Graphic text - Fall 2020 Plans

Sent to the UArts community July 23, 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff, 

I write to you today with an important update regarding our plan for opening this fall. Over the past two weeks, our world has continued to change as the virus proceeds to wreak havoc across the country and the globe. Cases in the U.S. have continued to rise. State and local guidance has changed. Personal and collective responsibility at every level continues to be debated. We too have continually evaluated and re-evaluated our position as an arts university in the heart of a major city, and the role we will play in the pandemic.

Though we just released the details of our Fall 2020 Opening Plan on July 13, it has become clear there is no way to host a sustained in-person semester that maintains the quality of the educational experience without compromising our values and our number one priority: the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. 

With this in mind, University of the Arts will begin the 2020-2021 academic year with a fully remote fall semester, with all courses beginning Monday, Aug. 31. This decision has been made by the University’s President’s Council (senior staff and academic deans), together with overwhelming support from faculty and the unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees.  

This decision has not been made lightly. As a community of creatives, our modes of practice draw us toward one another and toward our studios, rehearsal spaces and stages. We know our entire community wants nothing more than to return to campus. Indeed, faculty and staff have spent hundreds of hours over the past months researching, planning and debating how to inhabit our physical campus safely in light of the continued rise in viral cases throughout the nation, and how we might manage the limits utilizing social distancing, mask wearing and capacity maximums. Yet the continued changes to official guidance and the uncertainties regarding the timing of an effective treatment or vaccine presented our community with risks we are unwilling to take with the lives of our students, faculty and staff.

We also know that we cannot wait for the decisions and policies of our governing agencies. We know the nuances of our creative work and of embodied practices—how we sing, perform, dance, dream, design and make. And we understand how our practices may be uniquely compromised and/or made unsafe by the circumstances COVID has created—both in person and in a remote fashion. Earlier this week, I met with the faculty from each school. We shared in the recognition that current circumstances leave us with no perfect choices. Each scenario presents its own combination of both health and financial risks. In turn, each school held their own faculty meetings to discuss the options presented to us as an institution and report their collective sentiment or vote back to their respective dean. The overwhelming majority of our faculty recognized that proceeding with our Fall 2020 Opening Plan presented grave risks to the physical wellbeing of our community and voted for a fully remote fall semester, which in turn was fully supported by all members of President’s Council.

As an institution, we recognize this choice may have serious financial implications, but above all, we as a community must return to our core values. As I stated in March, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our UArts and broader community is a risk University of the Arts will not take. 

For fall 2020, we will move forward as a creative community bound not by a physical campus, but by a shared value. We understand that with this change many questions arise. With that in mind, the following actions will be implemented for the fall semester.

  • Academic Calendar Adjustments
    In light of a fully remote semester, we will revert back to our original academic calendar. All courses will begin on Monday, Aug. 31. New Student Orientation will begin the week of Aug. 24. The semester will conclude on Dec. 18. Thanksgiving break will be observed Wednesday, Nov. 25 – Friday, Nov. 27. 

  • Advising & Registration
    Detailed information concerning advising and registration will soon be sent by the Office of the Registrar. New registration for the fall semester is currently closed, but will reopen after fall course sections have been updated to reflect the transition to remote delivery. Registration appointment times will be assigned to support registration priority based on major and class level. Incoming students will be contacted by the advising center to schedule one-on-one advising meetings. Returning students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their advisor, who will work with students to ensure they maintain degree progress and can help finalize their fall schedule.

  • Tuition Adjustment
    We acknowledge the financial strain that the global pandemic has placed on our students and their families. Though the University’s cost of instruction and operations will not decline and our revenue will decrease, the Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to reverse the previously approved tuition increase and freeze tuition at the 2019–2020 level for the fall semester. This will result in a tuition reduction for all students. All student accounts will be reviewed and students will receive an adjusted billing statement by Friday, July 31. In light of the new changes for the fall semester, the deadline for billing will be extended until Monday, Aug. 10. Any student who has already paid their bill will receive a credit which may be requested as a refund if no outstanding balances are due.

