Alert icon Alert: Stay up-to-date on HNU's COVID-19 response and resources. Learn more
HNU Logo

We use cookies to personalize content, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. You consent to our use of cookies if you continue to use our website.

Message about Coronavirus prevention and preparation

To our campus community,

Please check this page regularly for updates regarding how Holy Names University is addressing the challenges presented by COVID-19. If you are able to support students impacted by the pandemic, we invite you to donate to the HNU Emergency Response Fund.

Be well and take care.

July 27: Fall 2020 Classes will be Online

Dear HNU community,

While Holy Names University faculty and staff prepared to go to great lengths to provide safe, in-person experiences for our students this fall, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in our region has made it clear that moving to 100% online instruction during the fall 2020 semester is the safest option for our campus.

This is disappointing news for all of us, but we are confident that our decision best supports the health and safety of our community. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been following state and county health department guidance to prepare for the safest return to campus possible. We understand that specific guidance for higher education is forthcoming from Governor Newsom, but with the start of classes fast-approaching, we opted to make the decision to go fully online for the fall semester now and provide our community more time to prepare for fall.

HNU’s contingency planning this summer will guide how we provide an education that reflects Holy Names University’s values and how we offer a supportive, tight-knit community experience. Following is what students can expect this fall semester:

The Academic Experience

All classes that were scheduled to be a hybrid format will now be fully online. There will be no change to class schedules and student graduation plans will not be affected by our shift to remote learning this fall. Plans for spring course delivery will be announced in early November.

To strengthen online education, HNU faculty members have undergone an intensive summer training. They are also working with our deans to provide opportunities for student mentoring online. Additional Teaching Assistants (TAs) are being trained to assist with online courses.

Students will have access to online learning resources from our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and will be invited to monthly town hall meetings from their school to support connection and academic engagement.

Housing and Dining

HNU housing will be open, with limited capacity, for students who wish to live on campus. In order to promote physical distancing and minimize risk, the residence hall rooms are now all single occupancy and the residential community will be expected to follow guidelines regarding face coverings, hand washing, and physical distancing. In keeping with CDC and Alameda County Health guidelines, we have allocated space and instituted protocols for quarantine should it be needed in the residence halls. Common spaces, including our dining hall, have been modified to support physical distancing. Specifics of fall meal plan options will be announced soon and further details about life on campus will be provided in our upcoming Fall 2020 Return-to-Campus Guide. Students who have already applied for housing will be contacted by the Residence Life team with further updates. Students who decided to cancel their housing due to remote course delivery will need to complete the Housing Cancellation Form but will be able to do so without penalty.

Student Support Services

All services normally offered on campus will be provided through a mix of modified in-person and virtual support. Academic advising, tutoring and writing support, student success and retention, career services, financial aid, the registrar, and student accounts will all be accessible to students whether they are on or off-campus, and counseling services and mental health programming will continue to be available remotely.

The Cushing Library will provide both online and on-campus resources. Our staff has rearranged furniture to support physical distancing and is developing a space reservation system that will provide a safe study space for students.

The Center for Social Justice remains a space, both virtually and on campus, where students can explore service and social justice in Oakland and in their own communities. Campus Ministry will continue to provide a variety of virtual opportunities for spiritual exploration and gathering in community.

The International Student Advisor will continue to support students remotely. New and continuing international students should be aware that the shift to all remote instruction may affect their status for fall semester. They will soon receive updated guidance based on their individual circumstances.

Student Engagement

HNU’s Student Engagement team has been working over the summer to create virtual programs and platforms that facilitate connection. These include virtual Hawk Days, Orientation Programs, and activities hosted by student clubs and organizations and student government (ASHNU). HNU’s First-Year Experience Program will offer a combination of virtual formats and some optional small group in-person activities. Our VP for Student Affairs, Laura Lyndon will send a message to first-year students with more information about their experience this fall. The President’s Cabinet will host virtual town hall meetings to share campus updates and provide a forum for student input.


The PacWest Conference has postponed all Fall competition. We expect a decision on the start of the 2020-21 winter sports season, as well as the non-championship segments of spring sports by October 1. Once we receive clearance from Alameda County, HNU athletes can work out individually or in small groups provided they follow current health and safety protocols including physical distancing. Athletes and coaches can expect further announcements from the Director of Athletics regarding NCAA Guidelines.

Campus Density and Access

HNU will carefully manage in-person contact to ensure a safe campus environment, but we will also make sure that students have the resources they need. We will be using Envoy as a visitor management tool and limit campus access to those with no symptoms of COVID-19. Our Fall 2020 Return-to-Campus Guide will have more information about these guidelines and will be distributed soon.

Looking Forward

This is a momentous point in history, and I am grateful to be working together as a community to address some of the most challenging issues of our time. You’ll be receiving regular updates about the evolution of HNU as we learn at a distance, as well as opportunities to get involved.

I want to leave you with one final request: don’t let COVID-19 interrupt your dreams or keep you from planning for a better future. This pandemic won’t last forever. And on the other side of it, we will be stronger. The world needs you, our future graduates, more than ever.


