Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa shared the following message with the campus community on Friday, April 24.
It has now been over a month since we last had in-person classes on the Chapman campuses. Since that time the Chapman experience has continued, albeit a very different experience for all of us. Through this tumultuous time that forced us to recreate almost every aspect of our daily lives, it has really crystalized for me the importance of the personalized experience we pride ourselves on at Chapman. It is because of the importance of that experience that we are doing everything we can to bring the community back together as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Over the past several weeks we have devoted countless hours to planning different scenarios for our return to campus. At this point, we are optimistically planning for a safe return in the fall with social distancing and safety constraints in place. We currently feel this is the most likely scenario based on the national and global climate, however, this will be contingent on the state and local guidelines in place as fall approaches. With this focus in mind, I have established two key priorities to stabilize the enrollment impact of the current situation:
- Restructure and intentionally strengthen financial aid and scholarship packages to support the growing number of students and families at risk due to financial hardship.
- Substantially increase and enhance Chapman’s digital presence to optimize the student recruitment process while prospective students and their families are unable to experience the campus in person.
While we are doing additional planning in case COVID-19 forces Southern California schools to restrict in-person instruction, our current intention is to return to campus in the fall if we are able. In fact, our Rinker campus is establishing protocols to be tested even sooner if state and local guidelines allow for it. We feel they are well equipped to test scenarios for social distancing within the classroom that could then be applied to the Orange campus when fall semester begins. Our primary concern is to ensure that a safe and healthy environment can be maintained. We will not put our students, faculty or staff at risk and will be testing options to keep safe distance while still providing the rigorous academic experience our students expect and deserve.
Within the planning taking place, we are also considering the complications around students in Chapman housing, large campus events, athletics and performing arts challenges, in addition to how to manage classroom social distancing. We are working with the assumption that fall will come with restrictions on group sizes, therefore we are building scenarios for the full campus experience with this restriction in mind. We are fortunate to have a focus on small class sizes at Chapman, making the potential for classroom restrictions easier to plan for.
As I look forward to fall in-person classes, going remote has taught us much over the last few weeks. For sure, and against the predictions of many, it has reinforced the value of the presence of a faculty in the classroom. If there is anything I have heard loud and clear from students and parents, is that they want our faculty in the classroom. Those who had thought that online education was soon going to replace professors…well, they will have to wait.
In addition, for many of us, going remote has been an experience that has made it evident new technology can be used to enhance our classes, even after this situation is behind us. In my personal case, I have taped several short lectures that I will continue to use to aid student’s learning experience. In another class, I have discovered the need for my students to have additional notes and materials, which will be available for my future students. Many faculty have discovered new ways to improve the student experience that will have an impact long after we return to campus. For this reason, we will be devoting significant resources to help faculty take the lessons of this pandemic as a stimulus for an even greater face-to-face experience. Our faculty have done amazing work when asked to go remote within 24 hours. Imagine what they will be able to achieve when provided the time and resources to continue their innovation.
As this situation quickly evolves, I will continue to keep the Chapman community involved and informed as decisions are made. The uncertainly in this situation will certainly continue into the foreseeable future, but I am committed to providing you with the clearest path forward that puts our students first while maintaining the health and safety of our whole community.
Friday Update, April 24, 2020
- If any faculty, staff or administrators have received a confirmed diagnosis, please contact Director of Student Health Center Jacqueline Deats, at (714) 997-6851, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please encourage students to participate in the Letters of Hope initiative – In partnership with Providence St. Joseph Health, Home and Community Care, Chapman’s Residence Life and First-Year Experience staff invites students to write Letters of Hope to hospice patients. Hospice patients suffer from life-threatening medical conditions and may be isolated from spending time with loved ones. If students would like to write a letter to uplift these patients during this time, they can submit a google form at https://forms.gle/wnCU8qY8o8VVzDzb9.
- Join Chapman University’s College of Performing Arts (CoPA), Opera Chapman and Musco Center for the Arts for an exciting sneak peek into the recently cancelled production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). This free livestream tonight at 7:30 p.m. is a rare chance to hear select numbers from the opera performed by Opera Chapman students, along with an intriguing showcase of the creative team’s concepts and designs. Opera Chapman Director Dr. Peter Atherton, along with music collaborator Dr. Paul Floyd and Adam Borecki, director of music technology, lead the discussion. Help us celebrate our talented students, faculty, and artistic collaborators in this opera, which we hope to restage in Musco Center spring 2021.
- Vice President for Research Thomas Piechota will be hosting another Ask the Experts – COVID-19 Town Hall on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 2:00 p.m., with several faculty: Jim Doti (Professor and President Emeritus, The George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics) – update on how California economy should hit the restart button; Jennifer Keene (Professor and Dean, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences) – Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918; Jason Douglas (Assistant Professor, Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences) – COVID-19 related health disparities; Erik Linstead and Gregory Goldsmith (Fowler School of Engineering and Schmid College of Science and Technology) – students engaged in 3D printing of masks and COVID-19 research on higher education institutional responses. All faculty, staff and students are welcome to join with this link and learn more about their fascinating work and ask questions of the experts.
I close yet another week of being remote with a reflection from Fish Interfaith Center Dean of the Chapel Gail Stearns. Stay healthy and safe, Panthers.