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‘We are planning for a much more traditional fall’: President Paxson addresses plans for upcoming academic year

Paxson talks optimism for fall, vaccination of students, employees

A year after the first discussions about the University’s reopening plan amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, President Christina Paxson P’19 shared optimistic views on plans for “a more traditional fall” semester at the monthly faculty meeting.

COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for in-person students except in cases of religious and medical exemptions for fall 2021, Paxson announced in a community-wide email earlier today. Paxson also relayed plans for a more normal two-semester calendar with standard class sizes, room occupancy and dining hall options.

“I am excited about this, I think we can get there,” Paxson said. “The important thing is that we can only get there if we achieve high vaccination rates among the Brown community.”

Paxson stated that the University is currently trying to work around issues regarding students who received vaccines that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, like Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

Paxson said she is still waiting for recommendations from the vaccine working group by June 1 to determine whether vaccination will be mandatory for employees.

“I think that’s a really tough subject. I would love to not even have to (make vaccination mandatory) because I would want everyone just to voluntarily go out and get their vaccines,'' Paxson said.

Despite optimism about vaccination and the number of cases on campus, Paxson still urged community members to remain attentive to public health guidelines.

Paxson also addressed plans for this year’s commencement ceremony. There will be separate ceremonies for undergraduate, graduate and medical students and “limited opportunities for faculty involvement” due to restrictions on crowd sizes in the state. Further information regarding Commencement is to be communicated in the coming weeks.

A new Ad Hoc Committee of the Corporation has also been created to supervise international faculty collaborations and policies. The committee was created in light of disputes about international collaboration research, including an MIT professor who was arrested for hiding his work with the Chinese government, Paxson said. The committee’s goal is to provide oversight on international collaborations and “have good policies that protect faculty,” she added.

Dean of the College Rashid Zia ’01 and Deputy Dean of the College for Curriculum and Co-Curriculum Besenia Rodriguez ’00 gave updates on the College Curriculum Council. The council has approved a new Engaged Scholarship Certificate affiliated with the Swearer Center for Public Service and reviewed a new certificate in migration studies.


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