Message from President Struppa: Undeterred in CU Safely Back
For the past several months, teams of people across the campus community have worked to develop a plan that would allow us to return to campus for the fall semester. While I believe we have a robust and thorough plan that will greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19—with proper protocols to manage cases if they happened—this work has always been done with the understanding that our return would only take place if local and state health agencies approved based on the guidance from the California Governor’s office.
On Friday, California Governor Newsom announced requirements for public schools that outline a return to in-person instruction can only take place if the county they reside in is off the State’s county monitoring list for more than 14 consecutive days. Orange County is currently on this list with little sign of being removed based on the increasing number of reported COVID-19 cases. We are getting no indication that the guidance for higher education will be any less restrictive. With only six weeks until the start of the traditional semester and some programs starting sooner, we must be ready for the possibility that we may have to start remotely, while also being ready for a shift to in-person instruction as soon as feasible.
We remain undeterred in our CU Safely Back planning. If we can begin our fall semester as planned, we will have extensive protocols in place to slow the spread of the virus. If the guidance indicates that we can return after 14 days off the COVID-19 monitoring list, our plan is to be ready to return to campus when that milestone takes place. We will do the necessary work to allow us to quickly pivot to in-person instruction as soon as we are able, with Chapman housing available based on the guidelines we will be required to follow. While this situation continues to provide more questions than answers, we will remain nimble with the ultimate goal of bringing those back to campus who choose to come back while providing remote opportunities for those who choose to remain off campus.
With that, there are several key areas I want to address:
Chapman’s Financial Stability
Chapman University entered this pandemic from a position of financial strength. That strength allowed us to reimburse students in the spring semester for unused housing, dining, parking and specialized fees at a level unlike most universities across the country. That strength has allowed us to continue to invest in the Chapman Experience so our students can continue to thrive while we are apart. That strength has also allowed us to keep our regular status workforce intact to support our academic mission.
Our ability to maintain that strength is a testament to the way in which the campus community has worked together these many months as we put in place pragmatic expense reduction tactics. We have also put an emphasis on fundraising to support the additional needs we have as an institution, but more importantly, to support the increasing needs of students and families in crisis.
As we analyze the financial impact of the likely move to remote instruction in the fall, our effective fiscal management will continue to drive our financial strength long into the future.
The Academic Experience
Chapman University is committed to providing an exceptional, personalized education to its students. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, faculty, staff and administration have made herculean efforts to flip our entire experience to be accessible remotely for the health and safety of our students. Almost overnight, the faculty learned new technology and devoted countless hours to creating an academic experience worthy of our Chapman students.
Even while remote, Chapman students are gaining the same course credits and learning from the same incredibly talented faculty, who are teaching the same rigorous curriculum in our signature academic environment. Regardless of the mode of instruction, Chapman students get the same academic credits and degrees, as approved by our accreditor.
As we look to Fall, we are making a major investment in technology that will allow classes to be in-person, remote or a hybrid. The goal is to allow options for students who may choose to continue remote instruction or opt for in-person instruction that follows the state and local health agency guidelines for when we are approved to return.
The Chapman Experience – Virtually
Knowing that Panthers around the globe are focusing on keeping family, friends and communities safe, Student Life created a website to help you maintain connections and engagement with others. Engagement, although virtual right now, is a critical part of the Chapman Experience and our Student Life staff and others from across campus are working tirelessly to provide opportunities to stay connected, meet fellow Panthers and to provide the support system our students need.
Our student support services established remote access immediately after we moved to remote instruction in March and continue to provide resources to students remotely. While not the experience any of us wanted, the entire country had to adjust to the limitations imposed by the global pandemic and Chapman has risen to the challenge.
As we continue to pivot during this continually changing situation, I have not lost my optimism that we will be together again soon. While it may not be at the start of the semester, we will be back together in the coming months on the campuses we all miss so much. This challenge is testing us is so many ways, yet I see constant innovation, passion, hard work and perseverance throughout the Chapman Family. It’s this spirit that keeps me optimistic and motivated every day.