Deans’ Message to Incoming First-Years

Deans Sternberg and Flot share a welcome message for first-year students and their families.

As the Deans responsible for academics and student life at Oxy, we extend the warmest of greetings to you under these most unusual of circumstances. We write to follow up on the message you received from President Elam yesterday regarding the fall semester. One of the best parts of our jobs each year is welcoming the first-year class. Even though the residential component of your Oxy experience has been delayed, that doesn’t diminish the importance of the milestone you’ve reached and the transition you are making as you start your college journey. While yesterday’s decision was made for all the right reasons, as parents of college students we understand on a personal level the kind of impact that the disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic is having on you. Even so, we are still your deans, and although we won’t see you in person this August in Thorne Hall for Convocation, we are still here to enthusiastically welcome you to the Oxy community with open arms.

One of the hallmarks of an Oxy education is the community and relationships that are embodied at the College. And we are going to take the same approach we always have to building community and relationships—not only among you and your classmates, but with your professors and the staff in the many offices that are here to support you. We will take full advantage of virtual platforms to build and develop a connected community. Over the course of the coming days and weeks, you’ll hear more from other offices on campus that are dedicated to your success. If we have one piece of advice, it's to take advantage of these resources, including the Intercultural Community Center, the Student Leadership involvement and Community Engagement office, the Writing Center, the Office of National and International Fellowships, and the Hameetman Career Center. All of us are working hard to ensure your experience meets Oxy's high standards. In the coming weeks you'll also receive information about a host of virtual programs that we’re planning for the fall. 

Taking a holistic approach to student development, Oxy offers involvement opportunities and programs outside the classroom that center on leadership, identity construction, intercultural communication, and community engagement. Putting Oxy’s values into action we intentionally focus on meaning-making and transformative learning on campus and in the public sphere. With a team of dedicated educators, accomplished event organizers, and skilled student programmers, we offer the tools and resources you need to succeed. Whether you are interested in starting a club, being involved in student government, or engaging with elected officials and community organizations we can guide and support your passions. And, yes, even remotely.

Wherever you are at the moment, Oxy's  academic program is ready for you. Being remote doesn’t limit your ability to create meaningful connections with your professors and your peers in the classroom. It just changes the way in which we approach fostering a robust intellectual community. Our faculty have been working throughout the summer to redesign and rethink their courses, create new approaches, and develop new courses that are tailored for a high-quality, personal, interactive online experience. You'll be hearing much more in the coming days about such things as course selection, academic advising, and opportunities to participate in new interdisciplinary, multi-course experiences.

The first year of college is exciting and daunting at the same time. In many ways, for the first time in your life you'll have the chance to chart your own intellectual journey. We and the entire Oxy community look forward to helping you make that successful journey—and dealing with all of the surprises along the way.

All the best,

Rob Flot
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Wendy Sternberg
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College