This message was sent to all students on May 26 at the start of our registration period, after students were notified that we are going to be online for Fall 2020 semester.

Dear SUA students,

I hope you are all doing well and staying safe and healthy. As you have seen from earlier emails from Ed Feasel and Hyon Moon, we are going to be online for next Fall semester. We are all sorry that this was necessary, and yet we all recognize the importance of preserving the health and safety of students, faculty and staff. Despite the fact that we are going to be online for Fall 2020, we plan to make our academic experience in the online courses as excellent as possible, and we have listened to many of the ideas from the Town Hall and from other students as we plan for the upcoming semester.

One of our improvements will be to offer courses at later times in the late afternoon and evening to allow for students from around the world to more easily participate in live class sessions. All of our SUA Concentrations, Programs and Areas worked together to optimise our scheduling of classes which will allow more of our global community of students to join in our seminars and discussions. From this effort, we have been able to shift nearly 40% of our course times to 4PM PST or later, which will allow students in North America, Asia and other continents to participate during waking hours.

One interesting new development is the opportunity to offer new courses in the Fall Block period. From the discussions in the Curriculum Committee and in the Concentrations and Programs, we have been able to develop a really interesting mix of courses in Fall Block that includes courses such as Ecological Methods, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, Plagues and Peoples, SBS Research Methods, and two sections of Modes of Inquiry. We hope that these block courses will be helpful to students and will give some flexibility in structuring their course schedules during Fall Semester. Now that we are continuing with online instruction, we also have the benefit of learning from our experiment during Spring 2020, and we are working to develop programs for faculty training and to help redesign of some of our courses for Fall 2020 to be more effective in the online format.

Many students have also expressed interest in Ethnic Studies courses, courses exploring issues of race and ethnicity, and/or post-colonial approaches to issues. We have been able to offer many such courses in our Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semester, and for Fall 2020 I wanted to point out a few of these courses below:

  • ANSO 385 – Race and Ethnicity – Danielle Denardo
  • EMP 335 – Cities in the Global South – Deike Peters
  • INTS 390 – Race and Medicine at the Border – Jeannie Shinozuka
  • LIT 290 – African American Drama – Miguel Ramon
  • SPA 490 – Chicanx/Latinx Literature – Verónica Quesada

We hope that you are able to register and get all the courses that you like, and that you find our new Brightspace website helpful for communicating with your instructors to learn more about the additional features, class sessions and methods that will be used in each of the courses. This new site is one of many ways we hope to communicate with students as we prepare for the Fall 2020 semester.

Good luck with your registration and best wishes for a productive, restful and safe summer.

Best wishes,

Bryan Penprase
Dean of Faculty, SUA

This message was sent to all students on May 12, 2020 to help students know more about our process for planning for Fall 2020 semester, including the details about our committees for Academic Continuity and in-Person Instruction.

Dear SUA students,

I would like to offer you congratulations on (nearly) reaching the end of a long and challenging semester. I have been very impressed by the creativity, energy and resilience of our entire SUA community in the face of the enormous challenges created by this pandemic. I also know that this has been a very difficult semester for you and your friends, and know that the massive disruption from the abrupt move away from campus made studies very difficult. We know that it is very challenging to be forced into the online mode of learning, without the benefit of the close interpersonal education we treasure at SUA.

All of us in the administration and faculty appreciate how hard this is for you and wish that we were not forced into the online mode of instruction, but we also are trying to do our best to provide the best quality of education possible, while preserving the safety of students, staff and faculty. During the coming weeks and over the summer faculty will be discussing what we have learned from this experiment to help us prepare for next Fall. We have not yet decided whether we will return to in person instruction next fall, or whether we will have a mix of online and in person instruction, or purely online instruction. As mentioned earlier, two committees are working on these decisions and are doing their best to make the best possible choice for maintaining the safety of our our community and continuity of education for students.

Faculty are planning for the possibility of a partially or fully online semester in Fall 2020, and we are applying what we have learned from our experiences in Spring 2020 in this effort. If we are forced to be online again, we can enhance our courses to work better in the online format, and we can also revise our scheduling to allow for easier participation from students across the world in our courses. This effort will be needed whether or not we return students onto campus in Fall 2020, as it is very unlikely we could return all of our students to campus for Fall 2020, even if we return to in person instruction next semester.

