An Update on Georgetown Law’s Response to COVID-19
The past several weeks have challenged us in ways we could never have imagined. As COVID-19 disrupts every element of our personal and professional lives and has caused so much pain and loss, I hope that you and your family have been able to stay healthy and safe.
I last wrote to you as we moved into a remote learning environment in response to the pandemic. I am writing now to give you an update, and I will continue to keep you informed.
We are now through week four of remote learning, and I am very pleased to report that the transition has been successful. I have been impressed – both as an administrator and as a teacher – by what has been achieved. As I teach my upper level class on constitutional law and see the faces of each of my students on the screen of my computer, I am inspired by their energy and commitment and amazed at what the technology makes possible. Special thanks goes to Associate Dean Paul Ohm, who has been the key architect of this effort, and Chief Information Officer George Petasis and his team, who have served as key support on the technology. The faculty has learned a new way to teach, countless staff and administrators have volunteered to provide support, and our students have been strikingly engaged in their academic work. We all miss being together in the classroom and in our clinics, but the huge undertaking of moving online has, for the most part, been seamless.
Another development since I last wrote is the Law Center’s adoption of a mandatory pass/fail standard for all J.D. students and to apply an optional pass/fail standard for all LL.M. students, which puts us in line with virtually all of our peers. It is impossible for me to convey how thoughtful and nuanced the faculty discussion was on making this decision. The severe impact on so many members of our community was a primary concern.
Last week we also made the decision to move On-Campus Interview week (OCI) from August to January/February next year, thus making it possible for students to have two semesters of grades available for OCI and for firms to have a better sense of their hiring needs. My ongoing conversations with our alumni from leading law firms helped inform this move.
A sad, but necessary decision that we have made since my last letter to you was to postpone Commencement ceremonies. It was disappointing news for our graduating students, and it was certainly very disappointing for me. As Dean, one of my greatest joys is seeing our graduates celebrate their great accomplishment. We are deeply proud of our graduating class and are committed to honoring each one as they embark on their legal career. We will move the graduation ceremony to a later date when the class of 2020, their family and friends, and the Georgetown Law community can physically gather together in celebration. I am looking forward to a joyous – if delayed – graduation event.
As I have said multiple times, we will get through this difficult time by working together and helping each other. Countless times over the last several weeks, our alumni have proudly demonstrated that our ethos of women and men in service to others is alive and well. We have had an outpouring of inquiries from alumni on how they can help. Some have offered to help with career counseling and advisement, many have given generously to the Student Emergency Fund to help our students with the unexpected expenses that have arisen, and we have even had one generous alumnus from China send us 2,000 much needed surgical masks which we are donating to Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. I am so very proud of the Georgetown Law community!
I will close by offering our alumni who are celebrating Passover this week and our alumni who will be observing Easter this weekend a most heartfelt wish that you and your family find meaning in the holiday and are able to enjoy this time in good health. Thank you and take care.
William M. Treanor
Executive Vice President and Dean
Paul Regis Dean Leadership Chair