President James MacLaren tells Penn Live that most students on the Lebanon Valley College campus followed the rules for masks and social distancing.
LVC will hold in-person Commencement ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 in May and intends to hold in-person learning for the Fall 2021 semester, President James MacLaren announced.
Lebanon Valley College experienced so many historic moments in 2019-2020, including welcoming the largest-ever undergraduate class, hosting a memorable Homecoming, celebrating another #1 ranking for job placement in Pennsylvania, and—to the delight of many—completing the bridge connecting the northern and southern sections of campus. This issue of the President’s Report highlights the passion for The Valley expressed by numerous students and alumni spanning more than half a century.
Convocation represents a coming together of the community to celebrate the start of a new year.
An interview with Dr. James M. MacLaren, LVC's 19th president
Remembering 9/11—Sept. 8, 2021
Dear LVC Community,
Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks on the United States. The country still bears many wounds as a result of the tragic events of that day—from the families who lost loved ones in the attacks and ensuing military actions, to the first responders suffering health issues, to the turmoil happening right now in Afghanistan.
This summer my wife and I visited the twin towers memorial in lower Manhattan. At the site of the north and south towers water flows into two large reflecting pools in the respective foundations. In the memorial and around the perimeter of each pool are listed the names of all those who perished including those who died in Somerset County Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. It is a solemn and moving experience that captures the magnitude of the attacks and honors those who perished that day. I encourage those who travel to New York to take the time to visit the memorial at ground zero.
But in the hours and days immediately following 9/11, we also saw the best of humanity in our country: Communities across the political spectrum coming together united to grieve, comfort one another, pray, and begin a healing journey—a journey that continues to this day.
On Friday, Sept. 10, at noon, LVC will pause to remember those whom were lost and honor our heroes and our country. Please join me on the Social Quad for a few moments of silence and reflection.
Fall 2021 Return-to-Campus Protocols—Aug. 6, 2021
Dear LVC Students and Families,
The fall 2021 semester begins in just a few weeks. We have been closely monitoring the pandemic situation and consulted with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to develop protocols and policies to guide us in returning to campus.
The below COVID-19 protocols are based on campus vaccination rates, levels of infection in our surrounding county, and public health guidance. Some of last year’s restrictions have been lifted or loosened to allow for more socializing—which is crucial to our educational mission and to our community’s mental health and well-being. Other restrictions, such as universal indoor masking, remain in place, given the infectiousness of the Delta variant and until a higher percentage of students report being vaccinated. As has been all-too-common during the pandemic, the situation can evolve quickly. I’ll keep you informed if our plans change.
I invite students and their families to join me for a Zoom meeting this coming Tuesday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. ET to hear more about our plans and ask questions.
Vaccinations give us the greatest chance for an as normal as possible semester and reduce our chances of having to pivot to online learning. Please report being fully vaccinated here.
Let’s all recommit to following LVC’s Community Covenant.
For ourselves. For each other.
President James M. MacLaren, M.A., Ph.D.
Honoring Juneteenth, Supporting Inclusive Excellence at LVC—June 17, 2021
I hope you are enjoying the fantastic weather and taking some time to relax and enjoy life.
On Saturday, the nation commemorates Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery and celebrating African-American freedom and achievement. I encourage you to learn more about Juneteenth here and reflect on the ways that as individuals—and as members of the LVC community—you can continue to advocate for equality and justice for all.
There is much work to be done at LVC. After hearing from many within our campus community, I have decided to restructure some open positions to better support our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. I’m pleased to announce that LVC has created a cabinet-level Assistant/Associate Vice President of DEI and Institutional Success. Reporting to me, the AVP will coordinate and align DEI efforts across campus and serve as the chief DEI strategist. The two full-time intercultural and inclusive learning positions currently situated in Student Affairs will now report to the new AVP. The office will bridge vision and strategy and develop critical institutional DEI initiatives, policies, and projects while using a deep understanding of the challenges needed to be overcome for systemic change. The goal is to create an inclusive campus and student experience.
The DEI team will be located in a prominent space on campus that will also serve as a designated space for BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) students to gather. I’ll share more details as plans coalesce. If you know candidates for the position, please encourage them to apply.
Gina and I will look forward to hearing about your vacations and staycations when we can all be together on campus in the fall.
All my best,
Nonviolence, anti-racism, and healing—April 20, 2021
The weekend was another all too familiar, tragic one in the United States. Outrage and turmoil have erupted in the wake of the police shooting deaths of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 20-year old Daunte Wright. Multiple mass shootings and civil unrest have occurred in a month when the U.S. marks the 26th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 21st anniversary of the Columbine school shooting. The forthcoming verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck, will surface even more pain no matter the outcome. As a community, we must support each other and commit ourselves to nonviolence, anti-racism, anti-bias, and healing.
I am fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as a priority and ethical responsibility. The College has made progress in recent years. For example, we have implemented several initiatives proposed by the Inclusive Excellence Task Force that Provost Cowart convened in 2019. Candidates for faculty positions must now include a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement in their application materials, faculty hiring committees receive search committee-specific DEI training, and current faculty members must demonstrate diversity, equity, and inclusion work in their tenure and promotion materials. Among LVC’s most recent developments are the launch of the Social Justice & Civic Engagement major, the formation of the Bias Resource & Education Team, and a new system for bias reporting. We expect the results of the climate survey conducted this semester to arrive soon. It will take several months to analyze the data for presentation in early fall 2021. I am committed to full transparency throughout this process.
I promise that we will work vigorously to address equity gaps, bias, and racism in our campus community and provide the staffing resources needed to achieve this. We are committed to becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. And we must be open and honest in confronting our flaws and healing the hurt that members of our community are experiencing.
