Student Senate hosted a livestream with Lehigh Administration, including Vice President and Provost of Academic Affairs Pat Farrell, on Mar. 25, 2020. It was an open space for students to ask questions and share their opinions on the current situation. (Courtesy of Student Senate)

Administrators answer questions on Student Senate livestream

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Student Senate hosted a livestream on Wednesday, allowing students to express their concerns and get their questions answered from university administrators about the unprecedented reality of remote classes

The discussion was hosted by Student Senate President Julia Pardee. Vice President for Finance and Administration Pat Johnson, Vice President and Provost of Academic Affairs Pat Farrell and Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs Jennifer Jensen all answered questions from students who had the opportunity to submit a question prior to the meeting, or live. 

Commencement 

Farrell said there should be a final decision made within the next few weeks, but it is unlikely that commencement happens as scheduled on May 18. Instead, the university could be looking at having the graduation celebration in late August or sometime in the fall. 

Construction and residence

Johnson said the university has discussed moving the students still on campus into Farrington and Brodhead, due to social distancing requirements and safety purposes. 

Farrell said the university will be making decisions about the summer terms in the next few weeks. There’s a possibility that one or both summer sessions will be taught remotely, but they’ll have to see how the situation evolves over the next few weeks. 

Since Pennsylvania has halted construction for the time being, there is the possibility that the new dorms scheduled to be completed by the fall won’t be ready in time. However, the university won’t know for a few weeks. 

Johnson said if the new dorms aren’t finished in time, Trembley Park would not be torn down immediately and would accommodate students for the start of next year. 

Academics and finance

One of the challenges Farrell brought up was maintaining academic integrity with the shift to remote learning. He said just like an in class exam, a test should not be about how easy or hard it is — but rather it should be the best assessment of student learning. 

Farrell also added that the final exam schedule should remain the same — and so will the dates — even though they will be proctored online. 

In regards to the new pass/fail policy, none of the no-credit options will affect students’ GPA, and students will receive credit based on any grade between an A and a C-. 

Johnson spoke about refunds for housing and dining, and said if anyone has any questions about refunds or financial aid, then they should contact the financial aid office. 

Admissions

Lehigh sent out admissions decisions to the class of 2024 this week but, depending on how the situation grows, they may not get the same first-year experience as previous classes have received, Farrell said. 

All Lehigh Life Days have been cancelled, but there will be digital opportunities for admitted students to connect with current students and faculty to get a sense of the Lehigh environment. 

Even if classes are still remote for the start of next year, Farrell said the university will work hard to make the first-year students’ transition a positive one. 

Jensen said students shouldn’t be thinking about what they are getting out of their Lehigh experience during this difficult time. Rather, she said, they should focus on what they get out of their four years in college. 

Farrell said he has been impressed with the way students and faculty have adjusted to the remote situation. 

 “I don’t think anyone would say this is their preference for how to finish the semester,” Farrell said. “These will be stories we’ll tell each other years afterwards.”

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