A Message From the President Regarding Plans to Move Forward

Dear all,

I hope you and your family are safe and well during this daunting time.

Vassar has a vibrant culture that thrives on personal interaction and like you, we are very eager to return to campus life.

To that end, we are tirelessly working to have in-person classes resume on campus this fall. In my role as president, I am in regular contact with state and county officials who oversee our public health system, commerce, and regulatory environment, and I can assure you they are working day and night to get higher education and our business sector back for the fall. This strong group of officials have become national advocates for getting our country back to work, so we are in good hands. Yesterday I was appointed to the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board, which is tasked with helping shape policies and protocols as the state plans its re-opening and rebuilding of the economy.

We here at Vassar are working non-stop to determine exactly how we can return to normal fall classes, and I want to share some scenarios with you.

Our goal is to resume on-campus learning for all students. This may necessitate creating new social distancing guidelines, classroom redesigns, or staggered classes. We are researching and identifying optimal ways to do this safely. Our planning includes both physical considerations, such as putting smaller numbers of students in large classroom spaces to accommodate social distancing, as well as pedagogical innovations, such as the possibility of increasing the number of closely-mentored experiences, such as intensives, offered—as opposed to large classes.

If, based on the state of the pandemic and the direction from the government, this is not possible by September, we are reviewing options to return at a later date to start the academic year, possibly October or later, or adding special terms (e.g., over winter break).

Because we are dealing with many uncertainties, a fall return to campus might not be possible. In this case, we would offer remote learning. Our faculty has acquired tremendous experience and insight into fashioning classes online so that the education is meaningful.

We want you to know that we remain committed to being back on campus as soon as we are allowed. We expect to have a clearer picture by early summer and will provide an update by no later than July 3, 2020. In the meantime, we are working diligently to create options that are aligned with our individualized and personal Vassar education.

Your health and safety are our top priorities, and we will be sure to have an educational program that allows us to fulfill our mission of delivering the highest quality liberal arts education, while safeguarding the health and safety of students, faculty, and all employees.

With very best wishes,


Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604