Current events and their historical context are a lot to process. For students, counseling services staff, 50/50 Peer Mentors, and individual Mosaic Mentors, coaches, faculty, and staff are available both in-person and virtually to provide support.
I fervently hope that the United States begins reforming public health and safety. The reality is that this process will likely be slow and decentralized. It can be easy to feel powerless in the face of such challenges, but each of us must play a role through our actions and words in ending racism that is at the root of these all too common tragic incidents. As a community, we must strive every day to ensure that everyone at LVC is safe, welcomed, respected, seen, and heard.
Vaccines for All Adults in PA Starting Today—April 13, 2021
Good Morning, LVC Community!
The long-awaited day is here: Starting today, April 13, 2021, all groups are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including college students from out-of-state and all employees.
- Sign up to get your first dose at the Lebanon County Vaccination Center, 1745 Quentin Road, Lebanon (must be age 18 or older).
- Find a vaccine provider here. The PA Department of Health has assured us that students from outside of Lebanon County will be able to schedule their second dose in their home communities if needed. Those under 18 should look for locations that offer the Pfizer vaccine.
I’ve gotten my first dose and am waiting for my second. The process was easy and painless. I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you can get an appointment.
Until the vast majority of the population is vaccinated and we have achieved herd immunity, continue to practice distancing, wash your hands often, avoid gatherings, and wear a mask over your nose and mouth. We can do this—and, thanks to science, vaccinations are our key to success!
Have a terrific day,
Standing together against violence—March 19, 2021
Dear LVC Community,
As the week draws to a close, all of us are still struggling to come to terms with the horrific violence in Georgia that saw eight individuals, including six women of Asian ethnicity, gunned down at their places of work.
We are mourning for the people who lost their lives. We understand that to pay full tribute to their memories, we must remain on full alert against racism and misogyny, which leads to violence, often targeting women and those of a different race than the perpetrator. Coupled with a yearlong pandemic, these events can make us anxious and uncertain about the future. LVC Counseling Services are available both virtually and in-person for students who need to talk to someone.
These are troubling circumstances, but we can rely on each other for comfort and solace. Together, we stand against bigotry and violence. Let us reaffirm our commitment to the crucial work of fostering an equitable, inclusive, and peaceful society.
COVID-19 Updates and Expectations—Feb. 16, 2021
Welcome back to in-person learning and residence at LVC. LVC’s faculty and staff worked very hard to prepare the campus for your return.
I implore you to do your part to keep the community safe.
To the many students who vigilantly follow protocols: I commend you. You are role models in the fight against COVID-19.
Unfortunately, some LVC students have already participated in unmasked gatherings that have led to positive cases and spikes in isolation and quarantine. Such behavior is unacceptable. It risks the health of your peers, as well as LVC employees and their families.
If numbers increase, the College will need to consider whether we must send everyone home or implement a strict lockdown as other colleges have done. Neither option is desirable. My daughter has experienced a lockdown at her university this spring, and it is not a situation anyone wants.
The good news is that if we all follow prevention practices like so many of us did in the fall, we will have a much better chance of sustaining in-person classes, residence on campus, athletics, and other activities. Do not attend parties or gatherings. Wear a mask. Wash your hands often. Practice social distancing. Complete the Daily Symptom Tracker in MyLVC. Tell Student Health Services if you are feeling unwell. And be fully transparent with contact tracers. They work intensively with students and employees to guide them through some very tough circumstances. You show your respect for the community by being honest with them.
A few other items of note:
- As stated in the Spring 2021 Return to Campus Plan, LVC students may enter only their assigned residence hall. (e.g., You may NOT enter a residence hall in which you are not living.)
- There is a free drive-up, no-appointment testing clinic at the Lebanon County Fire School that runs today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. If you still need an entry test, you can take advantage of this opportunity.
- Surveillance testing will begin on Feb. 22 and continue weekly. You’ll receive an email notification if you’ve been selected for surveillance testing, so please check all emails regularly.
- Athletes are tested according to NCAA guidelines. If you aren’t an athlete, please follow our surveillance protocols to increase your peers’ chances of competing.
- As soon as you are eligible to get vaccinated, please seek out an appointment. The Your Turn eligibility tool on Pennsylvania’s COVID portal will alert you when you’re eligible for the vaccine and provide guidance on where to obtain it.
- As always, check LVC’s COVID blog for comprehensive information and updates. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with COVID-19 and testing-related questions.
Thank you for your perseverance. With more than 200 million vaccines set to become available by this summer, hope is on the horizon. We will get through this if we continue to protect ourselves and each other.
Honoring MLK at LVC—Jan. 18, 2021
In striving for equality, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remained steadfast in his commitment to nonviolence even in the most divisive of times. Today, as our nation celebrates his leadership and legacy during a painful time, I invite our College community to reflect on Dr. King’s words and deeds and consider how we can contribute to achieving a more peaceful and just society. You can read some of his landmark speeches here and learn more about the work that continues in his honor here.
President Ronald Reagan signed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday into law in 1983. This federal holiday day is the only one that focuses on community service, and it has Pennsylvania roots through the legislative efforts of Senator Harris Wofford. The tens of thousands of hours of service that members of the LVC community contribute each year make our society more equitable. Throughout the pandemic, this work has looked a little different, as with so many aspects of our lives, but it is nonetheless impactful. This week, there are some special opportunities to serve specifically to advance justice within the local community. Together, we can explore local poverty issues through daily simulations, a virtual tour of the food and clothing banks and shelter at Lebanon County Christian Ministries, a food and clothing drive, and a conversation and reflection via Zoom on Friday. Please email Jen Liedtka at email@example.com for details and to sign up. Many thanks to Jen for coordinating these opportunities.
