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As we move forward in the era of coronavirus, perhaps no one locally faces a bigger challenge than Montana State University President Waded Cruzado. The virus has profound implications for how MSU can and should proceed into the coming school year.

And not surprisingly, Cruzado is facing that challenge head on, beginning with the decisions to cancel all spring semester face-to-face classes and ask students not to return to campus following spring break. Those decisions had major impacts on the students, faculty, staff and the finances of the university. And it’s not a stretch to say those decisions helped saved lives.

Decisions on how the fall semester unfolds will also be consequential. To expedite those decisions, Cruzado has set up a University Reconstruction Committee, which will evaluate advice received from seven working groups established to deal academic continuity, human resources, student success, athletics, finance, auxiliary services and university services.

As this process unfolds, Cruzado is asked to consider that the impacts of these decisions will not be confined to campus. As the major economic driver of the Bozeman community, what happens on campus will have economic and health effects for us all.

Cruzado might consider establishing an eighth working group, one for community relations, one that could include local elected leaders and health care and business leaders. Not only would such a group ensure the impacts on the surrounding community are considered as weighty decisions are made at MSU, these local leaders could also bring knowledge, resources and ideas for dealing with the unique challenges ahead, such as how to bring students back to the community from around the nation and world safely. Perhaps innovative ways for screening the health of students, faculty and staff could be found, as well as ways to maintain social distancing as the returning students are absorbed into the community.

Throughout the weeks since the pandemic first hit Montana, no mantra has been repeated more often than, “we’re all in this together.”

That is especially so for MSU and the community that surrounds it. To all the decision-makers at MSU: Please consider involving the community in the decisions ahead in some significant way.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.