Dear Rutgers–New Brunswick Students, Faculty, and Staff—
In our university's long history, Rutgers has stood strong against the backdrop of some of our country's most turbulent times. Today, we are being tested yet again, and while our community has risen high amid the circumstances of the past semester, our journey is not yet over. As outlined in President Holloway's email today, Rutgers will combine a majority of remotely delivered courses with a limited number of in-person classes. Predictions of additional spikes of the pandemic in the coming months by state and national health authorities—including Rutgers' own epidemiologists—require us to be mindful of the risk of significant on-campus learning and ensure that your safety and well-being remain our first priority.
I am writing to assure you that while the delivery of our educational and social experience will be different in the fall, it will be no less impactful. R-connection is our plan to deliver remote education and virtual student engagement in innovative ways that ensure our connection as a Rutgers–New Brunswick community remains strong and vibrant despite our physical distance. Programmatic segments of R-connection are detailed further below.
Degree continuity is a priority, as well as cultivating opportunities for "high-touch" in a virtual environment so our students continue to be the critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and team players that make Rutgers' graduates stand out. Signature programs like Byrne Seminars will continue to be offered, and academic support services such as tutoring, teaching assistant activities and recitations will be made available virtually.
Please note that most undergraduate and graduate courses will soon be designated as "remote" in the Schedule of Classes, but this change in format will not diminish the academic excellence for which Rutgers is known. The conversion of courses to remote instruction will not change students' current course registrations or create new time conflicts. During the next few weeks, the Schedule of Classes will be updated to reflect their remote status. In only very rare circumstances will students be expected to attend class on campus.
Students, if you have already registered for Fall 2020 courses, these updates also will appear on your myRutgers Dashboard. The updates to the fall schedule will be complete by August 1. If you would like to change your course schedule, we recommend waiting until after August 1 so you have full information regarding your options for remote instruction courses.
Housing and Residence Life
As most undergraduate and graduate courses will be taught remotely in the fall, we understand that many students planning to live in campus housing will be disappointed with our very limited housing capacity. It is important to underscore that the health and well-being of our students is the ultimate driver in this decision. As such, minimal on-campus housing is offered this fall semester and will be limited to the availability of apartment- or suite-style housing where social distancing can be safely maintained. These units will be reserved for specific student populations, including some graduate students, international students whose travel home is not possible, and students with hardships such as food or housing insecurities. Students will be assisted by Residence Life, Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships, and the Dean of Students offices in revising and exploring housing options and navigating referrals to appropriate housing alternatives.
Our physical distance should not—and will not—diminish our shared identity as Rutgers students, faculty and staff. As such, our campus' R-connection commitment transcends our educational mission. As a university community, we value the importance of building meaningful and lasting connections that make us such a vibrant living and learning community. Our staff have developed new programs, resources, and initiatives aimed at providing a seamless experience for our students that keeps us engaged. Expect to hear more about clubs, learning communities, organizations, and activities that will move to virtual formats, special events that will bring us together online, social media and interactive tools that will keep us connected, and robust student services that will be available to offer ongoing support for all types of needs throughout the semester.
Students, you will soon be receiving additional detailed information from a number of departments throughout Rutgers explaining next steps. In the meantime, we know you will likely have immediate questions, including how to find out whether your course will be taught remotely or on campus and how to apply for on-campus housing if you’re among the designated student populations. Please visit our R-connection webpage for answers to these questions and more in our list of frequently asked questions, as well as other resources to help ensure your success this coming semester.
While I had hoped the fall semester would bring a return to normalcy and a university that was bustling with students, faculty, and staff, that cannot occur at this time. As a medical scientist and pharmacist, I am keenly aware of the serious health risks of contracting COVID-19, even for young adults. More importantly, as chancellor, your safety and well-being are my highest priority. In due time, we will return to the campus—and our community—that we all love so much. Until then, we will teach, learn, and meet together virtually as Scarlet Knights.
Stay safe and be well.
Christopher J. Molloy
Chancellor, Rutgers University-New Brunswick