This summer, students can still expect to take part in Cornell’s wide array of classes and programs — but maybe not in Ithaca.
While some summer programs will be cancelled or moved online, a lot remains to be decided as the administration decides best practices going forward.
In a letter to the Cornell community, Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced that “all in-person summer programs or activities … slated to begin prior to July 12 are canceled or will be converted to online offerings.”
According to Ann Morse, executive director of communications and marketing for the Cornell School of Continuing Education, it is the University’s decision as to whether in-person courses scheduled to begin after this date will also be canceled.
“We are taking our direction from Cornell leadership and the Provost,” Morse said. “They have said that they will make a decision about what happens after July 12 once the situation becomes clearer.”
However, Morse stressed that the school aims to ensure that options are available for students to continue learning throughout the summer — regardless of how classes are ultimately delivered.
“It is very important to us that we do everything we can to help students continue their education, especially in these circumstances,” Morse said.
The SCE oversees various summer programs, including Cornell Adult University, various youth programs, pre-college classes and the summer semester for current students.
Currently, the school is working with faculty to determine which on-campus classes can be successfully moved online.
“The faculty have been extremely responsive and willing to help out in any way that they can,” Morse said.
Himani Mewar, associated dean for administration for the SCE, said that the school is working as quickly as possible to identify and mount additional virtual summer courses that meet University and New York State Department of Education standards.
“It’s a complex process,” Mewar said. “We appreciate everyone’s help and patience during this stressful period.”
Students depend on the summer session for a variety of reasons, Morse explained. Some take courses to catch up, while others take a class in an area of interest they would not have time for during the fall or spring semesters. The summer session also enables some students to study abroad in the fall or spring by helping them get requirements out of the way.
“Everyone is so busy working to make sure that spring classes proceed as smoothly as possible, that it is tricky to switch the focus to summer.” Morse said. “We have to be patient as we work through those issues.”
Glenn Altschuler, dean of the SCE and Summer Sessions, said that he is encouraged by how members of the Cornell community have responded to academic uncertainty.
“This sad, scary and surreal time affords us an opportunity,” Altschuler said in a message to the Sun. “It may compel us to do two seemingly contradictory things: become more comfortable with our own company [and] understand and act on our responsibility to family, friends and people outside of our social circles.”
SCE also oversees programs for adults and youth interested in engaging with Cornell’s broad academic offerings. However, these programs are facing disruptions, as well.
CAU Adult Programs and Youth Camps have been canceled for the summer, but SCE is working to transition to a virtual alternative in order to provide programming to these audiences, including live lectures, Q&A sessions with Cornell faculty and virtual tours of locations on campus.
Cornell Summer College’s online classes for high schoolers are currently set to proceed as scheduled, while on-campus classes have been canceled or converted to online offerings.
As one of the longest running pre-college programs in the country, Cornell Summer College usually brings about 1,500 students from around the world to campus every year, according to Morse.
Students are still welcome to apply for pre-college classes slated to start from July 12 onward.
“We have definitely seen a decrease in applications for the on-campus programs, given peoples’ concerns about the pandemic,” Morse said.