COVID-19: A Message from President Siddall

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By Emily Carr University

Posted on March 20, 2020 | Updated March 21, 2020, 3:33pm

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is truly unprecedented in our lifetimes.

Dear ECU Community,

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both across the globe and now here in Canada, is truly unprecedented in our lifetimes. We will forever remember this as a defining historical moment. I believe we’ll also remember it as a time that highlighted and animated our strength as a community. People at home and around the world are showing great resilience, courage and, perhaps most importantly, compassion.

As a result of the effects here in BC, the past week has been a time of incredible change and challenge for Emily Carr University. In that short period, we announced we were ending all face-to-face instruction, finding alternative ways for students to complete their courses, and transitioning to remote working arrangements for nearly all faculty and staff.

Achieving such massive change so quickly required all members of our community to show tremendous fortitude and flexibility, and to put in many exhaustive hours of work. Your collective efforts enabled teaching and learning to continue, and maintained university operations even as most of us started working from home.

My heartfelt thanks go out to faculty, who have made this difficult transition so quickly; to staff, who worked tirelessly to facilitate these changes and ensure university operations suffered minimum disruption; and to students, who have had to adjust to such significant upheaval at the end of the term. I also want to thank my own team with whom I continue to meet daily to address the new challenges that arise.

Finally, I want to thank the Emily Carr Students’ Union, with whom I’ve been in close contact, for their wisdom, patience and professionalism. They are a vital lifeline between me and all our students, and I am deeply grateful for their work.

We all know how necessary it was to respond rapidly in order to support our Provincial Health Officer's directive to “flatten the curve” and mitigate the dire outcomes other areas of the world are experiencing. Every one of us must do our part, and I am so proud of the Emily Carr community for working together so quickly to contribute to that effort.

To our students: I know that this has been a stressful time for you, and that many of your questions have gone unanswered. While we don’t yet have answers to all of them, I promise that we’re working very hard to find solutions to the challenges we now face.

A key priority so far has been to ensure you have a clear path to completing your courses. Our Provost, Dr. Trish Kelly, and the deans have been working closely with faculty to preserve continuity of learning through online communication. This will look different for each class, as faculty work to determine what is best for their curricula.

We will also be reaching out specifically to graduating students to get your feedback on how we can celebrate your achievements as new graduates of Emily Carr. We will reschedule convocation if it is feasible to do so. If not, we will work with you to find other meaningful ways to celebrate your hard-earned degree. Similarly, we are committed to rescheduling The Show or finding alternatives to this celebration and the professional opportunities it affords. Your input on this front will likewise be very important.

There is still much to be done, and we will be working closely with deans and faculty to determine how best to manage delivery of curriculum in the summer term, as well as looking ahead to the fall. We are exploring ways to facilitate dialogue with students as we work to solve the challenges that lie ahead.

I thank all of our students for your patience as we work together to address the many issues facing us. I know I am speaking for all faculty and staff when I say we care deeply about you and your educational experience, and understand how hard you’ve worked to get where you are.

We also know that some students are facing unexpected hardship as a result of the impacts of COVID-19. I encourage faculty and staff to consider contributing to the Emily Cares Student Emergency Fund if you have not already done so.

You can make a tax-deductible donation through our charity page on CanadaHelps. We can truly make a difference in our students’ lives by supporting this fund, and I encourage you to join me in doing so.

Finally, I want to thank everyone — faculty, staff, and students — for your commitment to doing what is necessary now to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community and beyond. We will get through this, and we will get through it together. I remain, as always, inspired by the spirit and strength of community at Emily Carr.


Gillian Siddall
President and Vice-Chancellor
Emily Carr University of Art + Design

For more on ECU's response to COVID-19, visit