  • Residential Students & Meal Plans
    In efforts to reduce the spread of COVID, University housing will remain closed for the fall semester. No students will be permitted to reside on campus. Any student who has already paid for housing for the fall semester will be issued a full refund. As campus will be closed to all students for the fall semester, dining facilities will not be in service. Any student who has paid for a meal plan for the fall semester will receive a refund. 

In addition, you may be wondering how this change will impact your experience within each school. Below we have provided links to pages that include letters from each school. More detailed program information will be added next week from the directors of specific programs.

School of Art 
School of Dance 
School of Design
School of Film
School of Music
School of Theater 
Graduate & Professional Studies

Looking ahead, please know our planning continues. Updates will be made frequently and we encourage all students, faculty and staff to check their emails regularly as well as bookmark uarts.edu/fall2020. Families are encouraged to register for the Generations newsletter to receive public updates.

Best wishes,

David

David Yager
President & CEO 

Sent to all School of Art students July 23, 2020

Note: The Creative Writing program is now a part of the School of Art. 

 

Dear School of Art Student,

As you know by now, University of the Arts will be offering remote-only instruction for the fall 2020 semester. This decision was very difficult to make, and we are all disappointed that we will not be able to return to campus. Please know that we in the School of Art will miss seeing everyone in person and engaging in our studios, workshops and artmaking face to face. Fortunately, the School of Art is a close community and that will not change. 

Your faculty and staff are passionate about what we do and about our students. We want only the best academic experience for each and every one of you, and our first priority is for you to stay safe. Your program directors and faculty have been working all summer, and will continue to do so, in order to create dynamic—yet safe—learning experiences for you. We will make this a meaningful and rewarding semester and keep you on track toward the full realization of your artistic, creative and educational goals. 

In the coming days and weeks, you will receive more detailed information from your program directors and the University about course offerings, schedules and registration. We will have opportunities for you to ask your questions and make sure that you have a clear understanding of what you can expect as a student in the School of Art.  

Many of our courses are primarily technology- or discussion-based and thus can move readily to a remote environment. For those classes, we believe there are real benefits to being able to work communally and speak with each other without the hindrance of masks and social distancing. In other courses, where we are more dependent on facilities and shops, we will be providing adaptations to ensure an engaging and fulfilling course load for all students.

Having shifted to remote instruction to complete the spring 2020 semester, there is much we learned that will inform and enhance the remote experience for you this fall. In addition to the delivery of the curriculum, we will also provide opportunities to maintain a close sense of community and connection. We will only offer courses that we know can be successful in a remote environment, and we will take full advantage of “virtual” opportunities such as connecting with a wide range of guest artists—potentially from around the world—who will show their work and offer workshops. 

We don’t want to downplay the changes that come with a remote experience in any way; this fall semester will be different. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be exceptional and transformational. Artists have always translated the world during times of strife. The faculty and staff in the School of Art are dedicated to providing you with the skills, experiences and philosophical framework to advance your education and yourselves as artists at this moment.  

As President Yager stated in his letter to you, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our community is a risk University of the Arts cannot and will not take.  

Like the University, the School of Art will move forward as a creative community bound not by a physical campus, but by shared values. 

We look forward to working with you in the fall.

Mara Adamitz Scrupe, Dean, School of Art       
Erin Elman, Interim Dean, School of Art

Sent to all School of Dance students July 23, 2020

Dear Glorious School of Dance Students,

As we share the news of a remote-learning model for our upcoming fall term, I write to begin the process with you of moving toward a way of learning, studying, practicing and being in community that is in keeping with the longstanding traditions we adhere to in our remarkable school. Those traditions include a student-centered learning environment and a diverse and expansive curriculum led by some of the most respected dance artists and faculty working in dance today.  

While crafting this letter, I am reminded of the urgent needs of young artists like yourselves to be together through study during these uncertain times. Practice becomes essential. It is a passageway to building a physical understanding of our body’s needs and of dance’s demands.  And we all know how important it is to practice often, to practice consistently and to practice with others, even if remotely. Also, inside this need of continued, shared practice is the need for mentorship and feedback. We know this to be one of the hallmarks of having a great teacher.  Their advice, assessment and encouragement become irreplaceable.   

