Dear MSU Denver faculty and staff,
As we announced with our Auraria Campus partners on Tuesday, Metropolitan State University of Denver is planning to adopt a mixed approach to classes for fall 2020. After much discussion and input from our communities, we decided this was the best course of action as we work to balance the safety of students, faculty and staff, with our core educational mission.
We’re writing to follow up with more details. First, we’d like to reiterate that we intend the mixed-modality approach to allow us to offer high-quality classes both on-campus and online. We will do our best to safely accommodate as many in-person classes as possible, but we also need to be realistic. Given what we know right now about social-distancing requirements and the limited space we have on campus, it is possible that two-thirds or more of our approximately 4,000 classes may need to take place online in fall 2020.
On-campus classes will be prioritized based on which require an in-person component to meet Student Learning Objectives (SLO).
Tier 1 – On-campus required
Classes that require an in-person component in order to meet SLOs. These classes would have to be canceled otherwise and will be given top priority. An example would be a chemistry lab where the learning can only be accomplished with the use of University resources and space and where expert oversight for safety (non-COVID-19-related) is mandatory.
Tier 2 – On-campus preferred
Classes for which an in-person component would be ideal but could meet minimum SLOs in an online format. These will backfill open spaces after Tier 1 courses are assessed and filled.
Tier 3 – Online-ready
Classes that can migrate to online without significantly impacting SLOs, keeping in mind that we have more time to develop excellent online coursework, as opposed to the quick transition we made this spring.
Faculty members have already been working with their respective chairs and deans to submit the minimum number of critical courses that need to occur in on-campus settings. University operations and student-support teams are also assessing these courses with respect to hygiene practices, room schedules, and socially distanced classroom layouts and capacities, while still allowing for an exceptional pedagogical experience. The University’s Safe Return Work Group will also be fine-tuning the protocol for returning to campus for the many employees who support the student-learning experience.
The Registrar’s Office will work with academic deans and faculty to create an efficient process to alert students to any changes to their course schedules. They are aiming for notifications to be sent in early June, given the scale of the fall semester and the changes that will need to be made to our student registration system. Until further instructions and details are shared, we ask that departments hold off from sending the Registrar’s Office schedule changes or adjustments.
Our intention in announcing this approach now is to give you ample time to plan for fall and to begin preparing to move classes online, as needed. The way we see it, we have three months to develop online offerings that meet our already high standards. We understand that will mean some heavy lifting for many members of our learning community and that part of the work will need to take place over the summer. Please know that we are here to support you throughout this process. As in the spring and summer, the instruction and design group from the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design is committed to supporting you in transitioning any fall course to an online delivery format.
We know most of us are eager to be back on campus this fall. But campus leadership is laser-focused on the health and safety of our MSU Denver family and on our responsibility to the greater Denver community. We are grateful for your patience and resilience as we navigate these uncharted waters. Now more than ever, the MSU Denver community needs to come together to meet the challenges of the moment and provide the best possible experience for our students and employees.
Vicki L. Golich, Ph.D.
Provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs
Chief operating officer and vice president for Administration and Finance