A letter to the community on return to campus


Students taking classes in person are required to stay in Nashville until the Thanksgiving break. Any student with an urgent need to travel must get approval from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before making any plans. If approved to travel, per current VU policy, the student will be required to stay away from campus for 14 days after returning to Nashville.

For the most up-to-date information for graduate and professional students, please visit the VU Return to Campus page for graduate and professional students.

June 16, 2020

Greetings all,

As was announced by Interim Chancellor Wente, Vanderbilt will resume teaching in person in the fall.  VDS will deliver classes either by online or by the hy-flex model (whereby the instructor of record will be in a classroom delivering in-person instruction with each session being broadcast simultaneously via Zoom).

For faculty who wish to use the online model, you must ask for an accommodation for teaching this fall.  Please get your requests in quickly if you have not already done so.  I now have it confirmed that the second form detailing any medical requests you may have has been revised to omit confidential information.  Only the EEO office will have access to this info and will treat it with the strictest confidentiality. For students who wish to request to have your classes online, because of pre-existing medical condition(s) or fall into any of the high risk categories, travel restrictions, or needing to self-isolate or quarantine if exposed to or contract the coronavirus during the semester. You will be given an opportunity to state this preference in YES.  The application for the Divinity School will be launched after June 26.  Please be in touch with Dean Judge after that time.

All students (entering and returning), faculty, and staff will be required to sign the Acknowledgement form in order to return to campus.  Links to this acknowledgement will be distributed to students by e-mail.  For faculty and staff, please go to the  COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Acknowledgment prior to being granted access to enter the building(s).  Heather Lee will be happy to assist you if necessary.

The Divinity School will continue to follow the calendar for Arts and Science.  That calendar has been amended as follows (contingent on the state of the pandemic):

Orientation: August 19-August 21 (online with an option for an on-campus tour)

Registration for entering class: August 21

Classes begin: August 24

End date for in-person classes:  November 20

Start date all classes online:  November 30

End date all classes online: December 4

Labor Day: at the discretion of the professor

Fall Break: No

Thanksgiving Break: Yes

All classes will be held remotely after Thanksgiving.  There is no in-person instruction after the Thanksgiving Break.

Last day of the semester (online or in-person):  December 4

Exams period (all online): December 7—December 13

The strategy the university is employing is that if classes are being held in-person, the schedule will be condensed to lessen the risk of travel off campus/the Nashville area during the semester, so we will begin two days earlier than usual, forego the fall break, end in-person classes before Thanksgiving, and have the an all virtual last week of classes after the Thanksgiving break along with all virtual exams.  Students are asked to stay in the Nashville area and not travel away from the area for weekend trips throughout the in-person period.

A breakdown of the methods of instruction we will be employing for the fall term, there are

  • 31 Divinity/GDR fall courses will have an in-person component
  • 28 Divinity/GDR fall courses will be online only. Half of these (14) will be taught during the assigned meeting time

For in-person classes, we will practice physical distancing and other requirements for health and safety, students will sit farther apart and will wear masks or face coverings in classrooms.  Faculty and teaching assistants will also adopt appropriate public health safety methods.

We will have three VDS Public Health Ambassadors this year:

Faculty—Paul deHart

Staff—Angela Dillon

Students—Ristina Gooden

These ambassadors will work within the community to remind us to be wise and safe so that we can all remain healthy as we learn the university COVID-19 prevention protocols.

You may also want to refer to the main Return to Campus site for general questions.

I am looking forward to this coming fall term as we continue to engage in the teaching and learning mission of theological education.  In many ways, we survived the Spring semester as so many schools did around the country.  Faculty, staff, and students were stretched in ways we did not know we were capable of.  As we return (in-person and virtually), we do so with a sense of the new as well as the well-known—this is how growth and change often happens.  I invite you to join me in the newest journey of the Divinity School as we continue to speak truth to the powers that be and shake the foundations of injustice.

See you in late August.







Explore Story Topics