I hope this message finds all of you safe and in good health during these uncertain times. It's been almost two months since our students, faculty and staff departed campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically impacted our global society. Although we are no longer on campus, we are still working diligently to provide support and encouragement to our students, engage with our alumni, donors, and supporters, as well as serve the MIT community, both locally and abroad in this new virtual environment. In order to comply with public health guidelines and follow city and state health and safety ordinances, all DAPER indoor and outdoor facilities have been temporarily closed. For a complete summary of DAPER's response to COVID-19, please visit: https://mitathletics.com/general/2019-20/releases/20200311mwut77. However, despite the closures, we have supported the Institute's efforts to partner with the Boston/Cambridge area in fighting against this pandemic by re-purposing the Johnson Ice Arena to the Collier Care Center, which serves as a facility to provide care for members of the local community who have tested positive for COVD-19. The facility is named in honor of fallen MIT Police Officer, Sean Collier, who was killed in the line of duty (Click here for the full MIT News article).
Prior to the abrupt end to the spring competition season, our athletics programs were experiencing tremendous success. Our Men's and Women's Track & Field teams were preparing to compete at the Indoor National Championships and our Men's and Women's Swimming & Diving teams repeated as NEWMAC champions and were also preparing for competition at their respective national championships. Fencing first-year Kristen Palmer was scheduled to compete at the National Championship in Detroit, while senior baseball outfielder Matt Johnston tied the Division III single-game record with four home runs and was featured on SportsCenter (Click here for ESPN SportsCenter link). The decision to discontinue the sports seasons was devastating to all of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff. However, it was made as part of a larger institutional response to de-densify our campus in order to adhere to public health guidelines and to ensure the health and safety of the MIT and broader Cambridge/Boston community. Following the announcement, it became evident that this pandemic would significantly alter every aspect of our daily lives in ways that none of us could have imagined.
In that moment and during the several weeks that have followed, I remain encouraged by the strength and resiliency that our student-athletes have displayed in the midst of adversity. During my brief tenure on campus and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have also seen incredible examples of how coaches and staff have demonstrated leadership and supported our student-athletes as they have transitioned off campus and are now navigating this new online mode of instruction through the end of the semester. A few examples of the role DAPER continues to play in the lives of all our DAPER students and potential student-athletes include:
- 100% of our coaches are participating in the MIT Student Success Coaching program, which provides continual communication and virtual support for the well-being of all our student-athletes (Click here for full MIT News article).
- DAPER participated in the virtual Campus Preview Weekend, where coaches and staff met with over 365 potential student-athletes and other students interested in all that DAPER has to offer.
- Physical Education and Wellness instructors transitioned to online courses and are virtually teaching over 380 students.
- The Student-Athlete Leadership Program (SALP) has continued to engage student-athletes while they are taking classes remotely through hosting online discussions with each other and with the DAPER senior leadership.
Despite the uncertainty of what the future holds and the challenges that lie ahead, I am confident that we will be a stronger DAPER and a stronger MIT because of the drive and tenacity of our students/student-athletes, and the dedication of our faculty, staff, and coaches to ensuring their success during this time. My confidence is also strengthened by the unwavering support of our parents, fans, donors, and alumni who continue to be instrumental to our sustained success as a department.
I look forward to welcoming everyone back to campus, when the time is appropriate and we can do so safely. I also look forward to continuing to engage with our student-athletes and members of the DAPER and MIT community. Regardless of the difficult circumstances that we are all confronting, we remain committed to our continued pursuit of excellence in creating an environment that develops community; provides education; inspires leadership; and promotes wellness.
G. Anthony Grant, Ph.D.
Director of Athletics/DAPER Department Head