Mike Groener
President, Holy Names University

July 15: Class Formats at HNU this Fall

Dear HNU students, faculty, and staff,

Following up on our July 1 email “Learning and Community at HNU this Fall” (see below), we are writing to share a link to our updated Fall Course Schedule. The updated schedule has course-level class format information in the “Class/Notes” column. We hope it will be helpful to you as you make your plans for fall semester. As a reminder, fall classes at HNU will take place in one of the four class formats below:

 HybridFully Online
(in real time)
Students meet with faculty and peers in class sessions split evenly between face-to-face and online sessions in real time.  Students work with faculty and peers online during designated class times.
(on your own time)
Students meet with faculty and peers in class sessions split evenly between face-to-face sessions at the designated class time and online sessions on their own time. Students work with faculty and peers online and access the course materials, e.g. lectures, assignments, and 
forums, on their own time.
Regardless of the mode in which classes are offered, students can expect faculty to continue to be available for consultation and feedback through office hours and other forms of communication. Students are expected to meet the course expectations and deadlines regardless of course format. Details will be provided via course syllabi and on Canvas as the start of the fall semester approaches.

Of course, any in-person activity on campus will take place pending clearance from the Alameda County Department of Public Health. We will provide any relevant updates regarding health department guidance as we receive them.

In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves, wear your masks, and know that we are preparing our campus community for a warm welcome back to fall classes in whatever form they take.


Mike Groener, President
Sheila Smith McKoy, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs

July 1: A Message about Learning and Community at HNU this Fall

HNU President Mike Groener and Sheila Smith McKoy, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, message to the campus community:

As you all know, HNU is a close-knit community that values collaboration and connection. The HNU educational experience is enriched by engaging with fellow students, faculty, and staff through both academic and social opportunities. While COVID-19 may have changed how this takes place, we are working diligently to prepare our campus community so that students have a true HNU experience, whether it be in person or online.  Following is an update about what the fall semester will look like at Holy Names University.

Class Formats

The Office of Academic Affairs has selected four class formats that students can expect this fall. Of course, HNU will be prepared to pivot to 100% online instruction if the county health authorities require it. Formats for each individual class will be available in the Class Schedule on or before July 15.

 HybridFully Online
(in real time)
Students meet with faculty and peers in class sessions split evenly between face-to-face and online sessions in real time.  Students work with faculty and peers online during designated class times.
(on your own time)
Students meet with faculty and peers in class sessions split evenly between face-to-face sessions at the designated class time and online sessions on their own time. Students work with faculty and peers online and access the course materials, e.g. lectures, assignments, and 
forums, on their own time.
Regardless of the mode in which classes are offered, students can expect faculty to continue to be available for consultation and feedback through office hours and other forms of communication. Students are expected to meet the course expectations and deadlines regardless of course format. Details will be provided via course syllabi and on Canvas as the start of the fall semester approaches.

Class Scheduling

To minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 post-holiday travel, HNU will end in-person instruction by our Thanksgiving break and conduct the rest of the fall 2020 semester online.

Residence Life

We are reconfiguring our residence halls so that each student living in campus housing will have a single room. In addition, we have identified an off-campus housing option, also single occupancy, to increase our capacity. After the course schedule has been published on July 15, students who have applied for housing will receive detailed information from the Department of Residence Life regarding a revised room selection process.

The COVID-19 pandemic is requiring us to be flexible, creative, and highly intentional about how we learn together and connect as a community. This includes planning access and opportunities for connection through academic communities, the First-Year Experience, student activities, student services, the library, and other important centers on campus. We know that our students will benefit from flexibility in our course delivery and in accessing campus resources right now.

We hope to have clearance to begin our re-opening from the Alameda County Department of Public Health by late July. In the meantime, we will continue to provide updates on the student experience at HNU, including detailed guidance for our return to campus.

We look forward to the start of classes this fall and know that our Holy Names community will grow even stronger as we navigate this extraordinary time in history together.


June 5: A Message about our Summer Campus Plans

Dear HNU students, faculty, and staff,

I’m writing to follow up on my last update regarding our plan for a phased return to campus. Because Alameda County has extended its shelter-in-place order which now has no expiration date, our campus will remain closed until we receive clearance to open our doors again.

With this said, we are aware that some faculty and staff members need to retrieve items from campus as they continue to work remotely. We are currently working on a plan to provide limited, staggered campus access for you to do so. Your area VPs will be in contact with you in the coming week to provide more information on the plan.

Faculty members will also be receiving information from CETL and the Academic Affairs offices regarding distance learning training that will be conducted remotely over the summer.

Please reference our page for the latest campus updates and contact your supervisor or area VP with any questions you have.
I know that this moment requires a lot of us, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Please continue to let us know how we can be most supportive of the HNU community right now and take good care.


Mike Groener
President, Holy Names University

May 29: Our Preparations for a Phased Reopening

Dear HNU students, faculty, and staff,

I know how much our community looks forward to being together again as the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. I also know that we have the ability and the drive as a small, exceptionally dedicated campus to provide a Holy Names University experience under the ever-changing circumstances we find ourselves in.