To help with this scheduling effort, I have been working with the Curriculum Committee (CC) and Registrar to expand our time slots to enable class times that will work for students across the world and allow them to participate fully in our courses during Fall 2020. This revision of our class times to include new late afternoon and evening times in California will make it much easier for students from across the earth to join in classes and will provide a richer mix of students in our synchronous and live sessions that will come closer to our in-person experience on campus which benefits so much from the diversity of our students.

Working closely with Phat Vu, Chair of the CC, I have asked the Directors and Coordinators of our Concentrations, Programs and Areas to revise their class schedules for Fall 2020 to make use of these new time slots. Based on discussions in the CC, we will develop a new Brightspace Forum page, which will give the opportunity for students to find additional information about classes such as additional times when instructors will be available for office hours or small group discussions. This Brightspace page will also be a useful for learning about modifications and any special features for the courses in the coming semester and will allow you to be in dialogue with various instructors about their courses. The new version of the Fall schedule is being prepared now, and we plan to allow students to begin registration on Tuesday, May 26.

Thanks again for your efforts in working through the difficulties of the Spring 2020 semester and your patience and persistence as we all do our best to work through this time of enormous challenges faced by our world. By continuing our academic program, we hope we can together be part of the solution to a world suddenly upended by this global pandemic, and as a community can provide a source of global connectedness despite the ravages of the COVID-19 in all the countries of the world.

Best wishes,

Bryan

This message was sent to all students on May 1 to announce our planning for scenarios for Fall 2020 semester – either online or in-person. It includes a link to a student survey to learn more about student concerns and needs. The survey data helped inform the discussions within both the Academic Continuity Committee and the in-Person Education committee.

Dear SUA students,

I hope you are doing well and staying safe and healthy. I wanted to update you on our planning for Fall 2020 and also ask for your help with a survey to get more information about your experiences with online learning.

Our faculty, staff and administration are actively discussing scenarios for Fall 2020, and we have teams discussing detailed scenarios for both in-person and online instruction for our Fall 2020 opening. We have not made our decision yet on this, but we are working as hard as we can to have detailed plans in place for both scenarios to enable us to make an informed and safe decision. We appreciate your patience as we work this out, and having more time will help us be able to make use of the best information in making our decision.

We have developed a survey to get more information from you about online courses. This survey will be shared with the Academic Continuity Committee, which consists of the Directors of all of our SUA concentrations and programs as well as the Dean of Faculty, Associate Dean of Faculty, and Executive Vice President, and they are very interested in your inputs on how our online instruction has gone to help us in planning for our Fall 2020 semester. We appreciate your responses and will use this in our discussions about Fall 2020.

The survey link is here: https://soka.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0HUzzDL5xaBncrj

Can you please provide your response before Wednesday, May 6? Thanks very much for your help.

Best wishes,

Bryan Penprase
Dean of Faculty, SUA

This message was sent to all students by Dean of Students Hyon Moon on April 13, encouraging students to get support and make use of the Student Affairs staff to help students cope with difficulties.

Dear students,

It’s been two weeks since you have left the campus and I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are staying healthy and well.  I understand that the adjustment to this new normal has been very challenging.  I have learned that many of you have encountered difficulties in trying to find a new rhythm of studying, having to navigate time differences, finding a space where you can focus on learning, having to attend to your family matters all the while continuing to hear about the uncertainties of the spread of COVID-19 and its impact all around the world.  However, as Maya Angelou once said, “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”  Although we must endure the current crisis, let’s not lose hope and stay resilient as there will be an end.  In the meantime, all of us in Student Affairs are thinking creatively about how we can continue to reaffirm our connections and provide support to you virtually.  

Mentoring and Connecting

As a part of that effort, you will receive an e-mail shortly regarding the ‘SUA Nexus’ mentoring program from Michelle Hobby-Mears where those of you who are interested in the program, can receive virtual mentoring from a Student Affairs professional for the rest of this semester. 

Counseling Services

For those of you needing more personal mental health counseling, Anhthu Dang continues to be available for you.  Also, we’ve signed a contract with Ayana, an on-line counseling platform for individuals of marginalized communities, and are scheduled to go live this week.  Step-by-step instructions on how you can download the app and use the service is forthcoming.  Student Services will also provide a number of different resources and tips for self-care and well-being during this time.

