In the Face of COVID-19, Temple University Adapts

Spring Semester Continues Online at All Three Campuses — in the U.S., Japan and Italy

U.S.-based Temple University and its overseas campuses, Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) and Temple University Rome, are working together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, a global crisis that continues to evolve on a daily basis. With the spring semester currently in session, all three institutions have moved classes online and are taking steps to ensure that the academic year proceeds on schedule.

TUJ Dean Bruce Stronach has been in 24-7 communication with Temple’s Main Campus in Philadelphia, making policy decisions based on the changing global situation. He continues to keep the TUJ community informed of all developments.

“Everyone in the world is now experiencing the effects of the coronavirus. In this time of rapidly developing events, when so many people’s lives are disrupted and there is so much confusion and concern, we are working with the Main Campus to ensure that we maintain academic continuity for our students and protect their health,” says Dean Stronach.

TUJ began conducting classes online on March 2, soon followed by Temple Main and Rome campuses.

“The expedited transition to online learning went very smoothly. Within 72 hours, we took more than 300 classes and made them virtual,” says TUJ Associate Dean for Academic Affairs George Miller, who has played a leading role in the implementation.

“We’re seeing many students participate who would otherwise be quiet during in-person classes. And some classes work really well in the online format—math and computer science, for example. “I think students and faculty miss the community aspect of being in the classroom and being in the building together. We are a campus that focuses on student interaction. It’s hard to create the same level of engagement when you are looking at each other on computer screens,” says Miller.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dennis Bacani says, “There is no problem in the transition on my part, as I have been creating videos to supplement my class lectures since fall 2019. There is also no problem in accommodating my students who are overseas as I record all my Zoom classes and all my students can easily access the recordings through our Learning Management System (Canvas).”

Bacani pointed out such issues with online classes as their slower pacing compared to in-person classes and their dependence on students’ internet connection stability. However, in the face of these new challenges, Bacani is confident that he and his fellow faculty have taken a forward-looking approach and says, “We make adjustments again and again in our courses and do our best to be compassionate with our students.”

In light of the U.S. Department of State’s global Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory, Temple Main Campus issued a notice on March 20 urging all TUJ short-term study abroad students from the U.S. to return home. Long-term international students were also urged to return home to complete their spring semester classes online.

TUJ also continues to receive inquiries from parents living outside of Japan. Office of Student Services Director Nicole Despres says, “Students and parents are concerned about traveling overseas or remaining in Japan and there seems to be no “right answer.” We are trying to guide students and their parents on what makes the most sense for them given their individual situations and concerns.”

Classes at Temple’s Main Campus were moved online on March 16. The campus itself is now closed, and it has been decided that the university’s graduation ceremonies, which had been scheduled for May 7, will be postponed. Meanwhile, Temple University administrators have also made the Liacouras Center (the Main Campus’s on-campus arena) available as a 180-bed coronavirus overflow medical facility for the City of Philadelphia, illustrating the university’s resolve to overcome this crisis in partnership with the community. Temple University has also provided assistance to students in need, from providing laptops to students who did not have their own to allowing students who did not have a place to go to stay in dorms on the Main Campus.

The administration at TUJ has decided that online classes will continue until the mid-April conclusion of the spring semester. TUJ is also providing financial assistance to students in need. While regular in-person classes are currently scheduled to resume when the summer semester begins on May 25, administrators will continue to keep a close watch over the situation in Japan and around the world, and have discussed a wide range of possible measures.

In the meantime, Temple University and its campuses in the U.S., Italy, and Japan will continue to adapt in the face of the COVID-19 to the best of their ability.

<TUJ’s responses to COVID-19>