Our College mission calls upon us to think critically, listen to a diversity of thoughts and opinions, and resolve differences peacefully. I hope we all continue to seek service opportunities and live by the principle of nonviolence as we work towards a fairer society.
Spring 2021 Delayed Move-in—Jan. 15, 2021
Dear Students and Families,
Given the continuing spread of COVID-19 and the presence of the new, more infectious strain in our region, we have decided to delay LVC’s in-person return to campus until Monday, Feb. 15. I’m sorry we can’t proceed as planned, but the good news is that our partners at Penn State Health, who advised us on this decision, have told us there is light at the end of the tunnel as caseloads are projected to decline and vaccinations become more available. I know we all miss being together on our beautiful campus, but we need to wait just a little while longer to protect our community and increase our chances of having the rest of the semester in-person.
You can hear updates and ask questions at a virtual information session for students and their families on Wednesday, Jan.20, at 7 p.m. (Password: GoValley)
A few key points:
- Classes will still begin Feb. 1, but they will be delivered online only until Feb. 15. The academic calendar remains unchanged.
- Residential students will move back to campus Feb. 12–14 unless they have otherwise been authorized to return earlier. On Feb. 1, Caitlin Lenker will send a Sign-up Genius link for students to select a move-in slot.
- We have adjusted the entry testing timeline to account for the delayed return. If you have not already taken an entry test, you will receive an email on Monday, Feb. 1, with instructions for requesting a test kit and setting up an account with Quest Diagnostics. Students who have already taken an entry test and received negative results may return to campus early according to your approved arrival date.
- If you need to return to campus before Feb. 12, please complete this request form by Sunday, Jan. 17, at midnight. If you are approved to return to campus early and haven’t already completed your entry test, you will receive an email on Tuesday, Jan. 19, with instructions on requesting an entry test and creating a Quest account.
- Student-athletes will be notified by their coaches when to report to campus.
- Student accounts will be credited room and board for the time students are not authorized to live in campus residential facilities or use dining services. We will distribute refunds of any remaining credit balances after the close of the semester.
- The College continues to monitor the vaccine distribution process. We hope to learn soon about resources available to students. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated now, please do so. Keep your vaccination records on-hand. We’re setting up a secure reporting database.
- As we have in the past, we ask that you quarantine at home 14 days before returning to campus, if possible.
You can find more information on the LVC Forward blog. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
As always, wear a mask, stay distanced, avoid gatherings, and wash your hands often. The eventual end of this pandemic lies not only with vaccine distribution but with our continuing vigilance.
For ourselves. For each other.
All my best,
A Statement on American Democracy—Jan. 7, 2021
Dear Campus Community,
I am shocked and saddened by the violence that unfolded yesterday in our nation’s capital. Violence and intimidation in an attempt to achieve political results are grave threats to our future, our freedoms, and our democracy itself. On behalf of Lebanon Valley College, I condemn such acts, as well as the actions that fomented the events. Fortunately, the rioters did not succeed, and a peaceful transition of power to duly elected officials will take place this month—just as it has throughout American history.
We have much work ahead of us as a nation to protect America as a beacon of democracy and bring about healing. We can start within our own community by recommitting to LVC’s mission and values. In a world where information can be weaponized and altered to suit nefarious purposes, higher education’s role is crucial to our achieving a healthy and just society. We always have a responsibility to educate and learn, discuss and analyze issues critically, seek out and speak the truth, and become informed citizens. One of the things we do best at LVC is pursue civil dialogue and listen closely to each other. I urge us all to continue fulfilling these responsibilities, no matter how difficult, especially at this challenging moment in history.
For students who need someone to talk to, our Counseling Services is open for virtual sessions. I encourage faculty and staff to check in with their loved ones and, if helpful, seek professional and spiritual support.
Together we can and must build a better future.
Spring 2021 Entry Testing—Dec. 29, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
Our community’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic has been admirable, striving to keep LVC’s community healthy while supporting our mission and our students’ education foremost in our efforts. I write to update you on our plans to monitor and respond to COVID-19 as part of reopening campus for the spring semester.
We remain in close communication with our partners from Penn State Health and WellSpan. The College will continue to follow the recommendations and guidelines from the CDC, the PA Department of Health, and the PA Department of Education.
In an earlier campus communication, I shared the spring 2021 return-to-campus plan. As part of this plan, we will implement a comprehensive SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) entry testing program in collaboration with Quest Diagnostics®, a leading testing company. Testing is required for all students, faculty, and staff returning to campus.
If you are not willing to participate in this program, you will need to consider taking your classes or working remotely for the semester. In the coming days, we’ll send an email with more information about our COVID-19 entry testing program, along with a link to register for the required testing. Please be on the lookout for this information, and complete your registration as directed.
Students, if you get tested for COVID-19 during winter break, please report your test date and results to the College. Here is the form.
Employees, please contact human resources if you’ve been tested or diagnosed with COVID-19.
This confidential testing information will help LVC track the virus within our community and inform our decisions about quarantining and isolation. Please note that even if you receive a COVID-19 test over break, the College may require you to take the entry test.
If you have general questions regarding our return-to-campus plan or entry testing with Quest, please email email@example.com.
Above all, thank you for your resilience during these challenging times and your commitment to our community.
Spring 2021 Academic Calendar Update—Dec. 9, 2020
Dear LVC Community,
We continue to work through the details of our return to in-person learning and residence for the spring semester. Our healthcare partners advise us that COVID-19 cases will likely continue to rise, peaking in mid-January just before we planned to re-open campus. Therefore, we have adjusted the Spring 2021 academic calendar and pushed back the opening by one week.