Physical Exercise

If you are in need of some encouragement to get physically active, Athletics Department will continue to provide Yoga, Zumba, toning and fitness classes you can enjoy at home.  You can invite your family members to join in these classes as well.

Career Development

You can also reach out to the Career Development Office to get a jump start on your career planning process if you have not already done so.  In addition to individual career counseling, they are providing webinars on resume writing, interviewing skills, cover letter, and Career Development Weekly Podcast: Friday Five (on Spotify) and more.  

I want to remind you that Student Affairs is here and ready to provide the support you need.  If you have not already connected with us via  Soka Student Affairs Instagram account, please follow us to be informed and be reminded of the resources that are available to you.  To help you identify areas you may want to connect with, I have also attached Student Affairs org chart with e-mail addresses of all staff for your reference.  

Please know that I’m here to provide support as well, especially if you encounter unexpected challenges along the way.  As difficult as our circumstances may be, I hope that we can spread kindness to each other as we traverse this unparalleled crisis and be the light of hope for those around us. 

Wishing you and your loved one’s health and strength,

-Hyon


This message was sent on March 23, 2020 to all students letting them know of the extended P/NP deadline of May 1 because of the changes and disruption caused by our transition to online education.

Dear SUA students,

In response to concerns from both students and faculty about the disruptions caused by our transition to online instruction, and in consultation with the Academic Standards Committee and the Registrar, we will institute a late P/NP deadline of May 1 which will allow for students to decide on whether to take P/NP grades for their courses. All Spring 2020 P/NP courses would not count toward the limited total number of allowed P/NP courses for students.  The P/NP option would not apply to Capstone, but in special cases students can still petition the Academic Standards Committee for P/NP for capstones.  Students should send an email with the subject Pass/No Pass to registrar@soka.edu if they would like to change the grading basis of their courses to P/NP by May 1. Please email from your soka.edu email account and provide student id#, and the subject/catalog number of the courses you wish to change grade basis (ie: PSYCH100 or CORE200-03).  You can find this subject/catalog number information on your access of learn, on your student center view.  Please note that advisor and instructor consent is not required, however, as a courtesy, please inform your instructor of your change directly.
 
We are also allowing instructors the option to make certain of their courses P/NP at their discretion if they feel that in the new online environment, they cannot fully assess a course with a letter grade. Instructors will be asked to notify the Dean of Faculty and Registrar whether they plan to change the grading basis for their course to P/NP by April 15. Faculty should email with the subject Class Pass/No Pass to registrar@soka.edu and provide the subject/catalog number and title of the course(s) they wish to change to Pass/No Pass. Please do not just give just the title of the course (ie: PSYCH100 Introduction to Psychology).  This will allow us in two ways to verify that we are making changes to the correct course. 

Students should be aware that if they fail all classes and receive a “NP” in all of their classes, they may be subject to a withdrawal which may jeopardize their financial aid eligibility. Should you have any questions with regards to this, you may contact Financial Aid.  Also, please keep in mind that if you fail a class, the NP will also negatively affect your GPA as it is calculated the same as an “F” grade.
 
We hope these changes will allow for you to have more flexibility and options in pursuing your studies and that this flexibility in P/NP grading will help you to adjust to online instruction and in coping with the many other disruptions that everyone is going through in these difficult times. 

Best wishes,

Bryan Penprase 

Dean of Faculty, SUA 


These messages were sent to all students from the Dean of Faculty on March 13 and March 11, trying to help them understand how to cope and adapt to the online learning environment.

Dear SUA students,

We understand the enormous sadness and disappointment that this disruption is causing and we wanted to stress that faculty will be very supportive of you and your needs as we all face the challenge of moving our classes online. We are all learning how to make the best use of the online technologies to continue your classes with the best quality possible. I will ask our faculty should be sensitive to students who may need modified deadlines in courses, and to help students complete their studies with reasonable accommodations. This includes making class sessions available through video-recording and online discussions for students who are outside of the North American timezones. Your instructors should be contacting you soon with more information about how your online courses will work. 

