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Seaver College Spring 2021 | May 12 Update

May 12, 2021

The finish line for the spring 2021 semester is in sight! Only two days of classes and final exams remain before the Seaver College community can enjoy a respite from the demands of a historically challenging academic year. For some, the break will be a few days or a week and for others, it will be longer. Whatever the duration, I encourage each person—student, faculty, or staff—to take time during the break to rest and engage in self-care.

Before providing the updates you seek, I would be remiss if I did not extend special comments to two groups of students.

  • To the Class of 2021 graduates, congratulations! The Pepperdine community is proud of you and we look forward to celebrating your accomplishments next Saturday.
  • To all newly matriculated students who will begin their Pepperdine studies in August, welcome! We are thrilled that you have chosen to become a part of the Pepperdine family.

COVID-19 Conditions

Since my April 12 communication, COVID-19 infection rates have continued to decline in Los Angeles County. Currently, L.A. County has an adjusted case rate of 1.4 new cases per 100,000 residents and a seven-day average test positivity rate of 0.7 percent. Vaccination progress remains high with over 41 percent of all L.A. County residents aged 16 or older fully vaccinated, while 58 percent over the age of 16 have received their initial vaccine dose. As a consequence of these positive metrics, L.A. County moved to the "minimal," or yellow, tier of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy on May 4.

May 2021 Commencement Ceremonies

On April 26, Seaver College was thrilled to announce that the commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 will proceed as planned.

Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions enacted by the state and county, attendance at both ceremonies is ticketed and limited to graduates and two guests per graduate. Messages related to ticketing for each ceremony were distributed to graduates in both classes on Friday, May 7. Complete details regarding the commencement ceremonies may be found in my April 26 message and on the ceremony websites.

Vaccination Policy

In order to maximize the safety and well-being of the Pepperdine community while facilitating a return to on-campus teaching, learning, scholarship, and fellowship, an interdisciplinary committee composed of university leaders, faculty, staff, administrators, physicians, and health professionals has developed a draft vaccination policy. The draft policy recommends that COVID-19 vaccines be required for all members of the Pepperdine community, including students, faculty, and staff. If approved, this policy will go into effect only after any vaccine has been granted full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The draft policy will be effective beginning in the fall 2021 semester and will not be implemented for the 2021 summer sessions. Aligned with the University's existing immunization policy, the draft COVID-19 vaccination policy includes provisions for religious and medical exemptions.

At this time, it is important to understand that a final decision on Pepperdine's COVID-19 vaccination policy has not been made. The draft policy will be reviewed by the University community in the coming days and reconsidered following the review period. Pepperdine expects to communicate its formal COVID-19 vaccination policy no later than May 28.

Summer 2021 Sessions - International Programs

As announced previously, summer 2021 programs in London, Lausanne, Heidelberg, Florence, and Buenos Aires have been suspended for both the June and July summer sessions. The faculty-led program to Uganda in July 2021 also has been suspended. The Washington, DC internship program will operate as planned in summer 2021.

Summer 2021 Sessions - Malibu

During both the June and July summer sessions, Seaver College will deliver classes using one of two modalities, either in-person or online. Students are encouraged to register for classes in one or both sessions as soon as possible and to check the delivery modality when registering in WaveNet. Students are also permitted to live on-campus during the summer sessions. Students with questions concerning summer school enrollment should reach out to OneStop or their academic advisor.

Fall 2021 Semester - Malibu

Pepperdine University and Seaver College will deliver all fall semester classes in person on the Malibu campus while students reside in on-campus residence halls in both single- and double-occupancy rooms. It is our expectation that the fall semester at Seaver College will be enlivened by an overwhelmingly vaccinated group of students, faculty, and staff, who through their actions greatly enhance the safety of the University and its surrounding communities.