Classes will now begin Monday, Feb. 1. An outline of the calendar is below. Commencement and summer session dates have not changed. Over the break, we’ll send details about move-in to residential students and other information as we prepare for the start of the semester.
My best wishes to you and yours this holiday season.
Revised Spring 2021 Calendar
Monday, Feb. 1: Classes Begin
Thursday, April 1: Classes End 5 p.m. for Easter Break
Tuesday, April 6: Classes Resume
Friday, May 14: Semester Classes End
Monday, May 17–Friday, May 21: Final Exams
Sunday, May 23: Commencement
7-Week Term Session/Graduate & Professional Studies Calendar
Spring I: Feb. 1–March 21
Spring II: March 29–May 16
Summer I: May 24–July 11
Summer II: July 12–Aug 29
Board of Trustee Resolution and Excellent Retention—Nov. 4, 2020.
Your excellent work in responding to COVID-19 and meeting the needs of our students has not gone unnoticed.
In late October, the Board of Trustees surprised us with the below Resolution of Appreciation for all LVC and Metz employees. Each of you has shown extraordinary dedication to sustaining our students and the College through the complex and stressful challenges of a global pandemic.
The fall 2020 enrollment numbers reflect your efforts. As of the October 15 census, our first- to-second year undergraduate retention rate stands at 83.2 percent. This rate is the best since 2014 and represents a 9 percent increase since the previous year (our records go back to 1995—there has not been an increase of this magnitude since then). Despite the changing enrollment patterns due to the pandemic and the related increased withdrawal rates among our first-year and transfer students, we have more students enrolled this year than we did last year or the year before (1,959 students this fall compared to 1,915 in 2019 and 1,922 in 2018). We also see a positive trend in graduate student enrollment (260 students this year, 186 in 2019, and 172 in 2018).
These successes are the result of your highly collaborative efforts to recruit, enroll, educate, and engage students, and to proactively identify and support students in need of extra guidance or resources. LVC’s students feel they belong here, know we support their growth and development, and believe in their LVC education. You have made that happen.
These are very trying times. Please remember to care for your own mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The trustees appreciate you, I appreciate you, and LVC’s students appreciate you.
RESOLUTION Appreciation of Employees by the Lebanon Valley College Board of Trustees Whereas, in March 2020, the Governor of Pennsylvania, responding to the unprecedented circumstances arising from the challenges of a pandemic affecting not only Pennsylvania and the United States, but also the entire world, ordered the closure of virtually all organizations and businesses in Pennsylvania, including institutions of higher education; Whereas, upon extremely short notice, and with truly phenomenal effort, the faculty of Lebanon Valley College pivoted from in-person learning to a fully online program;
Whereas, the faculty of Lebanon Valley College then engaged in the extraordinary task of preparing and delivering an educational experience that is effective both in-person and online as it prepared for the fall of 2020;
Whereas, the faculty was supported in its efforts by all employees of the College, without whom the College could not function; Whereas, the dedicated employees of Lebanon Valley College, ranging from groundskeepers, housekeepers, maintenance workers, and employees in all departments from admissions, student services, food service, marketing, human resources, public safety, information technology, accounting and finance, maintenance, advancement, athletics, health services, and the Breen Center to the senior leadership team and those in the President’s office; and
Whereas, rarely is there a time as ripe for an expression of appreciation for the hard work and efforts of all who make Lebanon Valley College possible, and who may feel that their efforts go unnoticed, but whose efforts are in fact noticed with gratitude.
Now Therefore, be it:
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees expresses its profound appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of the faculty, staff, and senior leadership of Lebanon Valley College during the unprecedented and exceedingly challenging circumstances arising in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic as they continue to do what they have always done: deliver a transformative educational experience that develops students who exemplify the best that an education grounded in the liberal arts can be.
Election Day—Nov. 2, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
Tomorrow is Election Day. If you haven’t already done so (and if you are eligible), I encourage you to go out and vote, taking all the necessary COVID-19 safety precautions.
Voting is one of the greatest responsibilities of U.S. citizens. We have the privilege of choosing who represents us in making crucial decisions about the local, state, and global issues that shape our lives today and for years to come.
Whatever the outcome of the election, I am asking each of us to remain civil and extend kindness and grace to each other—especially when we disagree.
I know these are stressful times. Let’s all support each other and uphold our LVC commitment to inclusive excellence. If you need to talk through anything, you can connect with LVC staff members for listening hours on Thursday, Nov. 5. Academic and student affairs staff and members of the Committee on Intercultural and Inclusive Learning will be in the Fellowship Lounge in the lower level of Miller Chapel any time from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wear a mask and practice physical distancing. No need to make an appointment.
Additionally, Provost Cowart, Dean Mikus, and I will be available for virtual office hours noon-1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4, if you’d like to share anything with us or ask questions.
For counseling services, students may use on-campus drop-in hours through Friday, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
By engaging each other respectfully, we can work together to achieve a better future.
Valley Forward, COVID-19 Update—Oct. 19, 2020
The College has been notified of the first positive case of COVID-19 on campus. The student is self-isolating and is doing well. Shroyer Health Center staff and contact tracers are actively involved in the case. All direct contacts were notified and are self-quarantining away from others.
Though the exposure occurred off-campus, out of an abundance of caution and in line with CDC guidelines, we quarantined one floor of a residence hall and over the course of the next several days will test all the students on that floor. The students will receive meal deliveries and take classes online while under quarantine. We are working with our healthcare partners to define any additional next steps the College should take.
It is more important than ever that you follow our Community Covenant. Lebanon County’s COVID-19 numbers continue to trend upward. Please remain on-campus and do not invite visitors to campus, including your family members. Continue to:
*Wear a face mask in all public spaces on campus, including outdoors
*Practice physical distancing, including outdoors
*Clean your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water
*Complete your daily symptom screening in MyLVC
*Avoid gatherings of any kind (this includes parties).
