From the VP's Desk

Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Thanksgiving and Advent Blessings

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

As we begin to celebrate Thanksgiving and the upcoming Advent season, and with the end of the semester quickly approaching, I write simply to offer a few reflections and words of encouragement in the midst of this busy season.

This is an exciting and joy-filled time of year. While many of you are preparing to travel home to spend Thanksgiving with family and loved ones, others may be looking forward to a few days on campus with a slower change of pace. The first signs of the holidays are starting to show, and we are already looking ahead to how we will enjoy the Christmas Break and next semester’s classes. At the same time, we are seeing the weather become colder and the skies turning mostly gray. We are aware of the ways others in the world and in our communities may be hurting, and are perhaps experiencing challenges or suffering ourselves. It is important to name and acknowledge these kinds of apparent contradictions because in doing so we are also invited to recognize where we might find—and where we might bring—sources of light and hope.

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Inclusive Campus Student Survey Results

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope these past few weeks have been exciting, rewarding, and filled with opportunities to grow in mind, body, and spirit as you engage in your coursework and campus life.

At the start of the semester, I invited us to consider what it might mean to engage intentionally in reflection in community. Finding space and time amid busy schedules can be difficult, but our willingness to do so—to reflect, prayerfully, on the constant input we receive and to do so in the context of community—is absolutely essential to the good work we are able to do at Notre Dame and beyond.

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Welcome Home

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you settled in and preparing for your first full week of classes! I am thrilled to write today to welcome you to another academic year at the University of Notre Dame.

As you may know, I serve as the University’s Vice President for Student Affairs. If you are not familiar with the work of Student Affairs, our team comprises more than 250 professional staff from an array of offices

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Welcoming You to Your New Home

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I am thrilled to add my welcome to the many offices, staff, faculty, and students who have been in touch with you this summer as you prepare to begin your journey at Notre Dame. I write on behalf of myself and my colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs, and to share a bit about the community you will join in just a few short weeks.

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Moving Forward Together

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you well as you enter into reading days and prepare for your last exams of the semester. 

In my first message to you last August as I was beginning in my role as Vice President for Student Affairs, I emphasized that my highest priority this year would be to listen—to the experiences of our students, the perspectives of our staff and faculty who work so closely with you, and the many collaborators who care deeply for student life inside and outside of the classroom. These experiences are an essential source of input for the University, and especially for my colleagues and I in Student Affairs who seek to support your well-being; your social, moral, intellectual, and spiritual formation; your sense of connection and belonging; and your ability to reflect, pray, and discern during your time as a Notre Dame student.…

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Making Connections this Spring

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope the first weeks of the new semester, while cold, have been fruitful. We have much to be proud of as we begin the new semester, and I am especially grateful for your flexibility and attention to necessary COVID protocols as well as student leadership and participation in the University’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Walk the Walk Week. Thanks to all of you – and in particular the students involved with the MLK Day Coalition – for your advocacy of a full-day observance of this important date. The past month has demonstrated the strong sense of community that truly undergirds our common life and work at Notre Dame.…

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Caring for Ourselves and One Another

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope you had a wonderful Fall Break, and found at least some opportunity to catch your breath after a busy first half of the semester! With cooler weather upon us and the end of the semester now in sight, I write to both commend you for your perseverance over the last year and remind you about the importance of caring for yourselves and one other in these last weeks of fall.…

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Welcome from Fr. Gerry

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you enjoying your first day of classes! I am thrilled to write today to welcome you to another academic year at the University of Notre Dame.

As some of you may know, this is my first year as the University’s Vice President for Student Affairs. If you are not familiar with the work of Student Affairs, it comprises more than 250 professional staff who work in a variety of departments

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Fall Outlook and Policy Updates

Author: Kate Morgan

Dear Students,

We hope this finds you enjoying the summer and preparing for the start of the next academic year. As a follow up to the email you received last week regarding policies for the fall semester, we write to share several updates of what you can expect this year, followed by more information regarding important health and safety protocols. Please share this information with your parents, guardians, and loved ones as necessary.

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Indoor Mask Update

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C., Laura Carlson

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

With the summer upon us and the summer sessions just ahead, we would once again like to thank you for all you have done throughout this challenging year.

Because of our high rates of vaccination, low campus case rates, and St. Joseph County’s improved case rates, we are excited to announce that effective today, Thursday, June 3, those who are fully vaccinated

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Expansion of Student Activites

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

With Notre Dame’s 7-day moving average of positive case counts declining, we are happy to follow up on last week’s email and announce further expansion of in-person student activities.

The rationale for these changes is two-fold. First, thanks to the success of limited outdoor events over the past week, the University can now introduce additional outdoor activities where the risk of transmission is lower. Second, we will begin offering indoor activity in spaces and programs where staff, faculty, or student managers are present to assist with health and safety protocols, which must be maintained at all times. Please remember eating indoors is permitted only in designated eating areas, including North and South Dining Halls, heated dining tents, residence hall rooms, or specific areas of Hesburgh Library, McCourtney Hall, and the Rasmus Club (8th floor) of the Duncan Student Center.…

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Campus Activity Update

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

We know these days of slowed campus activity have been very challenging for you. The pandemic forces us to make difficult choices to balance the physical health of our community with our desire to offer you opportunities to connect socially. University leaders do not make these decisions lightly, especially because we know they have an impact on your Notre Dame experience.…

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Spring Student Life Updates

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding, Laura Carlson

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

We are delighted to welcome many students back to campus in the coming days as we prepare for the start of classes on Feb. 3. You bring our campus to life with your energy and talent, and we are eager to begin another semester with you.

