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Smith College A Culture of Care

Note to Students and Faculty, March 28, 2020

Note to Students and Faculty, March 28, 2020

Dear students and faculty,

We write to you on the eve of an enormous experiment. None of us would ever have chosen the means and modes of teaching and learning that we will be engaging in for the rest of this semester. Unprecedented circumstances, however, demand unusual actions in response. Beginning on Monday, March 30, Smith courses will be occurring in alternate modes of instruction: via Zoom, Moodle, Google chat, Google docs, Slack channels, FaceTime, and other media. Together, we are embarking on a journey into the unknown.

Faculty have spent a lot of time and energy over the past two weeks transforming their courses for this new environment. More than over 200 have attended consultations, workshops and other training opportunities as they’ve rethought their course material, assignments and pedagogies. They have been supported by a tireless team, who have provided equipment, offered training, answered questions, and developed guidelines and procedures. Staff in Information Technology, the Jacobson Center, the Spinelli Center, the libraries, the Office of Disability Services, and other areas of campus have worked to make their services available to faculty and students. Smith has prepared for this new educational enterprise with thoroughness and dedication.

This first week of instruction in our changed environment will be rocky at times, fraught with some kinds of problems we anticipate (and have tried to build solutions for) and others that will only be revealed when we encounter them. Rest assured that the same energy and intelligence and hard work that have gone into the preparation for the second half of the semester will address difficulties as they arise. While the next few weeks might be tough, we are going to get through them. Along the way, we will all learn quite a lot, both within courses and through the experience of teaching and taking courses in new ways.

We will all be working our way through this together, and we hope all will engage the coming weeks in a spirit of openness, patience, and curiosity.

With gratitude and best wishes,

Michael Thurston
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Susan Etheredge
Dean of the College and Vice President for Campus Life