Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa shared the following message with the campus community on Tuesday, May 5.

When I reflect on the Chapman University response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far, clear stages come into focus. At the start we worked hard to stabilize. We quickly moved to remote learning, followed by remote work, requiring daily communication on changes, new processes, policies and resources. We devoted countless hours to providing support to students, faculty and staff as we all adjusted to this new environment. As the financial impact became a reality, we implemented measures to reduce the effect on our long-term financial health.

Today, we find ourselves in a very different place. While our remote environment is not ideal, I see innovation every day. I see students learning, faculty embracing new ways of teaching, research making a difference, and staff moving the institution forward. With our daily work in a more stable place, our focus has turned to planning our return to campus. While I cannot predict when that will be, administrators, staff and faculty from across the institution are actively planning for a return to on-site work and a return to in-person instruction. This is an extraordinarily complicated exercise. The “what if” scenarios we need to plan for extend to every aspect of our university life including housing, dining, the athletic season, classroom instruction, events, performances, labs, employee distancing in offices, additional student services and mental health services, additional technology for the classrooms, additional scheduling challenges to keep classroom sizes smaller, the list goes on and on. This is an enormous undertaking and many of you have been, or will be, involved in the work needed to get us back to campus. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your efforts.

This is truly a historic time for Chapman. Years from now—when we look back on this situation—what will be remembered and discussed is the way we came together to solve the monumental challenges presented to us on a daily basis. What will be remembered is that we didn’t just get through this crisis, we thrived and came out of it an even stronger university.

Tuesday Update, May 5, 2020

  • May 1 was National Decision Day for undergraduate students to commit to a college or university. I’m happy to report that we are on track for a strong class. While we do see a decrease in deposits over last year, we currently have over 1,800 deposits to fill a first-year class of 1,716 undergraduate students. Our work is now focused on staying connected to them and bringing them here in the fall. The Office of Admission and Office of Strategic Marketing and Communication are working closely with offices across campus to provide virtual resources and regular communication over the coming months as we encourage admitted students to make Chapman their home in 2020.
  • As we have been optimistically planning for in-person instruction this fall, we also expect continued social distancing precautions to result in a need for reduced housing occupancy. We are hopeful we will accommodate that need by allowing flexibility in the on-campus housing requirement for second-year students, as well as seeking students interested in canceling their housing application. For the 2020-21 academic year, the second-year live-in requirement has been suspended. The goal is to accommodate reduced housing through voluntary opt-outs, however, students have been informed that additional steps may become necessary to keep students safe and healthy in Chapman housing. We have designated a staff member with the specific role of assisting students find off-campus housing. This can be difficult to navigate and we want to ensure we are providing the needed resources and support for our students.
  • As previously announced, it is Chapman University’s intent to hold an in-person commencement event for the Class of 2020 to celebrate this significant accomplishment with our graduates and their families. Due to current state restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is our belief that large group events will be limited into the fall, therefore we will not reschedule commencement prior to September 1, 2020. As the California governor eases protocols regarding social distancing and group gatherings, we hope to be able to provide a specific date for the commencement ceremony.
  • Vice President for Research Thomas Piechota will be hosting another Ask the Experts – COVID-19 Town Hall on Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 2:00 p.m., with several faculty: Marc Weidenmier, Professor of Finance and Economics, The George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics) – update on changes in consumer confidence; Tara Gruenwald (Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences) – prosociality as a mitigating factor for mental, social, and physical well-being during COVID-19; Daniel Tomaszewski (Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy) – student health and learning during COVID-19; Anna Leahy (Professor, Professor, Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Tabula Poetica) – ways that writers have been affected by and are responding to COVID-19. All are invited to join with this link and learn more about their fascinating work and ask questions of the experts.

As this situation continues, my belief in our mission and Chapman’s delivery of education strengthens. I summarized this belief in a recently published quote in SullivanSays, “…online education IS NOT here to replace traditional education. While materials can be taught online, it is ABUNDANTLY clear from what I hear from parents and students, that they miss the interaction among themselves, with their professors, and the university environment. So, this confirms what I have been saying all along: colleges are MUCH MORE than just what you learn in the classroom. They are a laboratory where adulthood emerges, and as such they need all those challenges of adulthood that stem from interpersonal conflict and collaboration.”

As faculty, staff and administration, you are what makes the Chapman Experience so special. I encourage you to stay connected while we live with this distance between us. Read the Working@Chapman newsletter and stay informed. Get involved in the Working Remote Series. Stay in touch with colleagues and co-workers. Take advantage of the resources offered and make the best of this very different Chapman Experience as we work to get us back together again.