Dear Undergraduate Students and Families,
As we come to the final weeks of this disrupted academic year, I know the thoughts of many are turning to the question of what the fall 2020 semester will look like at Clark University. We do not have all the answers to that question yet, but I do want to assure you that we will be communicating with you frequently and fully as the options become clear.
We will work in partnership with you, and we will be guided by the following principles:
- The health and well-being of our students, staff and faculty will always be our highest priority. We anticipate that the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will establish appropriate health protocols to be followed by all universities in the state and will provide guidance on travel and related matters. These health protocols will determine the way forward for Clark.
- We will seek to ensure that under all scenarios students have the opportunity to advance their education at Clark University. We see every day the deep commitment of Clark students to their education, and we share that commitment to ensuring that the progress of all students on their educational pathway will continue.
- We want to provide you with the information and options to make the very best decisions for you and your families. The circumstances of our students vary, from fundamental issues such as travel distances from overseas and across the country, to where a student is in their degree program (e.g., a rising senior versus a sophomore), current housing arrangements, study abroad plans, co-curricular involvement, and more.
- We are deeply aware of the financial dislocation facing many Clark families, and the financial vulnerability of students in distressed circumstances. We know that many depend on Clark and we want to be there for you. We also know that the value of Clark in so many ways is fundamentally linked to the transformative dynamics that emerge from in-person engagement on our campus. These financial and program issues will be part of our plans as well.
- Even as we look to the fall, there are many issues to be addressed related to this coming summer. These issues include support for students remaining on campus, and ways to support all students in the situation where summer work and internship opportunities are constrained. We will have further announcements on summer 2020 initiatives shortly.
We are evaluating on a constant basis how best to deliver on these principles for our students. Options being considered, as across all colleges and universities, include such possibilities as opening on a regular schedule in the fall with a set of rigorous health protocols in place, a delayed start of a month or so to the fall semester with associated adjustments to the academic calendar, and offering on-line courses in the fall if that is the only option available from a public-health perspective.
Within these parameters, it is our hope that we will engage in residential learning during the fall, although this may well take a somewhat modified form from what we have all been used to. In all such planning for the fall semester, I am working closely with President-elect David Fithian, who as you know will take office July 1.
As we work through the uncertainty around the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will provide regular updates for you. We do understand that everyone will benefit from as much lead time as possible in considering the options. We will back in touch with a further update by early May.
Thank you for all of your support and caring through these difficult times. Our faculty and staff are of one voice in their commitment to supporting students. As I speak with faculty, I hear of the tremendous and unwavering commitment to academic excellence by our students. This is truly impressive. Our students are to be congratulated on what you are accomplishing in demanding circumstances. I wish each of our students the very best as you complete end-of-semester work and exams. Thank you to everyone for figuring this out together.
I also want to extend a special note of best wishes to the Class of 2020. As you have heard, we will hold a brief virtual graduation at 12 noon on Sunday, May 24. We are fully committed to hosting an in-person celebration for you and to honor your achievement in the fall, or whenever COVID-19 protocols allow us to gather as a group together.
With best wishes,
David P. Angel