July 01, 2020

Returning to ArtCenter Fall 2020

Dear ArtCenter Community,

I am writing with excitement regarding our plans for the Fall 2020 term. I want to begin by thanking students for their perseverance during this unprecedented time. I also wish to offer my gratitude to the dedicated team of Chairs, faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly on the many complex details involved in planning a partial reopening of our campus and simultaneous online course offerings. 

Please note that in-person student participation this Fall is not a requirement in any form on either of our Pasadena campuses (including taking in-person classes). Students will be able to take a full-time online course load, if they choose.  Each student will need to determine, individually, the extent to which coming to campus is advisable. We urge everyone to carefully consider their decision in consultation with trusted individuals -- parents, spouses, partners, roommates, health providers, et al. We know these decisions must take into account several factors. In all cases, ArtCenter will be available to help you in your choice.

Here is our plan to date.

Program Summary

  • We will offer up to 200 classes on campus this Fall term, concentrated on those courses that involve access to facilities. These classes will be identified during department meetings with your Chair in the coming weeks. Students will have the option to choose a Fall semester course load that includes being present on campus.
  • We will also offer a complete array of Fall classes online. These classes will be identified during Fall registration. Students will have the option to choose a course load that does not require being on or near the campus at all. (Chairs and faculty will continue to offer several innovative courses and to leverage the flexibility of online platforms to engage acclaimed guest artists and designers from around the world.)
  • We will provide controlled campus access to students for use of shops, equipment, labs and other making resources outside the classroom.
  • We will continue offering a service bureau model for students to request and pick up orders from the shops, copy center, student store and other on-campus resources.
  • We will offer cross-departmental and peer-to-peer engagement opportunities to bring students together in outdoor spaces on campus and in an online environment.
  • We will establish ArtCenter Community Hubs internationally and domestically to facilitate learning and engagement opportunities in-person, whenever local public health authorities permit such activities.
  • Students should be aware that all administrative offices will be closed one day every two weeks beginning July 1st at least through December 31st. The schedule of office closures is available on Inside ArtCenter. Please plan any student-related administrative activities involving departments such as Enrollment Services, Financial Aid and Human Resources (HR) with these closures in mind.
  • There will be no events for external audiences on either Hillside or South Campus during the Fall term.

Please note: Students who wish to take advantage of any on-campus classes during the Fall term must arrive in Southern California no later than August 28, 2020, to allow for the required 14-day quarantine period before the start of term.

Financial Accommodations

  • We will continue offering one-time, need-based tuition reduction grants for qualifying students who enroll full-time in the Fall 2020 term and, this semester, for graduating students on “lite term” as well. We have allocated an additional $5M of institutional funds for this purpose (exclusively for the Fall 2020 term). Students will be able to apply for these grants through the Financial Aid Office (details forthcoming from Financial Aid on the process).
  • ArtCenter will reduce the $355 Universal Access Fee for all students to $175 for the Fall term
  • The Economic Response Team (ERT) is available to review requests for assistance and will continue to provide support for students experiencing food or housing insecurity. Students are reminded to contact the ERT directly at ERT@artcenter.edu.
  • Equipment loans will be made available for those in need. In addition, students will be able to apply for a need-based technology grant administered through the Financial Aid Office (details forthcoming from Financial Aid on this process).
  • The Financial Aid and Human Resources departments will coordinate notifications for student employment opportunities so that students can continue to apply to work remotely, or in safe, controlled, approved ways on campus.


  • On campus presence of faculty and administrative and support staff will be limited to those who are essential for teaching in-person classes or supporting students using the facilities.
  • Most administrative offices will continue to primarily operate remotely; individual faculty and staff members will have options for requesting limited access to work on campus or for picking up necessary items.
  • Staff will be advised by their supervisors or the Human Resources department as to whether they will continue to work remotely or begin a schedule with limited campus access.
  • Any staff or faculty member not able to come on campus (or uncomfortable doing so), should discuss alternate plans with their supervisor, Chair or consult with HR if they wish to make a request for reasonable accommodation.

Safety and Compliance

Although we are confident in our plans and fully intend to resume in-person options in the Fall term, the reopening of the campus, even partially, is still dependent on approval from local public health authorities. In the event that we are required to close campus during the term due to state, county or city health mandates, the Chairs, faculty and staff will work to ensure a smooth transition, once again, to remote teaching and distance learning for all classes.

Finally, the Facilities and Campus Planning Department has enacted a detailed plan that implements health and safety protocols in all spaces across the full footprint of both campuses. We will offer a specific training program to ensure strict adherence to these protocols; the training will be required for all students, faculty, and staff who are approved for in-person access to the campuses. We will also create clear reductions in density and capacity in enclosed spaces, follow physical distancing requirements, implement required use of face coverings, establish appropriate hygiene protocol, and follow other measures of best practice recommended by the health authorities. The success of our plan will require the full participation of the community and the commitment of each individual to comply with safety standards in an act of responsibility to themselves and to the larger whole.

We know you will have many questions. We ask that you speak directly with your Chair, supervisor or HR for further information. They are the individuals best suited to address your questions or to find the answers for you.

We look forward to making an exciting, meaningful and robust Fall term with you.

Lorne M. Buchman
ArtCenter College of Design

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