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Pepperdine University

Spring 2021 Semester Plans

January 8, 2021

I hope the holiday season and celebration of a new year has proven restorative for you and your families. As I have shared before, I was continually encouraged by our students' perseverance and dedication in the face of challenge, uncertainty, and loss during 2020. I am grateful for your continued trust and faith in Pepperdine University. Please know that President Gash, University leadership, and I continue to place you at the heart of every decision we make. We join you in longing for a return to our campuses and the normalcy and joy being together will provide. As you continue preparations for the spring semester, please allow me to share Seaver College's finalized plans.

Spring 2021 Instructional Format

In the December 15 Seaver College Town Hall, I shared a brief summary of current COVID-19 conditions in Los Angeles County. Our prayers were that conditions would dramatically improve so we could safely begin welcoming students back to campus in February 2021. Near the Christmas holiday, ICU capacity in Southern California dropped below zero percent, and, into the new year, conditions have either remained at that level or worsened. State and local public health officials are seeing the signs of another Christmas/New Year's wave of COVID-19 infections and expect conditions to remain challenging well into February. L.A. County remains in the "widespread," or purple, tier of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which required the extension of the region's Safer at Home order through January.

Given these circumstances, we have a high degree of confidence that the University will not be permitted to restore campus operations or to resume in-person instruction in Malibu in time for the start of the spring semester on February 8. Accordingly, to protect the health and safety of the community and to comply with all state and local regulatory guidelines, Seaver College will begin the spring 2021 semester using online instruction. As discussed below, however, we do plan to welcome back to campus students who wish to return later in the semester if we are later permitted to do so.

In this online environment, Seaver College faculty and staff will continue to provide programming and support, both academic and non-academic, to enhance the student educational experience and equip students with whatever they may need to be successful throughout the semester. University leadership remains in regular conversations with L.A. County Public Health officials regarding the possibility of resuming some or all on-campus activities during the spring semester. As shared by President Gash in the December Town Hall, it remains our goal to return students to the Malibu campus as soon as it is safe and we have been granted the regulatory approval to do so.

Spring Semester Course/Registration Details

At the start of the spring semester and while we are precluded from resuming in-person instruction, all courses will continue to be delivered online using the Online Variable (OV) delivery format. As in the fall semester, accommodations will be provided for students facing significant time-zone differences. No action is required by students to change their course registration or course schedule to OV formats. Students are able to make other adjustments to their schedule, without fee or financial penalty, through February 12, 2021, when the Add/Drop period closes.

Future Spring Semester Return-To-Campus Updates

To aid your ability to plan during the spring semester, we will announce updates regarding the ability of students to return to campus on the following dates:

Announcement Date Last Day Of Classes Before
the Transition Period
First Day of Classes After
the Transition Period
2/8/2021 2/24/2021 3/1/2021
3/1/2021 3/17/2021 3/22/2021
3/22/2021 4/7/2021 4/12/2021
4/12/2021 4/28/2021 5/3/2021

The first column (Announcement Date) indicates the specific dates throughout the semester when the college will provide updates regarding the ability of students to return and reside on the Malibu campus, as well as the dates defining the beginning and end of the return-to-campus transition period. For example, if Seaver is granted permission anytime between today and February 8 to allow students to reside on the Malibu campus, all classes will be delivered online through February 24. Students will then be provided a four-day window (February 25–28) with no class meetings to transition to Malibu before classes resume on March 1. We are hopeful that a period of at least three weeks between an announcement and students returning to campus provides sufficient notice and opportunity for all necessary arrangements. Further, we hope that certainty regarding the dates of all future decisions concerning the spring semester gives you peace of mind.

A few key points to keep in mind as you process details related to a possible mid-semester return-to-campus.

  1. Should Seaver College be granted approval to have students reside on campus, each student may choose whether or not they wish to return to campus. Stated differently, at no time in the spring semester will students be required to return to the Malibu campus.
  2. Until students can return to residing on the Malibu campus in the spring semester, all Seaver College classes will be delivered online using the Online Variable (OV) delivery format.
  3. If Pepperdine is permitted to have students return and reside on campus, Seaver will provide a detailed update regarding the delivery modality for all spring 2021 classes for the remainder of the semester.
  4. In the event of a return to campus, use of our newly implemented classroom-based instructional technology will allow all students to continue their uninterrupted enrollment in spring semester classes regardless of their decision to return—or not return—to campus.
  5. If a return to campus proves viable, students and families will receive additional information from the University and college about their options and the return-to-campus process. The Office of Housing and Residence Life will be in communication with all students regarding on-campus housing availability and options.
  6. If conditions improve to allow the resumption of a limited number of on-campus activities (e.g., faculty-mentored research; use of the art studios, music practice rooms, or other specialized learning spaces; access to Payson Library; use of campus outdoor spaces and network for classes; or other similar activities), but not the resumption of student residential living, we will inform students immediately and provide all necessary details.

Students and families may rest assured that Pepperdine continues to vigorously advocate for the return of students to the Malibu campus and that we have exhaustive plans in place to transition quickly while simultaneously safeguarding the health and safety of all community members.

International Students

Presently, immigration and travel restrictions will make it challenging or impossible for most international students to travel to the US mid-semester, should students be allowed to return to campus. International students already residing in the US will likely be able to move into on-campus accommodations and/or attend some or all of their face-to-face or hybrid classes in person, but they should consult with the Office of International Student Services on their particular situation. International students currently residing outside of the US (or those who will be residing outside of the US at the potential point of transition) should consult with their designated school official on their particular eligibility before making any travel arrangements.

Academic Calendar

The academic calendar remains unchanged from previous announcements. However, as announced in the Seaver College Town Hall, thanks to the advocacy and collaboration with Student Government Association (SGA) leaders, classes will not be held on Good Friday, April 2, 2021, and Easter Monday, April 5, 2021, to allow students a four-day spring recess. You may review the Seaver College Academic Calendar for more details.

Summer Sessions and International Programs

At this time, it is too early to make decisions regarding the college's summer 2021 sessions in either Malibu or at our international campuses. Students and families may anticipate an initial update on these programs in early to mid-March.


To keep you fully informed and further enhance communication with students and families, we will utilize numerous communication channels throughout 2021.

  1. We will continue to communicate all major announcements via email to students and parents.
  2. We will use the Navigate Student Success platform to provide weekly announcements and updates to all students. If you have not already done so, students are strongly encouraged to download the Navigate mobile app to receive regular messages and updates on their mobile device.
  3. In the event of all major updates, students will receive text messages on their cell phones alerting them to check their email to review the announcement.
  4. We will continue to coordinate and collaborate with SGA to distribute updates and announcements using all SGA communication streams, including their social media channels on Instagram and Facebook. I commend SGA president Chase Johnson and the executive board for their willingness to partner with the University and for their tireless efforts to provide current information to students.
  5. Vice president for student affairs Connie Horton and I are planning to hold one or two Seaver College Student Town Halls in the spring semester to receive your feedback, listen to your concerns, and answer any questions. Details regarding the date(s) and time(s) of the Town Hall(s) will be provided in the future.


I hope this information is helpful as you continue to prepare for the spring semester. Seaver College and Pepperdine University leadership will continue to update you as more information becomes available. For those enrolled in the January session, I hope your classes are off to a great start. Regardless of whether you are currently enrolled or extending your holiday break until February, I continue to pray for your health, safety, and well-being. I eagerly look forward to the day when we are reunited on campus.

Happy new year!