I am writing today to share our plans for the 2020–21 academic year. We are adapting how we will deliver the start of the academic year, in accordance with evolving public health guidelines and with a particular consideration for the impediments many of our international students will face returning to campus. During these uncertain times, it is our duty to provide you with as much clarity as we possibly can, and I want to assure you that we remain as committed to our ideals, our mission, and to your education as we have ever been.
The 2020–2021 academic year at the Middlebury Institute will start with remote instruction throughout the fall. We will bring students back to campus in 2021 if we can do so safely. Here are some highlights of our plans:
- This fall all classes will be taught remotely. While the public health and immigration situations are constantly changing, we want to provide certainty now, so that you can make plans for the upcoming semester.
- Faculty are working closely with our Office of Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) to redesign their curriculum to make the most of the technology and pedagogical innovations available, ensuring we deliver the highest-quality remote instruction. We are leveraging feedback we received from you this past spring when faculty had only a few days to convert their classes to remote-learning format. This fall, we will have had the time to be more intentional in course design and delivery.
- The academic calendar will not change. Classes will begin on August 24.
- All classes will have asynchronous content, giving you the flexibility of learning at a time that works for your time zone and schedule.
- Any content that needs to be synchronous will be offered at a time that works for the majority of the students in the course. For example, synchronous activities in our Chinese translation and interpretation courses will be offered at an appropriate hour for students based in East Asia. If a student cannot attend a live class, it will be recorded for them to watch at a later time.
- We are planning for a phased reopening of campus in coordination with public health officials and Middlebury health experts.
On our website you will find a list of responses to frequently asked questions that I encourage you to explore. In addition, we will be hosting town halls for students with key members of faculty and staff on Thursday, July 2, from Noon–1:30 p.m. and 5:00–6:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Join us for the session most convenient to you. We have created a form if you would like to submit questions in advance. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions at the meeting.
I want to once more express my genuine gratitude for the extraordinary ways you, and our community as a whole, responded to the many challenges posed by the global pandemic this spring. It was not what any of us had planned or hoped for, but your remarkable adaptability and resourcefulness were critical elements of the successful completion of the semester.
We will be building on the lessons from this unusual spring to create a meaningful academic experience that meets the goals of a MIIS education, and I think you will find that our plans include new and exciting educational opportunities, as well as academic support and flexibility. We are dedicated to adapting the life-changing experiences that make the MIIS experience so special, and to creating new ones.
Dean of the Institute and Vice President for Academic Affairs