The First Two Weeks—A Success!

Olivet safely starts the fall 2020 semester with fun and fellowship.

August 31, 2020 Campus Life

With great excitement, Olivet Nazarene University welcomed students, faculty and staff back for the 2020-2021 academic year on August 17. While the University did a lot of planning leading up to the start of the year, no one was certain what life at Olivet would look like under COVID-19 restrictions. Now, two weeks into the semester, it is evident that a new sense of pride for the ONU community is being felt by all across campus. 

Senior Kyra Blair says, “I am filled with so much joy being back in the place that I love, learning alongside the people that I love.” 

In order to safely conduct classes, social activities and residential life on campus, there are many new precautions and safety measures that have been implement. However, Life at Olivet – the University’s social and recreational division of the Office of Student Development – has found ways to safely engage with the student body. 

Nights to Remember

Many changes have had to be made to the traditional fall festivities at Olivet, but that hasn’t stopped the fun! Nights at the Plex, a new series of outdoor community events held at the Warming House and the Snowbarger Athletic Complex, was created to help foster an environment for students to enjoy socially distanced activities.

During the first few weeks, students have enjoyed nightly programming by tapping into their creativity with coffee and canvas nights as well as getting groovy with DIY tie dye creations.

For students seeking to build new healthy habits this year, various fitness classes, including Zumba, HIIT, POP Pilates and yoga, are offered. As a way to unwind and simply enjoy a night off, students can also come to the Plex to enjoy live music, trivia, bingo, movies, lawn games and campfires.

Director of Recreation Services, Matt Smith, ’00 says, “The challenge of creating a vibrant campus community during this time has not been a matter of creation as much as it has been a season of discovery.”

He continues, “Our team has worked hard to take many of the pieces we know work in our community and place them outdoors in a safe, monitored environment. It’s clear that our students want to be on campus and have the Olivet experience.”

Christ at the Center

Despite social distancing restrictions, one aspect of Olivet that will never change is the emphasis placed on “Education With a Christian Purpose.” The spiritual development across Olivet is finding new rhythms in the era of COVID-19, but still beating just as strong as ever. One of the new changes has been to temporarily move chapel services from Centennial Chapel to a virtual setting. 

Chaplain Mark Holcomb ’81/’18 D.D. and the Office of Spiritual Development are encouraging students to seek the Lord in small group settings as well as in the quiet of daily activities.  

For the first chapel service of the year, University President John C. Bowling delivered a message of hope in the midst of times that seem uncertain. He acknowledged that many students and faculty may be feeling anxious but encouraged the campus to move from anxiety to the promise of peace through Jesus. 

In his first chapel message, Holcomb talked about the power of stories in spiritual development. While stories often leave audiences with questions and lessons – in personal stories of life, the ending is left somewhat up to each individual. Holcomb challenged the student body to consider the stories they are “writing” with their lives. “When looking at the story of personal faith, we are left with a decision to make: what will I do with what we just heard?” 

“The stories we will be reading will serve as invitation to something bigger than ourselves,” Holcomb says. “They are an invitation to seek to live in the way of Jesus and his kingdom … all so we can become more like him today than we were yesterday.”

The Ongoing Practice of Pausing

While Olivet is committed to keeping the campus community safe, the leadership and various task force teams are monitoring the situations daily in order to make the best decisions regarding the health and safety of the entire community. The Olivet website is frequently updated with helpful information and changes to campus operations. Campus officials have also implemented Tiger Pause, a set of guidelines created to encourage the safety of the campus community. Olivet is hopeful that in taking the right steps, this semester will be safe and successful.

For more information about changes to the semester visit

If you are a prospective student, discover what life at Olivet could look like for you by contacting the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.

Published 8/31/20

*Be sure to follow Life at Olivet on Facebook and Instagram for more photos!

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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