Deans’ Statement of November 24, 2020

Congratulations on making it to the end of fall classes! We commend you for the grit and grace you have exhibited throughout this most unusual semester. We know it has been a challenging one. When we made the decision over the summer to attempt in-person classes, it was not clear that we would be able to complete all thirteen weeks of instruction required by our accreditors without any interruption due to the pandemic. Your relentless adherence to campus and community rules has allowed us to safely conclude the term, fulfill our accreditation obligations, and follow the prevailing public health guidance to cease instruction as close to the Thanksgiving Break as possible to avoid large groups at the height of flu season. Even as we celebrate our success, we must remain vigilant. Your holistic health and safety are our utmost priority.

It was our privilege to meet with student leaders a week or so ago who relayed concerns about the toll this semester has taken and the pressures students are facing. With that feedback in mind, we have taken a close look at the planned spring semester. We are pleased to announce the following adjustments, greatly informed by your creative suggestions:

  • The Law School will partially adopt the university’s recently announced Wellness Days as noted on the revised academic calendar.
    • The Law School will not hold classes during the university’s April Wellness Days on April 23-26, 2021.
    • The Law School will hold classes during the university’s March Wellness Days on March 9-10, 2021. We are asking professors to consider suspending assignments, quizzes, and cold calls to enable students to participate in additional wellness programs the Dean of Students Office will host on those days.
  • The Registrar’s Office will endeavor to schedule upperlevel exams on the earliest days of the spring exam period to allow as much time as possible between the end of the academic year and the bar exam for graduating students, and between the end of the academic year and summer job programs for continuing students.

As explained to student leaders, accreditation and compliance requirements — along with public health guidance — greatly limit our flexibility to adopt a more extensive break or to change the semester’s start and end dates. Accordingly, 1L Lawyering Week will commence online on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, and all law classes will begin as scheduled on Monday, February 8, 2021 in hybrid form, as previously announced. Although we could not incorporate all of the suggestions we received, we hope these adjustments combined with the extended Winter Break of almost two months provide some relief. Know that we see you, we hear you, we support you.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and we wish you all the best with your fall exams.

Best,
Dean P, Vice Dean Ohlin, Associate Dean Thomas, and Dean Miner