As we rethink our fall term, I am reminded that thinking requires care. And I remain committed through care to work with our faculty to dream and design a fall remote experience that offers us all a way to look ahead, a way to be in dance (because we must) and a way to challenge the limits of these measures that must keep us safe. I trust that each of you have a sense of who we are as a school. That sense of who we are remains deep within what powers and drives our school forward, especially now.

We will be changed by these times, and the magical operation that school affords us is that we will be changed by each other, too. Let’s not forget that school offers us that place to feel connected with others, as well as with ideas. Being together, practicing together, and thinking and studying together can and will happen throughout our new fall term. We will find dance, and it will find us.  

I know that there are more town halls for us to schedule now, and I look forward to them. I miss seeing you all, even on Zoom! The faculty and I will be emailing you many more details in the coming days. In the meantime, please stay safe and know that we miss you and look forward to an engaged and meaningful fall term.

Knowing to dance and dancing to know,

Donna Faye Burchfield
Professor & Dean of the School of Dance

Sent to all School of Design students July 23, 2020

Dear School of Design Students,

The School of Design, like all programs at UArts, is offering remote-only instruction this fall 2020 semester. It was a difficult decision made after careful consideration by a community of University faculty, staff and leaders. A safe environment is the only environment where learning can occur. Please know that our priority is the safety and health of our students and faculty as we deliver the high-quality education that makes UArts the great institution we know and love.

Technology is the language of design. School of Design faculty understand the critical role remote learning and experiences play in the preparation for design careers, because they closely reflect current industry practice and the future reality of design’s complete virtual workflow.

It will be disappointing not to be on campus this fall—that is understood. However, our outstanding faculty, who are passionate about their art, design and teaching, have already begun working on a remote-first curriculum designed to function effectively without campus access. Unlike the spring’s quick transition to remote learning, Design faculty have had time to assess their remote spring semester teaching in order to further improve your academic experience this fall. Every course will provide the full curriculum. Consequently, you will remain on track toward your educational and professional goals. You will get the same education you expect and deserve. 

One of the most appealing features of remote learning, as we all came to realize last spring, is the opportunity for students to work asynchronously—in other words, to complete projects and assignments on your own time instead of in the classroom at scheduled times. Our plans for the fall have taken this into account. Other virtual opportunities include offering a wide range of remote studio tours, guest lectures and critiques.

The social aspect to education is an important rationale for on-campus learning. This semester, we believe building community and relationships and sharing learning experiences remotely have benefits that outweigh a classroom of social distancing and mask-wearing. Design faculty believe in the power of change. Design students and faculty will rediscover and reinvent community as we know it.

Design faculty are still working out some of the details in individual programs, but you can expect a communication from your program director in the next few days that will provide you with a more detailed picture.

This fall will be different, but we are looking forward to a semester defined by creativity, adaptability and learning—not by the limitations imposed by the pandemic.

In the future, the role designers play in the larger culture will completely change. The best way to predict the future of design is to invent it. Join us this fall in creating an environment where invention can happen.

Mark Tocchet
Dean, School of Design

Sent to all School of Film students July 23, 2020

Dear School of Film Student, 

As you know by now, University of the Arts will be offering remote-only instruction for the fall 2020 semester. This decision was very difficult to make, and I’m sure many of you will be disappointed not to return to campus. Please know that faculty, staff and I will miss seeing everyone in person. Fortunately, the School of Film is a close community, and that will not change. Your faculty and staff are passionate about what we do and about our students. We want only the best academic experience for each and every one of you, and we want you to stay safe. We will do everything we can to make this a fantastic semester and keep you on track toward the full realization of your creative and educational goals. 

In the School of Film, many of our courses are primarily technology- or discussion-based and thus can move readily to a remote environment. For those classes, we believe there are real benefits to being able to work communally and speak with each other without the hindrance of masks and social distancing. 

