Dean Robert Shibley updates School community on preparations for fall 2020

View of Hayes Hall and UB South Campus.

Published July 14, 2020


Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

I hope that you are enjoying summer and finding time for rest and reflection. I write today to update you on our preparations for the fall 2020 semester as we work to implement university guidelines for a return to campus in a modified in-person capacity.

The process is complex and continuously evolving, but progressing smoothly thanks to the diligence and creativity of our leadership team, faculty and staff, and the guidance of our university’s COVID-19 Campus Planning Committee.

Academic and campus experience
UB’s mix of in-person and remote instruction will sustain us as a place-based, public research institution – the foundation for architectural, urban planning and real estate development education. The School of Architecture and Planning’s offerings include both in-person and remote instruction with access to on-campus facilities scaled for spatial distancing requirements. Decisions for instruction modality have been made to balance health and safety with maintaining an enriching student experience and supporting curricular and degree requirements. Details for access guidelines to the Fabrication Workshop, computing facilities and other academic resources such as advising will be shared in the coming weeks by our Departments. 

HUB opening on July 15
New course schedules, to launch tomorrow on HUB, reflect adjustments to course times and classroom locations to reduce queuing outside classrooms and to allow for 6’ of physical distancing. Students should refer to HUB and course syllabi via UBLearns for more detail on instruction mode and class meeting times and locations. Consult with our academic advising team for scheduling guidance and with your instructors for course-specific questions. For international students, we are relieved to know that the Trump administration's plan to strip visas from students enrolled in remote-only courses has been rescinded. International students will continue to have the flexibility take classes online and remain legally in the country with student visas. Because we are a place-based institution, we are encouraging our international students to register for at least one hybrid course, helping to assure a good experience with our campus.

Given the increased reliance of remote instruction, it is important that all students are prepared with their own technology to support their coursework. Our IT Services team has assembled recommendations for computer hardware and software resources (more detailed guidance may be provided by your faculty and department).

Re-occupancy planning
The School's operations team is working with faculty and staff and our research centers to finalize a return-to-campus plan that supports health and safety and optimizes delivery of services and supports for the School community. Per university guidelines, our re-occupancy is limited to 50 percent capacity of our buildings. Employees may consult UB’s Administrative Services website for more on return-to-campus protocol.

Life of the school
The student experience and intellectual life of our school is a critical component of our planning activities for the fall. Our virtual lecture series for fall 2020 and spring 2021 will focus on the topic of racial justice, one of a number of our efforts to listen, reflect and act upon inequities across our school, professions and society at-large. Details will be shared next month. This summer, our student leadership organizations have led a series of town halls and open student conversations on racial justice (stay tuned for details on the next town hall for students on July 24). We thank them for their leadership and activism at a time of great challenge and possibility for change.

Going forward please look for regular email updates from the School, our Departments and academic leadership, as well as your faculty. We aim to keep the lines of communication open as fall 2020 startup progresses. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or feedback.

My thanks to the many faculty, staff and students for your contributions to our planning efforts as well as your continued patience an adaptability amidst constant change. We are looking forward to our return to campus and a new year of intellectual growth and curiosity as a community in place.


Bob Shibley
Professor and Dean