Fall 2021 Semester - International Programs

Pepperdine and the Office of International Programs (IP) continue to do everything possible to resume operations at all international program campuses for the fall 2021 semester and 2021–2022 academic year. We are encouraged by the changes occurring in L.A. County, the United States, and at our international campus sites. These changes, as announced in the April 12 update, have allowed us to resume internship and course programming at the Washington, DC campus in June. These positive steps forward increase our confidence that we will soon be able to reopen the remaining international program campuses and resume in-person classes at each location.

At the same time, to prepare for a range of possible future conditions at each international program campus, IP has developed a responsive scheduling model for the fall 2021 term. This enables us to remain nimble as conditions evolve. Details about this model will be shared with students during a series of orientation sessions in late May or early June. Students enrolled in fall 2021 or academic year 2021–2022 international programs will receive an invitation to these sessions in the near future.

As a reminder, the latest international program updates are always available on the COVID-19 FAQ website.

International Students

On April 27, the US government issued National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for the countries of Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa that are similar to the already existing NIEs for the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the countries of the Schengen area. Despite restrictions for travelers from these countries, the NIE eliminates the need for students with a valid F-1 visa and who are enrolled in an academic program that begins after August 1, 2021 to travel to another country for quarantine before traveling to the United States. The University has received reports that some "continuing" students are currently being prevented from boarding planes to the United States until August 1 and not more than 30 days before their term start date. For this reason, students are encouraged to contact their airline for confirmation in advance of travel. More information on this topic is available on the US State Department website.

International students arriving in the United States must abide by the regulations established by L.A. County, the State of California, and the CDC. Details on these regulations were provided in a recent update to international students by the Office of International Student Services (OISS). Students returning to the US should continue to monitor the CDC website to obtain the most recent travel guidelines.

Seaver College continues to plan for ways to support international students when they return to Pepperdine while also exploring numerous options to ensure continued enrollment if their return is delayed. As we obtain clarity on the ability of international students to enter the United States, we will provide additional details on these efforts in future updates or in messages from OISS.

On April 26, 2021, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided updated guidance for fall 2020 students, and no substantive changes were made. International students seeking information about eligibility, SEVIS statuses, and travel information should review the International Student FAQs on the Seaver College COVID-19 Updates website.

Hub for Spiritual Life

President Gash recently announced the creation of an exciting new enterprise at Pepperdine, the Hub for Spiritual Life, a reimagined approach to spiritual life and ministries at Seaver College. A critical part of this endeavor is the creation of a pilot program for Seaver 200, formerly known as the Convocation Series.

Beginning in the fall 2021 semester, first-year and sophomore residential students, including students who are participating in an international program, will be the first to experience the new Seaver 200 program as part of their spiritual life requirement. The program will be segmented into two distinct experiences: First-Year Foundation and Sophomore Faith in Action. The First-Year Foundation is designed specifically for first-year residential students and focuses on building a foundation of faith and community. Sophomore Faith in Action is a program for second-year residential and abroad students that focuses on putting faith into action.

Seaver 200 will be required for first-year and sophomore residential students, including students who are participating in an international program. Juniors and seniors will no longer be required to enroll in Seaver 200 but are encouraged to participate in the wide array of optional spiritual life programs offered by the Hub for Spiritual Life and affiliated partners.

For more information and answers to frequently asked questions please visit the Seaver 200 website.

Special Welcome for Current First-Year Students

We have exciting news for all students who entered Pepperdine in the 2020–2021 academic year (August 2020 or January/February 2021) and encourage you to save the dates of August 20 through August 26 on your calendars. The pandemic and its restrictions prevented you from having a traditional in-person new student experience during which you could get to know campus, experience fun traditions, and connect with your classmates. For this reason, the University is thrilled to welcome you to Malibu for a special welcoming program this August. Please stay tuned for more details, including program specifics, activities, registration costs, etc.

Newly matriculated students enrolling at Seaver College in fall 2021 will receive messages throughout the summer regarding the New Student Orientation programming that will occur from August 23 through 29. For more information about registering for orientation and important items to complete before arrival to campus, visit the new student website. We look forward to welcoming you to campus and the Waves community.

