COVID-19 Update

March 23, 2020

Resuming Remote Classes April 6 and Commencement Update

To Columbia College Chicago students and their families:

I hope that this message finds you well as we all continue to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. I am writing to follow up on my March 12 announcement that the college would temporarily suspend spring semester instruction on campus and implement a three-week transition of its course offerings to remote instructional formats. I am pleased to report that we are on track to successfully execute this transition and that spring semester instruction will resume remotely on Monday, April 6, and continue in this manner until the end of the semester.

Starting today, and throughout this week, the faculty in each of your courses will provide updates on Canvas about how the course will be delivered when instruction resumes on April 6. We have identified strategies that will allow you to complete formal course requirements via remote instruction by the end of the spring semester.

In the vast majority of courses, faculty are adapting course plans for Web-based platforms that will allow students and faculty to engage in regular course activities from remote locations; in other courses, content delivery or student project design will be re-engineered more extensively. This is an ongoing process. Our academic leaders have prepared messages explaining what to expect next, which I encourage you to watch.

This is an unprecedented moment for all of us at Columbia, and I do not pretend that the days and weeks ahead will be without their challenges and frustrations. At the same time, I have been impressed and heartened by our faculty's spirit of innovation and by their determination to ensure that this semester will be successful. This is especially true for the graduating seniors among you; as I stated in my March 18 video message, we will go the extra mile to enable you to complete your degree requirements on time.

Regardless of how a course is delivered, faculty are working to ensure that it will help you to master key learning outcomes, providing the necessary foundation for you to move forward in your studies or your practice. In other words, your course will be complete. Where hands-on project work is not possible remotely, after you complete your formal course requirements remotely in the spring, we will provide opportunities for students to come together for additional hands-on skills development once the community can reassemble.

Let me address another matter that I know many of you are thinking about: Commencement. With profound regret, we are cancelling May's Commencement ceremonies. Please believe me when I tell you that this decision was an extremely difficult one; I am aware that all of you – and especially the parents among you – have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Having to cancel the most joyous celebration of our academic year is further proof of just how much this pandemic is taking away from us.

On the other hand, while holding an on-campus Manifest will also not be possible, we anticipate the development of a virtual Manifest, thanks in large measure to the work done to date by the student creative team. In fact, faculty have already revamped courses to orient student assignments and projects around the design of such an experience. This year's Manifest theme, “Rise,” is more appropriate now than ever, and I encourage you to connect with your fellow students, faculty members, and departments to explore what is possible.

For many of us, proceeding without direct human contact can feel antithetical to the creative process. That said, for every limit that these current circumstances may place on the teaching and learning experience, they may also open opportunities for you, working with your faculty, to build new forms of creative community through remote collaboration. In this unsettled historical moment, I can think of no more compelling way for you to step forward as creatives, demonstrate your resilience and, in the words of our college's mission statement, author the culture of your times.

Here's to a successful resumption of classes on April 6 and to discovering new ways of keeping Columbia's creative spirit strong.


Kwang-Wu Kim
President and CEO