June 30: President Quillen’s Message to Students About The Fall

I’m reaching out with the very specific purpose of clarifying where we are in our plans for fall semester.  In this message, I hope to address some of the questions that you have asked in recent days.  As always, our plans are provisional and will change as the situation does.  I’ve written this in a question-and-answer format, as I think this may be clearest. I and others on campus are moving deliberately and with humility, making provisional decisions knowing that circumstances may change. You may have questions that I’ve not addressed, so please feel free to contact Dean McCrae or me with any additional questions. Please read the entire message.

The previous email said classes will have a remote option.  What does this mean? How will this work? 

 Faculty members are designing courses  with three goals in mind:  equity—we want to serve all students; a strong sense of community—we focus on safeguarding the health of others as well as ourselves; and effective learning—we choose the mode of instruction that, in these unprecedented circumstances,  will be most effective given the objectives of the course and the number of students enrolled.  That means that this semester courses may be offered in one of three ways:

  • Online – The instructor and students participate online. 
  • Hybrid – Some hours of class are in-person and on campus, while other portions of the course are online. 
  • Flex – The instructor and students meet in-person and on campus. No hours are designated as fully online, and accommodations will be made for students who are participating remotely. 

All courses will be designed so that they can be accessed by students who are learning remotely. More detailed definitions of these modes of delivery are given below. The mode of delivery of each course will be indicated in the class schedule after July 27th. This is the earliest we can post this information, given that planning for courses is ongoing. Any student can sign up for any course, regardless of the mode.  With professors using these three modes, at least some, and possibly a majority, of your class hours will be provided remotely whether you are living on campus or not. 

The instructional design of these classes is meant to deliver the most effective learning experience possible under our current circumstances. Tuition will not be adjusted based on the form in which courses are delivered. Davidson faculty and staff members are committed to offering unmatched learning and mentorship. They are redesigning courses so that they and the college can offer you this even in this difficult time.

Davidson will offer opportunities through the Center for Civic Engagement, The Center for Career Development, the performing arts, the Union, Athletics, Physical Education and Wellness and other offices that serve our holistic mission.   Opportunities will be structured to adhere to public health guidance and delivered in ways that reach all students regardless of their housing selection. As our plans develop, these offices will share more information with you.

Do I have to return to campus? What are my options? 

We’re working to create a safe residential campus environment, and we recognize that some students need or want other options. There are options for where you live during the fall semester.  For example, students can: 

  • Live on campus in the residence halls. 
  • Live in the town of Davidson or nearby. 
  • Live away from Davidson and take all classes and participate in campus activities remotely.  

If you have specific housing needs or concerns, please reach out to Assistant Dean Walter Snipes. Remember, no matter where you live, some and possibly a majority of your class hours will be delivered remotely.

For health and safety reasons, access to residence halls will be restricted. Only persons living in a residence hall will have access to that building. Students living off campus will not have access to residence halls. 

Students will be screened before moving into the residence halls.  

As previously stated, we will wear face coverings or shields, we will abide by physical distancing rules, we will wash our hands frequently and we will monitor our health. Gatherings of any size will be strictly limited. These few things, when practiced by everyone every day, genuinely help to safeguard  our community as well as those around us. 

What’s going to make this work is a very deep sense of personal accountability.  We all have to agree to do these things and to help each other remember these things.

 Let me be as clear as I can: If you won’t do these things—wear a mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands, monitor your health daily— then you can’t be here.  If you don’t want to abide by these rules, then I advise you not to return to campus in the fall.

 Our goal is to provide enough information and advance notice so that students can make the best decisions for them for the semester. For some students, campus is the safest place to be or the only place where they have specific learning opportunities or access to resources that they need. For others, home may be the best location. We will do everything we can to support you no matter where you are, and Dean Snipes is working hard to address specific housing needs.  

Students will have until the 10th day of class to request a leave of absence without penalty, which includes waiving the late fee.

Will I be able to leave campus for an overnight trip during the semester? What about Thanksgiving? 

We will ask you to avoid overnight trips and to plan to remain in the Davidson area. We ask that you base your decisions, how you approach each day, on how it might affect the people around you on campus and off.  Courses are designed so that any in-person meetings end before Thanksgiving. Students can leave campus at this time and they may not return until the Spring semester. Some students may need to remain on campus through final exams. If this is your situation, please contact Assistant Dean and Director of Residence Life Walter Snipes. 

