COVID-19 Update: Need to Know Newsletter, Issue 4

| Posted on April 21, 2020

April 21, 2020 | Issue 4

Good afternoon, Andrews University friends,

We’re now moving into the final two weeks of this significantly changed spring semester.

There are academic and university life rhythms that usually mark this time of the semester on our Berrien Springs campus—they include final projects, exams, the completion of a semester, packing for home and, for some, a time to graduate and celebrate.

Even though many of these traditions are transformed on a campus and world impacted by COVID-19, we will still be finishing our studies, completing projects or taking exams, and, the first weekend of May, celebrating our graduates.

While how it’s done this year will change significantly, the idea of community and celebration when an academic journey is done and a degree is earned will continue to influence what we do as an Andrews University community. Now, though, we’ll rely on live streams, Facebook, Zoom and more to draw together our now literally global community to honor what our students, families, faculty and staff have done in this remarkably different spring semester.

Here is an overview of how our May celebrations will work, along with a few other key updates as this semester and month draw to a close.

  1. The Weekend of May 1–3: Virtual Commencements & A Celebration of Graduates

While the familiar lining up in regalia on the sidewalks of our Berrien Springs campus, surrounded by the country flags of those who are graduating, will be changed this year, we plan to take the opportunity to confer degrees and celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates during the weekend of May 1–3, 2020.

Some of that celebration and recognition has already begun by departments across our campus, and you may have seen some of that on various Andrews social media channels. Those discipline/program specific celebrations will continue.

During the weekend of May 1–3, we’ll also gather together as a global community for some familiar, and new, ways to celebrate our graduates.

This will include the following online events:

  • A Friday evening dedication service by New Life Fellowship
  • Sabbath church services with Pioneer Memorial Church and New Life Fellowship
  • A series of five virtual commencements on Sunday, organized by college (and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary). Those will include the names and details for each graduate who has completed requirements for her or his degrees, and those degrees will all be formally conferred by President Andrea Luxton.
  • Additional celebrations and dedications will also be presented and broadcast online over the weekend.

The graduation website will be updated with service information as it becomes available. Please check periodically for updates.

Also, spring Class of 2020—even as we confer degrees and celebrate together online this May, we want to make sure you know that our invitation stands to invite each one of our spring Class of 2020 graduates back for a face-to-face graduation celebration as soon as that becomes possible.

  1. It's still important to help keep each other safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State of Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” Executive Order currently remains in effect through the end of April. We’ve reviewed and are experiencing the impact of that Executive Order, which encourages us to remain home, leave only for shopping and medical errands, and go to work only if we are categorized as an essential worker (this guideline allows all those who are on the front lines to continue to respond to and care for those infected by COVID-19—something that has often and tragically threatened the lives and health of those individuals; they have our eternal gratitude and prayers).

The Executive Order is also specific on temporarily prohibiting any public gatherings and outdoor activities other than with our own household. Six-feet social distancing guidelines also remain in place.

Please remember that these State of Michigan restrictions also apply to our Berrien Springs campus. As we’ve shared earlier, only a limited number of essential workers will be on campus at any time, and we also want to encourage and remind our Andrews community that this Executive Order does not allow groups to gather together on our campus, throughout the week or on Sabbaths.

Thank you for continuing to fully honor these restrictions. It gives each one of us a personal responsibility and opportunity to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, including our own Andrews University community.

  1. Our 8th Annual Summit on Social Consciousness addresses the economic and racial realities of COVID-19.

Our 8th Annual Summit on Social Consciousness is this Thursday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m (streamed live on the Andrews Facebook page).

The Summit is co-sponsored by Spectrum Health Lakeland, the Andrews University Office for Diversity & Inclusion, our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center, the Office of Research & Creative Scholarship, and the Office of the Provost.

This year’s summit will have the theme “COVID-19: Understanding and Breaking the Socio-Economic and Racial Disparities.” As we learn more about the effects of this disease, it has become clear, both in Michigan and across the country, that minority communities have been hit the hardest.

We will seek to carefully explore some of the core reasons for these disparities and discuss what they reveal to us about the inequities that predated this pandemic; how the pandemic has worsened those inequities; and the policies we can advocate for to begin the process of addressing, even and especially in the heart of this pandemic, with its threats to our communities.

We invite you to join us online on April 23 and bring questions or comments you may have as we seek to create an interactive and productive dialogue during this year's significant Summit on Social Consciousness.

Read more about the Summit here.

