Hi, this is Barry Corey.
I know that with the coronavirus we are walking down some uncharted paths, and with this sometimes
comes anxiousness and fear.
I have heard from our employee community, from parents and from students --
many of whom are concerned, overwhelmed and unsettled trying to navigate through these
I, too, have spent time wrestling with the situation, praying and discerning,
along with the administrators and senior leaders on campus,
on how best to care for and lead our community.
I’d like to take a few minutes today and share some of my personal reflections with
you, as well as some important updates that I think
you’ll find helpful and hopeful.
Let me assure you that in the face of COVID-19, we have Biola teams working tirelessly -- nearly
around the clock -- protecting and caring for our community.
This week I commissioned a task force called C.U.R.T.,
which stands for COVID-19 University Response Team,
to seek input, set direction, make plans and provide recommendations to the President’s
This team has been on task and exceedingly wise.
As you know, our campus is open and our student services are unhindered.
We are also stepping up our remote services and our hours of operation so that students,
no matter where they are, can access offices and resources from a distance, if need be.
Today, March 13, is our last day of “in person” classes for the spring semester.
We are working earnestly and creatively to make the educational experience
of more than 6,000 students at Biola University as fulfilling as possible.
I can only imagine how many questions many of you have right now.
We’ve received inquiries regarding housing and finances and classes and access, among
And we’re working to answer them in a way that is quick, clear and helpful based on
the information we have.
We’ll keep updates flowing, so be sure to click the banner across the top of our home
I want to say again: Biola has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
FAQs are being set up for students, staff, parents and faculty so that you have answers
to your most pressing questions.
And we have a hotline anyone, anytime can call for assistance.
That number is (562) 906-4501.
With COVID-19 comes important cautionary measures like social distancing,
avoiding larger groups, refraining from touching public surfaces,
monitoring and testing health situations as they arise,
and extraordinary attention to disinfecting common spaces.
These and other recommended measures are known to be the surest way to minimize the spread
of the virus.
We are honoring these.
Within these common-sense actions, we have reconstituted some of our normal practices.
As you know, with university support, each professor is now working to translate
their course material, assignments and individual approaches
in ways that fulfill their course outcomes and preserve the educational values of a Biola
In this way, we will deliver the balance of the spring semester’s courses remotely.
We will begin streaming our chapel program on March 23.
We have canceled larger events or chosen instead to provide them digitally.
Please know that our role is both to respond to the coronavirus responsibly and within
government guidelines, but also to make sure our students — as
far as possible — receive the kind of education that is uniquely
Faculty are at work making adjustments so that by later next week
they will have instructions to their students on how
their courses will be offered during the semester’s balance.
We hope and pray to be back to normal after that.
We are committed to doing everything possible to continue the safety and health of our community
and to preserve the educational programs that have attracted students to Biola and kept
them coming back.
This morning I happened to talk to Addi, a freshman journalism major,
and she shared how much she in these few months has come to love this community.
And even with the changes in how we are delivering our education for the coming handful of weeks,
we know that the future of Biola is strong, and we will learn even from this moment of
national and international concern how we can continue the high quality of education
our students deserve.
Short term adjustments will result in long term gain.
And I am convinced that through this temporary disruption and, yes, inconvenience,
we will emerge stronger, more innovative, smarter and unwavering in the soul of this
This is not a first for our world, our nation or even this university.
Professor Fred Sanders today forwarded to me how Biola in 1918 responded to an influenza
Here’s what was written in our magazine, 102 years ago:
"...classes have been suspended for six weeks owing to the epidemic of influenza."
"Lesson work, however, has been assigned regularly to students and examinations have been given."
In other words, in the six weeks of suspended classes in 1918,
students were given non-traditional ways of completing their coursework.
We have six weeks left in the semester.
It’s also interesting, as Dr. Sanders noted, that some students needed to stay in their
rooms to recover and churches suspended worship meetings during that period.
You know, I read in those words how God had guided, protected and provided for Biola during
that temporary setback.
God hasn’t changed.
And he’ll do the same.
Again, we are committed to ongoing communication through our website, FAQs and messages from
I have seen in the last few days faculty and staff, trustees and leaders
rally around our students and adapt to the virus outbreak
in a way that reminds me of why I love serving at Biola University.
A week ago I spent a few days at a retreat center,
praying and reflecting on what it means to be a follower of Jesus in our current climate.
It was a wonderful few days, and little did I know what I would be facing a week later.
On my way out of that retreat center called Glastonbury Abbey,
I spotted a ceramic plaque in their gift shop.
It contained the words of St. Benedict.
It said this: "Ora et Labora," Latin for “Pray and Work.”
This is our calling.
We are praying hard for God’s wisdom, his relief and his grace in this time.
And we are working hard to make sure we steward well the jobs the Lord has given us as a sacred
I think this is what the poet meant when he said in Psalm 90,
"May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands."
Our prayer is for God’s favor.
And we pray he indeed establishes the hard work of our hands.
Pray and work.
It’s not either.
Thank you for your part within the Biola community, and we promise to continue to keep you posted
on the developments all the way through until this challenge recedes.
God bless you.