Can my family visit?

For their safety and the safety of everyone, we would discourage family visits.  No overnight visitors from off campus are permitted. There will be no family weekend this fall.

Who will see the information that I enter into the symptom checker app?

I know you’re concerned about privacy.  We’re gathering this information only for purposes of monitoring the health of the community and providing students with care.  The app complies with health information privacy laws.  Any information you enter into the app will be viewed by a doctor or nurse at the college. All personally identifiable information gathered by the app will be deleted at the end of the semester. 

Thank you for your patience as we work through the details of our plans in these extraordinary circumstances.  I, or someone from the college’s leadership, will continue to update you as the situation evolves. You can find information and updates on our Fall 2020 webpages.

This very difficult situation is not fair. I and all of us here genuinely care about each one of you, and if we could make things different for you, we would. But, we live in the world we’re in, and in all humility we make the best decisions we can based on incomplete and evolving information. We as individuals can rise to the challenge of these times by living out our commitment to leadership and to each other. Davidson is stronger because each of you is a part of this remarkable community.

Modes of Teaching for Fall 2020


Instructor and all students participate in the class online. Students who are physically on campus can take these courses using their personal computer. There will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences based on the course design. Any synchronous sessions will be recorded and made available to all students in the course.


Instructor is on campus. Some of the meeting hours for the class are designated for online work. If the class meets face to face on campus, it is for only a portion of the designated course meeting hours. For example, if a course normally meets for two 75 minute sessions in a week, only one of those sessions would be face to face (or, to reduce density of larger classes, through multiple subsections of the class). The online portions can be delivered synchronously and asynchronously based on the design of the course. Lectures held face to face or synchronously will be made available to students via recording and the instructor will find ways to help students meaningfully interact with material. 


This is recommended only for classes of 15 persons or fewer and for the very few classes that cannot be taught in a hybrid format. In this model, the instructor and students in the class meet face to face on campus. No hours are designated fully online. Instructors design and accommodate students who are remote by making recordings and material available to all students and design ways that remote students can meaningfully interact with the instructor, the material, and their classmates. 

Note: Given the changing circumstances of the pandemic in North Carolina, we need to abide by the restrictions that exist when classes are in session. The state has limited the size of gatherings in its phased reopening process; we will need to abide by whatever limits are in place when we start classes and strongly discourage large groups of people from meeting regularly. 

Date to know: Students will have until the 10th day of class to request a leave of absence without penalty.  

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June 18: President Quillen’s Message "Our Plan for the Fall"

The fall semester will begin an academic year like none before at Davidson, and I hope in this message to give you a better view of what we are doing to prepare. This information is not comprehensive but will help you understand what the changes will mean for all of us and some of the things you need to do. 

We will hold Zoom town halls on Wednesday, July 15, to answer as many questions as possible. The student town hall will be from 7 to 8 p.m., and the parents town hall will run from 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. We will provide information later about how to join the call and submit questions. Faculty town halls have been scheduled, and staff will be notified of a town hall for them. 

You likely are used to hearing this, but these plans may change as the circumstances around us shift.  We have heard from our community, and many of us share the aim of gathering together again on campus. We recognize that for some members of our community this may not be the best option. Our decisions for the academic year should maximize time spent in Davidson’s unmatched, residential liberal-arts experience while reducing risk as low as possible and in accordance with our strengths and mission. Our decisions must, as much as possible, also serve individuals for whom the campus residential environment is not a good or viable option. 

Where Are We Now?

Our teams have been working to make sure we are ready to return to campus with safety as our foundational priority. We learned a lot from the disruption of the spring semester and have continued to gain knowledge, tools, techniques and the relationships with experts that we need to return in August. We are aided by a strong medical staff and the guidance of trustees with relevant epidemiological and medical expertise. 

In April we organized design teams made up of students, faculty and staff who developed plans for, among others, the academic calendar, changes to the experience of first year students and living and staying well in these unprecedented times. In addition, staff across the college have reconfigured spaces, processes, and practices to safeguard our health. 

We have designed new ways of going about each day, whether serving meals, deeply cleaning residence halls or sitting farther apart in class.   

