To: USC Community
From: Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Date: April 28, 2020
Subject: Academic Updates for Current and Future Trojans
As we enter the last week of the academic year, President Folt and I want to thank all of you for your flexibility and understanding during such difficult and rapidly changing times. I’m writing today to share several decisions in key areas concerning the upcoming Summer sessions and planning for Fall 2020. These decisions are designed to sustain the excellence of a USC education and protect the safety of our current and future faculty, students, and staff.
Spring 2020 Educational Transition and Tuition
We have no plans to provide pro-rated tuition refunds for the current Spring 2020 semester or our upcoming Summer sessions. While this is not the semester any of us envisioned, we are continuing to provide a high-quality education, ensure academic progress towards degree, and offer a robust learning environment. Whether our instructors present their classes in person or online, they bring the same expertise, depth of knowledge, and commitment to their teaching, and students continue to earn credits toward a USC degree. Additionally, we have added, and are building, new programs inside and outside the virtual classroom to make the online experience even stronger.
We did provide pro-rated housing and dining fee refunds to all students who have vacated their University housing. We continue to house and care for more than 1,500 students who were unable to leave the university as well.
Summer Sessions 1 & 2
Several weeks ago we announced we would continue remote learning for Summer Session 1 (May 20 – June 30). Given the uncertainty of when stay-at-home orders will be lifted, we are now announcing that all Summer Session 2 courses (July 1 – August 11), and all related in-person activities, will be conducted online.
The grading policy for the summer sessions will revert to those used prior to the Spring 2020 semester; that is, students can elect the grade options normally available for the course and follow the regular deadlines to make their elections.
Planning for Fall 2020
We are deep into planning for a safe and appropriate return to campus of faculty, staff, research, graduate and professional, and undergraduate programs. To do so, we must take into account how best to test for the virus, contact trace, and physically separate those who come back to campus. We are focused on returning to activities in clinical care and clinical education, research, teaching, learning, and creative and athletic experiences that recognize the risks of the spread of the disease. All of this forward planning is being done with the full recognition that what we do at USC forms the foundation for successful lives and careers, and is the basis of a strong civil society. We will provide additional details on what we are calling “Project Restart” in the coming weeks and hope to announce our plans for the fall semester in the next two months, with the understanding that circumstances remain in flux.
To reduce the stress on our current undergraduates, we implemented a new grading policy for this semester to allow students to elect letter grades or Pass/No Record. In consultation with the academic deans, we have decided that in order to maintain the fairness and integrity of the dean’s list, it will be suspended for this semester. The elimination of the pressure to make the dean’s list seems the most compassionate course at this time. The disruption of the semester due to the virus will be noted on students’ transcripts for Spring 2020.
CARES Act Funds
Finally, we are grateful to have received the Federal Government’s CARES Act funding which is earmarked specifically for student emergency use. USC was allotted roughly $19 million based largely on our size and number of Pell grant recipients. Many of our students, in addition to Pell recipients, are experiencing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19, and we are distributing these funds to assist them. We are disappointed that our international and DACA students, as well as those enrolled in online-only programs, are not covered under the CARES Act. We are working to assist those students in myriad ways, including through the USC Student Basic Needs fund.
We are very grateful to the teams who are working tirelessly on all of these issues and more. Their dedication to you and to our university is unparalleled.
We all have the same goal: To welcome everyone back to a safe campus as soon as it is prudent.
Please continue to frequently check your email and USC’s COVID-19 Resource Center, https://coronavirus.usc.edu/, as the situation evolves daily.