June 13, 2020
Dear Trinity Students,
Wherever you are, I hope this finds you well and enjoying the summer during these unprecedented times.
At Trinity, we are dedicated to making the upcoming academic year a safe, flexible and innovative one, modeling the best of our forward-looking liberal arts education. While the world will remain challenging, we’re inspired to double down on our mission. If ever there were a time to prepare bold, independent thinkers who lead transformative lives, it is now!
Here are further details of what we expect the 2020-21 year will look like on the academic side. You will be receiving much more information about other aspects of the Trinity experience in the coming weeks.
Upcoming Academic Year
Registration Moved to July
Our new academic calendar, which is described below, requires that we move registration to July. We will announce specific registration dates by July 1. In the meantime, this is what we’re doing to prepare. Our departments and programs are busy finalizing course schedules for the new calendar. We want to make sure that students across all four years have robust course options. Note that as soon as we have finalized the schedule, we will launch an academic advising process to support you, including a virtual town hall with faculty and deans. We know that you will have many questions, including whether the temporary academic policies from last spring will continue.
While we cannot answer all questions yet, our goals are clear: for seniors to have a successful year, with graduation in May; for all students to progress on their four-year academic trajectories; and for our first-year students to feel academically engaged, inspired, and supported as they start their Trinity experiences.
New Academic Calendar
As you heard from President Berger-Sweeney, after thoughtful consideration, Trinity’s faculty voted to approve a new academic calendar, designed to give students and their families more options and flexibility. We are pleased to announce that the next academic year will consist of four terms: Fall, a remote January Term (J-Term), Spring, and Summer. We would like you to think of the fall and the J-Term together as you plan your course selections and schedules. In fact, in July, you will register for both fall and J-Term courses. In addition to being able to take courses over multiple terms, some courses in the fall and spring will be 10 weeks in length.
Note that fall courses will be offered in-person as much as possible. Some courses will be hybrid (with students in person and remote) and others will be fully remote. Remote and hybrid options will be especially important for students and faculty who cannot be on campus for various reasons. For registration itself, each class will be designated as in-person, hybrid, or remote. In all cases, we deem quality face-to-face time with professors and peers to be an integral part of our Trinity education.
The various academic terms are described further in the chart below, which you should review carefully. An added advantage of this calendar is that it will provide enhanced flexibility around tuition and financial aid for families. Further details about these aspects will be communicated separately and posted on our website, along with the official extended version of the calendar.
Trinity Flex Academic Calendar, 2020-21
|Term||Required/Optional||Length of Courses||Credit Requirements||Tuition and
|J-Term 2021 (remote)||Optional||
Supporting Remote Learning
In planning for the fall, our faculty are also taking significant steps now to strengthen the remote learning experience.
- The Center for Teaching and Learning and our educational technology team are lining up an impressive array of summer programs for faculty, including best-practices workshops and hands-on course design studios, intended to bridge our strengths in the liberal arts with the best possibilities for remote learning.
- We’re reviewing feedback and surveys about your experiences this past spring. We know that, like students across the country, some of you were frustrated. We can and will do better.
- For consistency, any course meeting remotely next year will be expected to meet during the assigned course time; we will of course do our best to accommodate students across time zones. As we get closer to the fall, we will convey further expectations around remote learning.
Study Away in the Fall
Keeping the health and safety of our students always at the forefront, and guided by ongoing global advisories and restrictions, we have decided to suspend all study away for fall 2020—both for Trinity-administered programs and programs offered through third-party providers, domestic and abroad. We share your disappointment with this news, given how closely tied global engagement is to our identity as a college.
Yet a CDC-Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice, Warning Level 3 continues to recommend avoiding nonessential travel. Other CDC guidelines suggest that institutions of higher education should consider postponing or canceling upcoming student foreign exchange programs, as students abroad may face unpredictable circumstances, travel restrictions, and challenges to returning home or accessing health care while abroad. Trinity’s Office of Study Away will be contacting and supporting all affected students.
Despite this situation, we are exploring new ways of engaging our students in global learning this fall. A group of faculty members are brainstorming right now about the possibilities of using technology to connect students to the world. And, as soon as we can, we will indeed resume study-away experiences, including our short-term global programs.
Part of what makes our liberal arts education exceptional, as you know, is the holistic learning that takes place inside and outside of the classroom, as part of a close community of peers. Some faculty are designing new, experimental courses for the fall that address today’s most pressing questions through multiple lenses and perspectives. We will share news of these offerings around the time of registration. Even next week, we’re launching a brand new program, Tech-Edge, which is part of Trinity’s partnership with tech-giant Infosys around the future of work. Our network of academic resources on campus is also preparing to offer students more support than ever, better integrated with digital technologies.
To be sure, the fall will bring numerous opportunities to engage intellectually with each other. We will use our liberal arts focus to facilitate impactful dialogue on racial injustice and inequity, and on the complex dynamics of an urban and globally interconnected world demonstrated by the current pandemic. I’m especially proud of the departments that have initiated reading and learning groups this summer with students, as occasions to tackle the challenges we all face together as a society.
The world needs engaged liberal arts students now more than ever. Trinity’s dedicated faculty and staff are working to make the year ahead overwhelmingly positive and inspiring. Have a relaxing summer, stay tuned for more details about registration and new learning opportunities, and get excited for the fall!
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science