May 14, 2020
The Deans’ Office, along with a faculty advisory committee including professors Syd Finkelstein, Erin Mansur, Jim Smith and Phil Stocken, and in consultation with current students, has been actively planning for next academic year. We have undertaken this work cognizant of the difficulties posed by the pandemic – and yet optimistic in our collective ability to meet the challenges of this moment.
Today I write to update you on this important work and the plan we have decided on for the beginning of next year. Just now, I have sent similar updates to our incoming first-year students (T’22s) and our rising second-year students (T’21s). I also want to share with you the principles that are guiding this work.
Let me start with the guiding principles.
As we move forward towards the new academic year, it is imperative that all of us in the Tuck community understand the principles guiding our work at this unprecedented time. Here they are.
Since February, all Tuck decisions have been based on the twin priorities of the first principle: our community’s health and well-being, and the integrity of our academic mission. The next four principles reflect both our School’s core values and the uncertain complexity with which the pandemic has unfolded in recent months.
Embracing these principles, let me turn to our plans for the beginning of the 2020–2021 academic year.
An On-Time Start for T’21s
Second-year students are scheduled to start fall classes on September 8. Our plan is to commence fall-term instruction and programming on time.
Because September 8 is still nearly four months away, we still have the value of time before needing to decide on a particular plan for how we will structure fall-term instruction and programming for second-year students. We have time to see how public-health considerations play out, and time to engage further with students, faculty, and staff for how we might best create a fall term that accords with the five principles above and with our overall academic mission.
We expect to decide on a plan for how we run fall term by sometime in late June, no later than June 29.
An On-Time Start for T’22s
Fall-term programming and instruction for T’22s will start on time, as previously scheduled.
Let me here remind you of the key dates for the first part of the fall term.
An Online Start for T’22s
All three of these initial stages of the first-year experience – the Pre-Enrollment Program, Tuck Launch, and Fall A Classes – will be online. So, too, will be the Fall A co-curricular offerings.
We are committing early and proactively to online instruction and programming through the end of Fall A to focus our energies on harnessing the School’s power and ingenuity of recent times to create a start to the Class of 2022 experience that meets multiple goals: including the entire class, building the collaborative and connected community for which Tuck is known, and delivering a world-class education – all regardless of where a student may choose or may need to be based.
A decision about how we will structure the first-year Fall B term, which starts on October 19, will be made in September.
We appreciate that for the large majority of students, for the duration of their two-year MBA the Upper Valley is their primary home. At the same time, amidst this historic pandemic, we want students to join us in the Upper Valley only when they feel they are in the position to safely be here. So, although we look forward to the time when all students will be present with us in the Upper Valley, we encourage each to move here only when it is best for them personally.
Tuck’s on-campus residence halls will be ready for student move-in as regularly scheduled, starting August 1. The results of our on-campus residence-hall lottery were released to first-year students earlier this week. Students intending to live in Sachem Village will be able to take residence in accordance with individual lease terms.
When students move to the Upper Valley, they will be required to observe all federal, state, and local public-health regulations in force at that time. In addition, they will also need to comply with all Dartmouth College health guidance and COVID-19 policies.
As stated in principle #5, we intend to transition back to our distinct in-person learning community as soon as safely possible. At the same time, we anticipate that the transition back will be phased and gradual, with our community’s health and well-being foremost in mind. Prudence dictates that between now and late June, we evaluate seriously the prospect of continued online instruction and of some blend of online and in-person engagement. When it is safe for us to congregate in classrooms and travel constraints are no longer, we will expect everyone to join us in person.
For first-year and second-year students alike, we are fully committed to providing a personal, connected, and transformative Tuck MBA experience– regardless of exactly how we are able to deliver our programming and of where students may be based.
To help meet this commitment, we have created two committees that will work closely with each other and with the Deans’ Office. One committee, headed by Senior Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Joe Hall, will focus on classroom learning. The other committee, headed by Associate Dean for the MBA Program Sally Jaeger, will focus on an array of co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings – from career services to the social experience. Current Student Board President Caroline Wells T’20 and rising Student Board President Teo Gonzalez Collazo T’21 will continue partnering with us deans, in part by identifying fellow students to help with both of these workstreams.
We know that you may have some questions about how these plans relate to your particular class, department, Center or program. We will work through these questions together.
Our historic spring term is almost complete. At its outset, we knew we would be creating and living an unprecedented Tuck experience. What we didn’t quite know is whether and how that experience would be personal, connected, and transformative for our students – and for all of us. What we now know very clearly is that we can indeed deliver our distinctly Tuck experience, even in the midst of a global crisis that in different ways is affecting every one of us.
Here are three unsolicited expressions of gratitude for this delivery that Dean Sally has received from three of our students – a T’20 and two T’21s, one of whom had to self-quarantine after a job interviewer in New York tested positive for COVID-19.
Thank you for what you have done this historic term – and for what we will do together in the historic year ahead.
Forward we go!
Dartmouth has formed a high-level task force to plan for and manage possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidance, and communicate with our community.