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Dean's Updates

October 26, 2020

Important Announcement: Spring 2021

Dear Student,

With the fall term in full swing, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible dedication of our students who are studying with us from across the world. In spite of time zone differences or other emerging obligations vying for your time, you continue to engage in your academics with earnestness. Alongside you, our faculty and staff are working tirelessly to provide a rich and engaging online learning experience. While we are currently not able to be together in person, we are a community that has forged ahead in the midst of unprecedented circumstances. I commend you for your dedication to excellence and resilience.

As many of you may know, Pepperdine University continues to await specific guidance from the State of California and the Los Angeles and Orange County Departments of Public Health regarding our ability to hold classes on Pepperdine campuses in the spring term. At this time, Los Angeles County is classified in the “Widespread” or “Purple Tier” and Orange County is in the “Substantial” or “Red Tier” according to the State of California Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Consequently, depending on where your graduate campus is located, we are either precluded or substantially limited in our options to hold in-person classes and student gatherings on campus, and we do not currently have a clear understanding from local health agencies of when that may change.

As we look toward the upcoming spring 2021 term beginning on January 4, we recognize the importance of making a clear decision, where possible, on course modality now to help students, faculty, and staff plan appropriately. While we sincerely desire to bring our Graziadio community back together and return to face-to-face instruction, given the persisting uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the decision to continue with online course delivery for the majority of our programs in spring 2021. For select executive programs that do not require weekly/frequent class meetings, we are looking into offering in-person instruction that will adhere to health and safety guidelines set forth by county/state health officials. We should note that this is a Graziadio-level decision, informed by a careful assessment of the factors that are most salient for the business school community. It may not necessarily reflect the plans and arrangements being considered by the other schools at the University.

Global Business Intensives

In the same spirit, the required MSGB and MSRE GBIs in spring 2021 will be shifted to an online modality similar to the fall 2020 term. All other in-person, one-week Global Business Intensives (GBIs) scheduled for April 2021 will be suspended. Acknowledging the inherent difficulty in replicating an international trip online, we have curated a meaningful, highly interactive global experience thanks to tremendous creative efforts put forth by the GBI faculty and Global Programs Office. Students who recently participated in the virtual MSGB GBI course in August provided overwhelmingly positive feedback.

More information about the required April 2021 GBIs as well as a possible virtual GBI option for all Graziadio students will be forthcoming from the Global Programs Office.

International Students

We are cognizant of the impact the decision to remain online through spring 2021 has on our international students, particularly for those who wish to pursue Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion of the program. According to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, students need to study in the US for a minimum of two consecutive academic terms to be considered for OPT.

For those who are currently outside the US and enrolled in a campus-based, one-year MS program (MSRE, MSAF, MSBA and MSHR), we have created an option to extend the program to four terms in an effort to help you remain eligible for OPT. Students in the aforementioned programs who started in fall 2020 will have the opportunity to choose completing the program in three or four terms. Provided these students are able to enter the US to attend in-person classes in summer 2021, they will be eligible to apply for OPT based on their program completion in December 2021. I encourage you to connect with your academic advisor in the full-time program office to further discuss the details.

The Office of International Student Services (OISS) will provide more information and next steps for international students. Based on current guidance from ICE, international students who are currently in the US remain in legal immigration status and should not be impacted by the decision to offer an online course delivery mode. Students are encouraged to contact OISS with pertinent questions.

Academic Calendar

The spring academic calendar remains unchanged, starting on January 4, 2021, and ending on April 16, 2021. In the coming weeks, the online modality will be reflected in WaveNet, and information will be forthcoming from the relevant program offices regarding course registration.

More detailed information about the spring 2021 term is provided below.

Full-Time Programs

New students:

  • Online Pre-arrival Orientation will launch in mid-November.
  • Program-specific orientations with faculty and staff will be held in mid-December via Zoom.
  • The personal and leadership development workshops will be offered virtually during the week of January 4.

All full-time program students:

Academic courses will be offered online starting Monday, January 11 and ending Friday, April 16.

Part-Time/Online Programs

BSM (On-campus/Online), MBAJ, and FEMBA

New students:

  • Program-specific orientations with faculty and staff will be held in mid-December via Zoom.
  • The personal and leadership development workshops will be offered virtually starting Friday, January 8.

All part-time program students:

Academic courses will be offered online starting Saturday, January 9 and ending Friday, April 16.

