July 17, 2020
Dear Pacific students, faculty and staff:
The faculty and staff of University of the Pacific have been working tirelessly over the past few months preparing to fully reopen our three campuses for the new academic year. That preparation has advanced remarkably well, with new health and safety protocols; course reconfigurations; advanced teaching technologies; redesigned classrooms; intensive sanitizing procedures; and screening, testing and tracing capabilities ready to launch on our Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco campuses.
But our plans have always been predicated on the state of COVID-19 as we got closer to the start of the academic year. Unfortunately, our regions’ flat and comparatively low rates of COVID-19 cases experienced through the spring have rapidly accelerated over the past month. Therefore, we have determined that it would be unwise to reopen our campuses as we had hoped and planned. While disappointing to many of us – and certainly not the semester we anticipated – the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff must and will always take precedence.
Nevertheless, our new plans for the fall semester, with nearly all of our teaching and learning conducted remotely, will provide our students the same superb Pacific education by combining the unparalleled skills of our inspiring, dedicated and caring faculty and staff with the spirit of educational innovation that has been the hallmark of California’s first chartered university throughout our 169-year history. And we are adding dozens of new innovative and interactive academic, professional, recreational and social experiences that will add to the richness of the Pacific fall semester.
The Academic Experience
Our faculty, who successfully transformed their classes from on-campus learning experiences to remote classes in March within a matter of days, have now spent months refining their remote classes. They are leveraging new technologies and best practices and working with the Center for Teaching and Learning to provide the Pacific-quality education that draws students from around the world to learn and grow at our university. Our students will be enrolled in the same classes with the same professors and the same classmates at the same days and times, immersed in the same material and achieving the same learning goals. The only difference will be the place of learning.
Furthermore, our faculty, departments and schools are developing additional learning experiences for our students in the fall to enhance the course experience, including small cohort study and discussion groups and regular one-on-one meetings with faculty and advisers.
Meanwhile, the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center will expand its offerings to help students succeed, including the virtual delivery of the Student Writing Center, one-to-one tutoring services, research consultations and sessions on effective note taking, reading strategies, study groups and supplemental instruction for gateway courses in biology and chemistry. Students, faculty and staff will have remote access to the library’s nearly 400,000 e-books and e-journals plus publisher databases and 40,000-plus streaming videos. The print collection of books and journals will be mailed to remote users on request.
Students will be hearing directly from their deans shortly on specifics about their academic programs.
Learning and Living Beyond the Classroom
Beyond the classroom, Pacific is maximizing this opportunity to create an entirely new and extensive portfolio of remote co-curricular learning experiences. Pacific students from across the country and around the world will be able to gather virtually to participate in dozens of conversations, interactive activities and panel discussions each week featuring our fantastic Pacific faculty, staff, alumni and other worldwide experts.
Our schools and colleges will host weekly events focused on the most important issues facing future engineers, teachers, musicians, lawyers, pharmacists, dentists, business and civic leaders, policymakers, health care professionals and more. Additionally, we will offer weekly explorations of some of the most critical issues today in our society – race, equity and social justice, COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election. And the entire university community will gather for special weekly events featuring global experts on key topics. Many special sessions already have been lined up. PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff and CNN politics host John King will analyze the 2020 presidential election; Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll (’73, ’78) will discuss motivational leadership; Jane Chu, former chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, will talk about the arts, citizenry and the creative economy; U.S. Appeals Court Justice Connie Callahan (’75) and U.S. District Judge Morrison England (’76, ’83) will examine the state of the judiciary; Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs will detail his Economic Empowerment Demonstration; Sacramento Kings COO Matina Kolokotronis (’89) will explore professional sports in the COVID era, and Jose Hernandez (’84) will discuss his career as an astronaut.
“Research Tuesday” sessions will feature presentations of cutting-edge research by professors, graduate students and undergraduates. Plus, Pacificans will get to talk with our coaches and great athletes of the past. We are launching a new book club series featuring top professors and academic leaders exploring books on a vast array of topics from leadership to diversity, equity and inclusion. And we will have a weekly series exploring different cultures around the world.
Experiential learning is a central component of the Pacific experience, and we will have a robust set of offerings around remote internships and other professional and research experiences as well as career fairs and sessions on how to find a job, how to create a resume, how to effectively use LinkedIn and how to optimize the Pacific alumni network.
Personal growth and development are an essential part of the collegiate experience. Led by the Division of Student Life, there will be an engaging series of community building and social events, from game nights and concerts to civic engagement activities and social justice development experiences. Students will be invited to engage in gatherings for the success of students of color, first-generation college students and gender identity workshops. ASuop will continue the strong tradition of activities large and small to promote community and engage with friends across the globe. Additionally, many of our 150 student clubs, organizations and associations are planning activities and events throughout the semester.
The college experience also is about having some pure fun. We will be creating communities for virtual trivia games, scavenger hunts, virtual reality games and an expanded series of eSports competitions. There even will be the opportunity for students, faculty and staff to engage in a weekly session called “Cooking with the Cabinet,” in which the president, provost, vice presidents and deans will try to demonstrate and share their favorite recipes with you.
Housing and Health
Our residential apartments on the Sacramento Campus will remain unaffected. On the Stockton Campus, we will have to significantly reduce the number of students allowed to live in residence in the fall semester. We are working with county health officials to see how many of our university-operated campus apartments on the Stockton Campus can be used this fall. Residential Life and Housing will email residents with current housing contracts via their Pacific email address next week providing additional details.
In the meantime, Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services and Services for Students with Disabilities all will be available remotely. In fact, Pacific has increased resources for counseling services for this fall.
We understand that COVID-19 has inflicted significant financial hardships on many students and families. In addition to new grants for professional and graduate students, Pacific announced in spring undergraduate scholarships of $1,450 a year for up to four years for all eligible undergraduates. Those are among the largest and most comprehensive COVID-related scholarships in the nation. Additionally, we are waiving all course fees for the fall semester, and the Stockton Campus recreation fee also will be waived for the fall semester. Pacific will continue to employ as many students as possible remotely through the Federal Work-Study Program. Finally, for students who need assistance in connecting remotely for their Pacific classes, funds will be available to help subsidize personal technology needs. That is all in addition to the more than $2 million in federal COVID aid distributed directly to students earlier this year and a total of $90 million in Pacific scholarships our students are set to receive for the new academic year.
Despite the disruptions and hardships caused by COVID-19, we are confident that our Pacific students will continue to get a superb educational and personal experience throughout the fall semester. And with California leading the nation in COVID-related standards and regulations, we believe our region will be well positioned to enable us to fully open all three of our campuses for the spring semester with on-campus learning and full residential living.
We will have Zoom sessions on Monday for students, faculty and staff — both universitywide and school-specific — for any questions about the fall semester. We look forward to seeing you there.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay strong.
Provost and Executive Vice President