Open letter from Principal Stephen Peake

When I started as Principal at Emmanuel College in January, I had in mind to communicate regularly with our College community to keep everyone who is interested in the life of the College updated about the goings-on and important achievements of our students. I also hoped that my first year at Emmanuel would be like no other in the history of the College — well, how right I was! Thank you to those in our community who have contacted us with messages of support during our navigation through these “COVID-19 times”.

We made the difficult decision to ask our students who could return home to their families to do so in late March and I elected to refund unused portions of students’ fees. Notwithstanding the financial impact this has had on the College’s finances, holding funds for services not delivered or without any clarity about the rest of 2020 felt contrary to Emmanuel College’s values.

Managing financial affairs in the face of uncertainty is difficult and the economic, as well as health, impacts of COVID-19 are being felt by many in our community. Many uncertainties remain, not least what form university study will take at UQ, QUT and Griffith in semester 2 2020.

Emmanuel is very different to when the College year began a little over two months ago. We have has lost 60% of our staffing through reduced hours and stand-downs. Notwithstanding this, we are delivering services and on-site support to our 27 students who have been unable to return to their families due to distance, travel constraints or particular situations at home. They have affectionately dubbed themselves “The Leftovers” and are resiliently finding innovative ways to make the most of their time at College and keep Emmanuel traditions alive. I am deeply proud of them for their efforts.

Uncertain times call for practical action and I am seeking the support of the Emmanuel College community in two ways.

Firstly, as we aren’t able to visit high schools this year to talk with students about Emmanuel, we would really appreciate it if all the members of our Emmanuel community would encourage friends, family and anyone coming to university in Brisbane in 2021 to consider applying to us. We want to continue to recruit the best and brightest from around the country as Emmanuel students. And, as we all know how powerful word-of-mouth referrals are, your unique insights into the benefits of College life could make all the difference.

Secondly, I invite our community to participate in the College’s fundraising efforts. This year we have a very simple request: please donate to Emmanuel and, in particular, to our bursaries fund by making a tax-deductible gift. So many of our families have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and some students may not have the financial capacity to return to College when we are able to safely reopen. I do appreciate that many are under financial stress, but, support from our community will help these students return to Emmanuel. Please help us to continue the outstanding collegiate experience for which Emmanuel is known, and which informs our very purpose for existence, this year and into the future.

I believe 2021 will be a very important recovery period for Emmanuel College, and as I frequently reflect on our name — “Emmanuel: God with us” — I see countless past examples of that simple truth in the assistance of our families, our alumni and our community. Thank you to everyone for their support to help the College through.

With best wishes to all,

Stephen Peake
Emmanuel College