Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia announced this week that, given current pandemic and public health conditions, the university will be amending its plans for the fall. Specifically, courses for all undergraduate and graduate students will begin in virtual mode, and the university will not be able to bring members of the entering undergraduate class, the class of 2024, to campus at this time.
In recognition of the impacts of the decision to move to a virtual learning environment, the university also will reduce tuition for all undergraduate students by 10 percent and for all graduate students by 5 percent for the fall semester. Previously, Georgetown had announced the tuition reduction for undergraduate students who would be learning virtually this fall.
In the months since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, “we have remained steadfast in our deep commitment to our academic mission and to the health and safety of our community,” DeGioia writes. “Members of our community have demonstrated extraordinary compassion and resilience over this time—supporting the health of one another, our communities, and our families. We are now confronting another challenging moment, as the pandemic accelerates across our country.”
‘A very difficult decision’
The university in early July had announced its intention to bring approximately 2,000 undergraduate students, including the first-year class, to Main Campus. Revising that approach, DeGioia writes, “was a very difficult decision—and one that I know will disappoint members of our community who have been eagerly anticipating a return to campus.”
According to a July 29 letter from Georgetown University Provost Robert M. Groves, the university still will provide on-campus housing for undergraduate students who were granted approval through the Housing Stability Application process, those who have been invited to return to campus because of academic requirements, members of the incoming first-year class who are F1 visa holders, and a limited number of Resident Assistants to support this small residential community. First-year students whose personal or family situation makes it impossible or unrealistic to pursue their studies at their permanent address also will be able to apply to live on campus for the fall semester.
Noting that these change to the fall plan may have a special impact on international students, Groves says the university is working to ensure they have a rich learning experience. “Faculty and students are planning ways to make it possible for students in distant time zones to engage directly with their professors and classmates,” he writes.
Although the virus’s spread and restrictions on interstate travel currently preclude a return to campus, university leaders “plan to introduce in-person course elements as soon as health conditions permit.”
DeGioia adds that, in preparing for the fall semester, faculty and staff anticipated the possibility of a transition to a virtual mode; more than 1,600 faculty are participating in summer programs and workshops to enhance virtual learning experiences. Georgetown is also adapting events and co-curricular activities for students to succeed and thrive in a virtual environment. The university will provide additional information in the coming days on specific adjustments to the university’s fall plan.
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