By Leah Wilkinson
Many summer plans are changing across the United States, and Bellarmine is no exception: online classes will continue through at least the summer semester.
Bellarmine Provost Dr. Paul Gore sent an email Monday notifying the Bellarmine community of the news.
“Over 95% of summer courses that were already scheduled are being migrated to remote learning platforms,” Gore said. “There were a small handful of courses that couldn’t be taught given the pedagogical demands of the curriculum – I think fewer than a dozen students were enrolled in those courses and we are looking at alternatives for them.”
Gore said those students have been notified by the registrar.
“We are also busy looking to add additional courses to provide students with more options and possibly encourage students who live outside of Louisville and hadn’t planned on taking a course to consider doing so,” Gore said. “We are working closely with financial aid to ensure that taking summer courses is as affordable as possible.”
Dr. Mary Huff, dean of Bellarmine’s College of Arts and Sciences, said the shift to an online format has been a big adjustment.
“In [Arts and Sciences] alone, we had over 90 courses being offered throughout the summer, with only 23 of these being offered in an online delivery format before the request,” Huff said.
Now, Huff is working to ensure many additional classes will be taught online and without diminishing the learning experience.
Registrar Ann Olsen said an additional section of BMB (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) 110, Biochemistry of Cooking, was added to the summer schedule.
Olsen said the cooking class is the only course that has been added to the summer schedule so far, but she also said the deans are still in discussions with both the Student Success Center and enrollment management “to try to identify other courses that would be a good fit for summer and accommodate student needs.”
“A total of 13 undergraduate students were affected when the following [five] summer semester courses were cancelled,” Olsen said. Olsen said these five classes were canceled:
· EXSC 240, Physiology of Exercise – two students were enrolled
· EXSC 444, Internship to Dominican Republic – four students were enrolled
· MATH 118, Calculus II – six students were enrolled
· PHYS 106, Exploration of the Universe – one student was enrolled
· BIOL 442, Special Topics in Biology – no students were enrolled
Some students were planning to take classes that were already scheduled as online courses. Those classes will be taught as planned.
“I am taking two classes over the summer but they were already online when I registered for them,” said junior Jenny Gross.
Although some were planning to take courses online, many students can relate to junior Katrina Powell’s situation. Powell said she’s concerned about how this will have an impact on her senior year at Bellarmine.
“I was supposed to do research for my honors thesis this summer and now it is postponed until we can work in person which may not be [until] August, if we even go back in August,” she said. “I am hoping I can still complete this work in the fall but I purposefully signed up for more classes in the fall thinking the research would be done.”
Powell said she’s also wondering about how summer housing will work.
“And if I were to need a place over the summer I don’t know if [the honors thesis] would qualify for housing,” she said.
Leslie Maxie, director of residence life, said exceptions may be made for students to live on campus only if it is absolutely necessary for them to live in a residence hall. She said students, like Powell, who would be working with a faculty member over the summer for research purposes may qualify to stay.
Maxie said: “We would need to discuss with your faculty member the essential things that you would be doing on campus to warrant living here over the summer. We will need to have more discussion with you and your faculty member to gain the best understanding of your request and make the best determination with more information.”
Maxie said things are subject to change depending on the climate of the virus.
“We continue to monitor the pandemic in our state and country and are following closely the CDC guidelines for social distancing,” Maxie said. “And [as] always we want to keep our students, faculty and staff safe.”
Internships are another big concern among many Bellarmine students, especially juniors who would have had their last chance to complete a summer internship. Fulfilling internship requirements over the summer is often more desirable for students, as many wouldn’t experience the academic workload that comes with the fall and spring semesters.
Cassie Marlow is one of those students. She said she has also felt stressed since receiving the email.
“As an LWLS (Live.Work.Lead.Serve) recipient, I have been freaking out since the quarantine has started since I have been afraid that my summer internship would be cancelled which would mean that I would lose $2,000 of scholarship money that I would use to pay for tuition, rent and other expenses for next year,” Marlow said.
Marlow said she’s not confident many businesses will be seeking interns they’ll never interact with in person. “My mom’s accounting firm said they couldn’t have any interns for the summer so I assume a lot of businesses feel the same,” she said.
For Marlow, she said her main concern now becomes how she will graduate and still fulfill all her requirements.
“I am also stressed about it because I need my internship credit for my two minors and if I don’t have an internship this summer, I won’t be able to graduate with my minors since I can’t take extra classes senior year due to my work schedule and my law school applications and other commitments like honors program thesis writing and my activities,” Marlow said. “So I am unsure of what to do and I am really scared and worried about my degree and finances due to Bellarmine having no, or only remote, summer internships.”
Bellarmine junior Harry Moberly has a different perspective. He didn’t have plans to take summer courses or complete a summer internship.
“Well, I definitely understand Bellarmine’s course of actions,” Moberly said. “Although alterations and cancellations to the summer schedule might not be what people wanted, I feel that the changes Bellarmine made were necessary in wake of the whole COVID-19 crisis.”
Others felt similar to Moberly, noting they think Bellarmine made the right call.
“I am not affected by the changes of summer classes being postponed or canceled,” said Bellarmine junior Jameelah Lockhart. “I’m a little bit shocked because I assume they will be online, but I love how they are taking [online classes] into consideration, even if [COVID-19] is over by then.”
Some are saying in-person summer courses wouldn’t be worth the safety of an entire university. Junior Andrew O’Neill said he also wasn’t planning to take summer courses, but he also said he figured the switch to online schooling would occur.
“To me, seeing the pandemic continue to spread and the number of cases continue to climb, moving summer courses to online seemed an inevitability,” O’Neill said. “I know at least in Kentucky we were hoping to at least be on the downward slope by May or June, and as of now reports are still saying that might be the case, but caution has to outweigh optimism when the safety of students is a question.”
Junior McKenzie Ricklefs agreed with O’Neill and Moberly.
“I think the university made the right decision moving summer classes online and requiring remote internships,” Ricklefs said. “[This] ensures the health and safety of students and faculty.”
Ricklefs said that although she believes Bellarmine made the appropriate choice, she’s also concerned her internship experience will be hindered.
“However, I am disappointed because I was seeking an internship for this summer, and I feel like I won’t get the same experience having to do it remotely,” she said.
Although not a junior, Alexa Glass, a sophomore, said she can see why students are upset.
“Of course it is a devastating situation affecting Bellarmine, and it is unfortunate that students who were planning to return to campus for courses or a work position on campus,” Glass said. “However, I do think Bellarmine is taking actions that are in the community’s safest interest.”
Glass said she thinks Bellarmine should alter tuition costs with classes being online-only.
“I also think that tuition needs to be adjusted if Bellarmine continues to only offer courses online, for the summer 2020 and especially if this results in the fall 2020 being online as well,” she said.
With so much uncertainty surrounding students’ summer plans, one thing is clear: faculty will miss seeing their students in person.
“While our faculty were willing to make this change, please know that we all miss having students on campus and seeing them face to face,” Huff said. “We all look forward to the time we can go back to the classroom.”
Students who have questions regarding Monday’s announcement and summer plans may email email@example.com for more information.