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Planning for the Fall at SPS

Dear SPS Community:  

I am honored and excited to have been given the opportunity to serve as interim dean of Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Amid the challenges of the moment—a national awakening, a global pandemic, an economic crisis—the School of Professional Studies is poised to sustain the innovative and powerful programs that have enriched the lives of our esteemed alumni and our larger University community for so many years. This moment has compelled us to reenvision what the student experience will be this fall, and we have done so with the same expectations for quality and impact as we have always had.

Before describing what the fall will look like, it is important to acknowledge the swift transition to remote instruction this past spring and to express gratitude for this ambitious feat that was made possible through the concerted efforts of our talented faculty and staff and to our deeply committed students. On behalf of everyone, thank you. Looking forward, we will implement a multifaceted plan that addresses critical areas of how we learn and work together to foster a thriving campus and remote life that will drive our students’ academic and professional success.

With the knowledge gained from SPS’s existing online-only programs, we have been readying multiple modalities for the rest of our programs. Once permitted by local regulations and the University, all courses will be available in person and offered virtually both synchronously and asynchronously. Students attending in person will alternate between live and streamed attendance to ensure compliance with social distance protocols. Faculty and staff will receive equipment and training to create a Columbia-quality learning environment. Outside class, faculty and teaching assistants will conduct live discussion-based sessions for those studying in different time zones. This approach will need to be modulated carefully to account for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s upsetting notice that prevents international students in the U.S. from participating in online-only programs. In the coming days, students will be hearing from their program directors about town halls and other opportunities to ask questions about the nature of the coming year. We want every student and member of our community to feel supported and to have the opportunity to learn and prosper.

We are navigating the contours of our “new normal” with hard work, persistence, and, as befits us at SPS, consummate professionalism. Together, we will need to address the challenges of our time while supporting in every way possible our students’ educational and professional journey. I look forward to the 2020–2021 academic year inspired by your unwavering commitment to Columbia’s tradition of excellence.

Troy Eggers
Interim Dean
School of Professional Studies

Executive Vice Provost
Columbia University