Update: how the COVID-19 Pandemic is impacting Transy

Photo by Gabby Crooks

Transylvania released an updated statement from the President’s Office on March 18 at approximately 3:02 p.m. EST via email that was sent out to the campus community. The updates listed in the email include the decisions to move all classes to remote delivery for the remainder of Winter Term and to make May Term classes available only to seniors who need them to graduate. Although there was no final word on the 2020 commencement ceremony, the update stated, “We are considering options for commencement, including postponement from Saturday, May 23, to a later date. Candidates who have completed all degree requirements, however, will receive their degree posted as of May 23, 2020, so they might progress to graduate or professional school or employment.” All of the updates outlined in detail can be found here on the University’s COVID-19 Response Updates page.

These updates have left many students with questions and concerns surrounding financial reimbursement, class registration, move-out procedures, and grading for the remainder of the term. The Rambler spoke to Dr. Michael Cairo who currently serves as the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the University about these concerns.

May Term

Yesterday’s message has left Transy underclassmen wondering about the fate of their May Term classes and how the lost credit will be made up next year.

Cairo said, “As Interim President Williams noted in his message on Wednesday, because May term classes are unique and provide highly interactive learning, offering them online is challenging. We have more than 100 seniors to accommodate with courses for this May term and so our focus right now is on getting them the credits they need to graduate.”

In regards to the current juniors who are concerned about potentially having to take five classes during one of the terms in the next academic year, Cairo said, “Our Pioneer Pledge guarantees graduation in four years, and we will honor this pledge to our students. If that means providing flexibility in 2020-2021 for our current juniors, that’s certainly something our incoming dean and vice president of academic affairs can consider once we have a better sense of the situation.”


According to yesterday’s email from the Presidents Office, all residential students are being asked to move out by Tuesday, March 24th (with the exception of those who received approval to stay until April 6) and for everyone (even approved students) to complete this form. The updates regarding move-out also stated, “Information for athletes and off-campus students who need to retrieve items such as musical instruments or other academic materials will be provided shortly.”

Class registration for Fall 2020

Cairo said, “We plan to conduct Fall 2020 registration from Monday, May 4-Friday, May 8.  We are currently working on a plan to facilitate advising between faculty and students.”


According to Penn State’s student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian, some schools such as Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University have begun to allow their students to “opt-in to pass/fail grading.” As for whether or not Transy will consider moving in a similar direction, Cairo said, “We are evaluating this option in consultation with the Faculty Concerns Committee and the Committee on Program and Curriculum, but no decision has been made. If we move in the direction of a Pass/Fail option, we will certainly consider allowing students to choose their grading option. We hope to have more guidance on this soon.”

Financial reimbursement

Student billing specialist, Kim Gibson-Pierce shed some light on the concerns about refunds. “It is Transylvania’s intent to deliver the full instructional content for the Winter 2020 term to all of our students. Accordingly, at this time, there is no plan to provide tuition refunds. We’re considering the impact of the current move to remote learning on student fees for housing and food service and will have additional details in the near future.”

As stated in the President’s updated message yesterday, “The impact of the change to remote learning on student fees for housing, food service and financial aid is under review, and we will have additional details in the near future. (There are no fees associated with May term, per the university catalog.).”

These changes will have a lasting impact on everyone, especially the class of 2020 as they transition to complete the remainder of the academic year beginning March 23rd and May Term on April 27th remotely to fulfill requirements needed to graduate on time.

We will continue to provide updates on the impact of COVID-19 as it relates to the Transy community. If you have any questions or concerns, please submit them to rambler@transy.edu.