Campus Update: Commencement, Remote Instruction, Residence Halls

President Mary B. Marcy issued the following statement on Thursday, March 26:

Dear Campus Community:

It has been an intense 10 days since the first shelter in place order was issued by the county health officers of the Bay Area, and I am writing to you today with some important updates. Our decisions continue to be informed by guidance from health officials, and the health and safety of our students and community remains our highest priority.

Based on the latest COVID-19 information, Dominican will extend remote instruction through the end of the academic year. It is poignant, and now also clearly apparent, that we also must fundamentally change our commencement ceremony in light of public health directives concerning large group gatherings.

Commencement

Our Commencement Committee, which has been responsible for so many grand celebrations, is committed to making sure that the graduates of 2020 receive recognition for their work, and a chance to celebrate with our community. With that focus, we will offer two events rather than one—a virtual celebration this spring, and, for those who are able to attend, an in-person event next fall.

The virtual celebration will be held on May 16, the original date of Commencement. It will be designed in collaboration with ASDU and student input. We will reconvene in the fall with a ceremony on campus.

More information for students will be available in the coming weeks. For Faculty, we ask that you please continue to save the date of May 16, and stay tuned for further details.

Completing the Semester Online

Faculty and students should plan for remote instruction to continue for the remainder of the spring semester. In a limited number of cases in professional programs, no remote replacement for lab hours and/or required clinical placements has yet been developed; in these cases, communication will continue between program faculty and students as we evaluate options.

A temporary revision and expansion of the University’s policy on awarding Incomplete (INC) grades is currently being drafted and will be moved rapidly through the appropriate shared governance approval process. This is to respond supportively and flexibly to any cases where we find there is no acceptable way of completing course delivery by the end of this semester, as well to cases of individual students who are unable to complete coursework for unusual and legitimate reasons.

Students should contact their instructors or the chair of their programs with questions specific to their academic progress. For further academic and personal support, contact the Student Success Center or reach out to one of our integrative coaches.

Student Success Working Group

The staff and personnel in the Student Success Center and in Student Life are working online and remotely to continue to provide support and guidance to students. In addition to academic guidance and support, we are exploring opportunities for students to engage with their peers and communities—albeit virtually—to foster interaction and promote well-being during these challenging times.

The teams have created this special website that lists the various support programs, engagement opportunities, and important information for students. The site is updated periodically—please do visit frequently.

Residence Halls

With the decision to complete the remainder of the spring 2020 term via remote course delivery, we will close the residence halls for the remainder of the spring term. This decision is informed, in part, by Governor Newsom’s executive order and the directives concerning university residential facilities.

We understand that this is a challenge for our student community; the loss of access to the residence halls and meal plan was not something anyone anticipated, and is also a great loss of community for the entire campus. As a result of this necessary closing, the university will be working with students and families to prorate residence hall costs in line with guidelines from the federal Department of Education’s financial aid policies.

In the coming days, the Department of Housing and Residence Life will send detailed information to students about the move-out process, including dates and times and coordination of access to facilities, while being mindful of social distancing guidelines. Additionally, we will provide details of the prorated room/board costs and how that will be handled through the University’s Business Services Office once students are officially moved out of their assigned residence hall spaces.

Virtual Town Hall for Students and Families

In order to provide students and families with more detailed information and to offer some insight into what to expect the remainder of the semester, we will be hosting virtual “Town Hall Gathering” programs for students and families within the coming weeks. Campus leaders will present essential information via the online town hall. In addition to important informational updates, students and families will have the opportunity to ask questions directly to University leadership. The shift to online instruction and support has been sudden, and email communication is often not the most effective way to facilitate communication. The Town Hall format will allow us to interact more directly, and cover a wide array of issues. It will also help us be in the same ‘room’ together, albeit virtually, something we all seek as part of our Dominican community.

Once the date has been confirmed, we will send a separate email invitation for the town hall.

Resources for Faculty and Staff

As faculty and staff plan for remote instruction to continue for the remainder of the spring semester, we invite faculty and staff to use this survey to request trainings or to share expertise. To help us stay connected (and of course in alignment with our Dominican value of community), the link also offers the chance to request virtual lunch (or other) gatherings. Additionally, the Faculty Resource Site provides a number of materials, recorded trainings, and information designed to support Faculty in your online teaching and learning. If you are working remotely and need office access to retrieve materials, please coordinate with your direct supervisor to establish access. Campus Security is permitted to open campus facilities as needed once access has been confirmed. If you have questions or need support, please email jesse.andrews@dominican.edu.

I will continue to send regular updates via this newsletter, both to keep us informed in the rapidly shifting environment, and to keep us connected, albeit virtually, to our strong community. Please know that our online and remote work does not change the nature of our community, or lessen the value of our mission. I remain grateful for your good spirit and good work as we continue to adapt.

 

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