As the current shelter-in-place order nears its end date and we await further guidance from our county health officials, I’d like to share some of the steps we are taking to provide the safest campus environment possible for you when we receive the go-ahead to reopen our doors.

HNU’s COVID Response Team

Our COVID Response Team is responsible for the daily tracking of best practices related to institutional safety, as well as the planning and implementation of any campus adjustments related to the pandemic. Decisions are directly informed by guidelines issued by county, state, federal, CDC, NCAA, regional accreditation, and American College Health Association officials. The team includes representatives from Academic Affairs, Athletics, Facilities, Finance and Administration, Marketing and Communications, the President’s Office, and Student Affairs.

Our plan for a phased re-entry

In order to minimize risk and best prepare for fall semester, we are building a three-phase campus re-entry plan. Re-entry will begin once Alameda county lifts the current shelter-in-place order and sets standards for office environments to reopen.

  • The re-entry plan will extend through the summer term.
  • HNU will manage campus density so that we can adhere to social distancing recommendations.
  • Vice presidents and supervisors will provide more information regarding plans for their respective areas.
  • The gates of the HNU campus will remain closed throughout the summer with access restricted to authorized members of the HNU community and visitors provided clearance.

How we are preparing our facilities

The Facilities team is planning to clean and sanitize all in-use campus spaces with more frequency.
Classrooms and shared office spaces are being reconfigured to support social distancing, spacing out desks when possible and installing plexiglass barriers in those high-traffic areas where more in-person interaction is necessary.

  • Common spaces are being reconfigured to ensure social distancing, with revised capacity limits for all gatherings in accordance with CDC and county guidelines.
  • Campus housing is being reconfigured to address density and to best support social distancing. We are also exploring additional housing options nearby.
  • Some campus spaces, including the Valley Center for Performing Arts (VCPA), are being repurposed to accommodate more classrooms and campus life with social distancing.
    Outdoor spaces are being explored as locations where small gatherings can safely take place.

How we will ensure good hygiene on campus

  • Trainings regarding COVID-19 safety practices are in development for the campus community.
  • A guide outlining revised practices and policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus is in development and will be distributed to all faculty, staff, and students.
  • Signage will be posted at all entrances to campus buildings outlining these mitigation policies.
    Masks will always be required in shared and public spaces.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided in all high-touch areas of campus and in all bathrooms.

How we are preparing our learning environments

  • HNU is planning to ensure students have hybrid (a mix of online and in-person classes) and online options for the fall.
  • We are in the process of surveying faculty, staff, and students to solicit feedback regarding our transition to remote learning during the spring semester in order to better understand what institutional support is needed going forward.
  • Student services including Hawk Days will take place online over the summer, but student services will resume in-person and follow social distance guidelines in the fall.

I hope this is helpful and promise you more updates as they become available in the coming weeks. Our staff is both eager to provide the HNU experience in service to our mission and capable of extraordinary work to make this happen. Please join me in thanking them. We all know that this hard work is well worth it.

Have a safe and restful weekend, everyone.

Mike Groener
President, Holy Names University

May 19: CARES Act Student Grant Report

Holy Names University received $895,000 under the federal CARES Act. Half of this relief ($447,000) is for direct grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, and half is for related institutional expenses (e.g. technology expenses and room and board refunds). Below is HNU’s student grant distribution reporting:

  1. An acknowledgment that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.Holy Names University (HNU) signed the Department’s Certification and Agreement. In keeping with Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, no less than 50 percent of the funds received will be used for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
  2. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Student.$447,724
  3. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day report and every 45 days thereafter).$407,000 as of May 13, 2020. Students will have the opportunity to apply for funds from the remaining $40,724.
  4. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.We estimate that just over 800 students meet this criteria.
  5. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.814 eligible students received grants of $500 each. Remaining funds will be dispersed according to need.
  6. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.Each student who is eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 automatically received a $500 emergency grant. $40,000 remained and eligible students with additional need can apply for funding.
  7. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.On May 4, 2020, students were notified via email of the Emergency Financial Aid Grants. They were told to update student account information. All enrolled students eligible for CARES funding would receive $500. No further action was needed. Students with more than $500 of expenses related to the disruption of campus operations were told they could apply for additional funding.
May 6: A Message About Fall at HNU

Dear members of the HNU community,

My message to you today comes during a week of important milestones for many of you as you complete your degrees or prepare to begin new ones. Adapting to our new reality has been deeply challenging but our collective commitment to the mission of Holy Names is stronger and more important than ever. As our spring semester comes to an end and our summer semester begins in a new, distance-learning format, I’m writing to update you on the steps that Holy Names University is taking to prepare for fall and to provide the most “Holy Names” experience possible for our community.

Our COVID-19 response team has been hard at work with contingency planning and with preparing our campus for a safe reopening. This will allow us to act quickly and effectively once we are given clearance to do so by our county or state health officials. The ever-changing context of this pandemic requires us to be nimble, responsive, and prepared for a variety of scenarios. Here are updates on key areas of life at HNU:


HNU is planning for in-person instruction with social distancing precautions in place, while preparing all courses for online delivery should this be necessary. This preparation includes providing additional faculty training to address survey feedback from students and faculty members regarding HNU distance learning during shelter-in-place orders.

