Academic Affairs Message to Faculty

Dear faculty,

As promised in Jamal’s earlier email, we write here with some additional information as you prepare to move your courses online for the remainder of the semester. As you know, the University has announced that students are being asked not to return to campus from spring break (unless no other options exist for them), and that we will transition to fully online delivery of classes. Spring break will be extended for two days to give everyone additional time to prepare, and classes will resume online on Wednesday, March 18th.

Your investment in this transformed spring semester is critical to student success and the health of our community. Our goal in creating these policies has been to proactively respond in a way that allows us to conduct business and complete the semester, while still adhering to the University’s stated goals of social distancing and de‐densifying our community. We all share the responsibility to conduct ourselves in a way that prioritizes the community’s health and wellbeing, while also upholding our core values of academic and musical excellence.

Before going into the specific policies, we want to be clear about how these decisions were made. In addition to the COVID‐19 Working Group that Jamal discussed in his message, we have been working with the Eastman Faculty Advisory Committee, Technology & Media Production staff, Institute for Music Leadership staff, and partners across the university to discuss and make recommendations about how we will deliver the curriculum in an online

environment. Additionally, we reviewed these recommendations with the Department Chairs this morning. In the rare case where we weren’t able to reach consensus, Jamal made the final decision. We recognize that the policies laid out here are our very best collective efforts to proceed in a manner that we think will serve our students best. We also recognize that once we spend some teaching in an online environment, we may learn things that will lead us to revise the following policies.

Classes and lessons:

All classes and lessons will be taught on line. No classes (including small graduate seminars) are to be taught in person, even with students who are still in the residence hall or in Rochester. This includes one‐on‐one lessons. We also expect studio class to be moved online or canceled for the remainder of the semester.

We realize that this is very short notice, but please remember that you should adjust your syllabus as minimally as possible (as you might for any missed lectures during the semester) and try to maintain the essence/rigor of the course. We expect that courses will be delivered in real time and require that they are delivered in their original time slots so students can complete all their classes without conflict. However, we recognize that there will be students returning home to different time zones who will be accessing your classes that will be occurring during Eastern Daylight Time schedules. If you are faced with this challenge, we would encourage you to explore alternatives like recording your online classes (which is a feature available through Zoom). This would allow the majority of students to participate in person <during the regularly‐scheduled time slots, while giving flexibility to students who would need to log in to your

class during overnight hours.

We are in the process of communicating the necessary technical information to students, with the expectation that they will have all of the tools necessary to access your classes while away from campus. If you learn of any students who are having problems or need extra support, please let Academic Affairs know as soon as possible and we will do whatever we can to assist.

On Monday, we plan to offer a series of basic tutorials for using various online tools, include Zoom, Box, and Blackboard. Details for these training sessions will be made available to you by Friday afternoon, but in the meantime we strongly encourage you to review the following University websites:

In addition, on both Monday and Tuesday next week we plan to have open office hours available where you can get one-on‐one support as you make your plans to transition to online teaching.

While you may choose to do your online teaching from home, we recommend that your first class/lesson or two be taught from Eastman, as this will give you access to IT support, if necessary, and will establish the baseline for the speed of your internet connection.

Chamber music and ensembles:

All chamber music and ensembles, large and small, are cancelled for the remainder of the semester. Students should be given a grade based on work completed prior to spring break.

Practicing/Room availability:

The school continues to be open, but with limited hours (exact times were sent to you by Kevin Gibson in a separate message earlier today). Students will still be able to book rooms and practice, but no groups larger than 8 may be in a room together at any time. While students may choose to rehearse together, we expect faculty will not be organizing or coaching groups. We will also restrict student access to faculty studios; studio keys will no longer distributed by the Student Living Center staff effective immediately.


As Jamal’s message indicated, all concerts and events are cancelled. We understand that there were a significant number of guests scheduled to visit in the second half of the semester, and we will communicate information about cancellation and refund policies in a separate message.


All non‐degree recitals are cancelled. Degree recitals for doctoral students who are not in their final semester are also cancelled. Students requiring a degree recital to graduate this May have the following options:

  • Students who remain in Rochester will be allowed to present their recital at the scheduled time, but it will be closed to the public. The only people allowed in the hall with the performers will be the members of the faculty committee assigned to evaluate the recital. Students may proceed with any chamber >music/collaborative partners programmed on their degree recital, but the total number of musicians on stage at any time must not exceed 8.
  • If at home, students may arrange for a performance of their recital repertoire that can either be livestreamed or recorded and then sent to their faculty committee for review. We will accept this performance< in lieu of an on‐campus recital. Faculty are strongly encouraged to, if necessary, to adapt repertoire requirements to account for issues related to collaborative partners.


Juries for the spring semester are cancelled and will not be rescheduled. Faculty who incorporate jury grades into their students’ lesson grade are asked to make their final evaluations based solely on the work done in their applied lessons. If you are concerned about a student who may have been at‐risk of failing their jury this spring, please contact Academic Affairs to discuss options.

With juries being cancelled, the Concert Office will use jury week to schedule any make‐up recitals that are requested to occur on campus. In addition, you should plan on using the Monday and Tuesday of jury week to make up classes that >were missed on March 16 and 17.

Most importantly, we want to make sure students continue to make progress toward their degrees and, for those in their final semester, graduate on time. This will require creativity, patience, and understanding that our delivery of instruction may not be perfect but still offers students the education that they deserve.

We will likely be able to offer further advice, and will no doubt have additional materials that we can provide to assist you in the coming days. But, please start prepping now in anticipation of resuming instructional activity online next Wednesday.

Thank you very much for your patience, flexibility, and understanding.

All the best,

Donna Brink Fox

John Hain