A Message from President Richard Cosentino Regarding Academic Modifications for Fall 2020
Thursday, Jul 02, 2020

Dear Lander Students and Families,

As we continue preparations for the Fall 2020 semester, Lander University is making steady progress in our carefully planned reopening. Our employees have begun returning to campus, and faculty and staff are working diligently to ensure our facilities – academic, dining, residential, recreational, athletic and operational – are clean, safe and ready for a successful semester.

I know students and parents are curious about what the fall will be like at Lander. Below, you will see some of the academic plans we are putting into place, such as offering classes in a variety of formats, to protect your health and maximize your educational experience this fall. Additionally, we have made significant investments in virtual instruction and technology, and we are prepared for a seamless move to online learning should conditions require it again. While we cannot predict how this pandemic will play out in the months ahead, I can assure you that Lander is ready to respond no matter the scenario.

Let’s be honest. The world is different because of COVID-19, and when you arrive at Lander in August, college life will be different, too – at least for a few months. Although it will be different, the Fall 2020 semester will still provide many opportunities. You will make new friends. You will have meaningful interactions with classmates and professors. You will be able to participate in activities and athletics. Remember, the COVID-19 pandemic is temporary, and its effects will hopefully pass during this academic year. In your time at Lander, you will enjoy the full college experience you have dreamed of and deserve. 

Our commitment to you remains unchanged: We plan to deliver in-person instruction and provide campus activities in August. Much of our planning is focused on protecting the health of our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors. Not only are we following the recommendations of medical and public health professionals, we are also talking with colleagues at colleges and universities around the state and nation to discuss how to build a healthy college campus during a pandemic.

Our objective is to safely provide the high-quality educational experiences for which Lander is known. Our protocols are still being finalized, and we will announce specifics of our plans in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I would like to share just a few of the academic-based changes we are implementing:

  • Most classes will use a flexible, hybrid model that blends face-to-face instruction with synchronous video and online activities. We have the ability to livestream classes that are being taught face-to-face in nearly every campus classroom, providing students with opportunities to attend and participate either in-person or virtually.
  • Classes will be capped to allow for appropriate social distancing in classrooms, labs and facilities. Large classes will be moved to an online format, broken into multiple sections, or scheduled to allow for staggered attendance.
  • Lander has increased online offerings this year to promote safety. Historically, approximately 10% of our total course sections have been taught online. This fall, online sections will account for approximately 15% of all courses. Moving certain courses online will help us reduce congestion in hallways, follow public health guidance, and meet the needs of students and faculty with underlying health conditions. Online courses are a valuable component of every modern university and provide an excellent learning experience. Lander is prepared to provide students with high-quality, engaging content, regardless of how it is delivered.
  • All face-to-face courses will start the semester with contingency plans allowing for an immediate and smooth transition to online instruction, should circumstances require it.
  • Students and faculty with underlying health conditions or concerns may request online instruction options.
  • Office hours will be virtual, and most non-class meetings will take place virtually.
  • The University will provide quality, reusable masks for students, faculty and staff. We are still finalizing our mask policy, but, at a minimum, masks will be strongly encouraged in all academic settings and public spaces on campus. They may be required in some settings and facilities.
  • Social distancing policies and guidelines will be in place across campus.
  • Cleaning supplies will be available in classrooms, labs and other academic settings. In addition to daily cleaning and sanitization of classrooms by our custodial staff, we are encouraging students and faculty to help in these efforts by cleaning work spaces (desks, chairs, tables, keyboards, etc.) before and after use.
  • Health safety education will be provided to students throughout the semester, and safety training will be required for faculty and staff. 

Of course, this is not all we are doing, and in the weeks that follow, we will be sharing additional information regarding housing, dining, recreation, athletics, student activities and more. These plans are flexible and will continue to be adapted as the pandemic evolves. As we monitor developments around us, we will be prepared to move quickly to implement new public health guidance and recommendations. I encourage you to follow the latest campus updates on our COVID-19 website, www.lander.edu/COVID19.

In this “different” environment, our students have the challenge – and opportunity – to say, “I went to college during a pandemic, and I was part of an experience that was better than anyone expected.” I have great faith that we can unite, as individuals and as a university, to make this a reality.

Join me in helping Lander lead the way among all colleges for academic and personal success this year.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Richard Cosentino

President