Campus Facilities 

When it is safe to do so, HNU will respond to easing of stay-at-home restrictions with a careful reopening of our facilities and a phased reentry plan for community members. Our facilities will be disinfected regularly and reconfigured to accommodate for social distancing. Note that all dining facilities will be closed during the summer.


As with Academics, HNU is planning for both in-person and remote staffing. This will help us reduce the number of people on campus if we need to, and to move quickly to a remote work environment should another outbreak occur. Individual instructions for returning to campus will come from area Vice Presidents and reasonable accommodations may be made for those unable to return to campus.

Student Life 

We are committed to providing a rich and meaningful student experience while prioritizing the well-being and safety of our campus community. If it is deemed safe to open residence halls to the larger resident community in the fall, HNU will do so with clear contingency plans in place. HNU Athletics will follow NCAA guidelines for reopening. Campus programs and events will be held in accordance with any social distancing mandates issued by county or state health officials. Our critical student support services will be available on-campus and off, and we will be creative (and flexible) as we find ways to build and sustain the very special community that is Holy Names University.

In the months ahead, I will continue to provide you all with updates from HNU. I am proud of how our community has worked together to stay safe and to stay connected as we face this pandemic together.

Thank you and take good care.

Mike Groener
President, Holy Names University

May 1: HNU test-optional for Fall 2021 applicants

In response to standardized testing disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Holy Names University will not require SAT or ACT test scores for fall 2021 first-year applicants. This temporary policy change applies to current high school juniors.

While we will review test results if submitted, they are no longer a requirement. If students wish to report the results of previous testing, such as PSAT or PreACT scores or any previously administered SAT, ACT, AP, or IB exams, they are welcome to. Sharing exam results will be completely optional and students who did not take a test or choose not to share results will not be penalized.

April 29: COVID-19 related financial relief

Dear HNU students,

I’m writing to update you on financial relief that may be available to you through Holy Names University. HNU received $895,000 under the federal CARES Act. Half of this relief ($447,000) is for direct grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, and half is for related institutional expenses (e.g. technology expenses and room and board refunds).

All eligible HNU students who were enrolled at the time of the transition to remote instruction and the disruption of campus operations (March 16, 2020) will receive $500.

  • Federal guidelines state that student recipients must be eligible to file a FAFSA.
  • Due to these federal guidelines, international students and undocumented students are not eligible for CARES Act funding.

The money will be distributed through the system that our Student Accounts office uses to distribute refunds: by direct deposit or by check.

• If you fit the eligibility criteria, log in to the online Student Account Center and review your refund preference by May 4. We strongly recommend direct deposit—it’s fast and secure. If you prefer a paper check, please review your mailing address in the online Student Account Center, as checks will be mailed to the address currently on record there.

• You will be notified when the payment has been initiated.

Students ineligible for the CARES Act relief and students with more than $500 of expenses related to the disruption of campus operations are encouraged to apply for additional emergency grant funding.

  • HNU alumni and friends have donated over $30,000 for emergency grants.
  • Some additional federal funds are available.

How to access relief funds:

  • All students eligible for CARES Act funding will receive $500. No action is needed.
  • Students ineligible for CARES Act funding and students with more than $500 of expenses related to the disruption of campus operations may apply for additional emergency grant funding.
  • Check your HNU email later this week for application instructions

Taxation of relief funds:

  •  The federal government has not yet notified recipients whether these funds will be taxable.

We hope that this is helpful, and we have you all on our minds right now during this ever-changing and difficult time we are living in. If you have any questions about these resources, just let me know.

With best wishes for continued health and safety for you and your loved ones.

Laura Lyndon
Vice President for Student Affairs

April 29: Shelter-in-Place Order Extended through May

Dear HNU campus community,

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom announced an extension of California’s shelter-in-place orders through the end of May. Information regarding slight easing of restrictions under this order extension was published today, but this easing does not affect the status of our campus closure.

Of course, HNU will continue to follow any state or county mandates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As always, I wish you all well as we shelter-in-place and continue to flatten the curve together.

Take care,

Mike Groener

April 20: Message about Spring Semester Grading

I write with an important update about grading options for Spring Semester 2020.  HNU administration, faculty, and staff want to support your efforts to complete your classes during this unprecedented time.  We have decided to offer classes with the option of being graded Credit/No Credit and have eased our incomplete grading policy:

  • Students can discuss Credit/No Credit and Incomplete grading options with their instructor(s).
  • Students can submit for Credit/No Credit and Incomplete grades up to the new deadline of April 28.  Look out for two emails with the process for getting the form(s) submitted.
  • Credit/No Credit grades do not impact your GPA (either positively or negatively).
  • Credit/No Credit grades could result in issues related to certification, eligibility, or graduate and professional school applications. Please speak with your respective instructor/advisor to learn more about these potential impacts.
  • Incomplete grades must be resolved within a year.
  • For more information please review the Credit/No Credit and Incomplete grade emails, which will be sent to your HNU email account from

Our Advising and Academic Support Team and the Registrar’s Office will contact students who have not resolved Incomplete grades before the beginning of the Fall semester in order to support their efforts to complete all outstanding work. Faculty will also be contacted. This is truly an institutional effort.