Online Graduate Programs (MBA, MSML, MSHR, and MSBA)

No changes will be made to our online graduate program offerings.

Executive Programs

We are working towards conducting in-person class sessions for the PKE and MSOD programs that rely on a face-to-face experience. As we solidify the details, we will ensure the integrity of the program and academic experience is upheld and guided by public health officials and county/state guidelines. More information will be communicated to you by the program chair/academic director.

EMBA and DBA programs will remain online for spring 2021. Because of the periodic nature of class meetings for these programs, should the situation with the pandemic shift in allowing us to offer some sessions in-person, we will work with the program chair/academic director to thoughtfully evaluate our options and provide appropriate advance notice. Rest assured we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our community in our decision making.

Looking Ahead

I am remarkably proud of all our students, faculty, and staff for their unwavering commitment and resilience shown throughout the past year. I strongly believe that our community is truly capable of endless possibilities, regardless of circumstance or obstacles, and look forward to welcoming everyone back on campus when we are permitted to do so. I am excited for the future of our school and everything we have yet to accomplish together as Best for the World Leaders.

With warm regards,

Deryck J. van Rensburg




July 23, 2020

Fall 2020 Campus Update: Dean Deryck van Rensburg Announces Graziadio Business School Will Adopt Online Courses

Dear Student,

In light of the president’s announcement regarding the University’s plans for the Fall 2020 academic term, the Graziadio Business School will adopt a predominantly online course delivery mode. For most of our programs, courses will be taught in the virtual environment, leveraging various instructional technology tools like our online learning management system (LMS), Zoom real-time video-conferencing, and asynchronous (self-paced) learning activities. In a select few programs, specifically those that do not involve weekly class meetings, we will aim to utilize a combination of virtual and in-person meetings. These adaptations are necessitated by the persisting conditions associated with the pandemic and reflect our chief priority on the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. 

Below is a summary of our Fall ’20 modified plans by program type:

Courses in the full-time MBA and MS programs, and part-time programs, including BSM, FEMBA, and EMBA will be offered fully online for the entirety of the fall term.

  • There will be no changes in the online programs (BSM, MBA, and MS programs).
  • Due to the less frequent nature of class sessions in the PKE, DBA, and MSOD programs, we are exploring the possibility of conducting some in-person meetings during the term. Locations outside L.A. County will be explored when it is safe to do so. The final determinations will, of course, be made with consideration to public health guidelines and local/state level directives. Decisions will be communicated to you by the relevant program office.
  • Please note that our fall academic calendar and term dates remain unchanged. The fall term will begin on August 31 and will end on December 11, with some introductory activities taking place prior to August 31 for new students. In the coming weeks, the modified course delivery modes will be updated in WaveNet, but they will not impact the actual days/times of your class sessions. If you have already been enrolled in Fall ’20 courses, no further action is needed on your part. Should you have further questions about your course schedule, please contact your academic advisor.

The Office of International Student Services (OISS) will be sending detailed communication outlining guidance and next steps for international students. Based on the latest information from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, international students who are currently in the US may remain and should not be affected by the decision to offer a predominantly online course delivery mode. When synchronous attendance is a course requirement, faculty will provide reasonable considerations for students facing significant time zone constraints. International students can be confident that the University and the Graziadio Business School will actively support their ability to remain in full compliance with all visa requirements. Students are encouraged to remain in close contact with the OISS as the fall term progresses.

While the shift to a mostly online learning experience may not have been what many of you had initially anticipated, we are prepared and committed to providing you with a high-quality and engaging learning experience. Our faculty have had a great deal of experience teaching online since 2013 and have developed superb methodologies for creating a strong community of professional connections and robust learning across our curriculum. Graziadio's premium academic experience arises from its small class sizes, outstanding faculty, and robust support services irrespective of delivery mode. In fact, our commitment to providing each student a premier educational experience during the pandemic has required additional institutional investment far beyond any normal academic year.

The past several months have brought tremendous uncertainty and unpredictability to all facets of our lives. They have also inspired creativity, ingenuity, resilience, and flexibility among our faculty and staff to continue to provide rich and meaningful learning experiences in the context of our new reality. While our learning modality has shifted, we remain steadfast in our mission of developing Best for the World Leaders. We stand ready to welcome you to the new academic term and look forward to a fruitful journey together!

With warm regards,

Deryck J. van Rensburg