Dear Monmouth University Community:
With the first day of classes now less than a month away, our team has been preparing extensively for a safe start to the academic year. While we are all looking forward to welcoming students back to campus life, the most recent guidance from the State of New Jersey requires that we adjust our reopening plan to comply with the State’s Stage 2 guidelines. Although we were all hoping for a Stage 3 reopening, Stage 2 offers a safe, incremental pathway for our return to campus, as well as a smooth transition to Stage 3 operations, when permitted by the State.
A Stage 2 reopening plan will affect the student experience in three principal ways:
Academic Instruction & Support. Under Stage 2 guidelines, the majority of instruction will be online, with exceptions for in-person delivery of coursework that requires labs, clinical, or hands-on instruction, which cannot be readily taught other than in-person. Individual student course schedules will be updated by Thursday, August 13, at the latest. Anticipating the possibility of such an outcome, and to ensure high quality remote delivery, our faculty have been engaged throughout the summer in online instruction preparation focusing on student learners and their academic success. In order to preserve the personalized attention that remains a hallmark of a Monmouth education, many of our classes will be smaller than usual, with our fall undergraduate classes averaging just 18 students per class.
In addition, we have invested significantly in enhanced audio-visual instructional technology to support our faculty in offering interactive and engaging lectures, small group interaction, and active learning through a variety of remote instruction learning platforms such as virtual classrooms and breakout rooms through eCampus, Zoom, and other platforms. Just as in an in-person environment, students will have full opportunity to approach, communicate, and meet with their professors for advising appointments, drop-in consultations, feedback sessions, and office hours. Most of this will be possible remotely and with in-person opportunities as they become available. In an effort to maintain consistency in our learning environment, to provide certainty for students, and to ensure the highest-quality academic experience, Stage 2 guidelines for instruction will continue to apply throughout the fall semester.
All academic support services through the Center for Student Success – including advising, tutoring, and career services – will remain available throughout the semester in a combination of in-person and virtual sessions, which students can access at any time. Department chairs and advisors will be working with students to assist them with their fall schedule and to answer any academic and schedule-related questions. Students will also have access to the library, and we are working on providing additional study spaces around campus for students to safely do their remote course work.
Residential & Campus Life. In a Stage 2 reopening, students are welcome – if they choose – to reside with us in on-campus housing, subject to safety constraints like face-covering protocols, limitations on visitations among residence halls, restrictions on the use of common areas, and other social-distancing measures. Even in Stage 2, we remain committed to delivering a highly personalized education for all our students and understand that engagement outside of the classroom is critical to a meaningful undergraduate experience. Although conditions will be different, students will continue to live independently, participate in clubs and activities, study at the library, and explore new interests—all within walking distance of the beach.
The experience may be different this year, but we fully expect our 117 clubs and organizations to be as active as ever. And, while intercollegiate competition has been canceled for the fall, student-athletes will be permitted to continue their training and development under the supervision of their coaches. In addition, the Offices of Health Services, Disability Services, and Counseling & Psychological Services will be fully operational throughout the course of the semester to support students both in person and remotely.
If, during the course of the fall semester, the State moves to Stage 3, the campus will reopen even more as State-mandated constraints are relaxed. Housing assignments for all students will remain secure for the duration of the academic year, so students will not lose their reserved spaces if they decide not to join us in campus housing this fall. If students choose to return to campus housing in Stage 3, we, of course, will charge students only the pro-rata share of the housing and dining contracts through the end of the semester.
Whether students choose to live on campus this fall or not, the full suite of student activities and support services will be available to all students, and we will adjust in-person or remote delivery to accommodate the specific needs of individual students.
Dining. In Stage 2, full dining plans will remain available but will be limited to “grab-and-go” options only. Indoor communal dining is not permitted. However, we will make attractive outdoor seating options more readily available in various locations. If the State moves into Stage 3, we will expand our dining operation accordingly to provide safe and physically distanced indoor dining spaces.
In addition, allow me to share some additional information regarding the fall semester:
Travel Quarantine. All students traveling to Monmouth University from one of the 35 states on New Jersey’s travel advisory list must quarantine in-state for 14 days prior to their arrival on campus. Residential students will be accommodated with an early arrival to satisfy their quarantine requirement. In addition, the University can offer quarantine space for students residing off campus on a limited basis. Please contact Dr. Jim Pillar, Associate Vice President for Student Life, at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
Billing Due Date. In order to ensure that students and their families have complete information available to them before finalizing their billing, we have extended our bill payment deadline to August 19. Additionally, I want to remind students and their families that full refunds for housing are available right up until the day before your scheduled move-in date, and tuition and fees are fully refundable through September 15, one week after the start of classes.
Additional Information. Tonight I will be hosting open calls with incoming and returning students and families to discuss these changes in more detail and to answer any questions regarding our fall opening. Although the 7pm call is now filled, there is plenty of room in the 8:30pm call. Details, including the links to register for the sessions, have been sent in separate communications. If you have questions of any kind in advance of or following that call, please feel free to reach out to us at FallRestart@monmouth.edu. As usual, our team stands ready to assist you in any way possible.
No matter what challenges lay ahead, Monmouth is a community built on resilience and determination, as evident in the success of our graduates. Since our founding during the depths of the Great Depression, and throughout every subsequent challenge, the ability to overcome adversity has propelled Monmouth forward to ever greater levels of excellence. I am excited to begin the new semester and am eager to welcome the most diverse – and most academically prepared – incoming class of students in Monmouth’s history.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these challenging times together.
Dr. Patrick F. Leahy