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Seaver College Transitioning to Online Instruction for Fall 2020

July 22, 2020

As you have learned from President Gash, all Seaver College fall 2020 semester classes will be delivered through online/remote instruction. We continue to hope that the COVID-19 situation will improve and allow for a limited number of students to reside on the Malibu campus before the fall semester concludes. Pepperdine will continue to prepare for this possibility throughout the fall semester. In the remainder of this message, I will provide updated guidance on our decisions for the fall 2020 semester at Seaver College.

Before providing necessary nuts and bolts details, I want to acknowledge that my colleagues and I are fully aware that this is not the outcome the vast majority of you desired. Similarly, it is not the outcome we hoped to provide, but as indicated in President Gash's preceding announcement we must comply with the restrictive regulatory guidance expected from the State of California. There is no joy in sharing this news with you. For as long as this situation lasts, we will walk alongside each student sharing your frustration and sense of loss, while longing for a return that will allow you to have the Pepperdine experience you desire and expect.

This difficult decision is aligned with the five non-negotiable guiding principles for Pepperdine University decisions shared by President Gash during the early days of the pandemic. The decision also is necessary to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of the Pepperdine community by following L.A. County Public Health guidelines. While we had hoped to provide students with multiple options for delivery of their classes (as detailed in the college's July 9 message), the changing COVID-19 conditions throughout the spring and summer demanded that we also prepare for this eventuality. Consequently, we are ready and able to provide all students a high-quality, rigorous educational experience in every Seaver College course using remote instruction in the fall 2020 semester.

Prior to the decision requiring Seaver's transition to fully online delivery, 62 percent of fall semester classes were going to be delivered in an online or mixed format to support remote learning. All other classes were structured to quickly transition to remote learning, if necessary. Throughout the summer, faculty received additional training from the college's Center for Teaching Excellence in the preparation and delivery of online courses. As we readied for on-campus instruction in the fall semester, we reduced enrollment in many classes by adding additional faculty, and we will maintain these smaller class sizes in the online learning environment. I am confident that our planning and preparation will enable all students to have robust learning experiences while continuing successful progress toward degree completion.

Students and parents should understand that our online delivery modality does not change our mission. Seaver College will remain a Christ-centered, student-focused liberal arts college grounded in the student-faculty mentoring relationship. Beginning with our small class sizes and enhanced through office hours and other forms of extracurricular engagements, students will be able to form close mentoring relationships with faculty and staff throughout the fall semester. Additionally, the University's full suite of academic support resources will be fully available online to all students. These resources include the Payson Library, the Student Success Center, the Career Center, OneStop, Academic Advising, and all areas of Student Life, including, but not limited to, the Student Care Team, Hub for Spiritual Life, Student Health Center, Counseling Center, Intercultural Affairs, and Community Engagement and Service.

Instructional Format

All Seaver College classes will be delivered using online/remote instruction throughout the fall 2020 semester. In the fall semester, students may be required to attend classes synchronously (at the day[s] and time[s] indicated in the schedule of classes) at the discretion of the professor. When synchronous attendance is a course requirement, faculty will provide reasonable considerations for students facing significant time zone constraints (e.g., international students with major time differences relative to Malibu).

International Programs (IP)

Due to the transition to online instruction for the fall semester, Seaver College has suspended the operation of the fall 2020 Washington, DC program. With this decision, all international programs are suspended for the fall 2020 semester. Students enrolled in the Washington, DC program will receive updated guidance from the Office of International Programs in the next 24 hours, including information about completing your internship virtually and the availability of Global Fellows courses that are offered only in Washington, DC. In the interim, students may rest assured that Seaver College looks forward to resuming these valuable cultural learning opportunities in the spring 2021 semester.

Seaver College is committed to ensuring the continued progress toward degree completion for all students whose international program has been suspended. We will do this by providing course offerings that fulfill degree requirements in both general education and academic major programs for all IP students on the Malibu campus. Students currently enrolled in any of the suspended programs should prepare to register for online classes on July 27 by reviewing the course schedule and speaking with their academic advisor. Additional information will be provided in a forthcoming message from the IP office.

International Students

Last week, the Trump administration and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) withdrew the requirement necessitating all international students to enroll in a mixture of in-person and online courses if residing in the United States. For this reason, international students who are already in the US should not be affected by the University's decision to conduct the fall semester using online delivery of all courses. However, it is unlikely that new international students will be able to enter the US and continuing students currently outside the US may face issues returning. Presently, it remains unclear if a students' SEVIS record will remain active if they are enrolled in online courses at Seaver College while residing outside of the US. Updated guidance from ICE is anticipated in the coming days and will be posted from the Office of International Student Services (OISS).

