Academic Program Updates for students


The Dean’s office addresses the numerous questions and concerns related to the academic program, reports on the decisions that it has made, and identifies issues that it is working on.

Dear Oxy students:

I am writing on behalf of the academic administration, the Associate Deans, and the faculty about the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in. Spring 2020 has presented us with unimaginable challenges. I know how hard the latest news, of our having to move to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester, will be for you. Although we are all struggling with the global public health crisis and the alteration to our daily lives, we recognize that as students, you are the population that is most impacted by this transition to remote instruction. We are here to help.

We have set up an email address (cv19academics@oxy.edu) that we encourage you to use if you have questions about the academic program in general—it would be helpful to know your concerns so we can provide you with the information you need. Of course, questions about your specific courses or major program should be directed to your professors, your advisor, or the chair of your major department or program. But questions that come in through the cv19academics@oxy.edu email address will help us to understand the range of concerns that you have.

We in the Dean's Office have already been made aware of numerous questions and concerns related to the academic program. We would like to take the opportunity to address those questions, report on the decisions that we have made, and identify issues that we are working on.

A special note to seniors: Let me reassure you that the College is doing everything we can to make certain that the class of 2020 will be able to complete their coursework this semester to graduate on-time. I know this is not the senior spring you were expecting, and for that, I am truly sorry.

Remote Instruction

Our faculty and our students are being asked to modify the fundamental nature of the academic experience on very short notice. The College is here to help. The week of March 16-20 is an extension to Spring break. Your faculty are using this time to prepare for remote instruction, and you should be doing the same. The CDLA has compiled some tutorials to help you get started.

Some classes will more readily translate to a remote format (although we are mindful of the needs of students that may be in different time zones, or who have other challenges related to learning from home). For other kinds of courses (labs, studio, practicum), we are working closely with faculty on creative solutions—many have already been suggested. With the abundance of colleges and universities that are facing similar circumstances, we are optimistic that we will be able to make accommodations in all class types that will allow you to complete the course.

Faculty have been told not to expect students to observe any due dates, exams or assignments that were scheduled for this coming week, and faculty have been asked to reevaluate due dates and assignments scheduled for the rest of the semester.

The pedagogy and technology specialists in ITS and the Library/CDLA are working closely with individual faculty members to help them ramp up for the transition. These offices are here for you too. If you have any questions or concerns about the technology you need to take part in your online classes, please contact ITS at helpdesk@oxy.edu and they will work with you to make sure you have the resources you need.

Support will continue to evolve as we continue to learn about your needs and the unique circumstances in each academic program. We are holding meetings early in the coming week with departments to ensure that we are supporting their needs for instruction and your needs for completing your courses. We will share more information as it becomes available.

Importantly, we encourage you to continue to maintain a connection to your faculty through frequent email or video-conference. Reach out with questions, attend remote office hours, participate in on-line activities. As we said to faculty in an earlier message, physical distance does not fundamentally alter the faculty-student relationship, which is a key component of the Oxy educational experience. Stay connected, and please check your Oxy email frequently!

Library/CDLA and Academic Commons

The staff of the Library/CDLA are working closely with faculty and Information Technology Services to support your educational needs to the fullest extent. Read about the Library’s response to COVID-19.  The web page is designed to answer most of your questions. It is updated when we increase our e-resources and remote services, so please check back regularly.  We will be offering virtual reference services, office hours, and live text options. Please send any questions to library@oxy.edu and we will respond as quickly as possible.  For those of you remaining on campus, the Library/CDLA and Academic Commons will be open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.

Academic Policy Adjustment

In light of the extraordinary circumstances we have experienced in Spring 2020, we have made some adjustments to academic policies. We are continuing to evaluate all policies and dates and deadlines on the academic calendar, but we wanted to let you know the decisions we have already made:

  • The last day a student may submit a contract to have a course be graded on a CR/NC basis has been extended to the last day of classes, Tuesday, April 28th. 

  • The deadline for chairs to submit senior comprehensive grades has been extended by a week to Monday, April 20th.

  • With the suspension of competition, in-season sports (200-level PHAC) courses have ended and students will receive a grade based on their participation to date.  Information about the completion of other PHAC courses will be provided after additional discussion with the department.

  • Advising for the 2020-2021 academic year has been postponed a week and now will begin Monday, March 30 and will be expanded through Friday, April 10th.

  • Registration for Fall 2020 courses will begin Monday, April 13th.

Advising and Registration

In preparation for the rescheduled Advising Week, the Director of Advising will be providing resources for students and faculty advisors related to holding advising appointments remotely, including phone appointments, video conferences, and email correspondence.

The Advising Center will remain open throughout the semester to provide additional advising support to students. Students can schedule a phone appointment by using the “Schedule an Appointment” link on the Advising Center site or send questions to advisingcenter@oxy.edu.

In the coming days, we will be providing additional guidance to students regarding how to declare majors and minors, drop courses, and carry out other necessary transactions remotely.

More information about advising and registration will be made available in the coming week.

Pre-Health Advising

Our new director of pre-health advising, Kat Wang, joined Oxy just before Spring Break. Although this is not the way Kat would have preferred to be introduced to the Oxy community, during the last two weeks, she and her team have worked tirelessly to set up a user-friendly, virtual advising system for the community. Here is the new booking interface where you can find a list of news and resources.

National and International Fellowships

The Office of National and International Fellowships is still available for individual advising on awards and help with applications. To make an appointment, please go to Handshake and select a virtual fellowships appointment, or email Director Jennifer Locke. Appointments may be conducted over BlueJeans, Skype, phone, or email. You can also access additional information and resources on the website.

Academic Support Services

We are working with the Writing Center, Peer Learning, the Academic Mastery Program, and the Scientific Scholars Achievement Program to transition operations to fully online by as soon after classes resume on March 23rd as possible. These crucial support areas will be available to you as you finish the semester.

Academic Issues we are still working on:

We know that there are still many questions that you have, and I want to let you know the range of issues on which we are still working to resolve:

  • Commencement

  • Summer programming, including URC’s Summer Research Program

  • Comps presentation format in each department

  • Internship credit

  • Community-based learning courses

  • Practice/activity-based 1- and 2-unit courses across the curriculum

And of course, there are new issues that we identify and add to the list on a daily basis. Please feel free to send academic questions to the cv19academics@oxy.edu email address, although questions will get forwarded to us from the cvinfo@oxy.edu email account as well, we may be able to respond more quickly to the questions about academic issues through the cv19academics address. We will respond to your questions as soon as we are able, and we will use those questions as a basis for frequent updating of the FAQ on Oxy’s COVID-19 website

I know that this is a lot to take in, thanks for bearing with me. We will continue to be in touch. Take a deep breath. We will get through this together.

Best,

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