It is difficult to comprehend just how much and how quickly the world has changed in the four weeks since we last delivered St Andrews in the News to you. Just a month ago we were looking forward to welcoming you to our Alumni Weekend, heralding the opening of a refurbished Wardlaw Museum, the opening of the new Laidlaw Music Centre, and preparing for our Annual Public Meeting.
In these short weeks, the life of our University, our students and staff, the communities we serve, and our family of alumni and friends has changed beyond recognition. We are all now part of something much bigger, a collective endeavour whose success will rely entirely upon an acknowledgment of our most basic responsibilities to each other.
In St Andrews, we have had to do things that are utterly alien to us. Asking our students to go home, if home is safe and they can travel safely; ending all face-to-face teaching and moving entirely online; telling our staff to work from home wherever possible; contemplating a future defined only by shifting uncertainty.
But these are the blunt and necessary steps we must take to play our part in the worldwide effort to contain the spread of this virus, and limit the threat it poses, especially to older generations and the vulnerable amongst us.
Our priorities have changed. We have learned tough lessons. We no longer take the most basic freedoms for granted.
It is Spring in St Andrews. The cherry blossom is here, the signs of new life are everywhere, and the streets are as empty as a wet Wednesday in January.
The silence however belies a hive of activity which has been on going on behind the scenes here to ensure that the life of the University goes on. It has been a remarkable and selfless effort by so many of our staff. Their work ensures we will still teach, we will still set and sit exams, though both of course remotely; we will still support our students and reach out to them wherever they are, as much to fulfil our promises to them as to channel their hope, curiosity and the academic potential which is the lifeblood of this place.
We are working tirelessly on scenario planning, and are in close liaison with Government; we will communicate with students and family as soon as we have more detailed information on Graduation in particular.
And we will think of all of you, in our wider family, do our best to stay in touch, and hope that you will do the same. Please stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you here in the not too distant future. No winter lasts forever.
Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE Principal and Vice-Chancellor
An update from the Director of Development
Dear Alumni, Parents and Friends
As we navigate our way through the uncharted waters of Covid-19, the safety of all our students, staff, their families, and the wider community of alumni and friends, is our key focus. I hope above all else that you and your loved ones are safe and in good health through this unprecedented situation.
As the Principal has stressed, the life of the University goes on, and we are working hard to keep in touch with you. We can’t do this in person until the situation has become clearer and the events we have postponed for now are resumed, but in the meantime we are fast-forwarding our plans for more online engagement with you all, while the University is working from home. These will include online gatherings and group reunions; online volunteering opportunities with Admissions, and through Careers via our online Saint Connect platform, to help the class of 2020 and other recent graduates navigate life beyond St Andrews.
We are also developing a new-style St Andrews in the News, with new features we hope to add over the coming weeks including ‘long read’ articles from alumni, students and academics, to distract and inspire us in equal measure. We would be delighted to hear from you if you feel you have such a story to contribute.
Please take care, keep safe and well, and keep in touch.
Lisa Kamsickas, a fourth-year student from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, has written an open letter to the graduating class of 2020, reflecting on the sudden and unexpected end to four years of life in St Andrews. Read more.
Supporting our own
The University of St Andrews is well known for its supportive community. During challenging times we have always reached out to help each other. Here’s how you can help our students during these uncertain times:
Saint Connect – spare the time to mentor our students and recent graduates online. Saint Connect gives us the ideal platform to match the career aspirations of our students with the wealth of experience available through our alumni and family programme network.
Saint Connect is at the heart of how we will communicate our new initiatives to connect with and support our students moving forward, but in turn it also gives you the ability to share and converse directly with the community.
If you would like to join Saint Connect please sign up here, or visit our website to find out more.
Admissions recruitment online – contact the alumni office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in volunteering at online webinars for admitted students holding offers for St Andrews. We’d love to hear from you.
The safety and wellbeing of our alumni is of paramount importance and, in line with Government and University advice, we have taken the decision to cancel or postpone upcoming events until further notice. We will therefore not be in a position to support or promote any Alumni Club events until the end of May at the earliest and we have postponed the Alumni Weekend.
The Wardlaw Museum, the Byre Theatre and the Laidlaw Music Centre have also been closed temporarily and the opening events planned for the Museum (1 April) and the Music Centre (3 April) have been postponed.
But we are carrying on undaunted! #Cultureathome is a joint initiative by all the cultural partners in St Andrews. Watch this space for exciting news about online activities from the Laidlaw Music Centre, Wardlaw Museum, the Byre Theatre and the University Library: we will bring you a regular dose of performance, pictures, poetry and podcasts recommended for you by our cultural experts.
The following blog Wardlaw Museum: CultureAtHome from Dr Katie Eagleton, Director of Museums describes all the online activities and wonderful artefacts still available to alumni, parents and friends at the Wardlaw Museum.