Dear USF Community,
As we confront unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and grapple with outrage and grief over George Floyd’s murder and so many violent, racist events that are fueling national protests, the USF mission to deliver a transformational Jesuit education has never been more critical. We have an enormous task ahead of us in combating generations of institutionalized racism in the United States and it will take more listening, more action, and more work together in the USF community to move forward.
Today, I write with important updates regarding plans and preparations to safely begin our fall semester and resume a greater presence at our campus locations in August. As outlined in our Roadmap to Reopening, all decisions are guided by the overarching goal of protecting the health and well-being of every member of our community and are contingent upon county and state health orders. My message today will give you an overall picture of plans and dates. Faculty, staff, and students will receive more information in the days and weeks ahead. We are continuing to develop specific plans and protocols that will directly affect you as we reopen the offices, classrooms, and other spaces that needed to be vacated while we were in early stages of shelter-in-place.
A Revised Course Schedule
The fall semester will be defined by options, with an understanding that this time of change requires the university to be nimble and remain flexible. We are developing separate strategies for undergraduate courses and graduate courses but with a singular goal — to ensure academic excellence and a meaningful educational experience in the USF tradition. Our overall approach to undergraduate courses is to still offer many of them in person with some faculty using technology to allow students to enter the classroom virtually or to change class meetings in a way that reduces the number of students meeting at once. Some courses will also move to an online-only format to give more flexibility to students who are unable to come to campus. Many graduate courses will be online, with some in-person offerings, including for those degree requirements that necessitate in-person work.
Flexibility will also include an understanding of how our community has been impacted by the violence that has been done to our black students and colleagues and the space that will be needed for people to cope and to consider how we too must change as a community. The hurdles that our international students are encountering will require nimbleness and understanding on our part as well.
A revised schedule of classes will be published by the end of June, after which students will have the opportunity to adjust their schedules. We hope that the revised schedule will allow the majority of our students to have the flexibility they need. Faculty and staff advisers will work with students who need specific adjustments. The schools and the college are committed to working with students to ensure they can continue to make progress toward their degrees. Students should follow the guidance that will be provided in the coming days and weeks by deans, faculty, and staff in their individual schools.
Undergraduate students with questions about their schedules and courses may contact their faculty advisers and program staff in their schools or academic success coaches at the Center for Academic and Student Achievement (CASA). Graduate students should contact their program directors, faculty, or staff. School of Law students should contact the registrar.
In-Person Class Meetings Will End Earlier
The fall 2020 academic calendar has been modified with the goal to help stem the spread of illness by minimizing viral transmission — whether the coronavirus or seasonal flu — by also minimizing the need for students and others to travel back and forth to campus. The semester will start on time on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Our traditional fall break in October will be eliminated and Study Day on Dec. 3, 2020 will be converted into a class meeting day. In-person class meetings will conclude on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. There will be no classes the week of Thanksgiving, and all remaining classes and finals in December will be conducted remotely.
These revisions will shorten the in-person portion of the fall semester in an attempt to protect our community from a possible second wave of coronavirus COVID-19 infections that may emerge in late fall. (Please note that the academic calendar for some of the schools may vary slightly and further information will be provided by the deans.)
For questions about the academic calendar, please contact Senior Vice Provost Shirley McGuire.
As we look forward to welcoming new and continuing students to our residence halls in August, we are developing strategies to protect the health and safety of everyone living on campus. This includes evaluating the configurations of our rooms to determine overall density in our residence halls, floor by floor. To allow time to work through this process, we have pushed back the notification date for new students to receive room assignments to July 1. Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE) will continue to provide updated information about our processes as we adapt to support students. For students looking to live off campus, Off-Campus Living provides resources and support.
For questions about housing, please contact SHaRE.
Other Campus Resources
To support our students on campus, Gleeson Library is now open online. If the campus reopening stays on schedule, Gleeson and Zief libraries will reopen their buildings in August, making adjustments to the physical space to support social distancing. University Center, including the Market Cafe, bookstore, and student support offices will reopen as well.
Additional details on these and other areas related to reopening this fall will be provided as they become available. I encourage you to visit the pages that collect resources devoted to teaching, learning, and finding ways to connect and find inspiration in the USF community — namely, Keep Teaching & Learning, Continuity of Work, and Dons Connect.
This fall will be very different from previous semesters, and not just because we must embrace new technologies and adjust class schedules. Thank you for your continued support of each other as we navigate these difficult times. I am heartened by the care you have already shown one another as we move forward and redouble our efforts to change the world from here.
Tyrone H. Cannon
Interim Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs