March 21, 2020
Dear MFA Students,
I hope that you are all well in the days leading up to our return from spring recess. I acknowledge the impact that moving to remote education has had on every member of our community and respect that this has not been an easy period of such rapid transition for anyone. Nevertheless, given the complications of social and professional life that the COVID-19 virus has imposed on our lives, we will begin with remote education on Monday, March 23rd. We are not living under normal conditions that allow us to continue with a studio-based practice, and so at this period of the pandemic remote education is the only alternative option. Please also understand that we are part of a larger national and international community of peers within graduate programs of visual arts who are also facing these challenges, and who will also share in this method of instruction, mentorship and revised engagement.
Prior to resuming the spring semester on Monday, please take into account these important updates:
Studios will be closed as of 5pm Monday, March 23, until further notice. As elaborated on in my message earlier in the week, if you have not had the opportunity to access your studio during the Spring break, we will respect your studio possessions and works as is, and nothing will be moved or removed until further notice. We will evaluate by mid-April how we will proceed further into the end of the semester and will keep you apprised of these developments and decisions. Please know that throughout this time your possessions and your work will be respected and protected.
Internet and hardware: If you do not have a stable internet connection, or if you have concerns about your internet or hardware that you think might prohibit you from participating in your courses when they begin online on Monday, you must contact your DGS, Sarah Stevens-Morling, and David Blackmon right away. They can work with you to find a solution.
Academic Policy changes: The faculty and administration understand that anxieties and uncertainties related to the sudden disruption of our hands-on studio environment may be deepened by the transition to online learning. Taking the wellbeing of our students into account the School will implement an ad-hoc educational policy in order to afford maximal flexibility, recognizing that you may be facing learning situations that are challenging. To assure academic success in this unavoidable arrangement we’re making these changes to School policy for Spring 2020, effective immediately. Please review the policy updates here on our wiki. The policy document is also attached to this message as a PDF for your reference.
The remaining public events scheduled through to the end of the semester have been postponed or canceled, although a decision about the commencement ceremony has not been made. It is too soon to say what form the commencement ceremony may take. You can refer to the Yale commencement website for updates at the University level as they occur.
Summer programs and residencies: By April 10th we plan to evaluate the feasibility of holding summer programs. We plan to proceed with juries (held virtually) for prizes and awards–taking into account that any student’s ability to realize the requirements of the award may require postponed participation or travel. To that end, the deadline for travel fellowships and the Blair Dickenson Memorial Prize has been extended to April 5th.
This revised system of education is asking a lot of all of us in terms of resilience and cooperation, but again, as we are members of a larger community with a responsibility to public health and welfare, our education must continue within that framework of safety and unforeseen restriction. Our faculty have committed to working in these formats, continuing within the framework of a critical community that will proceed with acumen and rigor of mentorship and review.
With my continued well wishes for your wellbeing – artistic, intellectual, and health wise,
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean
Professor of Art
Last edited by: Sarah Stevens-Morling
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