Today's Update: Thursday, June 4

June 4, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, 

Here we go! With the university’s announcement yesterday evening that we plan to resume in-person classes for the autumn semester, all our preparations, planning and what-ifs now become operationalized. That, combined with the naming of our next president, makes this an especially exciting time. 

There will be more information to come on details of how this fall will look. The coming weeks will see more specific guidance, but we do know there will be a combination of the use of appropriate face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene, limited density in indoor spaces, control of the flow of traffic into and around buildings, continued employee teleworking when possible, testing, symptoms tracking and contact tracing. 

There will be a Safe and Healthy Playbook released soon with what we can and should do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The university will issue personal protective equipment (PPE) packages to all returning students, faculty and staff.  

There will also be some changes to the academic calendar this fall. The first day of classes will be Tuesday, August. 25, and the last day will be Friday, December. 4. There will be classes on the day before Thanksgiving, which will be the last day of in-person, on-campus instruction. Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving, and the last week of classes and final exams will be accomplished through virtual delivery methods. Fall break in October is eliminated this year. The university will still be closed on Veterans Day and Labor Day.   

Some elements of our Student Life transition plan began to be implemented last night (one of the reasons I didn’t get to my update for you yesterday until late). As I mentioned in last night’s message, to promote physical distancing, we are going to reduce population density in residence halls. We are temporarily expanding the housing exemption criteria for returning second-year students for the coming academic year. An email went out to those students last night with a form devised by the Center for the Study of Student Life for interested students to apply for an exemption, and Student Life Housing Administration is handling those requests. You can read more about it at  

Let me be clear, I remain fully committed to the importance of the second-year live on requirement. This pause in that requirement is only that – a pause. Our data clearly demonstrate a strong correlation between the co-curricular, live on experience and persistence toward graduation. These are unprecedented times that call for unprecedented steps, but our core mission of providing an extraordinary student experience for all our students remains steadfast.  

And, as they say on the infomercials, “But wait, there’s more!”  

The Board approved the new rates for tuition and fees. As I mentioned in an earlier update, they approved moving toward a furlough policy. They again made it clear there are no plans to furlough anybody. And the board voted to name the University Institute for Teaching and Learning the Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning. That’s a very nice honor and very well deserved.  

And that’s not even all the things the Board did yesterday (now you really see why my update was so late yesterday). You can read a complete summary online

A great many people in Student Life and across the university have done amazing work to get us to this point. Their thoughtful and deliberate planning have paved the way for as smooth a transition as possible. We have a lot of work yet to do, and it is even more important now that we all remain flexible and persistent. But there is no team I’d rather have to take on this task. I repeat this phrase all the time, but I mean it every time I say it: You are Scarlet and Great.