October 14, 2020
Dear SMU Community,
Fall 2020 has been a semester like none other. After months of planning, preparation and adjustments, we are now halfway through this term. You’ve done a great job of working together to maintain a healthy environment, and it is reassuring to see the downward trend in COVID-19 cases on campus. I’m grateful for the individual and collective efforts of our Mustang family to stay optimistic and healthy during this pandemic.
Now it’s time to look ahead to completing a successful semester and preparing for the next one. We are excited to announce that SMU will celebrate December Commencement with graduates and their families on Saturday, December 19, 2020. We are currently planning an outdoor ceremony in Ford Stadium at 1 p.m. for all students and their guests. With our football team’s undefeated start, we also anticipate hosting the championship game in December, which typically occurs early in the month. However, given the pandemic and league scheduling changes, it is possible this game could be delayed by up to two weeks and result in a conflict for space with Commencement. So, depending on the football schedule and weather, our backup option for graduation will be two separate ceremonies in Moody Coliseum. Regardless of the final location, we are planning for a safe and healthy celebration to mark this important achievement by our soon-to-be alums.
As we hit this midpoint, campus leaders, faculty and staff are already studying what has worked well and what could be improved as we continue our academic mission in the midst of this pandemic. The Fall Operations Plan that has guided our campus response will feed into a carefully reviewed and updated operations plan for spring. Through these efforts, our University will remain flexible to the fluid nature of the coronavirus with a clear focus on continuing to safely offer our excellent education and exceptional campus experience to the greatest extent possible.
To minimize travel and prevent virus spread over the holidays, students will leave campus at Thanksgiving break and return home to complete the rest of their coursework remotely. In planning for the spring semester, we have decided to start a week later on January 25, 2021 and continue straight through without a spring break until May 12, 2021. Good Friday will remain a university holiday. Jan Term classes will be also be available, beginning January 7, 2021. We will be able to accommodate a limited number of undergraduate courses as fully in-person for spring 2021. Priorities will be given to courses such as labs and performance-based classes. We will also continue to offer SMUFlex courses and virtual-only classes. So, students will have many options from which to choose. Spring enrollment by appointment for undergraduates will take place November 16—20. Open enrollment will continue until the end of the add period. As the case numbers decline, please don’t become complacent and let your guard down. What we’ve been doing is working so keep it up for the second half. Let’s all mask up, Pony Up and stay Mustang Strong.
R. Gerald Turner