Our Commitment to Wellbeing: COVID-19 Update

MMC / MMI COVID-19 Updates

Mount Madonna Institute in concert with its host, Mount Madonna Center, has suspended all onsite programs and public visits until May 2021.

In March, in observance of State and County guidelines, Mount Madonna Center closed its campus to the public. Meanwhile, the resident community and essential staff continue to maintain the land and basic functions of the Center, while practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, sheltering in place, and observing additional safety standards applicable to communal life.

We recognize that mandated safety measures for organizations like ours will be a reality for some months to come. In an effort to support preparations for a healthy and sustainable reopening, we are using this unprecedented time to strengthen our organizations internally, reaffirm our mission, and explore innovative ways to support our extended communities.

As responsible members of an extended global community, the Hanuman Fellowship and Mount Madonna Center remain committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for personal transformation for all the communities of practice we serve.

We look forward to welcoming our MMI community back to MMC! Until then, know that our hearts and minds are connected through the blessing of our shared study, practices, and values.

April 22, 2020

Dear Mount Madonna Institute Students, Faculty and Staff,

I pray each of you, and your families are safe and well during this time of sheltering, distancing, and deep concern for our fellow humans around the globe. I have such respect for the flexibility, perseverance and creativity I see everywhere within our MMI community.

Students, you continue to be our primary focus! Thank you for your patience and understanding, for your flexibility, and for your dedication and commitment to your learning.

To our generous faculty and staff, thank you all for your part in helping us continue to meet the needs of our students so they can continue to pursue their intentions, goals and dreams!

We all see significant sacrifices and compromises being made all across the world. Our common humanity has never been more evident, and together as one global family we can create a better future and inspire collective positive change. MMI will do its part. Never in our lifetime have Ayurveda, Yoga, and Community been as relevant and poised to help make a difference in the world.

In addition to expressing sincere appreciation for all of you, I am writing specifically to announce some changes at MMI.

The first change I am announcing with a broad range of feelings. Sarada Diffenbaugh, PhD, MMI’s Provost and Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO), has submitted her formal “Letter of Retirement”, and it is with that broad range of feeling that I accept and support her well-deserved desire and intention to step back from both roles at this time. I will deeply miss our almost daily engagement, and the learning I always experience through our working together. Sarada joined us at the time we were facing the difficult decision to apply for Accreditation. We understood that to reach full potential, MMI – and especially our Master of Arts Ayurveda degree – required formal recognition through our regional higher education accrediting body, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Sarada has selflessly guided us from that very vulnerable moment to this momentous place. MMI is now a recognized institution of higher education dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of ancient Vedic knowledge, tailored to contemporary lives.

With immense gratitude, we wish you Sarada the space and time to resume what you so generously deferred during these years of rigorous accreditation preparation work. And – we will remember your assurance to us that “you are not going anywhere, and will support MMI going forward in whatever way you can”. Again – THANK YOU!

Sarada’s retirement was announced at the MMI Board meeting last week, and the Board has formally conferred the title of Founding Provost Emeritus. She continued a distinguished record of administrative accomplishments established by Cynthia Ambika Copple, Founding Dean of the College of Ayurveda,, and Brajesh Gerald Friedberg, our Founding President. These early leaders created the foundation from which MMI has grown to gain accreditation.

In response to Sarada’s retirement, which is effective immediately, and in the face of a hiring freeze installed by the MMI Board, my next announcement is without any mixed feelings! It is with true joy and more gratitude that I announce that Mary Somerville, PhD, an MMI Board member, will provide MMI the needed “bridge” between Sarada’s retirement and the time we are able to transition this responsibility to MMI’s “next generation of leaders”. In the spirit of Karma Yoga, she volunteers her services pro bono.

I am honored to formally introduce Dr. Mary Somerville to you at this time. Most importantly, and prior to listing her extensive academic accomplishments, I want to say she brings the heart and mind of a yogi to MMI. Her full hearted generosity, commitment to service, her dedication to the preservation of traditional wisdom, and her love of Ayurveda and Yoga demonstrate what Babaji always said when we were worried about needing something or someone. He reassured us. “Someone will come”.

Dr Mary, as she is called, joined the MMI Board of Directors in 2019. She also currently serves as Dean and University Librarian for University of the Pacific Libraries in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Stockton, California, 2016 to date. She previously served as University Librarian and Professor at University of Colorado Denver, 2008 to 2015. Over these dozen years, she secured funding for two comprehensive library facility renovations, raising philanthropic gifts and foundation grants totaling $17M and securing a $27M State legislative appropriation. In addition, she initiated cultural legacy initiatives for underrepresented communities, through state and national grants totaling $1.5M, to advance curation, digitization, discovery, and usage of original knowledge.

In 2010, Dr. Somerville received the Distinguished Scholar Award at San Jose State University, in recognition of her applied research on digital collections and learning environments. Most recently, she guided local creation of an Albanian language knowledge base in Kosovo, during a Fulbright award.

She has also served as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Information Systems, Science and Engineering Faculty, at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, 2015-2018, and as an Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, 1989-1992, where she delivered information science and knowledge studies courses and supervised graduate theses and doctoral dissertations.

At MMI, Dr. Mary now chairs a new “Fund Development” Committee of the Board, with a focus on raising “scholarship funds” for MMI students in need.

Please join me in warmly welcoming Dr. Mary Somerville to the MMI team.

With my warm wishes to you all,

Savita K. Brownfield President, Mount Madonna Institute. Savita@mountmadonna.org

Letter to all from the MMI Chairman of the Board

March 17th, 2020

Dear All,

I know that Covid-19 is occupying a tremendous amount of our time and our thinking right now. Rightfully so. Like a hurricane of historic and unprecedented proportions slowly making landfall, with inheld breath, we wait.

On the eve of this incoming tide, I write to remind us of how much we've accomplished these last several years. Our labors have been tremendous; what we have wrought is tremendous as well. No small irony that Covid-19 arrives en mass just when we should be celebrating, like a rude guest preemptively blowing out the candles on our cake.

I am relatively newly come to this endeavor; I wanted to write and share my gratitude for the great work all of you have put into MMI, and to our recent successes. In times like these, it is easy to focus, even to be consumed by what lies ahead in the near term. In addition to my thanks, I want to remind us-all of Babaji's teaching, and all that MMI is and stands for, will be even more necessary in whatever Covid-rich world lies ahead. We are flummoxed momentarily, fearful for those we love and our uncertain future. And we know that MMI will emerge with enormous opportunity to do its great work.

Yours Sincerely,

Swarup Wood Ph.D.
California State University Monterey Bay
Board Chair, Mount Madonna Institute