We are establishing protocols for COVID-19 testing, quarantine and isolation. We are working with Charlotte’s largest medical center to provide a full-time public health nurse and exploring additional staffing needs. 

We still have details to work out and we are ready to adapt as circumstances change.

How We Live, Study and Work

All of our plans will affect how we go about each day on campus. This week we advised our Board of Trustees of several critical parts of how we will operate.  

The Calendar

  • We will reconvene as a residential campus in August with the first day of classes on August 20.  
  • First year students and transfer students will arrive by August 15 and start orientation the following day.
  • Upperclass students will follow a phased move-in and will be notified of their move-in date.  
  • As previously shared, all in-person class instruction will end by Thanksgiving, and students who go home for the holiday will not return to campus afterward. Those who stay on campus through Thanksgiving may stay until the end of the semester. Exams will be held remotely after Thanksgiving. 
  • There will be no announced fall break. 

Testing, Tracing and Responding

  • All students will be tested during the week prior to returning or the first week back. We have a protocol in place for targeted testing throughout the semester. 
  • We will have established procedures for campus contact tracing. 
  • Students, faculty and staff on campus will use a daily symptom checker app that will enable monitoring and following up on any concerning symptoms. 
  • Dr. Robert Lutz, a physician with Atrium Health and Davidson’s Primary Care Sports Physician, is leading our medical efforts. Dr. Lutz, a Davidson graduate, spent 30 years as an Army doctor, including service in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. 
  • We are working with Atrium Health to provide a public health nurse for the campus. 
  • We have secured space for student quarantine and isolation.
  • We will, in most cases, require an annual flu shot.


  • We will create the indoor and outdoor spaces needed to accommodate classes, including utilizing a variety of other campus spaces as additional classrooms. 
  • Classrooms will be configured so that students sit six-feet apart.
  • We will encourage and support teaching outside when practical.
  • Some classes or program experiences will be entirely remote.
  • Most in-person classes will be designed so that students can learn remotely if they are sick, in a high risk category or unable to travel to campus. 
  • Students with health issues that preclude returning to campus will be able to take classes remotely, though some classes may not be available remotely.

Housing, Dining and Life on Campus

  • We are converting residence hall lounge spaces to rooms to eliminate gathering spots and gain additional housing space. 
  • We will work with students with health issues on appropriate housing through the reasonable accommodation process. 
  • No overnight, off-campus guests will be permitted in residence halls.  
  • We have a dining plan that eliminates self-service, limits seating in Vail Commons and provides a variety of carryout options at Vail, Davis Café and the Wildcat Den. 
  • You will see screens, spacing, markers and occupancy rules at counters and offices that play a ‘customer service’ role. 
  • Only essential college travel will be permitted.


  • We are working within NCAA guidelines as well as with our Athletic Conferences – A10, Pioneer League and Southern Conference – on the testing and accommodations necessary to return to play.  
  • We are altering game schedules to sharply reduce overnight and commercial air travel by teams. 
  • Approximately 40 athletes are currently training on campus this summer (with more to phase in throughout the summer), and they already are using the symptoms app as well as strict social distancing and sanitation protocols. 
  • We do not expect to hold large events, such as basketball and football games, with normal capacity crowds. Other options would include required spacing or broadcast-only events. 

 What Each of Us Does

  • Facemasks will be required indoors unless noted otherwise and, in some cases, outdoors.
  • Physical distancing will be required in all indoor spaces.
  • Everyone will make daily health checks through a smartphone app, computer, or, for staff, through a method worked out with their supervisor.

Faculty and Staff

  • Some faculty will teach and work remotely. 
  • To reduce density on campus, staff whose work can be done from home should work from home, with permission of their managers. 

We will share more information as we finalize other plans and secure resources and arrangements. 

The most important element to take from this message is that each of you play the most important role in our ability to return to campus with minimal risk. Students, you may feel and be resilient in the face of COVID-19, but your classmates, your friends, your neighbors, your professors and mentors may not be. Each day we must live our obligation to each other as members of this community. Your simple and easy decisions – recording your symptoms, wearing a mask, keeping distance – determine how safe we all are. 

I have never been prouder of Davidson, of the work done by our staff and faculty in a short time to overhaul how our campus functions and of our students’ courage and devotion to our community.

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