A Message from President Benson: Plans for the Fall Semester

Members of the UT Dallas Community,

The spring semester is coming to an end, and summer sessions will soon begin in an online format. We, like all colleges and universities, are also looking ahead. We understand that you have questions about what the fall semester will look like on our campus.

UT Dallas will be open and educating students in the fall.

What remains to be seen is the way in which our courses will be delivered. Absent a vaccine or other proven treatment for COVID-19, we are considering all options for fall classes, including a mixture of in-person and online learning.

The transition will be gradual. We hope soon to be able to open some of our research and instructional laboratories — areas where we can carefully control access and monitor health and social distancing. Large gatherings in classrooms and other university spaces will have to come much later.

We want all students to be able to engage with our Comet family, so whichever options we ultimately choose, classes or sections of classes will be offered online to any student who cannot be on campus or chooses not to be on campus during the fall semester.

Several working groups meet regularly at UT Dallas to address the continuity of our teaching, learning and working. These groups reflect our community, with representation from faculty, staff and students. Their input is essential for the many decisions that must be made.

We are also following the lead of The University of Texas System and have benefited from extensive meetings with leadership across the system, including our sister academic institutions. We refer you to Chancellor J.B. Milliken’s statement of May 2, 2020, to The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“The UT System is planning for all institutions to hold classes on campus in the fall, and will fully comply with state and public health guidance to help ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

This is a good place also to acknowledge the vital contributions of the faculty and staff of UT Dallas. We look forward to welcoming you back to campus in the coming months to help us prepare for the outstanding students who will be joining or returning to UT Dallas in the fall. We will need everyone’s help to ensure we have a safe and healthy learning environment. And for those essential employees who never stopped working on campus, thank you! You are heroes!

There is still much that we do not know about the arc of the disease that besets us, and thus, it is still too early to provide details on the level of on-campus activity that we can sustain in the fall. We will keep you updated in regular communications as we learn more. You also may be interested in the UT Dallas Town Hall from April 22.

Some of the conditions that would make a return to campus possible include the capacity for testing and contact tracing, as well as physical spacing adaptations and the ability to isolate campus residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.

It is important to emphasize, once again, that while we are focused on the reopening of the UT Dallas campus, we will only do so in a manner that can be supported by the most current scientific evidence and guidance of medical experts.

So, until I have the pleasure of seeing you again on campus, thank you for your dedication to UT Dallas. Please stay strong. Please stay healthy. We will not only survive this crisis, but thrive!


Richard C. Benson signature
Richard C. Benson
Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].