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President Crimmin Welcomes the Becker Community to the Fall 2020 Semester

President Crimmin Welcomes the Becker Community to the Fall 2020 Semester

Published on: August 24, 2020


Hello, Campus Community:

We’re excited to welcome you back—albeit virtually—for the fall semester. We understand your disappointment with the change to online learning. Students wanted to be in residence halls and back in classrooms; our faculty and staff were looking forward to welcoming students to our campuses.

However, rest assured that we are committed to creating an engaging and relevant virtual environment for all. Let’s also keep this in perspective. The fall semester is a little over 14 weeks long. Trust me, it will fly by! In that short time, you will complete a college semester—for some, your first, and for others, another step closer towards graduation.

While the sudden need to shift to online learning in the spring gave faculty and staff no time to prepare, they have been committed over the summer to ensuring students have a quality remote experience: in courses, through social programming, with enhanced student support, and by building opportunities to engage with other students. We are truly an agile and innovative community of scholars and dedicated educators dedicated to ensuring your success.

The start of the Fall Semester is a perfect time to share with you campus initiatives and updates that have taken place over the summer.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

In response to the murder of George Floyd and widespread protests in our nation that heightened awareness of the need and urgency to address issues of diversity and inequity, the College launched two virtual “Let Your Voices Be Heard” conversations with students in June. One was hosted by Rev. Prof. Michael Keating, who teaches Medical Ethics and Philosophy at Becker; the other featured Prof. Keating and Prof. Lynn Cormier-Sayarath, who teaches several diversity courses at Becker, including Understanding Diversity Online at the undergraduate level, and Social and Cultural Diversity in Counseling in the Masters in Mental Health Counseling Program. These conversations provided students with a time to process, grieve, and share their voices—and talk about Becker’s role in bringing about change.

In addition, I empaneled the President’s Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  The goal of the committee is to engage in authentic conversations with faculty, staff, and students on the topics of equity, inclusion, privilege, and diversity on campus, with the intent of creating meaningful, measurable, and long-lasting commitment to change. There are four areas of focus: personal and professional development, hiring and retaining talent, student support and initiatives, and academic and curriculum innovations. In addition, faculty have created ways for our students to examine race and social issues, areas of injustice, civil discourse, and privilege, through course assignments, discussions, presentations, and project-based learning initiatives. I have asked our Criminal Justice faculty to examine the curriculum for ways to incorporate the complex, relevant current issues for policing and law enforcement within the context of community engagement and social justice.

It is vital that the living and learning environment we provide for our community is socially relevant and forward thinking, connected to and actively engaged with society as a whole, and provides an institutional culture and population that both reflects and embraces diversity. There is much that we can do in these areas, and I look forward to the outcomes of the Committee’s work as well as learning more about how faculty and students are engaged in activities to bring about change. One of my most valuable experiences on campus is visiting classes and observing firsthand the work our faculty and students are engaged in. I hope to be able to witness the work they do in relation to these topics this fall.

Updates: Online Learning and Technology

A number of online learning and technology updates can be found in the FAQs on this page. In addition, for the School of Design & Technology:

For the School of Human & Animal Health:

Finally, Becker understands students may encounter technology challenges with online learning or may be struggling to purchase books and course materials. To report technology challenges or to apply for assistance from the Student Support Fund, please login to Canvas, access the “ACAD-2020-ONL-2020FA-Covid19 Emergency Fund” course, and download and submit the Technology Challenges Form.

Updates from the School of Graduate & Professional Studies 

The School of Graduate & Professional Studies (SGPS) offers both summer and winter intercession courses so traditional undergraduate students can catch up, or get ahead, in their credits. New student online information sessions were well-attended this summer and helped drive fall enrollment, especially in the graduate programs, which reached a record number of students this fall. Other recent initiatives include:

In addition, SGPS is looking forward to offering a non-credit bearing online esports certificate this fall, a non-licensure MA in Mental Health Counseling track this spring, and a new spring entry point for MFA in Interactive Media students.

Updates from the Office of Admissions

Get Involved, Stay Focused, and Take Care of Yourself

There will be a number of virtual events held throughout the semester—through clubs and organizations, CASL, residence halls, and more. In addition, everyone is welcome to participate in alumni events; be sure to follow Becker Alumni on social media. I urge everyone to be optimistic, positive, and excited to participate.

For our students, focus on your classes, participate in our virtual activities, stay connected to teammates and coaches, and reach out to your advisor, counseling services, and others when you need them. You may be learning remotely, but our support and care for you have not wavered. We are there for you and dedicated to helping you achieve your goals.

Upcoming Events: Convocation and Commencement

Fiscal Sustainability

In February 2020 (prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S.), the Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of a tuition freeze for the 2020-2021 academic year to help families and students manage the financial pressure.

With the College’s transition to remote learning in the spring, and the critical need to keep our community safe by continuing to engage online through the fall, it’s important to provide information about the College’s fiscal sustainability. Contrary to popular belief, remote learning is not less expensive for an institution; it is, in fact, more expensive. We lose revenue from room and board, but continue to pay rent for leased buildings, utility bills, and maintenance. We invest in greater technology needs and, in addition, provide funding for both the Technology Challenges and Student Support initiatives. Even without students on campus, grounds keeping and housekeeping services continue, and faculty and staff still need to be paid.

You are likely aware that many colleges and universities are facing substantial revenue loss, as enrollment remains uncertain.  As a small, tuition-dependent institution, Becker faces similar challenges; we rely on stable enrollment to manage our finances and provide the financial aid our students need to be able to attend.

Our community is guided by a deep commitment to academic excellence and providing a supportive, engaging, and vibrant campus experience. This has required personal sacrifice from members of our community; faculty and staff—including myself—have taken a pay reduction this fiscal year, and all campus budgets have been adjusted to reflect an online fall semester.

Despite these serious challenges, ensuring our students achieve their academic goals is a top priority. We continue with a tuition freeze and have provided a free Ninth Semester for students who stay enrolled at Becker for the 2020-2021 academic year. More details can be found on this page.  For our returning students, this means that if you are enrolled full-time this academic year, your tuition will be frozen at the Fall 2019 level for a third year in a row. That is far from common in today’s higher education market.

President’s Community Virtual Office Hours

Virtual office hours will be available for students and for faculty and staff. Once the schedule is finalized for the fall, it will be published in the Student and Employee Portals.

Spring 2021 Semester

Our Task Force continues its work—now directing its focus and planning to the Spring Semester. It is our desired goal to offer on-campus, in-person living and learning in January 2021. We will continue to monitor the level of COVID-19 in our communities and follow the guidelines of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and public health officials before making a decision.

As we move forward together, how each of us navigates the challenges will require ability, agility, patience, and positivity. Use this time to learn, grow, and connect with one another in valuable and meaningful ways. We are all part of an amazing Hawk Nation community!

Stay well and #HawksMaskup!

Sincerely,

Nancy P. Crimmin, Ed.D.

President

UPDATED! Fall Plans: August 2020Click here