Stephen Sticka

April 16: A Message about HNU’s Well-Being During COVID-19

Dear HNU Community,

I know that there is a lot on your minds right now as our reality during the COVID-19 pandemic has been in a constant state of flux. I am writing today to update you on HNU’s well-being during this public health emergency. You’ll find frequently asked questions below. If you have any questions that weren’t addressed here, I encourage you to speak with your dean or your area Vice President.

Take good care,

Mike Groener

Holy Names University

How has COVID-19 affected HNU’s financial situation?

  • We don’t yet know the full impact of COVID-19 but are preparing for different scenarios in which there is a loss in revenue. HNU leadership is closely monitoring our financial situation, pursuing opportunities for support, and working on hypothetical modeling to project how COVID-19 may impact the institution.
  • At this time, there are no plans to lay off or to furlough any employees as a result of COVID-19.

Will HNU provide students any refunds as a result of the adjustments made to spring semester?

  • HNU refunded those residents able to move out by March 30 for their room and board for the period from April 1 – May 7.
  • HNU refunded students for all May 2020 commencement fees.

What is the plan for summer classes and activities?

  • All classes are being delivered remotely through the summer semester.
  • All HNU campus events and Valley Center for the Performing Arts rentals have been cancelled through the end of the academic year. We will not hold any campus events until we have received indications from Alameda County that it is safe to do so.

Will HNU receive any federal relief?

  • HNU expects to receive federal relief through the CARES Act to cover COVID-19-related costs incurred this spring. It will be 50% student aid and 50% institutional support. We are waiting for further guidance from the federal government on how this aid can be spent and distributed.

How are HNU’s enrollment numbers looking?  

  • At this point we have not experienced any drop in interest in HNU for the fall 2020 semester, in fact we have seen an increase in transfer applications. We won’t have a clear picture of our fall 2020 enrollment, however, until later in the summer due to admissions deadline extensions in the context of COVID-19.

Are there any students or staff on campus right now?  

  • Our residence halls are about 10% occupied at this time. Students unable to shelter-in-place safely elsewhere were allowed to stay on campus. For this reason, we continue to have essential staff on campus (e.g. the business office, campus services, campus safety, dining services, human resources, and residence life).
  • The HNU campus is closed to anyone not currently residing here and to non-essential staff.

How is HNU planning for long-term success? 

  • We continue to develop and refine our digital learning programs, which are now even more critical to our success.
  • We have secured long-term financing that is continuing to fund institutional priorities, such as continued implementation of IT infrastructure improvements and digital initiatives.
  • HNU is in Yr-2 of our 5-Year Plan under the direction of a solid leadership team. We have made progress toward all Plan goals, including:
  • Increasing fall enrollment year over year since fall 2016,
  • Developing and implementing an IT infrastructure and systems improvement plans, which enabled us to more seamlessly transition to distance learning mid-March,
  • Enhancing student success efforts including emphasis on student retention and graduation rates,
  • Improving pedagogic approaches to learning through our digital learning initiative aimed at offering more hybrid and online courses and improving use of technology in the classroom through our Title III Grant,
  • Implementing a new Academic Strategic Plan, which is in its early stages.

How can I stay updated on HNU’s COVID-19 response efforts?  

April 8: HNU will move summer instruction online

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

I write today with an update about our summer classes as we continue to follow recommended precautions to ensure the safety of everyone in the Holy Names community. In light of last Monday’s extension of our shelter-in-place orders to May 3 and in the spirit of taking all possible precautions related to this extraordinary pandemic, we now plan to offer our summer session online.

We are making this announcement now so that faculty and students can prepare for the online summer session. We understand that Nursing will have specific needs when it comes to summer instruction and we will address these needs in follow-up communications.

We transitioned to remote learning together so quickly during the spring semester, and the flexibility and commitment of our students, faculty, and staff was outstanding. I know that we all appreciate how the entire HNU community has worked together in implementing creative solutions to ensure that our students can continue to progress in their studies despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

We will, of course, continue to find solutions as we work through these challenging times. As we prepare for the summer, the Academic Affairs team will do all that we can to make this transition easier and stay in regular communication.

Lastly, please note that we fully intend to offer face-to-face classes on campus this fall, provided it is safe to open campus in August. Note that no decisions have been made regarding other summer activities (e.g. Hawk Days) at this time. We will update the campus community as any adjustments are made.

Thank you for all that you are doing to make the time that we spend sheltering-in-place another way to demonstrate the extraordinary hospitality that defines our community.

My very best to everyone,
Sheila Smith McKoy, PhD

March 27: Support the HNU Emergency Response Fund

Dear Friend,

As a member of the Holy Names University community, you and your loved ones remain in my thoughts and prayers for health and safety during this global public health crisis. Today marks two weeks of sheltering in place and distance learning for HNU students, faculty, and staff, and I am grateful for many things.