We realize this semester will not be easy as we continue to work to keep one another healthy, respond to broader challenges of an ongoing global pandemic, combat systemic racism, and seek ways to heal the deep division in our country. We admire your resilience and encourage our community to model civility, foster equity and inclusion, and support one another.…

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COVID Update: Testing and Campus Compact

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear Undergraduate and Professional Students,

On behalf of everyone here at the University, we look forward with great anticipation to your return to campus. 

Over the Winter Break, the University spent time collecting student feedback about last semester through focus groups, surveys, and conversations. One of the themes that emerged from your feedback was a desire for clarity and transparency, especially in such a rapidly changing environment. We are grateful for the input you provided, which has informed our planning for this semester.…

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Winter Break Update: Graduate and Professional Students

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding, Laura Carlson

Dear graduate and professional students,

We write first with gratitude for your contributions as teaching and research assistants, as undergraduate mentors, and as members of our campus community throughout this most unusual of semesters. We also acknowledge the many ways you have facilitated necessary adaptations to this pandemic. To those of you who have been remote and unable to be on campus, you have been missed, and we look forward to you joining us in South Bend.…

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Winter Break Update: Undergraduate Students

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Dear undergraduate students,

I hope your final exams and exit testing have gone as smoothly and successfully as possible. Congratulations on completing this most unusual of semesters, and thank you for the many ways you adjusted due to the pandemic.

I write today with a variety of updates relevant to Winter Break in December and January. Please read this email carefully, as it contains important information about student resources and policy updates between the fall and spring semesters.…

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Travel Requirements Following Exit Testing

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

Thank you for your cooperation with exit testing. We write today to share information with you about travel expectations based on the results of your exit test.

STUDENTS WHO TEST POSITIVE

The St. Joseph County Department of Health, in accordance with isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), requires a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to remain in isolation for a minimum of 10 days from the date of a positive test or symptom onset in the University’s daily health check application.…

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COVID-19 Exit Testing

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

Since we wrote last week and Father Jenkins recently indicated, Notre Dame's COVID-19 cases and local transmission continue at concerning rates. We are grateful for students' excellent participation in surveillance testing, which is imperative to prevent further spread. Today, we want to share additional details with you about dining precautions and exit testing.…

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COVID-19 Cases

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

We write with some important updates related to the recent increase in campus COVID-19 cases referenced in Fr. Jenkins’ video message this afternoon. 

INFORMATION ON CASES

Since Monday, we have had a total of 41 positive cases reported. Contact tracing indicates many of these cases originated from larger parties and gatherings last weekend. The number of close contacts for each positive case has also increased substantially, with as many as 10-15 close contacts needing to quarantine. As was true earlier in the semester, our experience demonstrates that transmission occurs in social settings where individuals are unmasked and often sharing food or drink together.…

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End of Semester Testing Update

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

We write today to provide you with information about COVID-19 testing of students at the conclusion of the fall semester. Please feel free to forward this information to your parents, guardians, and loved ones.

The University will offer COVID-19 testing to assist students traveling to other states or countries. Students will have an opportunity to sign up for testing appointments at the beginning of November.…

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Campus Life Updates and the Winter Session

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

As fall weather arrives, I am so encouraged by the modest number of positive COVID-19 cases in our campus community. Thank you for all you are doing to keep us healthy by following the University’s health and safety protocols. I am proud of our community and grateful to be on campus together.…

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Student Life Phased Reopening

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

I am heartened our community has successfully flattened the curve of new COVID-19 cases, yet sobered by our earlier swift transmission of the virus. Thank you for everything you have done to make this time of pause successful and safe for our community. 

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Update Following the President's Address to Students

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

The spread of the coronavirus on our campus has been swift and concerning. As Father Jenkins indicated, we have implored our campus community to observe the best prevention practices advised by medical experts and made extensive modifications to campus operations. While most community members have complied admirably, the consequences of lapses in our health and safety practices are clear. Failing to adhere to mask wearing and physical distancing at all times has resulted in significant transmission.

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Update on Initial COVID-19 Cases

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding and Mike Seamon

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

Congratulations on a successful start of classes! While we may not write to you every week, please know we are committed to keeping you well informed. Today, we have important updates to share.

Thank you for embracing our health and safety practices. Mask wearing and physical distancing have been outstanding in class and at University sponsored events.…

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Updates on Health and Safety Practices

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

It has been wonderful to watch campus come alive with more students this week. As we approach our first weekend together, I write with a brief update on our health and safety practices.

  1. Wear a mask.
  2. Observe physical distance.
  3. Wash your hands.
  4. Complete your daily health check.

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Updates for Student Life This Fall

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Dear Students,

We are truly excited for your return to Notre Dame next week, though I realize this will be a challenging semester as we all adjust to necessary changes on campus. I write today to ensure you are aware of our updated plans related to student life during the fall semester. All of the information contained in this letter is also available on the University’s central website

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Returning to Campus Safely

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Dear Students,

With significant health and social challenges facing our country and the world, we are more dedicated than ever to your safe return to campus. From our founding, Notre Dame has sought to be a force for good in the world and cultivate an education of both mind and heart. We support those aspirations in the Division of Student Affairs through fostering community for all students, nurturing your health and well-being, and supporting your individual formation.…

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