To support our seniors, we will be extending the Capstone Deadline from its current deadline of April 24 to May 15, which is as late as we can go in order to compile the grades for graduating seniors. This should allow seniors more time to get settled and to have more time to complete their capstone projects. I will also ask capstone mentors to allow students time to get settled (until after March 27) before any deadlines for capstone drafts will be due. 
If any students do not have internet access at their home, we will work with IT to help students with this issue. If you have a need for help with internet, please email a request to me at bpenprase@soka.edu and we will gather more information and work to cover the costs to get internet to be sure that you can continue your studies

Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding and we wish everyone the best in this difficult time. 

Best wishes,


Bryan


Dear SUA Students,

As Ed Feasel indicated earlier in the week in his email to the community, we are transitioning to an online teaching mode after Spring Break. Your courses will all resume after Spring Break and faculty will be holding class sessions using online technologies such as the Zoom videoconferencing platform.  This has been a difficult decision, but this decision was necessary to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus on campus, and to help preserve the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty. The online environment will require some adjustments for all, but the faculty and IT are working hard together to bring to many of these online classes a high quality and interactive experience that will enable your education to continue without interruption. The Zoom sessions should occur at your regularly scheduled class times, and faculty will also be having some materials available online in other formats.  Zoom has been integrated within our Brightspace course sites, so you will be able to easily log in to the system and fully participate in the class via videoconference.

We recommend that the Zoom microphone be muted within a class unless you are asking a question or talking to reduce ambient noise. The IT staff have also prepared a manual for students in how to use the Zoom platform within Brightspace. This manual is available here:
https://soka.box.com/s/y8a22h25zmp24uhory3zzcuujiuh6idy

Our IT group is available to help students in any way if you have technical issues or questions. Please do contact the IT helpdesk at (949) 480-4357 with any questions about how to use these programs. The IT team is committed to helping you as we all learn with these new online technologies.  

Best wishes, 

Bryan Penprase

Dean of Faculty


This message was sent by the Dean of Students Hyon Moon on March 11, 2020:

Dear Students,

As EVP Ed Feasel communicated in his e-mail yesterday, with health and safety of our community first and foremost in our minds, we are taking steps to proactively reduce the possibility of the spread of COVID-19.  With classes being cancelled for the rest of this week and spring break to come, you may have various plans.  Although we are strongly recommending that, if at all possible, you avoid non-essential travel, I understand that some of you have made plans well in advance and plan to move forward with your plans.  

As I asked in yesterday’s e-mail, if you plan on traveling, please send me an e-mail with the country(s) you will be visiting, date of your departure and date of return to campus.

If you travel outside the United States, and

You should plan to be in self-isolation for a minimum of fourteen (14) days upon return to campus. Students who isolate upon return should email HealthCenter@soka.edu and include dates and location of travel, any large group activities (concert, festival, etc.) you may have attended.  If any symptoms of illness are present, you will be asked to provide a contact phone number (cell phone or room phone), and a Health Care Provider from the Health Center will monitor students in isolation and determine next steps.

If you travel outside the United States but the CDC Risk Level is 2 or lowerand the level does not rise or you travel within the United States, Please check-in with the Health Center upon your return to campus.  Students may email HealthCenter@soka.edu and include dates and location of travel, any large group activities (concert, festival, etc.) you may have attended.  If any symptoms of illness are present upon return, a Health Care Provider from the Health Center will determine the next steps based on the information shared.

If you plan to remain on campus during Spring Break, please emailHealthCenter@soka.edu between March 16-20 regarding any concerns, symptoms, or illness. A Health Care Provider will respond, as needed.

Some of you have also asked about commencement and we understand the need to have confirmation for the purpose of your family’s travel plan.  We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make a decision based on the status by early April.

As we work together to proactively minimize the potential infections on our campus, I strongly encourage all students to practice social distancing and postpone any student sponsored events.  All events sponsored by areas within Student Affairs, including all athletics travel, are now postponed to a later date after April 3.  Each area will communicate the new date of the event as they are confirmed. 

Although we are postponing our events at this time, all of our offices remain open as usual and be available to provide support.  I understand that there’s anxiety around the rapid changes and uncertainty of the spread of COVID-19.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns or questions regarding the current situation or need any support.

Thank you very much.

-Hyon