I’m grateful for our faculty, who are embracing online instruction and are going to incredible lengths to help students successfully manage this transition. I’m grateful for our staff, who are working tirelessly to keep the University functioning and are caring daily for the small cadre of students with nowhere else to go who are still living on campus; for our library and IT staff who have provided additional computers and technology support for remote learning. I’m grateful for our students, who remain committed to their education and are persevering despite the sudden onslaught of new challenges. I’m grateful for the Holy Names Sisters, whose core values of hospitality, service, and love continue to guide all that we do. And I’m grateful that as of today, there still are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the HNU community.

Many of you have asked how you can help HNU during this crisis. Thank you for your generous and kind offers. I’d like to share one extremely important step you can take right now: give what you can to the HNU Emergency Response Fund.

Though they are healthy and safe, our students are facing unexpected financial pressures because of the virus. Many, already from under-resourced backgrounds, have lost wages from jobs they can no longer work—jobs that may have enabled them to afford a Holy Names education. Others have returned home to family members who are ill or unemployed, or households without access to Wi-Fi or the technology to support distance learning. Your gift to the Emergency Response Fund will help HNU students to continue their education, enabling them to finish what they started. Every dollar you give will go directly to those who need it most. To learn more, please contact Mary Boivin-McGhee, Vice President for University Advancement, at

Thank you for remembering our students at this challenging time. The Sisters’ core values truly are exemplified in you. We are eternally grateful for your support, and we look forward to sharing more of our stories with you. Please stay safe and well.

Michael Groener,

March 25: Help keep our campus safe

Dear HNU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I have a request as we all shelter in place and carry on our educational mission remotely.

​All members of the HNU Community must each do our part to flatten the curve of Coronavirus spread. Sheltering in place and social distancing not only help protect you from contracting the virus, more importantly, these precautions protect others that you might unknowingly infect. All of California is under the Governor’s shelter-in-place order that led to our closing the campus.

Anyone who visits campus might be bringing COVID-19 with them, exposing others. Those who must be on campus – students who cannot leave and essential staff providing services, either to the student residents or to keep IT and other campus infrastructure operating during our closure – all deserve our respect and consideration.

I am grateful that our continued collaborative work together, albeit virtually from our respective shelters, is allowing the education of our students to continue through the end of this spring semester. Thank you all, for doing your jobs so well, at a safe distance. For your continued safety as well as the safety of those authorized to be on campus, please do not visit. Front gate staff are maintaining a list of those community members authorized to be on campus and will turn away anyone not on the list.

If there is something you absolutely must have or retrieve from campus to continue working effectively remotely, let your division Vice President know and appropriate arrangements can be made for you to get what you need.

Thank you for your continued cooperation keeping our entire HNU Community safe by practicing social distancing and sheltering in place as long as it will be necessary to do so.

Mike Groener
Holy Names University

March 23: President’s Video Message to the HNU Community

Dear HNU Family,

As many of us are working together at a distance, I wanted to share some words of gratitude with you via video today.

Our community has stepped up in countless ways to support one another during this public health crisis. I know we will continue to share our passion for learning and for serving one another as it takes its course.

I have endless confidence in us. And I look forward to staying in touch.

Gratefully, Mike Groener

March 20: President’s Letter to HNU Alumni and Friends

Dear Friend of HNU,

As we continue navigating the impact of novel coronavirus on each of our lives, I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well. I write to share with you the actions we at Holy Names University (HNU) are taking to protect our campus community and to ensure that our students are safe, supported, and able to successfully complete the spring semester. Fortunately, HNU has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time.

The HNU community is incredibly resilient, and thanks to the generous support of our alumni and other partners, we were much more prepared for this unprecedented situation than we would have been a short time ago. For the past year, we have been implementing a Digital Learning Initiative that included upgrades to the campus’s IT infrastructure and a migration of several key courses and degrees to an online format. Days before we were ordered to shelter in place, we decided to proactively transition all classes to an online format to reduce any risk of transmission in our campus community. Because of our early work through the Digital Learning Initiative, we were able to move quickly. We provided faculty with additional training from technology coaching staff; identified students who needed laptops and/or access to the internet; and provided other technical support to faculty and students to facilitate the transition to distance learning.

In response to the six Bay area county shelter-in-place order issued on Monday, faculty were asked to remain at home and continue teaching remotely, all staff who can work from home were asked to do so, and students were encouraged to seek alternate accommodations off-campus where they might be more comfortable. Recognizing that not all students have other options, we remain committed to keeping the dorms open and essential services available for those who need them. Less than 100 students remain in the dormitories along with student life staff.

To reduce exposure risks, students and staff are following CDC guidelines of social distancing, the dining hall is providing grab-and-go meals, housekeeping has increased efforts to sanitize campus buildings that remain in use, access to campus has been restricted to campus residents and essential staff for the duration of the shelter-in-place order, and all campus events have been canceled or postponed. This includes our May 2020 commencement ceremonies, which we are committed to holding once it is safe to do so. Fortunately, student support services (advising, tutoring, HNU’s Career Center, campus ministry, and counseling services) continue and are available to all students remotely. We are in touch with all students through multiple channels to ensure their physical and mental well-being, as well as their academic success.

