Message from leadership to employees - April 12

Fall 2021: Better Together

Dear VCU faculty and staff,

This past year has taught us so much; primarily that as One VCU: Responsible Together, we can persevere through anything, including a global pandemic. Our success has been fueled by your superb efforts to tirelessly serve our students and mission.

On behalf of all of VCU — thank you!

The experiences we’ve had — along with substantial vaccine distribution and the recent survey data received about faculty and staff views for the fall semester — have shaped our plans for fall 2021.

For instance, about two-thirds of faculty and staff who completed the survey said that, if pandemic conditions are favorable and safety precautions continue, they are agreeable to a mix of in-person and online work. Similarly, two-thirds of students who completed the survey said that, with favorable pandemic conditions and continuing safety precautions, they want to attend a mix of in-person and online classes.

In addition to the survey, we have heard comparable thoughts from deans and multiple faculty and staff leadership groups about fall expectations.

With all of this taken into account, we are preparing for an engaging on-campus experience this fall that will show how being Responsible Together allows us to be Better Together.

Here are a few highlights about what you can expect for the fall:

  • VCU anticipates that both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses will be fully operational. Capacity in most buildings may still be reduced to some degree, as circumstances warrant. We anticipate that basic health and safety measures, including the wearing of face coverings and daily health monitoring, will remain in place, pending further or additional guidance from public health experts and authorities.
  • The current Fall 2021 Schedule of Classes is available online, and registration will open April 26. In addressing the varying needs of our diverse student body — and in the belief that we are better together — we are planning for a fall semester with a substantially higher percentage of in-person classes, with a mix of hybrid classes (in-person and online) and online-only classes.
  • With input from faculty and staff, we will consider how to balance the future of remote work with the need to provide students an engaged and impactful campus experience. Over the next several months, we anticipate new, revised guidelines for work arrangements.
  • Guidelines for events – including performances and sporting events – are in development, though our first in-person commencement ceremonies in more than a year will take place at the unit-level in May.
  • Beginning in summer, we will launch a virtual town hall series on a variety of topics related to preparing for the fall semester.

Of course, during the coming months we will monitor the state of COVID-19 and vaccinations as well as the advice of public health experts (including our own at VCU). As we have learned throughout this past year, we must remain flexible as circumstances may change and require the university to adjust its plans. Please continue to monitor together.vcu.edu for fall 2021 updates. We will notify you through emails of any substantial changes to our current plans. In addition to remaining flexible, we must also continue to be vigilant in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Continuing to do so in the months ahead will help lead us to a fall semester that is better because we’re together.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus!

Sincerely,

Gail Hackett, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs

Arthur Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H.
Senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and CEO of VCU Health System

Meredith L. Weiss, Ph.D.
Vice president for administration