Important Message to Students and Families from Dean Rossi

July 23, 2020

Dear Eastman Students,

Greetings from Eastman, where along with my faculty and staff colleagues, we are missing you and we are looking forward to being together again in late August.  I want to thank you and your families for your patience over the last several weeks as we continue to finalize our restart plans for the fall semester.  The team at Eastman has been working closely with University of Rochester doctors and health professionals to develop plans that provide maximum flexibility for students with a focus on a safe living and learning environment for everyone in our community.  I am writing to share with you several key points that you should be aware of as you make your enrollment decisions about the fall semester.  Please understand that the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be fluid, and we anticipate that there may be the need to modify plans in response to constantly changing conditions nationally and in New York State.

Let me start by highlighting that there are two main pathways for students to make progress towards their degrees in the fall.  You can choose to pursue hybrid in-person instruction on campus in Rochester, or you can enroll as a fully-remote student for fall.  Details about both options, and answers to many of your questions, can be found on the Student and Family FAQ section of Eastman’s Preparing for Fall 2020 website.  This website and FAQ are our primary vehicles to provide the most up-to-date information.  Please make it a habit to look at this site daily, given that the site is updated often.

Additionally, here is some specific information that many of you have been asking about:

For all students, the Academic Calendar for the Fall semester will have classes starting on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.  The semester will proceed without fall break and the last day of in-person classes will be Tuesday, November 24, at which point we will break for the Thanksgiving holiday. After that date, all instruction will be moved online, and students will not return to campus for the remainder of the semester. Accommodations will be made for international and domestic students who are unable to return home.  The last day of classes is scheduled for December 9, with the Eastman final exam period running from December 11-13 (students taking classes on the River Campus will follow the same schedule with a slightly longer final exam period).

For those considering hybrid in-person instruction, we are prepared to offer primary lessons, large and small ensembles, chamber music, and vocal coachings to all who return to campus this fall, while all our classroom-based instruction will largely be asynchronous online.  Answers to your questions about how this will be accomplished safely, along with answers to your specific questions about ensembles and chamber music plans for the fall, can all be found on our FAQ website under “Academic Life.”  We will also be offering live concerts and recitals this fall, albeit with some adjustments due to the restrictions in place as part of our response to the pandemic.  Again, details can be found on our FAQ website under “Concerts, Recitals, and Juries.”

Students who are considering fully-remote study from home this fall should be assured that all the coursework they need to make progress towards on-time degree completion will be offered in an online format this fall.  In addition to your online classroom-based courses, Eastman faculty are prepared to offer lessons online, and we will be creating special virtual ensemble courses that will be held online which will be co-taught by performance faculty and audio/visual specialists.  These courses will allow for in-depth work in score study and listening assignments, while also providing hands-on experience with creating music in the online environment.  Full credit will be awarded for these virtual ensembles that will fulfill your ensemble degree requirements at all levels.  In addition, we hope that fully-remote students will remain connected to campus life through livestreamed performances and virtual programming through the Office of Student Activities. 

Finally, I want to let you know about one very important decision we made recently regarding the Student Living Center (SLC).  While our original decision to maintain a reduced number of double room assignments was guided by advice from medical professionals here at the University, and was rooted in our belief that it is important for first-year students to have a residential experience that includes a roommate, my colleagues and I have heard your feedback and have decided to release additional upper-class students so that we can give all students currently in double rooms the option to move into a single room.  This change should reduce the overall capacity of the building by an additional 30%, and we hope this will make students and their families feel even safer as they make their decisions about returning to campus this fall.  It will take us a few days to work through the details and make new room assignments, but updates will be emailed to students in the coming days.

We recognize that some of you wish to return to Rochester but are faced with travel restrictions that will make it difficult for you to arrive on-time for the start of classes on August 26.  If you are in this situation and hope to return to campus at some point during the semester, please know that we will do our best to support you and make it as easy as possible to transition from fully-online instruction to hybrid in-person instruction upon your arrival to Rochester.

For those students who will be coming to Rochester from restricted states with high COVID-19 transmission, we are conforming with New York State Quarantine Requirements.  Details about this are found on the FAQ website under “Quarantine and Hotspots.”


Very soon we will be reaching out to officially confirm your fall 2020 enrollment plans, so watch your email for instructions.  In the meantime, I hope you will join us at one of our upcoming Virtual Town Hall Meetings where we will discuss your questions and concerns about the upcoming semester.  Our new students have already been invited to a town hall scheduled for tomorrow evening, Thursday, July 23 at 7:00 pm EDT. Additionally, we will be hosting an Eastman-wide virtual town hall for all new and returning students next Thursday, July 30 at 7:00 pm EDT.  Instructions on how to register for this town hall will be emailed to all students and parents very soon. 

The current COVID-19 pandemic has created a difficult situation for everyone.  We understand the questions and reservations you may have about the fall semester experience, and we will continue to do all that we can to provide timely and meaningful answers.  In the meantime, I hope to see many of you at our upcoming Town Halls, and regardless of whether you plan to return to Rochester in the coming weeks or study online, I look forward to welcoming you back to Eastman this fall!


Sincerely yours,

Jamal J. Rossi
Joan and Martin Messinger Dean