International students can be confident that the University and college 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 semester progresses.

Academic Calendar

The fall 2020 semester academic calendar is unchanged from prior guidance. Classes begin on Monday, August 17 and conclude on Thursday, November 19. Final exams will be conducted on November 20, 21, 23, and 24. Please review the final exam schedule for details.

Presently, Seaver anticipates the spring 2021 semester beginning on February 8, proceeding without a spring break, ending on May 20, and concluding with the commencement ceremony on May 22. After Labor Day, Seaver College will provide an update as we finalize the spring 2021 academic calendar and our plans for all summer 2021 sessions.

Add/Drop and Registration

Returning students may make changes to their existing course schedule during the add/drop period according to the following schedule:

July 27, 8 AM–5 PM Students registered for a fall semester international program
July 28, 8 AM–Noon Athletes and debate students; returning graduate students
July 28, 1 PM–5 PM Seniors (more than 89 completed credit hours)
July 29, 8 AM–Noon Juniors (60–89 completed credit hours)
July 29, 1 PM–5 PM Sophomores (30–59 completed credit hours)
July 30, 8 AM–10 AM Continuing students (29 or fewer completed credit hours)

All courses will be delivered online in the fall 2020 semester eliminating the need for students to express a delivery modality preference. For this reason, Seaver College will return to its longstanding practice of registering all new first-time students in fall semester classes. Students will be assigned a First Year Seminar course based on their selections when registering for New Student Orientation (NSO). All remaining courses will be a combination of general education and academic major courses depending on each students' selected degree program. All new-first year students will have the opportunity to make changes to their course schedule near the conclusion of NSO and throughout the first week of classes.

New transfer students will meet with representatives from their academic division in early August or during NSO for advising and guidance on course registration.


In the fall 2020 semester, Seaver College's tuition is $28,875. The Student Government Association (SGA) Campus Life Fee will continue to support Inter-Club Council, SGA, Student Programming Board, Student Wellness Advisory Board, and other student groups during the fall semester. Students will continue to be employed by student organizations and online/remote events will be offered. The SGA Campus Life Fee has been reduced to $63. Where applicable, supplemental course fees will be reconsidered for all courses. In most but not all cases, course fees will be reduced or eliminated.

Pepperdine's commitment to providing each student a premier educational experience during the pandemic has required significant institutional investment beyond a normal academic year. The cost of delivering Seaver College's premium academic experience arises from its small class sizes, outstanding faculty, and robust support services. All of these factors are unchanged by the mode of course delivery. In the current semester, Seaver College has decreased average course enrollment and added faculty to provide all students a first-class education—one that fulfills the learning outcomes in each course and prepares students for success.

Seaver College and Pepperdine University recognize that many of our students and their families are facing financial hardships as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and are understandably concerned about tuition. We are also well aware that many students and families hold strong opinions on how online courses should be priced relative to traditional face-to-face classes. We respect those perspectives. At the same time, tuition at Seaver College is heavily subsidized by the University and the price of tuition does not cover the full cost of the education received. The tuition paid by all students, even those receiving no financial assistance, is discounted significantly relative to the University's actual cost through contributions from Pepperdine's endowment and its generous donors. The value of a Pepperdine University education, regardless of its mode of delivery, far exceeds the price of tuition. For these reasons, Seaver College's fall semester tuition remains unchanged.

Seaver College has a long history of caring for students and families who face financial hardship and we will continue to do so by providing additional financial resources to assist all students in fulfilling their goal of graduating from Pepperdine University. To support students and families during this unprecedented time, the University has an appeal process for those with documented special circumstances. For additional information or to submit an appeal for additional financial assistance toward tuition costs, please review the Special Circumstances page.

New January Winter Session

To provide additional educational benefit to our students, Seaver College will offer a special four-week intensive session in January 2021. This session will begin on January 4 and conclude on January 29. At this time, our plan is to offer only online courses during the January session; however, conditions permitting, we hope to offer some in-person classes, as well as study abroad, undergraduate research, internship, and other similar special programs. We will update students on January session offerings as our plans progress, likely by October 1.

In order to support all students and their families, a special pricing structure has been implemented for the January session. All students who enroll in flat-rate tuition in the fall semester will be able to enroll in a maximum of four (4) credit hours of classes at the rate of $250 per credit hour. This special pricing reflects a reduction of $6,240 or 86 percent for a four credit hour class relative to the college's current $1,810 per credit hour tuition rate. Due to the special January session pricing, additional institutional aid is unavailable, but students may qualify for federal and state aid. The college is hopeful that students use the January term to advance their academic success and accelerate their progress toward degree completion.


