Message from the Provost

March 19, 2020

Dear Cadets,

As Admiral McDonald noted in his letter yesterday, we are facing an unprecedented national health crisis, which has caused disruption across all sectors of our society. Academia is, unfortunately, no exception. We have moved all courses to online delivery beginning March 23rd. The President will re-evaluate that decision on April 3rd. 

As we transition into this new learning modality, please know and consider:

  1. Online learning is different. Some of you will prefer this delivery method and be comfortable operating in a virtual space with your professors. Others will feel more challenged by losing the daily, in-person interaction with faculty. Keep in mind that you will not have a professor providing a verbal reminder of coming-due assignments nor can you stay after class for a few minutes to ask about a concept you didn't understand in class. But, you DO have ability for online chats, e-mail, and Google meet. Like never before, you must own your own learning and engage with your professors. They want to help you. For more information on online learning, please see: 
  2. Online delivery methods will vary. Your professors have been working feverishly over this last week to transition to online delivery. I am resoundingly impressed by their creativity and dedication - and enthusiastic about the results for our courses. We have science professors designing dry labs, business professors creating blended courses that rely on both Blackboard and video streaming, and faculty from licensed majors rethinking courses and STCW assessments. Invest in trying to understand each of your professors' approach. Do you need to be available for a livestream engagement at your regularly scheduled class time? Or, is your professor offering the class in an asynchronous style which allows you to engage class material when you choose? Make sure you understand your professors' expectations. If you don't, ask!
  3. Currently we are holding no in-person classes, labs, or student meetings on campus. While some professors may deliver a livestream lesson from one of our designated Lecture Capture Rooms (LCR) on campus, students are not permitted to attend courses in person to ensure our collective health and safety. In navigating this crisis, please know that Admiral McDonald has repeatedly emphasized his first goal, as protecting the health of our students, faculty, and staff - and by extension our families. We must support him in this effort. 
  4. The decision for no in-person engagement will be re-evaluated on 03 April. Please know that I am acutely aware of the value and need for direct professor/student engagement, not only to deliver our lab-heavy curriculum, but also because personal interactions matter. I have been communicating directly with Admiral McDonald throughout his decision-making process and will continue to do so. When it becomes safe to allow direct faculty.student engagement in small groups, I will notify you of that change. 
  5. I want the seniors to graduate on-time. I have asked our faculty to tailor their courses toward an on-time Commencement on June 20th. Where possible, faculty have reorganized lab-based courses to be lecture heavy in the early part of the semester with the optimistic goal of completing labs and in-person STCW assessments later this spring. Your Marine Transportation faculty, Marine Engineering faculty, STCW credentialing office, and I have partnered with the other State Maritime Academies to work with the Coast Guard on ways to ensure your on-time graduation. I will update you as I learn more. 
  6. My goal is minimal disruption to the underclass undergraduate program. Your faculty are working hard to be creative, rewrite syllabi, and revamp courses to keep the underclass on track to graduate. It may be that some lab components of online will be made up next fall, but please know that we will work with each of you to design a course plan that moves you toward a timely degree completion. 

Work hard, re-dedicate yourself to your studies, and communicate well and often. We will come through this challenge stronger, more cohesive, and more resilient. 

CAPT Brigid Pavilonis, Ph.D (USCG Ret.)
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
Massachusetts Maritime Academy