Having shifted to remote instruction to complete the spring 2020 semester, there is much we have learned that will inform and enhance the virtual experience for you this fall. In addition to the delivery of the curriculum, we will also provide opportunities to maintain a close sense of community and connection. We will only be offering courses that we know can be successful in a remote environment and we will take full advantage of “virtual” opportunities such as connecting with a wide range of guest artists—potentially from around the world—who will show their work and offer workshops. And, as many of our returning students can attest, highly attended, remote end-of-the-semester Animation, Film and Game Art screenings were great successes, with spirited chats running alongside the wonderful work produced last year. 

I don’t want to downplay the changes that come with a remote experience; this fall semester will be different. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be exceptional. Your faculty is hard at work now, crafting their syllabi to take full advantage of remote instruction. We are still working out various details, and your program director will provide you with a more comprehensive overview in the next week. 

As President Yager stated in his letter to you, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our community is a risk we are not willing to take. Like the University, the School of Film will move forward as a creative community bound not by a physical campus, but by shared values. 

We very much look forward to working with you in the fall. 

Best, 
Wendy Weinberg
Dean, School of Film 

Sent to all School of Music students July 23, 2020

Dear School of Music Student,

As you now know, the University will be moving to remote instruction for the fall 2020 semester. Though this decision may be met with disappointment from those of you who were hoping to be on campus, it was not made in haste. Our greatest concern is the health and safety of all our students, faculty and staff. This virus is especially dangerous to our discipline, and it is exactly those concerns that ultimately helped us form our decision. We sing, we play wind instruments, we share mixing consoles and studio microphones, and our art making is generally about working in close proximity to one another. We simply feel that the best way to deliver our curriculum safely is to offer it at minimal risk to everyone. 

While things may be different this semester, they will also be dynamic. Our faculty are hard at work developing syllabi and exploring options to provide the best possible environment for a remote learning experience. We also have plans to bring in guest artists for master classes, workshops and even to sit in on some classes to provide greater opportunities for enhancing your learning experience. 

Most importantly, the key thing we learned from the events of the past four months is the importance of community. Meetings in small and individual groups—and regular times to meet as a school on a whole—where we can share ideas surrounding our discipline and discuss topics pertinent to our community as citizens, performers and music creators will be a part of the remote experience. I speak for all School of Music faculty when I say that we will miss seeing your faces in person, hearing your collective voices, delighting in the sounds emanating from the studios and practice rooms, and engaging in casual conversations in our hallways. We are very far from normal, but so is our world at this time. Know that the faculty, staff and I are available to assist your needs each and every day.

For students who live closer to UArts, we are working on ways in which we can provide some of our resources for checkout, to aid in the execution of your coursework. For students who are farther away, we are researching tech packages that would provide resources at a reduced price where possible.

Majors in MBET, Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance and Composition; MM in Jazz Studies students; MAT students; and minors in Music Education will be receiving detailed information about your programs from your faculty next week.   

As President Yager stated in his letter to you, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our community is a risk University of the Arts will not take.  

We look forward to working with you in the fall.

Micah Jones
Dean, School of Music
 

Sent to all School of Theater students July 23, 2020

Dear Brind School Student,

After prolonged and careful consideration among faculty, staff and administration, the University of the Arts will be offering remote-only instruction for the fall 2020 semester. This decision is overwhelmingly supported by all of us who work in the Brind School. It was made in light of increasing concerns about the spread and intensity of COVID-19 nationwide and fears for the health and safety of our community. It was very difficult to make, and I know many of you will be disappointed not to return to campus, but in the end our priority had to be the quality of the student experience, and we chose a remote environment over a compromised one of fear, restriction and inhibition.

We are a flexible and resilient community, and the faculty and staff are passionate about the work we do with each and every one of you. We will do everything we can to make this a successful semester and keep you on track toward the full realization of your creative and educational goals. We learned a lot in the spring when we transitioned quickly to remote learning. For the fall, syllabi will be properly adapted, alternative techniques and approaches fully explored and mastered, and communication and support readily available.