If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus, or if you aren’t feeling well, please stay home or in your residence hall room. Contact Shroyer Health Center at 717-867-6232 (8 a.m.–8 p.m., Monday–Friday). After 8 p.m. and over the weekend, contact LVC Public Safety to report your symptoms at 717-867-6111. Public Safety will record your contact information and assess whether you need emergency care. Then, use Penn State Health OnDemand. If you don’t yet have an account, create one using your lvc.edu email address. This is a fee-for-service resource, and you and/or your health insurance may be billed.
This positive case will be posted to the COVID dashboard by 5 p.m. today according to our usual update schedule. If any additional cases arise on campus in the next few weeks, Dr. Bob Mikus, who heads the College’s incident response team, will send notification.
Living through this pandemic is stressful. Counseling Services is available for students seeking support.
I have been so impressed with our community’s care for one another. I ask each of you to continue to take care of yourselves and each other.
Campus Update: Dashboard, Masking, Tracing—Sept 3, 2020
There remain very few cases of COVID-19 on campus thanks to your efforts to wear masks, stay physically distanced, and follow the Community Covenant. As you can see from our new dashboard, the Lebanon Valley College community has done very well so far in preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
We want to make sure everyone understands masking protocols and contact tracing procedures so we can keep on track.
Masking—Indoors vs. Outdoors
LVC follows the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s order on masking, requiring wearing masks in all public places, including outdoors when physical distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained.
Because the south side of campus is well-trafficked throughout the day, masks are required outdoors on the south side of campus (academics and residence halls side) to comply with the Secretary’s order. Because athletic spaces are more open and many go there for outdoor exercise, masks are not required outdoors on the north side of campus except when physical distancing of at least six feet is not possible. Masks should be worn indoors at all times. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and wear your mask to protect yourself and others. | See PA Dept. of Health FAQs.
When an individual tests positive for the virus, contact tracers call everyone they have been in contact without a mask and for more than 15 minutes. It is paramount that you cooperate fully with contact tracers should they call you. Their work is key to stopping the spread of the virus. The information you share with contact tracers is confidential and will not be shared.
A contact tracer who reaches out to you regarding a case on campus will identify themselves as an employee of Lebanon Valley College or Penn State Health assisting Lebanon Valley College with contact tracing efforts. You might even know some of the LVC staff members who have gone through Johns Hopkins’ contact tracing training.
Note that there are scammers out there posing as contact tracers and trying to take advantage of the pandemic. A contact tracer will never ask you for credit card or bank account information or your social security number. A contact tracer will never ask you about your immigration status or demand payment. Finally, the Federal Trade Commission also warns you not to open any links sent in a text message or email claiming to be from a contact tracer.
It’s wonderful to see your masked faces on campus and so many maintaining physical distancing. Please listen if someone reminds you to mask up or increase physical distance; those reminders come from a place of concern for your safety and well-being.
We’re all in this together. Let’s keep up the good work for ourselves and each other.
President James MacLaren
New Partnership with Penn State Health—Aug. 25, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
I am happy to report that Lebanon Valley College has established a partnership with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center as part of our fall return-to-campus preparations. Through its Department of Family and Community Medicine, the medical center will provide LVC with a medical director with direct experience treating college-aged students, additional clinical health center staffing, guidance on responding to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, referrals for testing, and contact tracing support.
On- and off-campus clinical care for students will be significantly expanded. The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has hired Dr. Levelle Drose-Bigatel, a family practice physician who will serve as medical director of LVC’s Shroyer Health Center. In addition to her general directorship duties, she will advise College staff regarding the care of students with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, refer students for COVID-19 testing, and provide guidance to the College on public health and infectious disease plans and protocols, drawing on expertise from Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.
An advanced care practitioner (nurse practitioner or physician assistant) from Penn State Health will provide on-campus care alongside Shroyer Health Center staff and allow us to expand health center hours. Students will also have 24/7 access to Penn State Health’s on-demand virtual services, as well as in-person and on-call care at Penn State Health Medical Group—Palmyra.
Crucial to our reopening is the College’s ability to conduct thorough contact tracing, which requires substantial training and staff resources. Through this partnership, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center will provide a licensed practical nurse to guide us in the process and to conduct tracing as needed. Eighteen LVC staff members have completed contact tracing training through an online course provided by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I am extremely grateful that they have signed up for such an important role.
Please continue to practice physical distancing, limit your interactions with others, wash your hands often, and wear a mask.
President James MacLaren
For ourselves. For each other. Mask up!—Aug. 24, 2020
Campus spaces, programs, and processes have been configured with your safety in mind, as well as the safety of the professors and staff (and their families) who make your experience possible. Some schools have already reported large group gatherings or, worse, outbreaks of COVID-19. Now is your chance to show the world how it’s done. I urge you to do everything it takes to overcome a pandemic and demonstrate the LVC commitment to community well-being. Follow the Community Covenant, and hold your peers accountable to it. Complete the daily LVC symptom tracker. Wear a mask and practice physical distancing vigilantly. Wash your hands often. Seek medical care if you feel unwell. And, as always, show each other grace and compassion, and help each other be resilient.
You’ve got this, and the LVC faculty and staff are here for you. My wife, Gina, and I and our daughters are so glad to be part of the community. We hope to meet as many of you in-person as soon as it is safe to do so.All my best,
P.S. In case you missed it, please enjoy last Thursday’s beautiful Virtual 154th Opening Convocation.