In the coming weeks, we will share more of how HNU is responding to this global public health crisis and taking action to care for our community. I am deeply grateful to each member of our faculty, staff, and student body for their patience, flexibility, and dedication, and I am thankful to you for keeping HNU close in your heart. I pray tonight for your health, for the health of our community, and for our world. We will get through this together.


Michael Groener,

March 19: HNU will postpone May 2020 commencement

May 2020 Commencement has been postponed

Dear HNU Campus Community,

As you well know, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our everyday lives and required us to take unprecedented measures to keep our communities safe. The duration of this public health crisis is still unclear, and the CDC recommended this week that group events be limited to no more than ten people.

In an effort to ensure that no member of the HNU family is in jeopardy of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, we have decided to postpone our commencement ceremonies on May 8 and 9. While this decision was hard to make, we are clear that now is the time to take all possible precautions. We will continue to monitor the situation and will notify you once we have confirmed an alternate ceremony date.

Students graduating in May 2020

You will be receiving a follow-up email from Casey LaBarbera with further details about logistics. Please know that we are committed to celebrating your great achievements as soon as we are able.

If you have any questions, please contact Casey LaBarbera.

Wishing you all good health,

The Commencement Committee

March 19: Message to students graduating in May

This is a special follow-up message to HNU students preparing to graduate in May 2020.

As you know, our world has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends that group events be limited to no more than ten people. In an effort to ensure that no member of the HNU family is in jeopardy of being exposed to COVID-19, we have decided to postpone the May 8 and 9 graduation ceremonies.

We know that this news is disappointing to you because you have worked so hard to celebrate this well-earned achievement with your families and friends. However, we do plan to provide a ceremony for you once it is possible. As soon as we have a date set, we will let you know. There will be ample advance notice so that you and your families can prepare, arrange travel, etc.

All students who have been charged a graduation fee on their account will receive a credit to their HNU account ($200 for MA, BA, BS, and $50 for certificate or credential).

We expect to hear from Herff Jones sometime this week about the status of the academic attire that has been ordered and will share an update once we have one.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we all live through these difficult times. Be assured of our support and know that you are remembered very specially in our prayers as you complete these last classes in preparation for graduating.

Congratulations on nearing the completion of your degree. We are proud of you and your accomplishments and look forward to counting you among our many HNU alumni.

Stay healthy and safe!

March 17: Campus Resources During Shelter-in-Place Order

Visit this resource page as a guide as HNU follows Alameda County and the State of California’s shelter-in-place order. It will be updated as needed.

March 16: Message to the HNU Community

Dear HNU community members,

In light of today’s shelter-in-place announcement for the entire Bay Area, I am writing with an update for students, staff, faculty, and your families. HNU will fully comply with this order as we understand it applies to institutions like ours. You will find additional information specific to faculty, students, and staff below.

Classes will take place online through Spring semester
Classes will be held remotely through the end of the Spring 2020 term. This is an extension of our original plan to update our community on April 3. We have not yet made a decision regarding commencement ceremonies in May.

“Shelter in place” defined
The “shelter-in-place” order applies to all Bay Area residents. It bans all non-essential gatherings and directs everyone to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible until April 7. Exceptions include trips to seek food and essential medical care and checking on those who need assistance. The shelter in place mandate also applies to HNU and all those who currently reside on the campus. View Announcement from the Alameda County Office of Public Health.

  • Guidelines for students
    While the residence halls remain open, the shelter-in-place order will require any students who choose to remain on campus to limit their interactions with others, and off-campus travel will be restricted. We ask you to consider off-campus options should you be more comfortable with accommodations outside of the residence halls.If you plan to leave campus
    The shelter-in-place mandate also applies to HNU and all those who currently reside on the campus. Please look for communications from Residence Life staff to inform them of your plans.If you plan to stay on campus
    At this time, the CDC continues to recommend maintaining six feet of distance between you and others and no group gatherings of more than 10 people. Is it of critical importance that we all follow these guidelines on campus and could literally be a matter of life and death to someone who may be vulnerable to COVID-19.To reduce exposure risks, there is no self-service in the dining halls. We will be offering grab and go meals only with limited menu options. Further information about campus life during the shelter-in-place order will be forthcoming.If you’ve tested positive or suspect you’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, contact VP of Student Affairs Laura Lyndon at immediately.
  • Guidelines for staff
    If your job can be done remotely we encourage you to work from home. If you are unsure, please work with your supervisor directly to determine what is feasible.If your job is mission-critical and on-campus, we urge you to follow social distancing guidelines at all times and we offer our sincere gratitude for your commitment to the wellbeing of our community. Please work directly with your supervisor and area vice president to confirm your accommodations.If you’ve tested positive or suspect you’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 virus contact VP of Finance and Administration Rob Kinnard at immediately.
  • Guidelines for faculty
    We ask that faculty not come to campus during this shelter-in-place order and continue to teach remotely. The Provost and your School Dean will be in further communication with you regarding specific directions for remote instruction.If you’ve tested positive or suspect you’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 virus contact Provost and VP of Academic Affairs Sheila Smith McKoy at immediately.

