Georgetown Law Spring Plans
Dear Alumni and Friends,
I hope this email finds you healthy and safe. The repercussions from the events of the last several weeks continue to echo through the law school community. I hope many of you have had a chance to see the faculty conversations we’ve been hosting on Facebook Live. They have convinced me all the more of the importance of Georgetown Law’s role, through scholarship, teaching, and engagement, in advancing a more just society — one where the law is of benefit to all.
Another challenge we continue to face is, of course, the ongoing pandemic. I am writing to share with you an update on what we have done over the past several months to respond to it, and what we are doing on campus this spring to safely move forward.
Fall 2020: This past fall, we built on our success from the previous spring in delivering online learning, and we were almost completely online. I am enormously proud of the energy, effort, and care our faculty put into figuring out how to run our law school online. It was not the same, and was not perfect. But the response from students was very positive, and I count it a successful semester.
Although we were largely online, we were able to house a limited number of students in the Gewirz dorm — approximately 75 students in a building that normally accommodates 275. We were also able to pilot several opportunities for students who did not live in the dorms to come to campus. These included:
- outdoor social gatherings for our first-year and incoming transfer students;
- limited classroom use for students who needed a quiet place to attend Zoom classes;
- socially distanced study spaces in the Williams Library for the final month of the semester;
- an in-person, outdoor, on-campus class designed especially for our F-1 visa holders; and
- four hybrid classes featuring a balance of in-person and remote sessions.
We implemented these activities in close collaboration with the University’s Public Health Working Group, while adhering to D.C. and federal government safety guidelines. Our experience with these on-campus activities was invaluable as we made plans for this semester.
Spring 2021: Our collective goal continues to be to keep the community safe and healthy, while fulfilling our mission to offer the richest array of academic and co-curricular opportunities possible to our students. To meet this goal, on-campus opportunities for students during the spring semester will include:
- an increased number of hybrid classes;
- slightly increasing the number of students in the dorms (to about 85);
- access to more study spaces, particularly in the Williams Library;
- outdoor events when the weather warms (masked and distanced);
- new physically-distanced outdoor seating around campus where students can meet and relax;
- in consultation with the Student Bar Association, meeting space for student group meetings of ten or fewer students; and
- a pilot program to safely reopen the Scott K. Ginsburg Sport & Fitness Center, which is important to supporting our students’ physical and mental health needs.
This limited return to campus will begin before vaccines have been widely administered and during a period when the virus continues to spread. In deciding on this plan, I have balanced those facts against the very real costs of staying entirely remote. Students who participated in our on-campus programs last semester reported overwhelmingly positive experiences. And I have heard from many students about the isolation they feel at not being able to interact in-person with their teachers and classmates. With the measures we have in place, I am convinced this plan can be accomplished safely and in a way that provides significant benefits to our students.
Of course, our ability to implement these plans will depend upon many of the same factors that guided my decisions these past 10 months, including public health guidance, the availability and speed of testing, evolving government regulations, and the trajectory of the pandemic. That said, I am hopeful these plans will substantially enhance our students’ academic experience.
I will keep you updated this semester as plans evolve. And, as always, I am deeply grateful to our remarkable alumni community for the support you have shown as we navigate these challenging times. As you know, this academic year is our 150th anniversary as a law school. It has not been the 150th year we originally envisioned, but it is a year in which it has become clearer to me than ever how supportive this community is of all its members and how important that support is.
Take care and stay well.
William M. Treanor
Executive Vice President and Dean
Paul Regis Dean Leadership Chair