Indiana colleges, universities begin to discuss what’s in store for fall semester


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – What will the fall semester look like for Indiana colleges and universities? It’s a question that all institutions are working around the clock to answer, and as we’ve learned, there are many factors that could decide if students will be allowed to return to campus in August.

“We really need to be back on campus. Now, you set your sights high,” said Daniel Elsener, the President of Marian University.

Elsener is hopeful that campus won’t be empty come fall, as he plans to get safety measures in place.

“If things change, we know how to react to that too,” Elsener added, “So, we’ll take care of our students and we’ll be fully operational.”

In an effort to support students, Marian is awarding an additional $5 million in scholarship support for high school seniors who are enrolled in the 21st Century Scholars program. That’s 50 full-tuition scholarships for incoming freshmen. Students who apply quickly and have earned a high-grade point average in high school will be given first priority.  

The 21st Century Scholars program is designed to help every student afford a college education.

“We’re not going to let a pandemic in the way of an excellent education,” Elsener added, “To tell you the truth, we have a lot of great people at Marian and they saw the statistics and numbers and we always get a tremendous application pool, the question always is how do you afford it?”

Universities across the state are having the same conversations, what will fall semester bring?

“Our next major challenge is to prepare to roll out a return to work strategy for everyone involved,” stated Deborah Curtis, the President of Indiana State University.

At the Terre Haute campus, timelines are being discussed for a return to campus, even if that means social distancing or installing safety equipment. Curtis released this video, along with a follow up update by Provost Michael Licari, to keep students and faculty informed with the latest decisions happening that will impact campus.

“It will not be like flipping a switch, but we want to engage in a process that works for this campus,” Curtis added.

Indiana University released this statement on how their staff is monitoring the pandemic.

Indiana University is continuing to monitor developments in this global pandemic and considering a decision on the fall semester based on input from state, federal, and local health professionals. We will provide information to faculty, staff, and students in the coming days about how we will conduct the fall semester in a way that will keep everyone as safe as possible.

Up the road in West Lafayette, Purdue University has released preliminary plans considering pre-testing people before returning to campus or prohibiting larger gatherings. More information from the university can be found at this link, along with a message from President Mitch Daniels.

“The University of Indianapolis sent along this statement on their plans and monitoring what the fall semester could look like.The University of Indianapolis Coronavirus Task Force is strategically planning for the fall semester based on guidance from federal, state and local health authorities. In consultation with faculty and staff from across all areas of the university, the Task Force is reviewing possible scenarios that may be implemented depending on coronavirus (COVID-19) activity.”

Mitch Daniels, Purdue University President

DePauw University has assigned several groups to work on the myriad issues involved with reopening campus for students, faculty and staff. In a statement the University said, “As we hold online classes, most staff members will continue to work from home through May. Decisions beyond that have not been made.”

In Muncie, Ball State University has a fall contingency planning group identifying and evaluating issues that may arise as they transition back to normal operations. In a statement:

“Now that we have transitioned almost all Summer 2020 courses to online learning, Provost Susana Rivera-Mills has created a Fall contingency planning group, which will work with her and the academic deans to develop a set of recommendations for the academic enterprise.

Those plans will include the possibility that we may begin the Fall semester with a continuation of remote learning for larger classes or some variation of hybrid learning. As they continue this planning process, they will ask for feedback and input from our faculty and our department chairs.

I have asked Sue Hodges Moore to lead a parallel contingency planning group. This group, which is comprised of representatives of every division of our University, will help us to identify, evaluate, and plan for the other obstacles and issues that may arise as we transition to more normal operations. Those operations include classrooms, labs, the library, information technology support, residence halls, dining halls, recreational facilities, and events such as conferences, concerts, shows, and athletics.”

Geoffrey S. Mearns, Ball State President

At Ivy Tech Community College, most of their courses are already online. However, plans are also in place and communication is happening to determine what campus will be like come August. In a statement provided by the College:

“Ivy Tech Community College is a safe, quality and affordable option for Hoosiers.  As we already had 50 percent of our students taking online courses, we transitioned seamlessly in late March to a virtual college and will continue virtually through the summer.  We look forward to getting our students back on our campuses as soon as it is safe and consistent with CDC guidelines and the Governor’s orders.  We are building out multiple scenarios for Fall and will choose the approach this summer that is calibrated best to Indiana’s COVID-19 health and economic recovery. We have positioned ourselves to be nimble enough to quickly adjust how we serve our students and communities alongside the need to protect the health and safety of our campuses and all Hoosiers.”

Anderson University is currently planning to offer a residential experience for students this fall.

 The state of our world has many students and families concerned about what the future will hold. With all of the information that we currently have available about COVID-19, Anderson University is planning to offer a residential experience for students this fall semester as of now. 

We will carefully consider CDC regulations and guidelines as we approach the official start of the fall semester. We know our students and families are eager to get back to campus, as soon as it is safe to do so, and so are we.

Anderson University President John Pistole

We will keep you posted on any new developments regarding Indiana colleges and universities.

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