Housing

Housing and Residence Life emailed returning students regarding Malibu campus housing availability for summer sessions I and II on Monday, April 12. Campus housing for the June and July summer sessions remains available. Students may visit the Summer Housing website for more information about summer housing arrangements and rates.

In order to protect the health and well-being of our community, all unvaccinated students living in campus residential housing may be required to participate in contact tracing, surveillance testing, and quarantine or isolation processes. Depending on the outcome of these processes, students also may be subject to relocation. Failure to comply with University policy or directives may result in referral to Community Standards and affect students' ability to remain in residential housing.

The room sign-up process for the fall semester began on March 10 for returning students and will continue as long as space is available. Students with questions on the sign-up process or any housing-related matter may contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life (HRL) at housing@pepperdine.edu. Students are also encouraged to review frequently asked questions on the HRL website.

COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation

Pursuant to state and local guidelines fully vaccinated students will not be required to participate in quarantine processes. At this time, these students are also exempt from weekly surveillance testing. To ensure that Pepperdine is informed regarding your vaccination status, all students are required to update your vaccine records prior to moving onto campus.

To submit COVID-19 vaccine documentation, students should log in to their Patient Portal, select Immunizations, then select the appropriate COVID-19 Vaccine section (International versus US Authorized). Next select the type of COVID-19 vaccine you received and input your date(s) of immunization. Lastly, provide proof of the vaccination by selecting Upload and uploading a photo of your vaccine record under COVID-19 vaccine record.

Student Well-Being and National College Health Survey

Student well-being is critically important to Pepperdine. An accurate view of students' physical and mental health concerns is essential for service and program planning. For that reason, I encourage all students who received an invitation (2,000 were randomly selected) to participate in the National College Health Survey. To thank you for completing the survey, all respondents will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and be entered in a drawing for additional prizes. Check your email today for the survey reminder from National College Health Assessment with the subject line "Help inform Pepperdine and receive a $10 Amazon card!" The survey closes Friday, May 14.

Support Resources and Community Programming

Even though we are approaching the end of the spring semester, we know that many students continue to face challenges. For this reason, I want to continue to remind you that support for your academic success, as well as your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, remains available.

Please continue to utilize all University resources regardless of your current location. These include faculty office hours, Payson Library, the Student Success Center, the Career Center, OneStop, Academic Advising, the Student Care Team, the Hub for Spiritual Life, the Student Health Center, the Counseling Center, Intercultural Affairs, and the Pepperdine Volunteer Center. All of these offices, functions, and support services are open, eager, and ready to support students. I especially encourage you to take advantage of the coaching and support available through the RISE Program and spiritual life areas.

Future Communication

With this message, the college will transition from regularly scheduled and recurring updates to as-needed updates. Despite this change, the community may rest assured that we will continue to deliver important and relevant information throughout the summer. To do this, the college will use all available communication channels including email, the Navigate app, mobile text messaging, and information sharing in partnership with the Student Government Association.

Closing

I'll end where I began: the end of the spring semester is in sight! To our students, I am proud of the strength and resilience you have demonstrated throughout the year. With perseverance, effort, and sacrifice, you have accomplished remarkable things and prepared yourselves well for the challenges of life. Each of you should be proud of yourself; the Seaver and University communities are very proud of you.

To our faculty and staff, I'll simply say thank you and offer my sincere gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice you evidenced throughout the academic year. Your efforts have been inspirational and your accomplishments significant. It remains my greatest honor to call each of you colleagues.

In the coming days and when our thoughts transition to the fall semester, let's strive to make Pepperdine a shining example of a community united in our efforts to promote and ensure the safety and well-being of the University community. Let's remain diligent—wear a mask, practice social distancing, visit with friends and loved ones outdoors, and get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity regardless of policy.

I wish you the very best throughout the summer and will continue to pray for your health and happiness. May God continue to bless you. I look forward to greeting you on campus in August.