Phased Fall 2020 Move-in Schedule—Aug. 5, 2020
Dear Students and Families,
Our LVC community has shown such great endurance, flexibility, and understanding in the last five months. The faculty and staff have poured all their efforts into planning for a return to campus in the fall. As we get closer to the start of classes on Aug. 24, we have decided to make an important change: First-semester first-year students and new transfer students, seniors, resident assistants, first-year mentors, and other approved students will move into residence halls as planned ahead of the start of classes, and sophomores and juniors will move back to campus Sept. 11–13. Commuting students may attend in-person classes and use campus facilities as of Aug. 24.
COVID-19 testing capacity and turnaround time for results remain unpredictable, and the nation is experiencing surges in positive cases where there have been large group gatherings, particularly among college-age populations. Therefore, we have decided to take this phased-in approach to residency to reduce the number of students living on campus as we resume on-campus instruction. The good news is that infection rates in Lebanon County and the Annville ZIP code appear to be trending downward. If we all remain dedicated to physical distancing, wearing face coverings, practicing good hand hygiene, and self-quarantining if needed, we have the best chance of continuing on-campus learning throughout the fall semester. The phased move-in is part of this strategy to improve our chances of getting through the full semester with in-person learning. Based on public health recommendations, we strongly encourage all students to self-quarantine between now and the time they come to campus.
I understand you may have a lot of questions. A few key points for those with delayed move-ins:
- You will be credited room and board for the time you are not living in the residence halls/are not authorized to move into campus housing. This credit will be applied to the Fall 2020 semester and carried over to offset Spring 2021 semester charges.
- You may choose to attend classes in-person if you would like to commute until move-in.
- Or, you may choose to start your classes online.
- Or, you may choose the combination of in-person and online learning.
We recognize that some sophomore and junior students may need to live on campus at the start of the semester. These include international students, students with academic requirements that require their presence on campus, and students with circumstances that would interfere with their ability to take classes at home (family circumstances, internet access, food security, etc.). Sophomores and juniors who wish to request to move into campus housing before Sept. 11 must the request form by Monday, Aug. 10, at 5 p.m. to be given full consideration.
The College continues to monitor the situation and will communicate updates regularly. If the current plans change, LVC will let you know on or before Sept. 7. A lot can happen between now and then, and we will keep you informed along the way. Fortunately, LVC’s faculty and staff have been planning for this contingency. They are well-prepared to deliver robust courses, support services, and engagement activities whether you are living and taking classes in person or living off-campus and taking classes and accessing services online. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our hotline at 717-867-6555 if you have any questions.
The campus leadership and I will keep you updated regularly. Starting next week, I will write to you weekly with updates on the College, and I hope you won’t be shy about letting me know what questions you have.
I appreciate your patience and resilience as we navigate these extraordinary challenges.
Dr. James M. MacLaren, president
Three Important Return-to-Campus Action Items—July 28, 2020
Dear Students and Families,
With the start of the fall semester quickly approaching, Lebanon Valley College continues to plan for a return to campus following state and federal health and safety guidelines. There are three critical action items that students will need to do before coming to campus. We know we are asking a lot of our students in an already stressful time, and we appreciate your efforts. These measures will help us keep each other safe and help the College support students should circumstances quickly change.
All students are required to report their health status daily using the College’s digital symptom tracker starting August 1 and throughout semester. Access the symptom tracker in myLVC via the link at the bottom-right corner of the main page (you may need to refresh your cache). Faculty and staff will also be required to complete the tracker before coming to campus.
Student Emergency Plan
As noted in the Plan for a Safe Return to Campus, all students are required to complete a personal Student Emergency Plan to identify issues that must be considered should it be necessary to close the College and vacate campus.
The form is now available on myLVC. To access the form, click on the “MyInfo for Students” link and sign in if you aren’t already signed in. Once on the students page, in the MANAGE MYINFO section, click the “Student Emergency Plan” link. Please complete your plan by Aug. 15 to be eligible to return to campus. Students will not be permitted to return to the College without having completed this emergency plan.
Quarantining if in Hot Spots
Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommended that anyone who has been in states with hot spots of COVID-19 outbreaks should self-quarantine for 14 days. If you are coming to campus from a hot spot or have been in one in the last two weeks, you will need to quarantine for 14 days before your arrival. (I myself have had to do so; I have just completed quarantine after moving to Kreiderheim from my home in Louisiana.) I write to you now so that you can plan appropriately for the fast-approaching semester. Currently, Pennsylvania considers these states to be hot spots. Please check the state’s website often for changes.
We are defining quarantine as staying at home and not interacting with anyone except the members of your household. Quarantining includes not going to your place of work and not socializing with friends or family outside of your immediate household. The other members of your household may go to work but should be diligent about wearing a mask, hand washing, and physical distancing.
We understand that quarantine prior to arrival on campus will be a challenge and perhaps not possible for some. If you have work or other obligations that prevent you from completing a full 14-day quarantine prior to arriving on campus, please contact Student Affairs, and we will work with you to find a solution. If you come from a state designated as a hot spot and are unable to complete the 14-day quarantine prior to the start of the semester, you cannot be physically present on campus until the 14-day quarantine is completed. During that time, you will be able to take courses online.
Thank you for doing your part to protect our community. You are helping to protect your peers, your professors, the LVC staff, and everyone’s families.
Dr. James MacLaren, president
Dr. Bob Mikus, interim vice president of student affairs and dean of students
LVC's Commitment to Inclusion and Fairness—June 1, 2020
I’m James MacLaren the 19th president of Lebanon Valley College. What a great day! It is such an honor and privilege to welcome you on behalf of the faculty, staff, and your peers to Lebanon Valley College as you embark on what I am sure will be an amazing time in your lives; one of discovery, learning, personal growth, lifelong friendships, and in some cases, if history is any guide, meeting your partner or spouse.
