May 20: Fall term update

To: Dalhousie community
From: Deep Saini, President and Vice-Chancellor
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Re: Fall term update: Our approach to courses and instruction

First, let me thank you all for your incredible efforts during an academic term unlike any in our university’s history. Over the next several weeks, we celebrate a graduating class defined by its perseverance and success in the face of adversity.

Now, as we look ahead to the upcoming fall semester, our top priorities are the safety of our entire community and our continuing high-quality academic experience. It is vital that we ensure all students — new and returning, domestic and international — are able to pursue their studies and progress towards their goals, while ensuring the continued health and well-being of everyone. In such times, it’s more important than ever to commit to your education and to your future, and at Dal we’re going to make sure you can do that this fall.

Our high-level plan is focused on these principles:

The fall term will be predominantly online, with limited exceptions based on those programs where extensive experiential learning forms part of the curriculum (i.e. medicine, dentistry, select health professions, agriculture) and these can be provided safely in adherence to health protocols. Full in-person, on-campus courses will not resume before January 2021.

We’re investing in our experience, spending more than $1 million on technology development, additional online instruction training and increased online supports for students. Our student experience team is undertaking considerable work to ensure our fall student experience is robust and comprehensive. And we’re also planning more bursaries and financial aid support than ever before, recognizing the unique financial challenges many are facing in this pandemic.

We take safety seriously. These decisions have been made made in line with prevailing public health advice and restrictions and the leadership of our academic and operational teams. We are building a robust campus safety plan for those faculty, staff, researchers and students who will be on campus based on the limited exceptions described above.

We know there are many more questions, and more details are coming in June. Our academic team continues its detailed planning on a course-by-course basis. We expect to have more detail to share in June, when we will also share additional information on residences, food services, libraries, athletics and ancillary programs.

We thank you for your continued patience as we work through the complex challenges this situation presents for all of us. These short-term measures are essential to keeping our community safe and supported through this pandemic. This situation is temporary; our students’ Dalhousie experience will stay with them for the rest of their life, and we will work together, as One Dalhousie, to ensure that experience continues to be one that is meaningful and inspiring.


Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University