Fall Reopening Updates for Graduate Students

July 17, 2020

Dear LMU Graduate Students,

Earlier this week I shared with our undergraduate students, parents, faculty, and staff the university’s decision that our undergraduate courses will be principally and primarily conducted remotely for the fall semester; for many undergraduates, their courses will be offered exclusively online. I am also aware that many of you have already been informed by your specific school/college that the university has made the same decision about our graduate-level courses, which will follow this same principally online model. Because specific parameters may differ somewhat by academic program and degree sought, additional program-specific information will be forthcoming from your school/college dean, department chairs, and program directors.

The well-being of our graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and staff is our top priority. Regardless of our modality and approach, we look forward to welcoming you back for the fall semester. Our decisions and timelines regarding student and faculty access to LMU’s campuses during the fall semester continue to depend on data and guidelines not fully available to us in a context where some factors remain unknown. Public health guidelines for higher education continue to be slow in coming and anticipated safety protocols are changing rapidly: California and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) will restrict our on-campus activities. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced statewide reclosures that roll back California’s reopening progress, with further announcements forthcoming. Also, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second-largest school district with over 700,000 students, announced they were moving online this fall. Los Angeles is considering reimplementing stay-at-home orders based on increased virus spread risks. I am confident that, amidst these changes, we will provide our signature graduate and professional education while substantially reducing in-person instruction and lowering on-campus density.

Keeping You Informed and Engaged
We know that you are managing multiple responsibilities—as working professionals, as parents/caretakers, and other roles while pursuing your graduate degrees. As we continue adjusting to these ever-changing circumstances together, our Reopening Website is our hub for news and updates about LMU’s fall 2020 reopening. We will also keep you informed about schedules, advisories, and more as appropriate. Information about graduate assistantships, research assistantships, and teaching fellowships is forthcoming.

I highlight the following helpful resources that will be updated frequently:
  • Protocols for Reopening (guidelines on distancing, reporting, and other health best practices);
  • Tools to Keep LearningTeaching, and Working;
  • Categorized FAQs (Student, Faculty/Staff, Campus Visitors, COVID-19) that cover fall instruction and campus life; if we have not answered your question in our comprehensive FAQs, please submit the question here.
Delivering Our Signature Education
During these challenging times, the teaching and educational experience that LMU delivers continues to be exceptional, whether in person or remotely. An LMU education is unmatched: Our faculty, student development professionals, and campus ministers continue to make our graduate and undergraduate students their highest priority. Our esteemed, internationally renowned faculty continue to provide personalized instruction, advising, and mentoring. Their scholarship, research, and creativity — and their tireless efforts to provide a rich, academically excellent, intellectually rigorous curriculum online and in person — are why an LMU education is in higher demand than ever. Despite the pandemic’s disruption, our students have not lost momentum, and they continue making progress in their degree programs. We will continue to provide student-centered support services, leadership opportunities, activities, spiritual guidance, and career and professional development mentorship and opportunities that reflect the transformative cura personalis for which LMU is known.

Academics and Technology
LMU’s immediate academic response to the Stay-at-Home order in March required faculty to shift urgently to fully-online instruction. Since then, our faculty have been working tirelessly to design meaningful online courses and experiences that challenge our graduate students and support your academic and professional ambitions through rich learning environments. We are committed to delivering exemplary, engaging, and student-centered experiences regardless of instructional mode—face-to-face, online, or in hybrid combinations. This summer, LMU faculty and staff have participated in training for a variety of tools and skills for excellent online course development offered via a partnership between the Center for Teaching Excellence and Information Technology Services. Faculty members across all schools and colleges are collaborating and sharing resources with each other to ensure our students’ intellectual fulfillment and academic success.

For the fall semester, please note:
  • Instruction will be primarily, and for nearly all graduate students exclusively, delivered remotely;
  • We will focus our in-person and hybrid experiences in the following types of courses: studio- and performance-based courses; film production courses; and selected independent studies courses;
  • We recommend a minimum technology standard for PCs and Macs to ensure an optimal online learning experience. To reference these standards or to seek support for any of your technology issues or questions, please access our Keep Learning webpage;
  • You will continue to benefit by LMU’s phenomenal academic support and professional development services, with specific offerings tailored to graduate students’ needs, including the William H. Hannon Library, the Academic Resource CenterStudent Affairs, and Career and Professional Development, among many others.
International Students
Our international students are essential members of our LMU family. We were thrilled to hear this week’s news that the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that they would rescind their divisive policy. We benefit from the diversity of perspectives that drive our creativity and ambitions, and our international students are a rich source of the LMU experience. The Office for International Students and Scholars will share further information as appropriate. We will continue working with our Congressional delegation, colleague institutions, and our advocacy organizations, including AJCU and ACE, to ensure that our international students’ education is not interrupted.

Excellent Infection Behavior Control
Whether on campus or off, we will live by the motto: Excellent Infectious Behavior Control (EIBC).
  • Each of us plays an instrumental role to ensure that our entire community remains healthy. We will protect ourselves and we will protect each other. We will hold each other accountable for EIBC.
  • We will adapt to new ways of teaching, learning, studying, working, and living because LMU is resilient and consistent in its commitment to excellence.
  • Effective immediately, all graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, staff, contractors, and visitors who are approved for campus access must submit their Lion Health Check daily before arriving to campus or departing from their on-campus residence. You can access the Lion Health Check via the LMU Rave Guardian mobile app (download instructions here) or online. Please use the app ONLY if you are already identified as essential and coming to campus. Please refrain from testing out the app as all screening inquiries need to be manually reviewed and addressed.

Our graduate and undergraduate students are at the heart of everything we do, and we support your success and intellectual, creative, and spiritual growth. I am indebted to each of you for your patience, creativity, and engagement as we continue to adapt to these changes and overcome these once-in-a-lifetime challenges while remaining dedicated to the distinctive LMU educational experience that fosters our Lion pride. So much of who we become in life is shaped by where we study. I am honored that you chose and continue to choose LMU.

We will keep you informed with further updates, and, as noted above, you will also soon receive information from your school/college dean, department chairs, and program directors.

With gratitude,

Thomas Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost