I felt that it was important to update the Bob Jones University family on the steps we’ve taken to combat the coronavirus. In this episode, I share all the steps BJU has taken to protect the safety of our students, faculty and staff.
You can read more about our actions in the official BJU COVID-19 Update.
I’m looking forward to sharing a new episode with you next week! We’ll feature several of our talented seniors and hear how BJU has prepared them for their future.
As always, you can listen to this episode and all future episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. I’d really appreciate if you could leave us a positive review—it will help others find our podcast.
Transcript for STRANGE SPRING BREAK: A Coronavirus Update from Steve Pettit
Pettit: It’s March 24, 2020, and this is Steve Pettit from Bob Jones University and our podcast, Highest Potential. We are definitely living in unprecedented times, the likes of which I’ve never seen in my entire lifetime. And so, I’m sure that many of you as you are listening today are wondering about the future, and I think all of us are in prayer asking God for guidance and leadership about our country, about our world and especially about our lives as Christians living out our faith before the world today.
I’m so thankful for the prayers and the support of our BJU community as we are navigating the COVID-19 concerns, and as we seek to make the best possible decisions for our students and families as well as the University as a whole. In making decisions about how we respond to the coronavirus, we have maintained two primary goals the whole time. Number 1 is to protect the wellbeing of our campus family, and then to enable each student to finish the academic semester successfully.
And so, I’d like to give an update of where we are. Many of the things I’m saying are in our most recent newsletter, but for many of you, this is the first time you received any update at all from Bob Jones University.
Our on-campus classes are suspended beginning March 30; we will deliver classes online for the remainder of the semester. Currently, we are in our spring break, which I think for all of us feels quite odd, that this would be spring break for this time of the year.
Our chapel will continue next week with livestream on Mondays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. If you’re unable to watch them, they are archived for you to watch later.
All students have departed campus, and the residence halls are empty.
I’m so thankful that a number of our Greenville-area families have opened their homes to our international students who need additional time to make travel arrangements, and we are very, very grateful for our Greenville community. BJU is assisting these students as necessary.
The room and board has been prorated for residence hall students and will be credited to their account. It can also be used to reduce the cost of summer online courses.
Campus offices remain open currently, and operational departments are functioning as normal. However, employees who can perform their work remotely from home are doing so until further notice.
All on-campus events are canceled through the first of May.
University-sponsored international summer missions teams and internships have been canceled, and study abroad trips to Italy, Israel and Portugal have also been canceled. Decisions regarding other study abroad trips scheduled for later in the summer will be made shortly.
As our students, and some of them for the first time, are preparing to finish their courses online, I’m especially grateful to our faculty and to our staff who have banded together to support a revised teaching and learning environment. We are very thankful for the professionalism of our teachers in how they are urgent to do their very best to deliver the best education possible during these difficult times. The faculty have adjusted their syllabi, and they are preparing to teach from their offices and homes. Staff are providing resources and assistance to ensure both faculty and students are equipped technically for online learning.
We do covet your prayers for our university community, for our faculty as they maintain the highest quality of education and over the next few weeks, our students will have to adapt quickly to the change in their learning environment and finish the semester strong.
I’m sure many of you students are excited about this opportunity of doing things at home, and I’m sure many of you are somewhat concerned about how you will do. But we will work with you, and we will do all we can to see you succeed by the end of the semester.
This change in the semester that happened so unexpectedly has definitely been difficult for our students, especially our seniors. I’ve had conversations with many, many students, and it’s true that none are really mad, but many are sad. And saying goodbye to friends and faculty and staff after four years so abruptly is very difficult.
Campus activities here have come, of course, to an abrupt end, and for many, your summer plans have been thrown up into the air. You’ve had to change mission trips and study abroad programs, and many of those have been canceled. So, I’m very sorry for this, but this is a time for us as Christians to trust in the sovereignty and providence of God in our life. I think of this semester, how we’ve been studying wisdom from above, and how wisdom comes through trials and how we respond to those trials, how we trust God in those trials, how we obey God in those trials. I think of our Bible Conference theme this year of the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all of our tribulations. And so, the Lord has prepared us for this time, and we need to be strong in Him.
A major question still to be answered is whether or not we’ll still hold Commencement. Seniors and graduate students have worked diligently for years and have looked forward to celebrating their graduation with their family and friends. Right now, we have decided to postpone our graduation ceremony on the eighth of May, and we are holding off on giving a final decision of what we’ll do. We would like to hold the ceremony for our 2020 graduates either in later May or later on in the summer. We will communicate our plan as soon as the decision is finalized.
I will communicate with students and the university community frequently through the end of the semester. In addition to livestream chapels Monday and Wednesday, I will also issue a short daily devotional video on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I’ll continue my Highest Potential podcast on Tuesday, and also will issue some other video communications several times a week. I think some of them you’ll find to be very, very interesting. These will be available on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, bju.edu, and also will feature daily updates and news.
As we continue through this time of uncertainty, we need to rest in the ability of our omnipotent and omniscient God. We have nothing to fear. We know Who holds our future. We know there is One who knows the end from the beginning, and He will come and strengthen and protect us. I’d like to challenge our BJU community to gain strength from the Word and live in a way that reflects our dependence on Him and our love for others.
I’ve been spending a lot more time at home, and so I’ve been reading through books and Scriptures and more time in prayer. And this is an opportunity for us to grow and to build up our faith to become strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
I want you to know that we love you, we pray for you, and we ask that the Lord will bless you and keep you, that the Lord will be gracious unto you, He’ll lift up His countenance upon you, He will give you peace, He will lead and guide in your life. I will say of the Lord He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him will I trust.
I look forward to coming to you next week on this podcast and sharing more about Bob Jones University.