  1. Working toward this summer, and new school years, to come

Andrews University is at the time of year when we look forward to summer traditions. Over the years, we’ve created and expanded our summer programs to meet the needs of our current and future students through “Spend the Summer” initiatives—May Express, Seize the Summer, Summer Science Express, and more.

Of course, like almost everything else, we’ve had to make some changes to ensure everyone’s safety. We are offering a full array of undergraduate online classes, and opportunities planned for the main campus will continue remotely this summer. You can check out the entire line-up at

Another tradition Andrews University cherishes is the start of a new school year. We’re excited to share with you that, despite the challenges of a global pandemic, our Marketing & Enrollment and Student Financial Services teams are all still working hard for both returning and new students. While most of our faculty and staff are working remotely, our teams are fully operational—ensuring that this fall will be the best one yet. And early indications from these efforts are promising.

This week’s enrollment reports show that completed applications for the freshman class are up 20 percent and freshman admissions 15 percent compared to the same time last year—and counting!

  1. Andrews Speaks podcasts continue to explore a world of change.

The final episodes of a special season of Andrews Speaks: Thriving Together Remotely are now being produced by Jeff Boyd, research specialist in the Office of Research & Creative Scholarship. The series pursues a conversation with Andrews University colleagues and friends which explores living, learning and serving in a time of social distancing.

If you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, we encourage you to listen to the newest podcasts by Anthony Bosman and Gary Burdick. Also, check out the new episode from Rachel Lamb, a young scientist who talks about climate change and Creation care from a passionate and Christian perspective.

The series, found through the “Andrews Speaks” banner on the page, is available in both audio and video forms.

  1. Food for our students in a time of need

We’ve been sharing updates on the wonderful new “a.u. eats” meal delivery service offered by Chef Linda Brinegar and her Bon Appétit/Dining Services team. Last week, Chef Linda and her team helped prepare and deliver more than 180 Sam’s Chicken lunches within a five-mile radius of the Andrews campus.

Last Friday, we got this letter from Chef Linda on her team’s efforts to help feed those in our University Apartments who are struggling to feed their families in this time of challenge (you can see photos of her efforts on our Facebook page):

“For many, COVID-19 comes with worries about how to put food on the table. Such is the case for the mostly international families (representing more than 300 moms, dads and kids) that live in the Andrews University apartment complexes. What do you do with that knowledge and a half ton of Farm to Fork beans in the basement? You add some carrots, onions, and potatoes and you feed them. Our Bon Appétit/Dining Services team is packaging and passing out food boxes to support these families in our Andrews University apartments.”

Many thanks, and God’s blessings, for Chef Linda, her Bon Appétit/Dining Services team...and their heart of mission. The team plans to continue this initiative for these students and their families as possible.

  1. Caring for those affected by COVID-19 in our extended Andrews community

    We continue each week to find that individuals in our community or connected closely to our community have tested positive for COVID-19. You may have heard, in particular, about the journey of our friend Dr. Lowell Hamel who has been in an Intensive Care Unit for treatment of his COVID-19 infection. Most recently, we’ve heard good news on his improvement and the use of convalescent plasma transfusion therapy to help battle the disease. An article from The Herald-Palladium offers updates on Dr. Lowell Hamel and also features an interview with his brother, Dr. Loren Hamel, describing the pioneering use of similar COVID-19 treatments at Spectrum Health Lakeland.

As we hear of this news, we wish to directly respond to and support these individuals and families as best we can. Please let Andrews know if you are part of our community and you have tested positive for COVID-19. We want to be there for you and your peers/colleagues.


Our Favorite Recipe Ingredients of the Week

"Nothing fancy, just good wholesome food.”

Letter from Chef Linda Brinegar of Bon Appétit/Dining Services,
describing how she and her team shared beans, carrots, onions,
potatoes and other cooking staples in food boxes for more than 300
students and family members in our University Apartments


As we move into the final weeks of this semester and prepare to directly honor and celebrate our graduates, wherever they are living and studying right now, we want to thank each one of you who has journeyed with us in these unusual and challenging times.

Our prayers continue for each one of you, as you study and teach and work and care for yourselves and your families. You are fully at the heart of who we are—you are the object of God’s mission and purpose.

We look forward to continuing together in this new and different journey as we seek to effectively understand and slow (and eventually stop) this COVID-19 global pandemic.

Most importantly, and in all the ways possible, we are prayerfully and fully committed to continue to make World Changers here at Andrews University.

Thank you for your prayers and support as we continue forward.

Andrea Luxton

Christon Arthur