May 27: President Quillen’s Message About the First Step in Planning for the Fall

After receiving a report from the Academic Calendar Design Team, the Faculty Executive Committee has recommended a calendar structure for the fall semester. I want briefly to describe that recommendation, which I am sharing with the senior leadership team and trustees. Please note that this calendar decision, once finalized (which I expect to happen soon), can ground a series of other, equally important decisions about the fall semester. 

What It Means

The calendar structure is one piece of planning for the fall.  It’s a key starting point that grounds our decision-making going forward.

The FEC has recommended the “13 Week Plus” structure for the fall, during which students will take four courses (as they normally do). This recommendation was based on work by one of our seven design teams – made up of students, faculty and staff – and feedback solicited from across the community.  This structure includes:

  • No on-campus classes after Thanksgiving.
  • A floating start date (so the start date can be finalized later, depending on external circumstances).
  • Conducting exams remotely (most students will be off campus by this time) and possibly holding some classes remotely, depending on the start date.
  • An expectation that courses could be delivered either in person or remotely.
  • An understanding that faculty members will redesign courses for a 13 week class schedule.  

The analysis by the design teams and faculty and the feedback from across the community emphasized that this structure: accommodates our existing course schedule  (4 courses per semester), provides flexibility for different start dates, is preferred by students, and mitigates risk of an outbreak (students would not leave for Thanksgiving and then return to campus). 

An important element of this structure is that faculty have heard students’ concern about the workload of four courses in a shorter timeframe. Faculty members understand the need to redesign syllabi and adjust workload. 

Decisions Yet To Come

The calendar structure decision moves us a big step forward. It does not address additional important questions that you undoubtedly have, for example:

  • Whether students will be on campus.
  • What date classes will start — August 20th is the preferred date as of now.
  • When and how first-year orientation will occur — August 15th is the preferred date as of now. 
  • When or if we will have a fall break.
  • How we will help protect members of our community with underlying health conditions.
  • How housing will be handled for students whose study abroad was canceled. 

In the weeks to come, we’ll be working together on these and other issues. Please watch for more messages as we work toward returning to campus as soon as possible.

Next Steps

I will be reviewing the FEC recommendation with the senior leadership team and trustees, and, barring any unforeseen problems, we expect to move forward with it. 

The design process has created groups that can develop and test ideas quickly while considering the needs of and feedback from our community. I’m grateful for your patience as we work to reach the right decisions for Davidson and the ongoing fulfillment of our mission.  

I recognize the burdens that this pandemic places on everyone. This is an extremely difficult situation and it will be hard for a while. As we navigate through the next few months, it will help to remember that what you do here matters, that it makes a huge difference in the lives of young people who then graduate and improve their communities, and that you are as good at doing this as anyone in the world. It is a gift and privilege to work with you.

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May 22: What does the Move to Phase Two Mean for Davidson’s campus?

North Carolina’s Stay-at-Home order will be lifted effective at 5 pm today. Though the state officially moved into Phase Two of its reopening plan, the changes to the COVID-19 restrictions are more modest than anticipated. 

What does that mean? 

If you have been working from home, you should continue to do so, unless you and your manager have agreed for you to come to campus. Little has changed in Davidson College’s operations because of today’s transition, which is the result of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 141, signed on Wednesday. 

The order continues to encourage teleworking, limiting travel and the number of people in a building, which is why only essential faculty and staff should be on campus. 

If you are working on campus:  

  • Please wear a face covering such as a cloth mask in all public, indoor spaces. Masks may be removed in private offices. Wash face coverings regularly.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others, indoors and out, including while actively working with others
  • Use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands often for at least twenty seconds
  • If you wear gloves, please be sure to remove them carefully and to wash your hands after you dispose of them

If you are needed on campus and you do not have a mask, please contact HR at 704-894-2213 or by emailing  

If you are sick, please do not come to campus, or leave campus immediately if you develop symptoms while at work.

We appreciate the tremendous response of our community to this continuing challenge, and we are proud of the way Davidson faculty and staff are facing this together. Please let us know if you have any questions, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students and to each other. 

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