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Important Update: Modifications to Spring Semester

Statement of University of Dallas President Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D.

Important Update: Modifications to Spring Semester


 Date Published: Monday, March 16, 2020

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Dear UD Family,

As you are well aware, the spread of the COVID-19 virus (the novel coronavirus) in Europe, in the United States, and now locally has caused a great deal of worry within our community. This worry is exacerbated by rapidly changing circumstances beyond any of our control. We have responded and will continue to respond to the threat of the coronavirus with modifications to our model of education that are unprecedented, but necessary.

On March 2, we took the difficult step of suspending the Rome Program and repatriating our students to the United States. Those students have returned to their permanent homes and will finish the remainder of the semester with online classes. A residential Rome experience has been a distinctive feature of a UD education for 50 years. While I regret curtailing this experience for Spring 2020 Romers, the situation in Italy has since worsened with mass quarantines and significant travel restrictions.

While our Spring Romers returned safely to the United States, we turned our attention to our campus in Irving. Just in the past week, it has become increasingly clear that substantial changes to our model of education have evolved from possible, to likely, to necessary.

On March 11, Provost Sanford wrote to all students asking them to be prepared for a possible delayed return to campus and a distance learning model of education. To prepare for that possibility, last week we began setting up training sessions for faculty to equip them for online delivery of classes.

On March 12, Dallas County and the City of Irving issued emergency orders banning large gatherings of 500 or more, and recommending against 250 or more, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

I issued a statement on the morning of Friday, March 13, announcing the cancellation of all large events on campus until at least April 15.

Circumstances continue to change rapidly. On Friday afternoon, President Trump declared a national state of emergency invoking the Stafford Act. Yesterday, the CDC recommended that gatherings of 50 more be canceled throughout the United States for at least the next eight weeks. In addition, there are now over a dozen confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Dallas County, including one student at a nearby university.

After consulting with our Board of Trustees, our faculty, and various medical and science professionals, I am convinced we must make additional changes to the spring semester that are difficult and unprecedented, but necessary.

Extension of Spring Break:

Our students are currently on Spring Break. Classes were scheduled to resume on Monday, March 23. To give us more time to prepare for a different model of education, I am extending Spring Break by one week. Classes will resume on Monday, March 30.

Online Classes:

When classes resume on Monday, March 30, they will do so online for at least two weeks. These are the weeks of March 30 and April 6.

It is my hope that the coronavirus threat subsides, and we will be able to bring students back to campus for residential classes resuming on Tuesday, April 14 (April 13 is Easter Monday, a university holiday). However, we must prepare for the contingency that classes will be held online for the remainder of the semester. We simply do not know what the future will bring.

Current State of Campus and Administrative Offices:

The campus remains mostly open with all administrative offices and staff functioning normally. Indeed our facilities and housekeeping personnel are taking this extended Spring Break to deep clean the campus. We are examining alternative work options this week and will communicate any change in policy to staff as soon as possible. Any staff members with concerns should contact our Director of Human Resources, Mary Fleck, Ph.D., at hr@udallas.edu.

On-Campus Housing:

However, all on-campus housing, including both the Student Apartments and the residence halls, will be closed to students until such time as residential classes resume. Students may return to their residence halls on Sunday, March 22, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to retrieve personal items. Students who need to retrieve items at a different time may do so with the permission of Dean of Students Julia Carrano, BA ’02. Students should coordinate with her office by emailing housing@udallas.edu at least 24 hours before access is desired.

Students may not stay overnight in any on-campus housing during the residential housing closure. Students who are currently in residential housing over Spring Break must check out by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. I recognize that this policy may present a hardship to certain students, particularly our international students. Exceptions to this general rule prohibiting overnight stays will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Please email housing@udallas.edu if you feel your situation warrants a waiver.

Future Communication:

I will continue to send updates as they become available. Please continue to visit udallas.edu/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information.

 

Hibbs signature

Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83

President

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