Dear Danforth Campus faculty,
As we prepare for the conclusion of the spring semester, we are now turning our attention to fall and our safe return to campus for the start of the next academic year. We are working diligently to create plans that will allow for maximal in-person instruction, with flexibility to comply with any public health restrictions that may still be in place come August. There are still a number of details that need to be resolved, but our intention as of today is for most of our teaching and learning in fall to take place in the classroom. We expect to share more information about our plans within the next several days. In the meantime, we wanted to reach out to give you a sense of where we are headed as it relates to in-person instruction.
Through many changes and challenges over the past 175 years at Washington University, our commitment to creating and sharing knowledge has endured and continues to grow. During the past year in particular, we have demonstrated our strength and resilience in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, our shift to online instruction has shown how capable we are of adapting to a difficult situation while still maintaining our commitment to the highest standards of academic excellence and student engagement. As we look to the future, we must take stock of our priorities. As we do so, we have an opportunity to learn from the past year as we look forward to returning more fully to in-person teaching and learning.
We are grateful to you for working creatively to nurture relationships with our students remotely and in physically distanced classrooms. There is no doubt that there are lessons to be learned and pedagogical strategies to be incorporated from remote learning. Indeed, not to consider changing some elements of a course or not to draw on some of the experiences from these last semesters would be foolhardy. Further, there may be instances where carefully developed online learning experiences can serve the needs of specific populations and help us build global communities. Our return to in-person learning will benefit in myriad ways from the perspectives we have gained during the past year.
We look forward to welcoming our academic community back to our campus and sharing in the serendipitous encounters that will undoubtedly occur when our physical facilities are in full operation. Remember bumping into a friend while walking across campus and stopping for a visit? Or sharing deep thoughts over coffee after an intriguing seminar? And how we spent time in the stacks and reading in the library – an example of what before COVID-19 was our way of being “alone, together.” These are things we all miss, that a shared campus and a shared learning environment support, and that strengthen the spirit of everyone in our community.
For these reasons and more, we look forward to our ability to safely return to our campuses this fall. We will provide more information soon.
Andrew D. Martin
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs