Open Letter to the Laureate Network – Laureate

Open Letter to the Laureate Network

March 16, 2021

I write today to acknowledge your extraordinary efforts and achievements over the last twelve months, as our organization came to understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This time last year, shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, our 875,000 students and our workforce of almost 60,000 faculty and staff, transitioned to fully digital learning and working environments. 

This tested our global digital learning strategy. Our investment in scalable technology solutions, and training of our faculty and staff in digital content development and online delivery, helped us achieve minimal disruption as students continued their studies in a high-quality online learning environment.

This also tested our individual and collective resilience and adaptability – as we transitioned from familiar learning and working environments, to what has become our ‘new normal’. I could not be prouder of how we responded, and what we have achieved, together. To provide just one example, I think of Heriberto Arista, a much-loved 94-year-old Professor from UNITEC Mexico. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Heriberto transitioned from delivering his classes on campus, to delivering them online for the first time and supporting his students remotely.

Across our institutions today, while the majority of our students continue to learn online, some campuses are partially returning for certain activities, such as practical laboratory sessions and the opening of libraries. We hope that as vaccinations become more widely available, as restrictions ease, and it becomes safe to return to campuses, faculty, staff and students will reclaim the benefits of face-to-face collaboration. However, what we do know is that a return to campus will look different to what it was. The pandemic did not force a change in how education is delivered, it accelerated it. It has proven what we at Laureate have known to be true: higher education can be delivered anytime, anywhere, anyhow, with maximum flexibility to best serve each and every individual. 

In addition to adapting to new ways of working and studying while delivering quality outcomes this past year, I am delighted the Laureate community remained true to our longstanding commitment of making a positive impact in the communities in which we operate.   

Since March 2020, we have provided additional scholarships to thousands of students who needed Wi-Fi access and other resources in order to continue their learning and offered financial assistance to impacted employees through our COVID-19 Employee Relief Fund.

Our students, faculty and staff across our institutions have used their knowledge and skills to innovate and support those in need. You may recall the examples I’ve previously shared – from offering free medical and psychological services, to pioneering a range of inventions (mechanical lung ventilators, sanitizing equipment for hospital uniforms and food deliveries) to donations of educational resources and technology for young children. I acknowledge and thank you for the important contributions you have made, and continue to make, to your communities.

Of course, the Laureate community, like so many communities over the past year, has also suffered tragic loss. We honor the students, faculty and staff who lost their lives to COVID-19 and offer our condolences to the family and friends they leave behind. 

At Laureate, we have witnessed the transformative power of education, and how education leads to excellence and expertise, which world needs now more than ever. We can be proud of the role we have played – from educating healthcare workers who are now on the frontlines and administering COVID-19 vaccines, to scientists and researchers who are studying the virus, to engineers, designers and others who have developed equipment, products and services to support and help keep communities safe, as well as the civic and industry leaders and workforces that continue to guide organizations and communities through the pandemic.

Undoubtedly, 2021 will bring more challenges and opportunities to our communities, however, I have never been more confident in our organization, our people, and our ability to adapt, respond and deliver. 

Again, I thank you for your contribution and wish you and your families good health.

Eilif Serck-Hanssen
President and Chief Executive Officer
Laureate Education, Inc.