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Celebrating You, Billikens

Sept. 4, 2020 

Dear Saint Louis University students, 

As of today, undergraduate classes have been occurring – mostly in person – for 19 days, and other programs have been in session longer. 

During that time and with few exceptions, you have acted with great concern for each other’s wellbeing, awareness of the potential impacts of your actions, and a sincere responsibility for upholding the community health safeguards. Taken together, you have been able to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 at SLU, a feat that a number of institutions have struggled to achieve this far into their semesters. 

Planning is only one part of the equation. The biggest, unpredictable factor is human behavior. Put differently, we knew that it would be a challenge and an adjustment for you this fall –– both for those taking in person classes and for those online. At times, it would be stressful or even scary, not to mention this additional pressure on top of the pressure students are under in a normal semester. 

But, you are BILLLIKENS! 

In your words and in your actions, you have made your strong preference for being on campus together for face-to-face classes abundantly clear. Once again, Billikens, you have made us exceptionally proud. 

We had confidence in you as we planned for your return this summer. We also knew that no amount of communicating about these “unprecedented times” or “how different this semester would feel” could fully prepare you, or any of us, for what would actually occur when the semester began. 

Yet, your presence on campus brought a comforting familiarity to Midtown that had been absent since March. In many ways, it did not feel all that different after all. We witnessed tearful goodbyes between new students and their families. There were joyful, socially distant reunions among friends outside late into the night. And the president still had the privilege of taking back-to-school, 6-foot apart, selfies with many of you. 

Many weeks remain in the semester, and, of course, it would be premature to declare “victory” over COVID-19 on our campus. Continued vigilance will be critical. However, we cannot let the unpredictability of the future prevent us from commending you for what you have accomplished. 

More people than we could name worked unimaginable hours since you left campus back in March, preparing for your return. Seeing you thriving, learning, and growing with your peers –– knowing that you are here, right where you belong –– makes all those long days worth it. 

Billikens, thank you for being the students we know you to be and the reason that we love working at Saint Louis University. 


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

Mike Lewis, Ph.D.
Interim Provost 

Debra Rudder Lohe, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Interim Vice President for Student Development