We recognize that this is an unprecedented and incredibly challenging time. We will continue to work with every member of our campus to protect ourselves and continue to provide a Holy Names education.


Mike Groener

March 12: Message to the HNU Community

Dear HNU Community,

I am writing to update you with the latest information available from Holy Names University (HNU) regarding the actions we are taking to help protect the health and well-being of our campus community.  Fortunately, HNU does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 at this time.

In consultation today with campus leadership and the Faculty Senate, we have decided that classes will be held remotely beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, until at least Friday, April 3, 2020. In some cases, next Monday’s and/or next Tuesday’s courses may be canceled to allow faculty to transition from face-to-face classes. Faculty members will be in communication with students directly if a cancellation is necessary. A follow-up message concerning future plans for instruction will be sent to the campus community on Friday, April 3.

All courses will continue to be held at their regularly scheduled time, and students will be receiving information in their HNU email accounts directly from their faculty members about remote access. We will follow up shortly with all students via an online survey to ensure they have the technological resources necessary to access these courses. Students in the School of Nursing and the School of Education will also receive an important update from their deans this week.

While instruction will be offered remotely, the university is not closing. The HNU campus will remain open at this time to accommodate students who choose to stay in the residence halls. Those students who continue to reside on campus will have access to dining services and other student support services (e.g. advising, student accounts, counseling, etc.). We will also ensure that all these student services are available for students to access remotely. Information about accessing those services will be communicated from those individual departments.

For faculty:
Your school Dean will be in touch with you regarding plans to migrate your courses online. We are sensitive to the needs of our faculty who teach in diverse disciplines and may require accommodations to appropriately migrate a course online. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) will be in touch with you tomorrow and Friday to ensure you have the essential support to teach remotely. IT staff will also be in touch and will provide you with adequate resources to successfully facilitate your courses through an online platform.

For staff:
Your area Vice President will give you guidance regarding further action to support this rapidly changing situation. Please plan to continue to report to work and contact your direct supervisor if you require additional accommodations during this period. As a reminder, we ask that you exercise extreme caution by staying home if you experience any signs of illness or do not feel well.

The campus is currently following the California Department of Public Health Guidelines for Colleges and Universities to determine appropriate action regarding a potential campus closure, as well as monitoring guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of Education. We are currently compiling and regularly updating a FAQ page on our website that is designed to answer any additional questions you may have regarding this situation.

I want to take this moment to thank the students, the faculty, and the staff for their understanding during this time of uncertainty. I am appreciative of the work you have done, and the flexibility they are all exhibiting. I pray tonight for the health of both our community and the greater world at large.

Michael Groener

March 11: Message to the HNU Community

Further information about emergency preparedness at HNU

As of today, March 11, 2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving students, faculty, or staff at Holy Names University.

Emergency Preparedness:
If you are a member of the HNU campus community and you suspect that you have had direct contact with someone who has COVID-19, please follow the self-isolation instructions, seek medical assistance, and notify your supervisor. We take the health of each member of our community seriously and want to make sure everyone is taking the necessary precautions and following appropriate guidance.

Further Campus Updates:
HNU’s response team is closely monitoring any risks to our campus community, following CDC guidelines for colleges and universities regarding prevention and response to virus exposure. Any campus closures will be announced through our emergency alert program, Send Word Now, as well as our public website.

Event Postponements:
Out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with guidance about large group gatherings, Holy Names is postponing the following events:

  • Hip Hop Book Club – originally scheduled on March 11
  • Presidential Inauguration – originally scheduled on March 20
  • Social Justice Forum – originally scheduled on March 20

We will provide updates about these events after the COVID-19 outbreak has been contained.

Please find guidelines regarding prevention and travel below.

COVID-19 Campus FAQs

Check this page often for updates from leadership regarding life in the HNU community during Alameda County’s shelter-in-place orders.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Individuals with chronic health issues and/or individuals experiencing severe symptoms should be evaluated by a medical professional.
  • Get vaccinated every year.
  • Teleconference in lieu of meeting in person if available.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles, if touching or working with bloodborne pathogens.
  • Follow updates from the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other local health agencies regarding taking additional precautions.

It is critical that if you become aware of an exposure to COVID-19 that you not only seek medical attention but that you notify Human Resources immediately so that we can take appropriate steps to assist you and to ensure the health of the community.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State regularly update their websites regarding travel and Covid-19.

  • If you have recently traveled outside the United States, please follow the recommended or required quarantine guidance from the CDC.
  • If you had plans to travel outside the United States please be certain you are following CDC and State Department guidance and be certain to notify Human Resources if you are staff or faculty or Student Affairs if you are a student. We can assist you in following appropriate guidance upon your potential return to campus.
  • Please note that CDC guidance is being updated rapidly and may at some point extend to domestic travel so please visit the website regularly and follow any necessary guidance
More information

You may access up-to-date information about Covid-19 through the following national, state, and international agencies: