Fall Re-opening Plans Update

Dear Members of the University of St. Francis Community –

This is the latest update in the series of communications about our operations that we have been providing since early March. It shares important information about the University of St. Francis’ plans for the Fall 2020 term.

USF Plans to Re-open Its Campuses This Fall…

Illinois (and other Midwestern) health officials have announced plans allowing businesses, schools, and universities to re-open in various ways. In most cases, the State is allowing physical locations like stores and schools to re-open with some restrictions on the total number of people attending an event. USF has planned for re-opening campus buildings beginning August 3rd with restrictions to the size of classes, team meetings, and other gatherings to keep the number in large spaces to less than 50 – in coordination with the transition of our region to “Phase 4” on June 26th, per Governor Pritzker’s announcement earlier today.

Reducing Class Sizes, Changing the Calendar, Making Campus Safe…

This summer, University staff members have gone from building-to-building and room-to-room, counted socially-distant seats, and planned where access and exit points will be located. Classrooms and labs are being changed to allow students to work at a safe distance from others, while preserving the welcoming and active learning environment that makes USF a great university.

As with almost every other US university – both public and private – our University is modifying slightly its Fall 2020 term calendar to adapt for COVID-19 and to mitigate against its spread by providing a larger gap between the end of the Fall 2020 term and the beginning of the Spring 2021 term.  Specifically,

  • USF’s Fall Break (originally scheduled for October 19th through 23rd) is being moved and shortened to Tuesday & Wednesday, October 6th & 7th. This means that Fall 2020 classes in ALL formats will now end one week earlier on Friday, December 11th.
  • All on-campus, face-to-face classes will move to a fully-online format, as necessary, after Thanksgiving Break, which begins on November 26th. This change applies to the two final weeks of the semester (the last week of classes and the week of finals).  Residents will be asked to move out after this date.
  • Shortening the semester in this way also allows us to move Commencement to Saturday, December 12th.

(Student athletes in fall/winter sports will be able to stay on campus and participate in games, as necessary.)

These changes are part of a larger, overall plan to re-open the University to both students and faculty members beginning on August 3rd.  Additional details of the plan will be shared with our USF community in the coming weeks. Please know that we are working to create a vibrant campus and to provide high-quality learning experiences for all students, while adhering to the “Restore Illinois” guidelines presented by Governor Pritzker, as well as the “best practices” guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We continue to adapt, plan, clean, and make our campus buildings into a safe environment for students to live and learn with us.

We look forward to seeing you this fall!

Peace and all good things,

Arvid C. Johnson
President

Art Professor Delivers Care Packages

Joliet, Ill. – When University of St. Francis students transitioned to online coursework in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the change was clearly an unanticipated one. On-campus, face-to-face instruction was quickly replaced with off-campus, virtual instruction, and students were challenged with navigating the ins and outs of distance learning. In an effort to ensure that his art majors felt supported throughout their transition to this new learning environment, USF art professor Michael “Chester” Alamo-Costello, MFA, created personalized care packages that he mailed and delivered to students as a way to show his support and concern for them. 

“The packages consisted of an art, design or photography book, comics and some snacks. The contents of each care package was slightly different. For instance, I bought and passed on a photography book to a student concentrating in photography, while a student who plays a sport on campus would get an art book and a book related to another one of their athletic interests,” Alamo-Costello said.

Although the gesture was performed with the needs of his students in mind, Alamo-Costello said that there was more to it than just that.

“In all honesty, this was as much or probably more-so for me. The students have been patient and exemplary in this time of crisis. I needed to thank them for staying focused. Having taught at USF for more than 20 years, I feel very fortunate to continually work with quality young people,” he said.

In addition to the care packages, a series of non-credit summer projects have been organized for students as a way to keep them engaged with their studies.

“These activities help to keep our community connected. Many students are still isolated, and an item to work on appears to be a constructive outlet. Throughout the summer, via Zoom, we are meeting weekly to look at progress of projects and prepare for their return in August,” Alamo-Costello said.

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Planning to Resume In-Person Courses and Campus Life This Fall

Joliet, Ill. – Summer courses at the University of St. Francis (USF) opened in an online-only format this week as a continuation of the university’s response to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. With just over 90 days before fall classes begin, USF officials are working on plans to safely welcome the school community back to campus this fall.

Two task forces, one focused on academics and the other focused on co-curricular and campus life, are currently researching and planning for what a return to campus in the fall might look like. While details for those plans are continuing to come together and will be shared throughout the summer months, USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., wants to let current and prospective students know that Joliet’s only four-year university is preparing for a return to campus in the fall.

“It is our goal and hope to welcome students, alumni, employees and the entire USF community back to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. We are currently planning for a number of contingencies for fall classes, all that include a primary focus on continuing to offer our students a world-class educational experience rooted in Franciscan values and that takes place in a safe and healthy environment. While guidelines established by the State and local health officials will ultimately determine if and when college and university campuses in Illinois can open, we are working diligently to be prepared for re-opening campus when that official determination is announced,” Johnson said.

To make USF’s spring even more unique, the university is in the midst of celebrating its centennial. Most events to date have been rescheduled, while others such as commencement have been transitioned to a successful virtual format. Regardless, Johnson is confident that the USF community will continue to make the most of a truly unique year.

“As our centennial year continues, the response of our USF community reminds me of the important roles that resiliency, dedication, determination, and faith have played in shaping our 100-year history. I am both proud of and inspired by how we, as a university community, continue to navigate this challenge and know that our successors will one day look back with pride and inspiration, as well,” Johnson said.

Updated information on USF’s plans for the fall and its ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at the university’s website, stfrancis.edu/emergency-alerts.

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Alumni Spotlight: Leticia Garcia ’13

Alumni Spotlight: Leticia Garcia ’13

female nurse with full protective gearThe outstanding LCON alumna is using her USF education in the fight against COVID-19.

We are thankful for nursing alumna Leticia Garcia, BSN ’13 and the work she is doing in the fight against COVID-19. Here’s what she has to say:

I graduated from USF in May 2013. I work in Labor and Delivery at Silver Cross Hospital, my dream job since I delivered my daughter at Silver Cross 11 years ago.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, patients are only allowed to have one visitor on our unit. As their nurse I have to take the place of their mom, their sister, or their best friend. It’s sad that during such a special moment grandparents and siblings can’t come visit. Our waiting rooms are empty. Everything keeps changing day by day.

female nurse standing in hospital hallwayIt’s hard to take it all in, but as a nurse you have to stay strong for your patients and reassure them everything will be ok and “normal” soon, even though you yourself have no idea what’s to come.

Patients and their one visitor are to wear face masks at all times. Imagine that, delivering a baby when it’s already difficult to breath and now with a mask over your face. Nurses, OBs and staff have to wear an N-95 mask, a second mask over it, and a face shield during all deliveries—how impersonal! I just hope I can make my patients’ experiences the safest and most memorable with these circumstances. They are the reason why I became an OB nurse.

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Privacy & Information

We take your privacy very seriously and so should you. By using this website, you are agreeing to our university privacy policies.  So have a look to see what we’re doing with your personal information and how we’re keeping it secure. Read our privacy policy here.

Abby Kieffer ’17

Alumni Spotlight: Abby Kieffer ’17

female headshotUSF College of Education alumna leads her classroom through the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping students engaged and entertained.

With her USF degree in Elementary Education backing her, Abby Kieffer ’17 has gone on to a job she loves: a middle school math and English teacher at St. Dominic School in Bolingbrook, Illinois. While she loves working in class with students, she has needed to adapt her teaching style and coursework as schools across Illinois moved classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this strong Saint was up for the task.

“It has definitely been a challenge to adapt to teaching online. However, I have a wonderful principal and coworkers that have made the transition smooth. Our students are fantastic, and we all know that this is a learning experience for everyone,” she said

Though the transition was difficult, it confirmed in Abby how important in-class teaching is for a lot of students and how much she misses being there in-person for their daily growth.

“I miss seeing my students every day, and not being able to see them has made it tough. We have found ways around it with weekly class meetings and I co-run our Quiz Bowl Club (which is like a Scholastic Bowl) with our associate pastor. We started to use Kahoot to do this over Google Meet and the students love it,” Abby noted.

Passionate about education, Abby is working toward a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Differentiation at the American College of Education.

“I will be finished with my classes this August and I am so excited! It is so awesome to further myself in this way and continue to learn and grow,” she said.

We are so proud of her!

Returning to USF

This past academic year, Abby also participated in the Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) program and is looking forward to participating in the future. She said, “I would like to do this again and hopefully be able to give more of myself into the program to benefit my mentee and myself.”

Abby loves to come back to USF when she can. She said, “I haven’t attended too many alumni events, but anytime I can visit my alma mater is a great experience. I like to come back to visit professors when I can. I enjoyed coming back to see the Vocal Jazz Ensemble perform (I was a part of this for two years).”

We hope to see her around campus again soon!

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Privacy & Information

We take your privacy very seriously and so should you. By using this website, you are agreeing to our university privacy policies.  So have a look to see what we’re doing with your personal information and how we’re keeping it secure. Read our privacy policy here.

Virtual Rehearsal for USF Choirs Welcomes Renowned Composer Elaine Hagenberg

Joliet, Ill. – As the University of St. Francis (USF) continues its administration of courses in an online format this spring semester in response to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the important role played by technology is clear. However, the use of technology is not limited to just the classroom. USF’s Schola Cantorum and Claritas Master Chorale are using virtual meetings as a way to rehearse. Recently, renowned composer Elaine Hagenberg joined one of these rehearsals.

“This activity was one of many that have been created as a means to create meaningful experience to replace choir rehearsals canceled in light of COVID-19,” said Paul Laprade, USF Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities.

During the session, Hagenberg discussed the art of singing, composing, choral music, careers in music, aesthetics, music publishing, and many other topics. According to Laprade, Hagenberg was an obvious choice to invite as a guest for the one-hour session. 

“Schola was acquainted with Hagenberg’s music, having sung her fine arrangement of ‘Wexford Carol’ for our last Christmas in the Motherhouse concert in early December,” Laprade said.

Laprade also said that Hagenberg’s path to where she is today would resonate with the members of his choirs.

“Elaine only decided to start composing six years ago, after earning her degree and then raising her family of four.  I felt she was a fine example of someone whose career trajectory was not linear, but who explored many directions before finding her true place–our students can learn that success is often found in an unexpected place during one’s life search,” Laprade added.

Although nothing can fully replace in-person rehearsals, Laprade believes there is a positive aspect to how his students are responding to current challenges.

“Our students have been learning a great deal about the arts and real world applications in these moments. The experience this opportunity presented was a rich success for our class,” he said.

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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