Message from the President: We are family.

March 25, 2020

Dear Holy Family University Community,

I’m thinking about all of the families connected to our community, and our connections to others across the country and around the world. As new “hot spots” and “stay at home” orders continue to occur, we all have friends, loved ones – and those whom we don’t even know – who need our prayers. The worst of times must always summon the best in each of us, because we are all connected to the oneness of the human family, and we are all in this together.

Here we are – just one week into a new way of learning online, working remotely and living our “new normal” – and each of us should take a moment to celebrate our successes.

  • We’ve embraced new ways of teaching and learning. While the University was already offering online and blended classes as part of our curriculum, we’ve now effectively transitioned to a full-time online operation for the balance of the semester.
  • Our faculty has risen to the occasion. They’re supporting each other through our Committee for the Oversight of Blended and Online Learning (COBOL) community, where they can raise and address questions virtually to best deliver new online learning experiences.
  • Our staff is actively engaged with our students ensuring the services we deliver are seamless and that our students are getting the support they need, whether through academic advising, telephonic counseling services, career services, or through general fielding of other types of questions.
  • Our IT department has been the backbone of our success, providing and assisting with the instructional technology and equipment to keep our remote operations running smoothly.
  • Our students are adaptable and resilient. They are keeping pace with their coursework while adapting new ways of learning, and they are taking advantage of all the services we have to offer.

As part of our ongoing commitment to support our students’ success, we have four new Student Success Counselors available to help anyone who requires extra academic and/or emotional support. These angels have arrived just in time to help navigate the current turbulence, and they will be here permanently, thanks to the $2-million Title III Strengthening Institutions grant the University received this past fall from the U.S. Department of Education. Students may contact our Student Success team at or leave a message at 267-341-3351.

I know that the biggest question today is for our seniors; what about Commencement? While our May 18 Commencement ceremony at the Kimmel Center must be canceled due to the current situation, we are committed to celebrating our Class of 2020 achievements in-person at a future date. We are currently exploring every option to make that happen and will keep you posted.

For our accepted undergraduate students, we’ve extended our acceptance deadline until June 1, and our admissions team is actively engaging with students to discuss Financial Aid, share information about the HFU experience, and answer any questions. We continue to register students for the upcoming fall semester. Our Admissions staff is also working to stay connected with our graduate and Rapid Degree students to ensure they have the information they need to begin summer sessions without missing a beat.

Thanks to all of our alumni and friends who have reached out to me directly and also to our team. We appreciate your offers of support and everything you do to enhance student scholarship and advance our University.

One thing I know for sure, we are a close-knit and supportive Family, and we inspire each other. If you haven’t seen it, please take a moment to view this video, produced by our Women’s Soccer Team, with their inspirational message on Twitter. They said, “We had to get some touches in together during this quarantine.”

Please let’s keep in touch and continue to care for each other and the rest of the world in these current times and always.


Sister Maureen, CSFN, PhD
University President

March 19: Update about campus access

March 19, 2020, 8 pm

This afternoon, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf ordered all non-life sustaining businesses to close their offices and buildings at 8 pm today, Thursday, March 19. As a result, the Holy Family University campus and all of its buildings are now closed and may not be accessed until further notice.

To our staff:

All designated staff is expected to continue working remotely. Please be in touch with your supervisors should you have any questions.

To our faculty:

All class instruction will continue in a virtual environment via Canvas. Should you have any issues or concerns, please continue to ask questions using the email address. We are monitoring this email frequently and will respond as soon as possible.

To our students:

Online class instruction will continue through the end of the semester. Our IT Help Desk is being continually monitored remotely. Should you need technical assistance please reach out online via this link or via our website at

Due to the new restrictions the computer labs in both ETC 307 & 308 on Main Campus, as well as in Room 132 at Newtown, are now closed.

The Office of Student Success is available to help students navigate the challenges of this new environment. Students are encouraged to reach out by phone or email if they need assistance at or 267-341-3351.