The faculty and staff are here to help you succeed, to help you go further than you thought possible, to support you through personal challenges, and to celebrate with you in your accomplishments of which I am confident there will be many.
I am reminded of many conversations I have had with new students over the years, and I would like to share just a little of what I have learned from them. Most often I hear about the nervousness and anxiety at this time of transition and the feeling that they are the only ones experiencing this. This is just not true. It is also completely normal. Most—if not all—new students have times of uncertainty and anxiety during their first year. Sometimes it is because of that paper or midterm, but often it is just part of the adjustment to a new stage in your life. We understand this and we are here to help ensure your transition from high school to college is successful. As I have said to students in the past, please let us know how you are doing, because as talented as the LVC team is, they haven’t figured out mind reading yet.
The importance of community, care for oneself and one another is more important now than ever before. Your wellbeing is the foundation of your success and happiness. This philosophy is integrated into our mission and values, it is part of LVC’s DNA.
My advice is to stay on top of your classes and take advantage of our academic support services. Join student organizations and get involved in the life of the college. It is never too early to visit the Breen Center for Graduate Success. They can help you see how your academic work connects to career goals.
Having watched my three daughters go through their first year of college, I know how challenging it is to balance your studies, social life, activities, and sports if you are a student-athlete with enough rest and downtime. They all told me they didn’t get much sleep but always made time for naps. Great advice!
I want to conclude my welcoming remarks by reading a short passage from “The Station” by 20th-century author and storyteller Robert Hastings. The poem tells us about the joy of life’s journey. Your journey at LVC and into a bright future starts today.
Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long, long trip that almost spans the continent. We’re traveling by passenger train, and out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hills, of biting winter and blazing summer and cavorting spring and docile fall.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. There will be bands playing, and flags waving. And once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true. So many wishes will be fulfilled and so many pieces of our lives finally will be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering … waiting, waiting, waiting, for the station.
However, sooner or later we must realize there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
“When we reach the station that will be it!” we cry. Translated it means, “When I’m 18, that will be it! When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes Benz, that will be it! When I put the last kid through college, that will be it! When I have paid off the mortgage, that will be it! When I win a promotion, that will be it! When I reach the age of retirement, that will be it! I shall live happily ever after!”
Unfortunately, once we get it, then it disappears. The station somehow hides itself at the end of an endless track
It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
Thank you and enjoy your journey at LVC!
2021 Commencement Celebration
May 23, 2021
Welcome. I am James MacLaren, the 19th president of Lebanon Valley College. It is my privilege and honor to welcome you to the 152nd Commencement Ceremony. To our graduates, many congratulations. And to the friends and family of our graduates—thank you for your support of them through the years. You are a big part of where they are now, and I know how proud you are of all their accomplishments. Graduates, please give your friends and family a big round of applause!
Graduation ceremonies are special and happy occasions in the life of colleges and universities— a time of ceremony, celebration, and tradition.
As members of the Class of 2021, you are fortunate to be graduating from one of the best colleges in the country and to have received an unparalleled education—one that has, and will, continue to enrich your lives. You have worked with dedicated and exceptional faculty, caring and supportive staff, and talented peers on your journey to this momentous day. Please stand and join me in thanking all the faculty, staff, coaches, and classmates who have been such an important part of your education at the College.
Your final year has been a year like no other. We all had to socially distance (and what an oxymoron that term is!), wear masks, and negotiate hybrid classes using Zoom. You likely all had this great insight in class only to realize that you were still muted halfway through your argument. How many cats, dogs, and children graced your screen uninvited, adding some much-needed lighthearted moments to our days. You had your noses probed as part of surveillance testing, and you had to text friends across the table in the dining hall because of plexiglass screens. Yet, despite all these hurdles, you made it to graduation. Wow! You learned to be resilient, dedicated, and adaptable, all skills that will serve you well later in life. As Elyse noted, these experiences will bond you even more closely to your classmates and the College. I am confident that you will look back fondly upon these times. You exemplified our guiding principle for ourselves, for each other.
I suspect that as you look back at your years at The Valley, you will quickly realize that it has gone by so fast, that you learned and grew so much, that you made lasting friendships, and, if LVC history is any guide, several of you will have met your spouse while studying here too. I hope that these have also been happy years that you would readily do all over again. I am confident that you will continue to be true lifelong learners.
While your time at The Valley has been short, please know that you had a lasting impact on our community through your contributions in the classroom, work with faculty in research or independent study, involvement with some of the many service and volunteer opportunities offered by the College, and, for some of you, through your time competing as student-athletes.
These ceremonies are more often known as Commencement since they signify the start of the next phase of your life. I hope that once you leave LVC, you will continue to make the world a better place through your thoughts and actions and build upon what you have learned as a student. You enter the workforce at what I am convinced is a time of great change that COVID has only been accelerated. I am an optimist and remain optimistic about the future because of what you have accomplished so far and what I anticipate you will achieve in your lives.
All of us at the College admire your passion, character, and commitment. We will miss you but are excited to learn about all that you will accomplish. As the newest alumni of the College, I ask just one more thing—that you keep us informed of your successes and triumphs. Come back to visit us often. Hopefully, this will be when we no longer need to wear masks and have six feet of separation! I wish you every success and happiness.
And now, please pardon me as I take a quick picture of my first LVC Commencement.
Thank you, and Go Valley!
Dr. James M. MacLaren
President, Lebanon Valley College
Aug. 20, 2020
Good morning I’m James MacLaren, the 19th president of Lebanon Valley College. I took on this role on July 1 this year, and so have much in common with the Class of 2024. Like you, I was drawn to the College by the exceptional nature of the LVC education and the dedicated and talented faculty and staff who make up College’s lifeblood. So, on behalf of all of the faculty, staff, and your fellow students, we are delighted to welcome you to LVC. You join a family at LVC, and as a family, we support and care for one another—something that is all the more important today.
