DU Gives it the Old College Try

The University of Denver is making a multi-million dollar bet on on-campus learning this week, except for the Sturm College of Law which started August 17th. New student orientation is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9th and the fall quarter begins September 12th.

DU developed a detailed plan which guides a return to campus learning under COVID-19. And, it is clear that DU is making every reasonable effort to navigate an extremely difficult situation for students, staff, and administration.

While most schools and Universities started earlier than DU, many have been forced to shut down their campuses a move to off-campus learning (see Colorado College, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill to name just a few). DU has leveraged its late start time to introduce best practices (social distancing, masks, and enhanced sanitation) and hold wide-ranging orientation meetings to guide safety adherence.  Chancellor Jeremy Haefner has publicly announced a zero-tolerance policy for risky behavior (i.e. large parties and social distancing violations). Haefner also held special meetings with Fraternity and Sorority Life leaders to prevent similar mass outbreaks witnessed across the country. DU has partnered with National Jewish Health for testing, contact tracing, symptom monitoring, and prevention of the disease.

Students will have access to four methods of learning during the fall. In-person classes, online classes, hybrid classes (a mix of in-person or on-line), and ‘Hyflex’ classes which will switch between in-person and online, depending on the desire of the student(s). This is all in an effort to reduce or mitigate person-to-person contact.

As for living accommodations, the University is offering single occupancy rooms and enhanced cleaning of common areas and shared bathrooms (3x daily). The student bookstore and Anderson Academic Commons (library), meanwhile, are leveraging online, contract-less ordering.

The Division of Athletics and Recreation is doing its part, too. The Coors Fitness Center and El Pomar natatorium have reopened for faculty and students with extra sanitation and operational precautions. Coaches are reinforcing behavioral and sanitation practices with their teams to reduce or mitigate person-to-person contact and transmission.

Considering the plans outlined by the University, DU leadership looks to be doing everything in their power to reduce a mass outbreak on the DU campus. There will, no doubt, be outbreaks this fall on the Denver campus but, hopefully, DU can isolate outbreaks and continue on-campus learning.


Photo courtesy of the University of Denver

6 thoughts on “DU Gives it the Old College Try”

  1. DU is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Because it is 70%+ dependent on tuition dollars for operating income, it simply could not risk going online from the beginning of the school year. That would have risked a large number of deferrals and transfers to other, cheaper schools for the online experience, robbing DU of its needed cash flow out of the gate. Harvard can afford to go online only – DU could not.

    On the other side, by going in-person, now it has a greater risk of health and liability problems that come from having groups of people on campus 24 hours per day. While there is some risk to students, the bigger risks are to older faculty and staff who are older and who are in proximity to students. You also have an open campus in the center of an active city that presents avenues for more infections on and off-campus – it’s not like DU could be gated, as some campuses are…

    Fingers are crossed, or course.

    But don’t be surprised when positive tests start rolling in…

  2. In the wake of CJH’s polite but firm announcement at the end of last week – heard rumblings certain organizations (aka frats) are on campus security and DPD radar

    Another rumor making the rounds – after the final tuition deadline 10/5 passes and the checks are cashed – DU will *shocker* go online once again

  3. I am sure Greek Life is under the miroscope because of large outbreaks accross the country. They also have a more confined space than say, dorms, so their risk is likely higher. I would be surprised to see DU ‘shut down’ without a major outbreak. But, let’s keep an eye on these two issues and see where it goes.

    1. As recently as two weeks ago, I heard from administrative sources that enrollment was comparable to last year and the melt (students not coming/gap year) was similar to prior years.

  4. to anon 9:33, from financial perspective, going online that quick and losing room and board (or 70% of it for the term) is a disaster. Be careful of rumors, lot of them out there, which is understandable in times of such great uncertainty .

    This is why I thought poking fun of CC going online (in previous posting) was not cool and potentially bad karma (normally I am fully on board with poking fun at CC)

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