Sister Maureen McGarrity, CSFN, PhD
University President

Holy Family Receives Grant to Fund Smoking Education Initiative

smoking education even chair massages

The Clean Air Council and the Philadelphia Department of Health have awarded a $4,000 grant to Holy Family University to evaluate our current smoking policy, and develop a campus-wide educational program regarding smoking, vaping, and healthy stress management options. This initiative is being led by the University’s Office of Health Services, and guided by our Wellness Committee Task Force.

Continue reading article ...

Learning Together from the “Inside Out” Creates Powerful Perspectives

 inside out criminal justice program

Eight ‘Outside’ students from Holy Family University and nine ‘Inside’ students from the Bucks County Men's Community Correctional Center have been learning together – and from each other – in a course titled, “American Criminal Justice through the lens of alcohol and drugs.” The eight-week course served as a pilot program for both the correctional institution and the University, culminating with the presentation of a final paper, recommending successful re-entry programs for incarcerated individuals into the community.

Continue reading article ...

Staying Close during Trying Times: Updates from Holy Family University

March 18, 2020

Dear Holy Family University Community,

As we engage in our first “official” day of virtual activities at the University, I want you to know that our prayers are with you and your families as our extended community pulls together to manage and respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). With the advent of spring, the Lenten season and current events, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to sacrifice for the benefit of others, and I’m inspired by what I’ve seen so far.

I could not be more grateful to our faculty and staff for getting up and running so quickly to meet this educational challenge. This has certainly been a learning experience for all of us, as we work to deliver a new academic experience that meets the needs and high expectations of our students. I’m sure there will be some fits and starts and a few glitches, but I’m confident that we will be able to work through and overcome any hurdles along the way.

To our students: Please know that you are not alone in this shift to an online education. You are now pioneers in an online learning movement that is taking place across campuses throughout our country. As always, we remain committed to your continued success, and the whole of the University is here to support you as you embark on learning how to learn in a different way. 

To the families and friends of our students: We cherish those whom you have entrusted to us, and we have made every operational decision with our students’ health, safety, and well-being as our top priority. In the past week, we’ve taken many steps to continue our academic mission and support continuous University operations. Please stay in touch to let us know if you have any questions or concerns - or to share your success stories. We appreciate your input and involvement in the Holy Family experience.

I also want to thank our alumni and friends of the University for your everlasting support of our students and our mission. We couldn’t do any of this without you. While we have had to cancel or postpone some events, we are finding new ways to stay in touch to celebrate our mutual commitment to scholarship and academic innovation. 

Together, we all exemplify the oneness of our human community -- helping each other so all of us can arrive at a better place. With time, we will get there. It’s hard to predict when, but I’m certain that we will be an even stronger community as a result. Just check our website updates to see how we’ve moved mountains in just one week. 

I’m proud of all of us, and I hope we all feel proud of ourselves for all we are set to accomplish together this spring semester. Please stay home and stay safe. While we are physically distanced, I hope we will remain socially connected through our digital channels and good old-fashioned phone communications.


Sister Maureen McGarrity, CSFN, PhD


A Message to Alumni on the COVID-19 Response

March 16, 2020

Dear Holy Family Alumni and Friends,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families as together we face the unprecedented public health situation surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). I want to share the steps we’ve taken to protect our campus and extended Holy Family community while maintaining academic and University business operations.

  • In-person learning was suspended on March 13 to prepare for the move to online learning beginning Wednesday, March 18 through the end of the semester.
  • Resident students moved out on Sunday, March 15 and we closed the residence halls and campus dining service.
  • The Campus Center and the Library are closed, but online library services and support continue.
  • To accommodate students without their own computers, computer labs are open and available on both the Philadelphia campus (ETC 307 and 308) and the Newtown location (Room 132) for students to work from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm daily. We are providing additional sanitization and cleaning services for these locations.
  • We are in the process of making telework arrangements for essential staff to continue to support students and the operation of the University.
  • Our leadership team is meeting on a daily basis to closely monitor and respond in a smart, calm and effective manner to the changing conditions, and we are communicating regularly to keep all stakeholders updated. For the latest updates, please visit

With all the change that is occurring at the University, across the country, and around the world, I’d like to provide some guidance for alumni engagement, which is informed by concern for the health and well-being of our community.


