- by Mount Saint Mary College
VPAA George Abaunza stands on campus

It’s a great honor to greet you in this manner, as I begin my tenure at the Mount and together we navigate through this academic year that is like no other. If one is going to experience a year like no other, it might as well be at a college like no other. From the time I first set foot at the Mount, I have felt welcomed by all. It has been clear to me from the start that the mission of this institution is alive and thriving. 

I am humbled by the dedication of our faculty and staff to transforming the lives of students, as attested to by their sacrifices and hard work to prepare for this academic year. To achieve some version of normalcy, we welcomed students back to campus with a mixture of in-person and virtual instruction. We needed to figure out how best to satisfy public health requirements in ways that would be consistent with best-practice pedagogy and delivery of content. Since social distancing guidelines significantly decreased our classroom capacity, necessitating rotating in-person and remote instruction, our “Mount Hy- Flex” model has allowed maximum flexibility for students and professors. 

College-wide training was underway across the summer months to equip our faculty with the tools necessary to deliver carefully-designed courses and the effective, meaningful educational experiences our students expect and deserve. We developed a monumental Reopening Plan that would help ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of the Mount, as well as that of our surrounding communities. Although many things remain uncertain, I can assure you that the entire Mount community is working hard to deliver a meaningful and safe education to every student. 

Of course, I must commend our students and their families for choosing to face these challenges with us. Our students remind me daily why I chose the Mount, which I am sure are reasons we share: its reputation for strong academic programs, dedicated faculty and staff who thoughtfully guide and mentor, and its Catholic Dominican foundation, which informs and supports our vision of becoming the most community service-oriented college in the country. These are just some of the reasons that make coming to work, even during a pandemic, a joy. 

Mount faculty and staff are passionate about their purpose and have embraced opportunities for innovation born of these unprecedented challenges. Like with any crisis, these challenges also present opportunities to reflect on how we have done things in the past, so that we may move forward in improved ways. In other words, more important than the challenge is how we overcome it and what we learn from having faced adversity. 

We will continue to work diligently to ensure that students feel confident they made the right choice by joining our community of learning and serving – a welcoming community that will assist them in any way possible to realize within themselves the essential capabilities needed to become contributing members of a better, future society, and to succeed in the 21st century. 

It is truly an honor to serve as your Academic Vice President and I look forward with great excitement to what we will accomplish together. I cannot wait to meet you in person, and to continue our journey together. 

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