FAS planning for the Fall 2021 semester (3/29/21)

Faculty of Arts and SciencesThe Yale, a mythical beast

[Summary: this message follows up on the message sent earlier today by the president and provost. It enumerates some questions about Summer and Fall 2021 that remain unresolved and invites FAS faculty and staff to share additional questions or concerns by emailing contingency.planning@yale.edu.]

Dear FAS faculty and staff,

Earlier today, you received a message from President Peter Salovey and Provost Scott Strobel providing a preliminary sense of our expectations for the 2021-2022 academic year: if public health conditions permit, we plan to have a full residential program for our undergraduates, graduate and professional school students will continue their studies on campus, classes will be conducted primarily in person, and staff who have been working remotely will be phasing into on-campus work. If you have been living elsewhere, you should plan to return to the New Haven area before the beginning of the fall semester. To the extent compatible with health and safety, we will reintroduce many of our traditional forms of campus life.

The outlines of our communal ambitions are clear: we are eager to return to a residential environment, and to offer our students the irreplaceable experience of in-person learning. That said, certain details remain unresolved due to uncertainty about the public health situation. Some relate to the classroom. Given our commitment to in-person teaching, how will we accommodate members of our community whose health conditions or caregiving responsibilities preclude an ordinary return to campus? How will we support students who cannot travel to New Haven, whether from within the US or from abroad? If classrooms and other facilities are required to operate at reduced density, how will space be allocated? How will this affect those who support our academic activities in their roles as staff?

Other questions relate to research and travel. Our first priority will be to keep campus safe for our students, faculty, and staff. Given those ambitions, will there be restrictions on in-person research opportunities? Will offices, labs, and other research facilities need to operate at reduced density? What policies and procedures will govern university-sponsored travel, short-term campus visitors, and on- and off-campus gatherings?

Finally, questions remain about governance and administration. Which activities, meetings, processes, etc., will continue to take place remotely, and which will resume in-person? How will we conduct hiring, recruitment, and other core activities? How will we document, for purposes of evaluation, promotion, and recordkeeping, the effects of the Covid year on the experiences of individual members of our community? How will we arrange individual and communal office and gathering spaces to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff? How will we ensure that the appropriate technological and practical infrastructure is in place to support our work?

In the coming weeks and months, as the health situation in New Haven and beyond becomes clearer, we look forward to working with you to provide answers to these and other questions. We know that a number of you have expressed concerns about safety. Safety will be our priority as we consider returning to campus, and to our work together. If you, as a member of the FAS faculty or staff, have a specific area of concern as we approach this time of transition, we invite you to share this with the FAS Dean’s Office by emailing contingency.planning@yale.edu. We will address these issues in future correspondence.

In this exhausting and challenging year, the compassion and dedication of the FAS community has been a source of inspiration. As we approach this new phase of the pandemic, I remain grateful to be your colleague.



Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science