All Holy Family-sponsored alumni and donor events on and off campus in-person events for the next eight weeks have been canceled (or postponed). This is in line with the latest CDC guidelines to limit public gatherings of 50 people or more.

  • Alumni Axe Throwing (originally scheduled for March 19) and Holy Family Night at the Phillies (originally scheduled for April 7) have been canceled and will be rescheduled for a future date. Refunds will be processed automatically in the coming days for these events.
  • Reunion 2020 will be postponed to Friday, October 2, 2020 and will be held as part of Homecoming weekend.
  • We are currently exploring other options for Tigers on the Loose, our annual fundraiser, and we will keep you posted.
  • The University will continue to evaluate the situation to determine if events planned after May 10, such as Commencement, will be impacted. More information will be forthcoming.

Community Connection:

While physical distancing is encouraged, we can remain socially connected through our digital channels.

Here are some ways you can connect with Holy Family University digitally:

If you have questions about events or other alumni programs, please do not hesitate to contact us at alumni@holyfamily,edu. In the meantime, please know that we are thinking about our entire Holy Family extended family and urge you to take extra care in staying healthy during this time of uncertainty.


Dr. James C. Garvey, Ed.D.

Vice President, Advancement
Holy Family University

Special Announcement: Updated University Response to COVID-19

March 25, 2020

Dear Holy Family University Community,

Given significant shifts in the past 24-hours, and our steadfast commitment to the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff, we are taking additional steps to minimize possible exposure to the coronavirus on our campus. At this time, there are no known confirmed cases in our campus community. The dynamic nature of this situation requires us to act quickly, and with your support we will approach this work in a smart, calm, and effective manner.

  • The University will move to online learning through the end of the semester. During this time period, students will be able to participate in distance learning through Canvas, our learning management system in order to complete their required course work. In order to prepare for this move, classes will be suspended for the next three days -- March 13, 16 and 17 -- to accommodate planning and faculty training for online learning. Students will have this time off.
  • In an overabundance of caution, residence halls and dining services will be closed as of Sunday, March 15 at 5 pm, for the remainder of the spring semester. Effective immediately and until closure, access to residence halls will be limited to residents and staff only. Students should take their belongings out of the dorm rooms.
    • Residential students will be sent a message by close of business on March 12 with more information.
  • In-season athletic events (Track and Field, Softball and Lacrosse) will continue as scheduled with guidance from the CACC and NCAA. Out of season athletic events are immediately cancelled.
  • We will be evaluating upcoming scheduled events on a day-by-day basis. Please check the website regularly for updates or contact your event organizer.
  • Essential campus operations will remain open, until further notice. This includes the computer labs in ETC 307 and 308 on the Philadelphia campus and Room 132 at the Newtown location. These rooms will be regularly serviced and sanitized to create the safest possible environment for students who do not otherwise have access to technology necessary for online learning, which includes a computer or laptop with microphone, and access to high-speed internet.
  • All student service offices will remain open, but communication will be limited to email, telephone or video conferencing, with the following exceptions:
    • Counseling Services will remain available on an appointment-only basis. Appointments can be made through the online booking system.
    • The Health Center will remain available on an appointment-only basis. Appointments can be made through the online booking system.
    • Title IX Services will remain available, but students are encouraged to call or email to schedule an appointment. In-person meetings will be scheduled at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator. Email communication can be sent to
  • Supervisors will work with their teams over the next two days to make individual work arrangements. Additional guidance will be coming from Human Resources in the next few days. In the meantime, we will assess the viability of keeping such offices open for the duration of the semester.

