Safe Return to Campus
Update on spring 2021
A message from President Davidson
Oct. 12, 2020
Dear MSU Denver students, staff and faculty,
I’m writing to share the latest update on the spring 2021 semester at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Let me start by saying that I know how difficult the past seven months have been. I’ve heard often from students, staff and faculty how this year has challenged them in ways they didn’t think possible. The uncertainty of the virus and the financial implications it has caused, coupled with the political and social tumult of recent months, have left many feeling uneasy and disheartened. I want you to know that the leaders of MSU Denver recognize those feelings and are doing everything we can to be supportive and flexible as we get through these unprecedented times.
Your commitment, passion and hard work in spite of these challenges is a daily inspiration. Each week, as I read through nominations for the Roadrunner Shoutout series, I am reminded of the extraordinary contributions made by our faculty, staff and student employees. It is hard not to be energized by the dedication of recent winners such as Elizabeth Macy, Ph.D., assistant professor of Music, and Gregor Mieder, director of the Immigrant Services Program, among others. Our Roadrunner resilience and shared educational mission will help us come through this year even stronger.
Since March, each of our decisions has been and will be made with the health and safety of our community in mind, and with consideration for the effect those decisions will have on the members of our Roadrunner family. Our decisions have also been informed by your input through surveys, town halls, direct solicitation and our shared-governance process. I am providing this update now, in advance of the Oct. 26 undergraduate priority-registration opening, so our community members can begin planning for spring as early as possible. Our aim is to create some stability in this unpredictable year.
Your feedback has been essential as we’ve planned for the spring 2021 semester. We’ve heard from some of you about your desire to be back on campus. From others, we’ve heard that you feel safer studying and working remotely. Last spring, we were in the eye of the storm, but as we look toward the upcoming semester, we are testing out our umbrellas to determine how much more we can do on campus and still remain safe.
It is my belief that in order to restore some normalcy to our society and our economy, we will all need to learn to operate safely with the virus, long before the threat is fully conquered. This does not mean acting recklessly. It means staying up to date on the latest insights from public-health experts and working closely with city and state leaders to adjust our own personal and community protocols for living our daily lives.
With these insights and guidelines in mind, the Roadrunners Safe Return team is working to find safe ways to host more on-campus options for the spring semester. We plan to have two phases of on-campus course offerings – one phase starting in January and running through the normal spring-semester schedule, and another set of on-campus courses that will begin in March. There will be approximately 430 in-person sections meeting on campus starting in January (about 14% of our total offerings), and our goal is to increase that amount and add as many as possible in a safe manner starting in March. You can see how each course in the first phase will be offered in the class schedule that went live today. We will provide further details on the courses that will be available in the second phase by mid-November. This spring 2021 registration guide is also a good place for students to get started on their planning.
Similar to this semester, deans and chairs recommended courses that need to be face-to-face in order to meet Student Learning Objectives. Every class they identified will be on campus for the spring semester. We also opened up an in-person option for some of our larger, general-studies courses to ensure that first-year students had opportunities for face-to-face instruction, while also meeting the requirements of our health and safety protocols.
I recognize that this decision won’t be ideal for everyone, but we believe it best balances the health and safety of our community with the educational mission of the University. While no one can predict the future, the most current scientific research leads us to believe that this virus will be with us through spring 2021 and beyond. We will need to continue to adapt and evolve as the situation warrants, drawing on expert advice from state and local officials. Look for more information on campus operations in Chief Operating Officer Larry Sampler’s weekly Early Bird column and please regularly check the University’s Safe Return website for the latest updates.
Despite all of these challenges, I am more inspired than ever by the mission and work of MSU Denver. Our superpower is meeting students where they are in their lives, and we continue to do so with flexible learning options and excellent online services. I am grateful every day for your continued resilience and flexibility in the face of monumental challenges. I ask that you please continue to support one another and take care of yourselves, too.
Janine Davidson, Ph.D.