We all wish that we could hold our traditional convocation to welcome all our new students and their families in one unified ceremony and in person. Still, like so many casualties of the coronavirus, we are reworking this ceremony to ensure a safe and meaningful event.
You are more than 450 truly accomplished students who we could get to know through visits to your high schools, many emails and texts, college fairs, and when you chose to visit our beautiful campus. You were selected because of your talents that we believe will enhance and enrich our community in so many ways.
As a cohort, you come from 15 states. We are also delighted to welcome international students hailing from Canada, the Ukraine, and Vietnam. The Class of 2024 is the most diverse in the College’s history, with roughly 20% of our incoming students from traditionally underrepresented groups.
In the Class of 2024, we have at least seven students whose parents are both LVC graduates, and someone with 10,000 YouTube followers. So many of you have volunteered in your communities, and one, in particular, has volunteered with a non-profit that brings dogs from animal shelters and then pairs them with inmates in local prisons. The inmates train the dogs for permanent rehoming. Others in the class have gone on mission trips and bettered their communities through their efforts. Several of you were top in your high school class, and others received numerous awards for their academic accomplishments and athletic achievements.
The whole LVC community has been anxiously awaiting and planning for this day that starts the fall semester. Despite the significant challenges regionally and nationally resulting from the novel coronavirus, we see optimism and hope for the future. In your applications and communications with the College we learned about your resilience, optimism, and enthusiasm for starting college. We are hopeful too, that with social distancing, masks, and personal hygiene—and, to be honest, who ever washed their hands for a full 20 seconds before COVID-19?—that we will be able to complete the fall semester in residence.
Faculty have worked hard during the summer to redesign classes and labs to this new normal of face to face, hybrid, and some online instruction. Staff have made sure that our campus provides for a socially distanced learning environment in all our campus buildings and classrooms.
Most of you were born in 2002. AOL was the most popular website that year, and it took more than 10 minutes to download a song. Forget about streaming a movie! The browser Firefox was launched. Though some things seem not to change: The New England Patriots were Super Bowl champions, and CSI was one of the most popular shows on TV. The Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, and Star Wars Episode II were the three top-grossing films. The first cell phone with a built-in camera was also introduced—quite a year.
As you start your academic journey at the College, my charge is to take full advantage of all we offer. For it is these experiences that characterize the holistic and transformative LVC education. You will experience engaging classes and professors; class sizes will be small, and professors will get to know and mentor our students. Explore academic areas that you haven’t experienced in high school, for it is the breadth of learning that is the foundation of a liberal education that will serve you so well in your life after college. And speaking of life after college, our Breen Center for Graduate Success will start working with you even as first-year students. The welcoming and encouraging Breen staff will help you see connections between your academic and co-curricular experiences and post-graduation opportunities and assist with all-important internships. College is also the time you will make many of your lifelong friends and connections and, in some cases, spouses. I know there is some anxiety and nervousness: trust me, that will quickly pass as you make new friends and get involved on campus. You will have fun as you learn and grow.
Each of you is now faced with great opportunities and challenges. Today, you join our community because you decided to grasp those opportunities and rise to those challenges and to use your talents to make your dreams a reality. We expect much from you. We know that you can... and we know that you will succeed. Please know that we are here to foster that success.
Therefore, it is with pride, and this in mind that I turn you over to my colleagues, the faculty.
The faculty will demand much of you—and you, in turn, will demand much of yourselves.
I know you will exceed their expectations of you since that is what LVC students do.
Congratulations. And welcome to Lebanon Valley College—from where I am standing, the best College in America.
Dr. James M. MacLaren
President, Lebanon Valley College
Vigil Against Violence
Sept. 8, 2020
Good morning and thank you for coming to today’s vigil as our community comes together to stand against violence, racism, and injustice.
Our charge today is not only to come together as a community but to start the hard work of making change at LVC. To make LVC more welcoming and inclusive as a college to all seeking an education. To make LVC more welcoming and inclusive as a college to those working here.
The first amendment allows citizens to express opinions and protest, and on college campuses, we also cherish academic freedom to protect free speech on campuses. These principles are foundational to our way of life, our democracy, and our system of higher education. Yet often, we have seen that exercising these rights has sparked violence. We condemn acts of violence and destruction of property.
If we are to move forward as a community, we need to show respect to one another when we disagree, reject intolerance and hate, to listen more, speak less, show empathy, and to stand up to injustices when we see them.
What actions can we take?
We can educate ourselves better so that we can understand the perspectives of others. LVC has curated a library of resources for self-study and programs planned throughout the year. See the #LVC4Change pages on our website. We will strive to be an anti-racist institution, and our faculty made this the focus of the start of their semester retreat. Our learning community is built on inclusion and fairness, on the assurance that every person will be treated with dignity, recognized for their abilities, supported in their efforts, and acknowledged for their accomplishments. We intentionally embrace the differences among human beings.
We need to strive for equity and social justice.
In a democracy, we have the power of the ballot box. Never feel that your vote doesn’t matter. In the last presidential election, more eligible voters chose not to vote than voted for either candidate. If you have not done so, please register to vote. Take the time to learn about the candidates’ positions. Be an informed voter and exercise that right. And when you have concerns, take the time to contact your elected officials. They do listen to their constituents. Change requires action. Change also requires hope. Please, always remain hopeful. Hopeful in the power of community. Hopeful in the power of kindness. Hopeful for a renewed faith in humanity.
Dr. James M. MacLaren
President, Lebanon Valley College