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Message from the SOC Dean About Fall 2020 Operating Status

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Dear SOC Students,  
I hope that you and your families are staying safe and well despite the challenges of the present moment. By now you should have received a message from President Burwell announcing that American University's fall undergraduate and graduate courses, including those at the School of Communication, will be conducted almost entirely online, with no residential experience.   
While I continue to look forward to being together on campus, nothing is more important to me than your health and safety. I appreciate President Burwell's sound and informed decision, necessitated by the indisputable COVID-19 conditions in our country. Some of these factors include the rise in national case count, the strain on national testing capacity, and DC's recent decision to require a two-week quarantine for those coming from states identified as hot spots. In this time of social and economic stress, I also appreciate that our university is providing an AU Community Care Fall Discount equivalent to 10% of fall tuition, is waiving some specific fees, and has already raised financial aid this year by $13 million.   
Fortunately, as a School of Communication, much of our field is already digital. As the media changemakers of the future, you already spend much of your time in virtual environments. We already know how to work, teach, produce, research, live, protest, create, innovate and bring about change through virtual platforms and, as such, this semester is a moment of opportunity for all of us – like the communication industry itself - to push the boundaries of what is possible in the digital world.  
Please know that our award-winning and internationally acclaimed faculty members – Oscar winners, Pulitzer Prize awardees, MacArthur genius recipients, and top-selling authors and renowned professionals - are committed to the highest quality education as well as helping you to make lasting and productive connections with media changemakers in our industry. Your professors will be reaching out to you very soon to connect about classes and foreshadow some of the virtual experiences coming this fall. Beyond courses, SOC will of course offer students the opportunity to hear from and interact with top professionals and world-class speakers from across the media spectrum: journalists, scholars, filmmakers, activists, and industry leaders in a range of virtual events.  
Our SOC team will be in touch with additional information, such as about some limited fall access to equipment, studios and laboratories, as well as upcoming orientations and welcome events. As always, please reach out with questions as they arise.  
2020 is shaping up to be a challenging year in so many ways. On behalf of the faculty and staff of the School of Communication, allow me to express that we are heartbroken to not be able to see you in person this fall. But 2020 – and your fall semester - is also a front row to history and an opportunity to thrive in a historic moment of politics, pandemic and protests that may never again converge. Knowing so many of you, I am confident that you will rise to this generational challenge and come out stronger and more influential than the generations before you. I am proud to be associated with you. I will truly look forward to when I can see you on campus!  
With warmest wishes,
Laura DeNardis
Interim Dean of the School of Communication