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Message from the President: Fall 2020 Classes will be Online

While Holy Names University faculty and staff prepared to go to great lengths to provide safe, in-person experiences for our students this fall, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in our region has made it clear that moving to 100% online instruction during the fall 2020 semester is the safest option for our campus.

This is disappointing news for all of us, but we are confident that our decision best supports the health and safety of our community. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been following state and county health department guidance to prepare for the safest return to campus possible. We understand that specific guidance for higher education is forthcoming from Governor Newsom, but with the start of classes fast-approaching we opted to make the decision to go fully online for the fall semester now and provide our community more time to prepare for fall.

HNU’s contingency planning this summer will guide how we provide an education that reflects Holy Names University’s values and how we offer a supportive, tight-knit community experience. Following is what students can expect this fall semester:

The Academic Experience

All classes that were scheduled to be a hybrid format will now be fully online. There will be no change to class schedules and student graduation plans will not be affected by our shift to remote learning this fall. Plans for spring course delivery will be announced in early November.

To strengthen online education, HNU faculty members have undergone an intensive summer training. They are also working with our deans to provide opportunities for student mentoring online. Additional Teaching Assistants (TAs) are being trained to assist with online courses.

Students will have access to online learning resources from our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and will be invited to monthly town hall meetings from their school to support connection and academic engagement.

Housing and Dining

HNU housing will be open, with limited capacity, for students who wish to live on campus. In order to promote physical distancing and minimize risk, the residence hall rooms are now all single occupancy and the residential community will be expected to follow guidelines regarding face coverings, hand washing, and physical distancing. In keeping with CDC and Alameda County Health guidelines, we have allocated space and instituted protocols for quarantine should it be needed in the residence halls. Common spaces, including our dining hall, have been modified to support physical distancing. Specifics of fall meal plan options will be announced soon and further details about life on campus will be provided in our upcoming Fall 2020 Return-to-Campus Guide. Students who have already applied for housing will be contacted by the Residence Life team with further updates. Students who decided to cancel their housing due to remote course delivery will need to complete the Housing Cancellation Form but will be able to do so without penalty.

Student Support Services

All services normally offered on campus will be provided through a mix of modified in-person and virtual support. Academic advising, tutoring and writing support, student success and retention, career services, financial aid, the registrar, and student accounts will all be accessible to students whether they are on or off-campus, and counseling services and mental health programming will continue to be available remotely.

The Cushing Library will provide both online and on-campus resources. Our staff has rearranged furniture to support physical distancing and is developing a space reservation system that will provide a safe study space for students.

The Center for Social Justice remains a space, both virtually and on campus, where students can explore service and social justice in Oakland and in their own communities. Campus Ministry will continue to provide a variety of virtual opportunities for spiritual exploration and gathering in community.

The International Student Advisor will continue to support students remotely. New and continuing international students should be aware that the shift to all remote instruction may affect their status for fall semester. They will soon receive updated guidance based on their individual circumstances.

Student Engagement

HNU’s Student Engagement team has been working over the summer to create virtual programs and platforms that facilitate connection. These include virtual Hawk Days, Orientation Programs, and activities hosted by student clubs and organizations and student government (ASHNU). HNU’s First-Year Experience Program will offer a combination of virtual formats and some optional small group in-person activities. Our VP for Student Affairs, Laura Lyndon will send a message to first-year students with more information about their experience this fall. The President’s Cabinet will host virtual town hall meetings to share campus updates and provide a forum for student input.


The PacWest Conference has postponed all Fall competition. We expect a decision on the start of the 2020-21 winter sports season, as well as the non-championship segments of spring sports by October 1. Once we receive clearance from Alameda County, HNU athletes can work out individually or in small groups provided they follow current health and safety protocols including physical distancing. Athletes and coaches can expect further announcements from the Director of Athletics regarding NCAA Guidelines.

Campus Density and Access

HNU will carefully manage in-person contact to ensure a safe campus environment, but we will also make sure that students have the resources they need. We will be using Envoy as a visitor management tool and limit campus access to those with no symptoms of COVID-19. Our Fall 2020 Return-to-Campus Guide will have more information about these guidelines and will be distributed soon.

Looking Forward

This is a momentous point in history, and I am grateful to be working together as a community to address some of the most challenging issues of our time. You’ll be receiving regular updates about the evolution of HNU as we learn at a distance, as well as opportunities to get involved.

I want to leave you with one final request: don’t let COVID-19 interrupt your dreams or keep you from planning for a better future. This pandemic won’t last forever. And on the other side of it, we will be stronger. The world needs you, our future graduates, more than ever.


Mike Groener
President, Holy Names University