Almost all of our regular fall courses will be offered this semester, and we will no longer have to break the fall schedule into three parts, with only freshmen on campus for the first four weeks. We will all start and finish together. Details from your program heads will be available next week, and you should then consult with them about specific plans and with your advisers about any necessary changes. It is essential we keep you on track for a timely completion of your degree. As for our production program, Lindsay Cram, our associate producer; Lauren Fanslau; and the program heads (Amy Dugas-Brown, DPP; Natalie Robin, DT; Justin Lujan, Acting; and Katie Donovan, MT) will be reaching out to you immediately following the issuance of this communication.

We are all aware that remote instruction of performance- and creative-based work is less than ideal. However, there are positives and rewards. We will work on maintaining a strong virtual community and offer you access to influences from way beyond Philadelphia. We will all be presented with new challenges and will find ways to respond with flexibility and innovation. As President Yager stated in his letter to you, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our community is a risk University of the Arts will not take.  

Like the University, the Brind School of Theater will move forward as a creative community bound not by a physical campus, but by shared values. 

On behalf of the entire Brind School faculty and staff, thank you for your understanding and we look forward to working with you in the fall.

David and Marc

David Howey, outgoing Dean, Brind School of Theater
Marc Dicciani, Interim Dean, Brind School of Theater 

Sent to all School of Graduate & Professional Studies students July 23, 2020

Dear Graduate Student,

I write to you as the new dean of Graduate & Professional Studies at University of the Arts. Some of you may already know me, as I have served as dean of Critical & Professional Studies for the past two years, and I am so pleased to be leading this newly formed unit at UArts. As you know by now, University of the Arts will be offering remote-only instruction in fall 2020. This decision was difficult to make, and we are all disappointed that we will not be able to return to campus. Please know that the faculty and I will miss seeing everyone in person and re-engaging face to face. Fortunately, the graduate education programs are close-knit communities, and that will not change. 

Your faculty are passionate about what we do and about our students. We want only the best academic experience for each and every one of you, and our first priority is for you to stay safe. Your program directors and faculty have been working all summer, and will continue to do so, in order to create dynamic—yet safe—learning experiences for you. We will do everything we can to make this a meaningful and rewarding semester and to keep you on track toward the full realization of your educational goals and future careers. 

In the coming days and weeks, you will receive more detailed information from your program director and the University about course offerings, schedules and registration. We will provide opportunities to have your questions answered and to be sure that you have a clear understanding of what you can expect.

In the graduate education programs, many of our courses are primarily discussion-based and were already planned as a highly hybrid program. Therefore, we are confident that we can move readily to a fully remote environment without compromising the integrity of our education and community. For those classes, we believe there are real benefits to being able to work communally and engage in art, performance and discussion without the hindrance of masks and social distancing. We are also working to establish practicums and student-teaching experiences that will be meaningful and robust with our many partners in the schools and museums.

Having shifted to remote instruction to complete the spring 2020 semester, there is much we learned that will inform and enhance the remote experience for you this fall. In addition to the delivery of the curriculum, we will also provide opportunities to maintain a close sense of community and connection. We will only offer courses that we know can be successful in a remote environment, and we will take full advantage of “virtual” opportunities, such as connecting with a wide range of guests—potentially from around the world—who will share their work and experiences. 

I don’t want to downplay the changes that come with a remote experience in any way; this fall semester will be different. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be exceptional and transformational. 

This year will be different than any other in the University’s history. Our faculty are working hard to transition our courses in new and dynamic ways in response to the challenges presented to us.  

As the influential educator John Dewey famously said nearly a century ago, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” And, “All genuine learning comes through experience.”

The faculty and staff at UArts are dedicated to providing you with the skills and philosophical framework to advance your education and yourselves as artists and professionals at this moment.  

As President Yager stated in his letter to you, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our community is a risk University of the Arts cannot and will not take.  

Like the University, Graduate & Professional Studies will move forward as a creative community bound not by a physical campus, but by shared values. 

We look forward to working with you in the fall.

Sincerely,

Erin Elman
Dean, Graduate & Professional Studies