In a virtual Town Hall event this afternoon, University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis discussed the progress that has been made in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 and announced plans to return to a more traditional campus experience in the fall.
“The exciting news is that we should be able to return to face-to-face classes in the fall, both for our main campus and our Associates in Arts Program,” said President Assanis. “As we look at the roll-out of vaccines and the decline in new COVID-19 cases, we are looking forward to a robust, safe, fall semester with an easing of some public health restrictions.” He continued, “We are planning for 95% of our course sections to be offered in their normal, face-to-face mode of delivery.”
Some classes would continue to be taught online and asynchronously to give students flexibility to fit courses into their schedules. With the expectation that some new international students may not be able to travel to Delaware, UD will offer a robust set of online courses for those students.
“I’m so optimistic about the upcoming academic year, I can’t wait for it,” Assanis said. A robust freshman class is anticipated – undergraduate admissions broke a new record: nearly 34,000 students applied for admittance in fall 2021.
The Class of 2021 will formally graduate at in-person ceremonies to be held on Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29, at Delaware Stadium. Graduating students will be divided into 3-4 groups. Doing this will allow each graduate to invite two guests. Each ceremony would also be live streamed.
The Class of 2020 (whose Commencement festivities were cancelled last spring) will have its own Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 30, at Delaware Stadium.
Improved Financial Situation
Heading into the fall semester, UD was projecting an operating deficit of between $228M and $288M, depending on campus density in the spring. As the result of an increase in campus engagement and activity in the spring, budget reductions of $135 million, and $60 million of federal funds through the CARES Act and Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, UD now anticipates a much lower projected operating gap of $65M.
Through the the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the University will be dispersing an additional $21 million directly to students. Undergraduate students who have filed a FAFSA will receive at least $250 each initially; those with demonstrated financial need will get more. Domestic graduate students will get $250 each.
And, President Assanis shared good news for UD employees, “I’m happy to share that we are ending the 5% salary reduction that was applied University-wide for non-unionized employees back in November. In addition, a lump sum payment equal to the total salary reduction will be issued to those who have been impacted over the past five months.”
President Assanis concluded his remarks with the following, “I appreciate the dedication and determination that all of our students, faculty and staff have shown over the past year through some very challenging circumstances. I never doubted that you would rise to the challenge, and it makes me extraordinarily proud to be a member of the University of Delaware community.”