The following message was sent to the Drexel community on April 3.
Dear Students and Colleagues,
As spring break draws to a close, I want to welcome you to an unprecedented spring quarter and semester — and tell you how excited we are to begin. While all around us the nation faces a time of uncertainty, we can be sure that, on our virtual campus, the next two-and-a-half months will prove to be productive in so many ways. We may be apart from one another as we shelter from the COVID-19 coronavirus, but we can still share this moment as a community. And I’m confident that we will emerge with our personal connections strengthened, our studies and research fruitful, and our service to the community as impactful as ever.
It all starts Monday. Drexel faculty and professional staff are eager to welcome you back — as they show in this video. Before the first day is out, professors and their students will have gathered online for more than 750 course sessions previously scheduled in traditional classrooms and labs. By week’s end, they will be followed by several thousand online sessions, amounting to approximately 3,250 instructional meetings. And on and on, throughout the nine-week term.
With Drexel’s online teaching dating back to 1996, we are leaders in the field. And now those skills will benefit the entire Drexel community. However, we recognize the difficult situation faced by many students, having had to move off campus abruptly and return home amid a great deal of uncertainty and disruption in their lives. In an effort to assist our students, we have decided to offer the option to take spring term courses on a pass/fail basis. Details will be provided in a separate message to students next week. (It’s important to note that the pass/fail option does not apply to students in the School of Education, or to those in the clinical portion of the MD program, due to accreditation requirements.)
The challenge of moving an entire curriculum online in only a matter of weeks has been daunting. But we can take pride in the fact that our faculty, with support from professional staff, have done it while managing their own stress — and even explored creating new courses of study directly related to the pandemic.
While students hopefully will find this term as rewarding and challenging as any taught in a classroom setting, Drexel researchers are mounting studies remotely to advance knowledge and benefit society — including ways to combat the coronavirus. Research related to COVID-19 is being conducted in colleges and schools across the University, from fast-tracking production of medical masks, to gaining insights on vaccines, to developing new educational online platforms.
We’re also staying in touch with our community. For instance, the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships is conducting video sessions for area residents who need help with information on job searches, unemployment claims, completing Census forms, and other challenges and concerns.
This spring, many students also are turning their attention to their co-op experience. Steinbright Career Development Center advisors are working with students applying for positions, as well as being in talks with current co-op employers to arrange remote work options and, in some cases, delaying the start of co-ops. It’s the sort of innovative work we would expect with the Drexel co-op, now marking its 100th anniversary.
And just as students and faculty on campus would take time off from their studies to relax and perhaps drop in to the DAC, they will find more than two dozen online exercise classes held weekly as part of the Virtual Rec Center created by Drexel Athletics. University fitness instructors will be available to conduct group exercise sessions to help all of us stay strong throughout the term.
Finally, we are deeply grateful for the continued generosity of the Drexel community. Alumni, trustees and other supporters have contributed more than $145,000 to help students meet emergency expenses, and over $110,000 to back research into COVID-19.
As always, please continue to check Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus website for updates and utilize the CDC's prevention tips.
Please take care of yourselves, and each other. I wish each of you the very best for the coming weeks and months and look forward to the time when we can gather again on campus.