ALLLIANCE, Ohio — As a result of an ongoing, comprehensive planning process, the University of Mount Union is announcing its goal is to resume face-to-face instruction and residential operations this fall.
“We recognize that important modifications regarding living and learning, particularly in terms of creating safe distancing in classrooms, campus housing and dining and group meeting venues, are needed,” said Dr. Dick Merriman president of Mount Union. “Additionally, the University will be prepared to adapt its operations to comply with the decisions of federal, state and local authorities and public health officials.”
In order to safely welcome students back to the classroom this fall, Mount Union will utilize the Social Distancing Learning Model of education for the fall semester, which combines face-to-face and remote instruction. This model will allow the institution to maximize personal interaction between faculty and students, and between students in a course, while reducing attendance density in classrooms, thus permitting proper social distancing.
During each week of instruction, a portion of students in a given course will meet face-to-face in one class session, while the other portion participates and learns remotely. The next session meeting would have those two student groups switching places.
“As a student-centered institution that offers a highly-personalized education, the University understands the importance of face-to-face learning and its impact on our students,” said Dr. Jeffrey Breese, vice president for academic affairs and provost at Mount Union. “This blended model will best position Mount Union to maintain social distancing guidelines and recommendations while preserving the integrity of the exceptional learning experiences students have come to expect of the University.”
The implementation of the model will be strengthened by a significant investment in faculty training and innovation resulting in the development of a new Faculty Development Center. This center, which has been a focus of planning for the past two years, will offer a summer institute for faculty that will present best practices for blending in-person and remote instruction to maximize learning, student engagement and student success.
With regard to campus housing, Mount Union plans to have its on-campus student housing open for the fall semester. The reopening will be done with great care and concern, and in accordance with necessary safety protocols, to ensure the health and well-being of Mount Union community members. The institution also plans to extend its commuter range to 60 miles to accommodate those students who would prefer to live at their permanent homes.
Mount Union is also continuing its Personal Liaison Program through the fall semester, which provides students with a second point person at the University, separate from their academic advisor, who can assist them with any questions they have throughout this process. The institution launched this program following the transition to remote instruction this spring, and it has proven successful in connecting with and addressing concerns and questions of current students.
Throughout the re-opening process, the safety of the Mount Union campus community will remain paramount.
“We are fortunate to enjoy close proximity and a robust partnership with Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, which is across the street from the University’s campus,” said Merriman. “Our campus health center is located in the professional office building on the hospital’s campus, allowing our students and staff to access a full range of needed medical treatments and services.”
In addition, staff from Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, representatives from the City of Alliance’s Health Department, faculty members from the University’s health sciences programs and staff from across the University are serving on a Health and Safety Committee that is planning for a safe restart of face-to-face teaching and residential operation in August. Throughout the summer, members of campus planning groups will be focused on academic instruction, monitoring and responding to health and safety issues, and evaluation of classrooms, residences, dining facilities, meeting venues and workplaces to ensure the safety of our students and our faculty and staff.
For updates, resources and other relevant information regarding Mount Union’s fall 2020 plans, visit mountunion.edu/fall-reopening-plans.