Due to the transition to fully online instruction, Pepperdine will cancel all fall housing contracts and room assignments. Further action from students is not required; the Housing Contract Terms and Conditions are annulled for the fall 2020 semester. Students are not required to pay the balance.

While we are not presently permitted to reopen our Malibu campus for normal residential life, we expect to receive permission soon to house students who demonstrate a compelling hardship which necessitates residing in on-campus housing this fall. Students who want to seek an exception to live on campus beginning in mid-August may do so by completing this form, beginning immediately. A rolling acceptance process will be used when considering exception applications for on-campus housing. Students are encouraged to apply promptly as space is limited. We expect to render housing decisions as soon as Monday, depending on the timing of Governor Newsom's guidance.

If you are permitted to live on campus, the Housing office will reactivate your fall housing contract. Students who choose to live on campus will receive a single room and will be charged the standard fall rates. There will be no additional charge for students placed in a traditional double occupancy room. All published rates will be prorated based on the residence hall or apartment type. As students consider the possibility of living on campus, please note that basic services will be provided, but there will be no large, on-campus gatherings or major events due to L.A. County Public Health guidance. Additionally, students will not be able to have guests in their room or building.

The housing arrangements detailed in the memorandum are for the fall 2020 semester only. Students can expect to receive a new room assignment for the spring 2021 semester. As such, students may be expected to relocate to a new housing type at the end of the fall semester (likely no later than November 25) in order to prepare for students returning to campus in the spring semester.
Seaver graduate students who have submitted the non-refundable prepayment for housing will receive a credit in this amount to their student account. The credit may be applied to existing or future balances. Alternatively, students may request a refund of a positive balance in their student account by contacting the Office of Student Accounts. Housing prepayments have not been removed from the accounts of returning Seaver students.

We anticipate the return to on-campus housing occupancy for the spring 2021 semester. However, as we have all seen, guidance may direct us to limit the numbers of students residing on campus. For this reason, Housing and Residence Life will provide updated information on spring 2021 semester on-campus housing in the next several weeks.

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance for all students is currently based on the estimated cost of attendance (COA) for living on or off campus. If students remain living at home during the fall 2020 semester, their actual costs will decrease significantly. Students can view the estimated COA here to compare the costs of living on/off campus versus at home with a parent. If students plan to utilize loans as part of their financial assistance while living at home, we strongly encourage them to borrow only what is absolutely necessary.

Student Health Insurance

Remote instruction may change students' need for Student Health Insurance. Please remember, all students will receive and be billed for Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) unless they complete the waiver process, indicating they have other insurance. Students covered under a US-based health insurance plan need to log onto the AHP Dashboard to waive this option if they do not plan to enroll in SHIP. The requirement for US-based health insurance does not apply to international students studying exclusively online in their home country.

Focusing on Excellence

Since March 11, the day we announced our decision to suspend operations on the Malibu campus, Pepperdine has maintained a singular focus - returning all students and resuming instruction on our Malibu and international program campuses. The decision to conduct all fall 2020 semester classes online is one we hoped to not make. And yet, through our disappointment, we can see that this decision appropriately balances our competing priorities which include, first and foremost, the need to protect the collective health and safety of our Pepperdine and surrounding communities, while enabling our students to continue their rigorous education.

It is remarkable how fast things change in the midst of a pandemic. A short time ago, it seemed certain that reopening campus for in-person instruction was a sound decision. And yet, despite the experience of world-renowned experts, their scientific and medical knowledge, and comprehensive forecasting and analytics, the transmission intensity and virulence of the coronavirus have been impossible to predict.

The pandemic has also required us to look beyond our goal and desire to resume in-person instruction and reflect deeply on our ethical responsibilities to both self and neighbor. It is evident that our actions are central to the containment of the virus. Consequently, we must balance our collective desires against the moral imperative to act justly and with mercy as we contribute to the global effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Pepperdine community is a resilient entity. Formed by its people—faculty, staff, administrators, regents, alumni, parents, friends, and, most importantly, each remarkable student—we are united in both mission and purpose. No matter where we reside or what future challenges COVID-19 brings the world, Seaver College will remain unified as we fulfill our mission of service to the world. And, until the day comes when we are together in Malibu, Pepperdine will remain steadfast in doing everything possible to provide each student an outstanding and distinctive college experience, one that prepares you for a future of purpose, service, and leadership.

Please continue to be well and stay safe. You remain in our prayers.