Dear University of Portland Community Members,
I write today with several important updates regarding plans for a primarily in-person Fall 2021 Semester, our mode of instruction for the Summer Sessions, a freeze on tuition and academic fees for the 2021–22 academic year, and this May’s Commencement exercises.
But first, I offer my gratitude to all UP community members who have helped to make the start of our semester such a success. Here on The Bluff, COVID-19 positivity is low, residential students and on-campus staff are following our Pilots Prevent health and safety strategies, in-person classes have begun, and spirits are high. Those learning, teaching, and working remotely continue to find new and creative ways to connect with one another and live out our mission, albeit at physical distance. This positive start is the result of dedication, ingenuity, and common concern—three hallmarks of the UP community. Our semester has only just begun and we still have a way to go. But if we work together and look out for one another, I am confident that this academic term will be a success.
Plans for a Primarily In-Person Fall 2021 Semester: With hope and optimism, I share that the University of Portland is planning to conduct a primarily in-person Fall 2021 Semester. Classes will once again mostly be held in-person in our academic buildings, residence halls will return to close-to-normal occupancy, and most campus programming and events will resume.
As we have stated since the outset of the pandemic, flexibility will be essential. In the months ahead, we will closely monitor trends in COVID-19 positivity and the impact of new virus variants. We will be prepared to pivot to alternative plans, if necessary. Further, it is highly likely that the fall semester will not look like a complete return to “normal.” Given the uncertainty surrounding vaccine availability and long-term public health guidelines, we anticipate that some courses and events will continue to be held virtually and other operations may be impacted.
Nevertheless, in light of all that we have learned over the past eleven months, we are confident that we can safely and effectively return to primarily in-person operations in the fall. The COVID-19 Steering Committee will provide updates on our plans in the coming weeks.
Summer Sessions: Very briefly, I note that final decisions regarding the instructional format for Summer Sessions I and II have not yet been made. Information regarding Summer Session I will be shared with the campus community by March 5.
Tuition and Academic Fee Freeze for the 2021–22 Academic Year:In the coming days, students and families will receive a letter from the University announcing that tuition and academic fees will remain unchanged for the 2021–22 academic year. While the University has faced financial challenges as result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to making a UP education as affordable as possible. More information about tuition and fees for next year, as well as a comparison of UP’s costs relative to peer institutions, is provided in the letter that students and families will receive soon.
Commencement 2021: Our annual Commencement exercises will occur on May 9, 2021. The University has not made any decisions regarding the format of our ceremony. A committee of graduating seniors, faculty, and staff is currently studying this issue and will solicit feedback and perspective from the campus community, most especially those who are scheduled to graduate in May. The committee hopes to make a recommendation about Commencement 2021 by the end of February. At that time, we will also share information about the 2021 Commencement speaker and recipients of the Christus Magister Medal and honorary degrees. Regardless of format, we are committed to finding a meaningful and memorable way to honor UP’s Class of 2021 that complies with health restrictions and promotes the safety and well-being of our community.
I once again encourage you to visit our Pilots Prevent website and read our weekly Helping Pilots Prevent newsletter for the latest information on how the University is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please know of my gratitude for all that you have done to help UP navigate this time of challenge. As always, I am praying for you, your loved ones, and all who have been impacted by this pandemic.
Rev. Mark L Poorman, C.S.C.