To All Brown Faculty: Preparing for the Fall Semester


Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for all of the work you have contributed to the development of thoughtful plans to prepare for a healthy and safe fall semester. The University’s plans call for reducing the density of students on campus through a three-semester academic year, deferring the arrival of first-year students until January 2021, permitting students to elect remote study, and taking measures to limit the community spread of COVID-19 through testing, tracing, and good public health practices. 

Yet the fall will likely present unprecedented challenges for us all, and will require the cooperation of everyone in the Brown community to make a successful semester possible. As a follow up to the July 15 faculty town hall, I write now to provide information about upcoming dates, deadlines, and resources. There is a lot of information contained here, and a number of links to additional materials; please take a moment to read the entire message. You should also continue to refer to Healthy Brown for updates, announcements, and an archive of previous messages.

Online teaching. In preparing your fall semester courses, please be attentive to the fact that all instruction, including in-person and hybrid classes, must be accessible to all students. In addition to first-year students, who have the opportunity to enroll in one free class online during the fall, more than 700 returning undergraduate students have chosen to study remotely outside of the Providence area, and even some students who are in residence may need to participate virtually due to health or other concerns.  Information about transitioning to online instruction may be found here, and additional resources are available here. I strongly encourage you to reach out to [email protected] for assistance.

Timeline and deadlines.  There are a number of important dates and deadlines in the coming weeks:

  • Week of July 27: 

-       [email protected] re-opens. Canvas sites available; classroom assignments provided. 

-       Communication to first-year, sophomore, and concentration advisers.

-       Communication to students from the dean of the College and the dean of the Graduate School with details about pre-registration, the “quiet period” (the week prior to the start of classes during which students will mostly self-isolate within their residences), and arrangements for a virtual shopping period.  Details will be provided to faculty as well.

  • Week of August 3: 

-       Message to instructors, including preliminary information about possible mix of residential and remote students in courses and links to other resources.

  • August 10–14:  Registration period – students may add/drop manually after August 17.
  • Week of August 31: Undergraduate students begin to return to campus.
  • September 9:  Classes begin, with all instruction during the first week ( “shopping period”) provided online.
  • September 16:  Hybrid classes with an in-person component begin to meet in assigned classrooms.

The deadline for ordering course materials through the Brown Bookstore is this Friday, July 24.  Faculty can find information at, at the “textbooks” link

We are also requesting that syllabi be posted as soon as possible, as this year it will be especially important for students to be able to access them prior to the beginning of classes.  Instructions will be provided by the College.

Additional resources.

  • Classroom technology.  The University has invested significant resources to support you as you transition to online/remote/hybrid instruction, including additions and upgrades to classroom technology.  Instructors also have access to course design tools and informational guides.  Please contact [email protected] to schedule an individual consultation or to request general support. 

Instructors who would like to access the room in which they will be teaching for any reason (e.g. recording lectures, testing the technology) should work with their Chair to submit a formal request through the “Return to Campus” form.

  • Library.  The University Library is assisting faculty with identification of materials for fall courses and making resources available online for remote instruction.  The Library has also instituted a remote ordering and pickup service for physical materials. Information on current services is available here.  Planning is underway for the safe use of Library facilities when students return to campus. More information will be made available in the coming weeks, and will be posted on the Library's website and Healthy Brown 2020-21. 
  • Experiential teaching and learning. A group of faculty and administrators are working on developing strategies for collaborative, project-based, performance, laboratory, and/or research experiences that can be undertaken remotely. More details will be forthcoming next week.
  • Cleaning protocols. Protocols for maintenance of classrooms and other spaces, as well as guidelines for social distancing, will be provided in advance of the start of the semester.

More information.  We are working with the FEC to plan a town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 29, that will provide an opportunity for faculty to ask questions and hear more about our planning. An invitation will be sent separately. Let me also refer you to the FAQs that were developed following a series of meetings with chairs and directors in June.

Thank you, again, for all of the work that you have done over the last weeks to assist with preparations for fall. We continue to monitor public health conditions locally and globally, and as we make arrangements for the arrival of students the health and safety of our community remains our top priority.


Richard M. Locke