, including Principles for Your Week, a weekly video reflection series from Dr. O’Donnell, and a weekly live Q&A series featuring Christendom professors, hosted by executive vice president Mark Rohlena. A new Principles online course will be available in the coming weeks as well for those interested in enriching their minds while spending more time at home.
“We do not approach this moment with fear, but holy trust,” concluded O’Donnell. “God has never failed Christendom College when we have given Him our faith and hope. Most importantly, we are also blessed by wonderful and faith-filled students, parents, and benefactors who have made our educational apostolate possible for more than 40 years. Thank you for your continued trust in us as we face this challenge together.”
For more information on Christendom’s response to the coronavirus, visit our COVID-19 response page.