Letter to the Editor: An open letter to UMN Twin-Cities campus students and prospective students

All faculty have the training and tools to keep students learning with outstanding equipment and instructional engagement, regardless of the course of the pandemic and the modality in which classes will be delivered.


Letter to the Editor

You have recently heard that the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities will pivot classes to start remotely this fall. We write as educators who have been preparing for fall in two ways: by offering hybrid and in-person teaching modes following public health guidance for classes needing to be taught “live” and also engaging high-quality distance learning options. 

We have done this work so that you can keep learning this fall and pursue your education goals at the University of Minnesota. We pledge with other faculty, administrators, students and staff to make your education at the University one of the most fulfilling experiences that you can have in the United States and beyond. The University is offering classes that connect you with other students, professionals and experiences that will prepare you for success. 

Though the Regents’ decision to pivot further due to public health guidance wasn’t unexpected, we would have liked to have been in classrooms on campus with you to start the term. Now, we will offer more remote learning options so that you can keep learning. You will have the highest quality public education offered by attending the University of Minnesota. All faculty have the training and tools to keep students learning with outstanding equipment and instructional engagement, regardless of the course of the pandemic and the modality in which classes will be delivered. The offerings available to students taught by our expert faculty are unparalleled. Despite what you might be hearing from your social networks, your peers are choosing to register. 

For those students contemplating a “gap” year, think seriously about why you are taking this gap. We urge you to not allow the pandemic to disrupt your educational goals. Completing a four-year degree provides students with an advantage in any economy. Individuals with four-year degrees are most likely to retain their positions and keep working during a recession. The lifetime earnings benefit to having a bachelor’s degree compared to only a high school degree is about 65-70% according to the American College Board, and this comparative benefit is even more powerful for first-generation, Pell-grant receiving and Black, Latino or Indigenous students who complete their degrees. Completing a degree sooner will have a measurable impact on both your life journey and long-term earnings. 

Join us this fall and stay the course in completing your degree. We are all in this together. And, when we are ready for a full return to campus when the pandemic ends, there will be many “great University of Minnesota get-togethers” for you to participate in as a student, or as an alum with your degree in hand. 

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity. 

This letter was submitted and signed by the following 16 heads and faculty of units in the College of Liberal Arts:

Elisia L. Cohen, Director & Professor, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ann Waltner, Chair & Professor, Department of History

Jeffry A. Simpson, Chair & Professor, Department of Psychology

Michael Kim, Director & Professor, School of Music

Benjamin Munson, Chair & Professor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Science

Andrew Elfenbein, Chair & Professor, Department of English

Leslie Morris, Chair & Professor, Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch 

Doug Hartmann, Chair & Professor, Department of Sociology

Karen Mary Davalos, Chair & Professor, Department of Chicano and Latino Studies

Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch, Chair & Professor, Department of Writing Studies

Paul Goren, Chair & Professor, Department of Political Science

Mathew J. LeFebvre, Chair & Professor, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance

Galin Jones, Director & Professor, School of Statistics

Karen-Sue Taussig, Chair & Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Christine L. Marran, Chair & Professor, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Nita Krevans, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies