Fall semester likely to start on time, Concordia provost says

Concordia University Texas will likely start its fall 2020 semester on time, Provost Kristi Kirk said. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Concordia University Texas will likely start its fall 2020 semester on time, Provost Kristi Kirk said. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Concordia University Texas will likely start its fall 2020 semester on time, Provost Kristi Kirk said. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Six weeks ago, Concordia University Texas in Northwest Austin announced it was effectively closing its campus for the remainder of its semester, opting to send students home following spring break and to resume classes online.

University officials have now said the school is on track to open on time for its fall semester. How the campus will look at that time, however, remains to be seen.

“We have no intention to not offer any classes or any majors or reduce our offerings,'' said Kristi Kirk, provost and executive vice president of Concordia.

Kirk told Community Impact Newspaper the university continues to operate on the academic calendar it has had planned for the fall 2020 semester. According to that calendar, the first day of class at Concordia is scheduled for Aug. 24. Kirk said the university has a week of orientation activities planned for new students the week prior.

Approximately 2,500 students enroll for classes at Concordia each year, Kirk said. A little more than half of those students are enrolled either in fully online classes or in hybrid classes where course work is completed both in person and online.

If Concordia is forced to temporarily close its campus as a precaution over spreading the coronavirus, Kirk said the university is well positioned to transition its student population to online classes, similar to what it was forced to do at the end of the spring semester.

“Our biggest [class size] runs about 40 students. What about a scenario where 40 students can’t be in the same class at the same time? ... We’re examining all scenarios,” Kirk said. “Concordia is really well-suited for this kind of environment, in the sense [that] we have a long history of online programming.”

Currently, all of the university’s summer classes, which are typically offered as online-only courses regardless, have eradicated all in-person instruction and moved wholly online.

The provost continued that the university has no intentions of pushing back the start date for its academic calendar. Once universities start compressing the amount of academic hours available in a semester, Kirk said, they run into accreditation issues.

“I would not anticipate a late start date,” Kirk said. “We would want to give our students the full semester, even if some of that is done virtually.”

Concordia’s athletic program calendars are under the purview of the American Southwest Conference, the athletic conference of which Concordia is a member Kirk said the school has been in contact with the conference on a weekly basis for updates about athletic schedules.

The American Southwest Conference’s schools compete in NCAA Division III. The NCAA released a three-phase plan May 1 outlining the steps necessary for resuming collegiate athletic play. The plan does not list a date or present a timeline for resuming collegiate athletic competition.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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