Pitt releases clarified fall plans after ‘inadvertent’ email


Knox Coulter | Senior Staff Photographer

Provost Ann Cudd speaks at a Student Government Board meeting on Oct. 24, 2018.

By Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

Pitt released additional information late Monday about fall semester plans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic after an “inadvertent” Monday afternoon email to incoming first-year students.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a Monday evening email that the fall semester will begin on Aug. 19 and in-person classes will conclude on Nov. 20 for Thanksgiving break. Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving, instead finishing classes remotely through the end of the fall semester on Dec. 5. There will be no day off for Labor Day on Sept. 7. The original start date for classes was Aug. 24.

Kenyon Bonner, the vice provost and dean of students, said in a Monday evening email that students can move into on-campus housing between Aug. 13 and Aug. 16. Welcome Week events will occur from Aug. 16 to Aug. 18. Bonner said he would hold a June 18 virtual town hall to discuss fall plans.

Changes may also be coming to how students experience a Pitt education. Provost Ann Cudd said in a Monday evening email to faculty that the University plans to implement a program called “Flex@Pitt,” to allow classes to be experienced “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously.” She said more information about the program would be released in the coming days and weeks.

Cudd added in the email that, in order to de-densify campus and ensure social distancing, all students enrolled in a class may not be able to always attend class in person. She also said there will be an extended final exam period this fall, which includes the possibility of holding in-person exams on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Remote exams would be held the week after Thanksgiving.

The three evening emails follow a Monday afternoon email from Cudd to incoming first-year students which listed incorrect information about the fall, such as the final date for fall semester classes as Nov. 20. Faculty and staff criticized the move, arguing that they should have been informed about the dates either before students or at least at the same time as them.

Pitt spokesperson David Seldin said the University planned to email students, faculty and staff at the same time and regretted any confusion the mishap may have caused.

Chris Bonneau, the president of the University Senate, said Monday afternoon that he was surprised to hear about the altered academic calendar in the news.

“While beginning the semester early was always an option, we were not informed that a decision was made,” Bonneau said. “I hope this was just an oversight and not an indication of reduced faculty involvement in the plans for next year.”

Seldin said the academic calendar was determined as part of a process that sought “significant input” from students, faculty and staff. He added that the final dates were selected to meet the required number of class days for a full semester in a compress time period, in order to limit opportunities for virus transmission.

Mary Rose O’Donnell contributed reporting.