On behalf of administration, chairs, program directors, faculty, staff and students, we hope that you and your families are healthy, safe and well.
After careful consideration of a host of critical factors, we have decided to plan for a mostly virtual model of course delivery for winter term 2020-2021, with three exceptions in three of our programs described below. I charged our chairs, program directors and faculty with the critical task of carefully analyzing each course in every program and to make a determination about the best way to deliver these classes under present circumstances. Our accreditors have informed us that flexibility is important and that faculty are in the best position to determine how to assess student competencies. That being said, for the winter term, we will have a mostly virtual course delivery model with extremely limited face to face single class experiences in three programs based on the decision that this is the only way to impart the development of competencies.
Please rest assured that any and all decisions we have made about program deliveries are based on the science about COVID-19; student, faculty and staff safety; student and faculty input; general and specialty accreditor guidelines; local state and federal mandates and guidelines; and, the Centers for Disease Control policies and protocols. We continue to watch COVID-19 trends very carefully and diligently especially in light of how COVID-19 may interact with the flu season.
The School of Professional and Applied Psychology has amassed an enormous amount of experience during the spring, summer, and fall terms in converting several hundred courses to virtual delivery. This conversion required a great deal of effort and flexibility for all parties concerned. All involved have also been incredibly flexible and understanding as we have navigated our way through this crisis together. We will continue to use what we have learned to ensure the quality of the education we provide as we proceed through the pandemic together. Our faculty and staff have been working diligently to ensure the quality of our educational delivery as evidenced by our successful transition to a virtual delivery for the spring, summer, and fall terms.
Please be reassured that our educational focus has been and continues to be on offering only the highest quality experience for our students. Our philosophy has been embedded in the idea of leveraging the best technology has to offer and to simulate as much as possible a face to face delivery. The educational objectives regarding knowledge, skills and attitudes remain the same; the course delivery and assessments are innovative. There is a great deal of support available from PCOM’s Department of Professional Development and Online Learning through which faculty and staff have been trained in the application of the latest educational technology advances.
Our faculty and staff continue to devote enormous energy toward providing the best possible education we can. I can personally attest that faculty and staff have devoted themselves to this process with our student experiences as a primary concern. Our dedicated group is working long hours to support our efforts. We are also ensuring that our students have access to all of the necessary resources that would normally be available in a fully face to face environment including mentoring, meetings with faculty, meetings with advisors, tutoring, academic support, writing support, town hall meetings, dissertation advising, clinical supervision, and the like as well as access to the library, financial aid, and student affairs.
Given the ongoing state of flux in which we find ourselves, while we cannot completely predict what the winter term will look like, we have made what we believe is the best choice. Our decisions have been carefully considered.
Please be aware that PCOM administration and the Coronavirus Task Force (now the Return to Campus Task Force) and the Rapid Response Team have been vigilant in supporting and implementing changes in the PCOM environment to ensure safety as much as possible.
Finally, we want to emphasize that PCOM exists because of and for our students. As a group of highly trained practitioners and educators, we remain completely devoted to mentoring. We will continue to provide the guidance and support students need to complete their studies on track and on time with the requisite knowledge, skills, and competencies expected.
Please recognize that our eventual return to campus will be in incremental stages with safety as a primary objective. We will continue sharing information as the plan emerges. In the meantime, be safe, be smart and stay healthy.
Robert A. DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP
Dean and Professor of Psychology
School of Professional and Applied Psychology