The Holy Family leadership team will continue to meet daily to monitor the situation in our local area and around the world and update the University community regularly via email and To the extent possible, we will continue seeking input from our campus stakeholders to recognize the varying impact of these decisions. Ultimately, our primary concern is for the health and safety of the entire Holy Family community.

Coronavirus is spread through close personal contact, so it is important for all members of the Holy Family community to maintain a healthy social distance from others. Limit your exposure to large gatherings, practice good personal hygiene and stay home if you feel sick.

These are extraordinary times that require unusual measures to ensure your safety and security. Rest assured that you and your academic success and well-being are our primary concerns. Over the coming weeks, we will be doing everything possible to assure you have a successful academic experience.


Sister Maureen McGarrity, CSFN, PhD

University President

COVID-19 Update - March 11, 2020

Dear Holy Family University Community,

As the situation around COVID-19 (commonly referred to as Coronavirus), continues to evolve, we want to update you on our current plans. We’re closely monitoring this evolving situation and getting regular updates from the city’s Department of Public Health.

1. As of today, spring semester classes are continuing as usual. If you feel uncomfortable coming to class, please contact your instructor or school dean to set up virtual accommodations. (All contact information is in Canvas.)

2. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, if you are returning to the US from CDC Level 3 countries (China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea, as of today), or if you have been exposed to someone returning from these countries, you are required to self-monitor by staying in your home for 14 days before returning to campus, a requirement in line with guidance from the CDC. During this time, if you experience signs or symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, immediately call your primary care provider, your local health department, or a health care provider.

Students, faculty, and staff must notify Health Services at 267-341-3262 if they are self- monitoring at home. In addition, students should notify their faculty and/or deans, and staff or faculty should notify their immediate supervisor.

3. The University has taken additional measures to ensure that both campuses are being cleaned and disinfected and we ask that you utilize the additional hand sanitizer and hygiene products placed around campus.

4. We will be evaluating upcoming scheduled events on a day-by-day basis. Please check the website regularly.

As a reminder, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva. Don’t share food, drinks, utensils, cups, vapes, etc.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell!

For additional information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Coronavirus Letter from Sister Maureen - March 4, 2020

March 4, 2020


Dear Members of the Holy Family University Community,

In the past few days, you have likely heard intensifying reports about the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), that originated in Wuhan, China and has spread to more than 40 countries around the world.  Earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted Americans to begin to prepare for the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. They also advised to prepare for the possibility of disruptions to daily life, suggesting that businesses, schools, and families plan for its potential impact. Health Services and the university are closely monitoring the situation and working in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Given that the university is on Spring Break, we wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to all members of the campus community about the importance of staying informed about the spread of coronavirus. We are strongly recommending and encouraging our students, faculty, and staff to be cautious about their travel choices during Spring Break and beyond. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers and because information regarding this disease is changing quickly, we advise you to check the CDC website for the most up-to-date details and travel guidance. If you are planning travel abroad, please contact your primary care physician in advance for current travel health and vaccination recommendations or the area you will be visiting.

The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, which also include the “common cold,” and influenza:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Limit the spread of germs. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva. Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils, cups, vapes, etc.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell, unless receiving medical attention.


Holy Family University will continue to monitor the Coronavirus and will communicate with you any steps needed to keep you and all members of our community safe. For more information on the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.


Sister Maureen McGarrity

HFU Receives It's On Us PA Grant from the Governor's Office

Group of Holy Family University students photo

For the third consecutive year, Holy Family University has been awarded the "It’s On Us PA" grant, aimed at funding education, training, and the prevention of sexual assault and sex- and gender-based discrimination, harassment, and misconduct on college campuses. The University is among 36 postsecondary institutions named by Governor Tom Wolf to receive this grant.

Continue reading article ...