Dear Colgate Students,

We write today with additional details regarding instruction and campus operations in the fall. While our goal will always be to pursue a residential learning experience that has served Colgate so well throughout our history, we also recognize the need for flexibility as we think about how we will safely provide the best education possible for our students. 

Summer Research

We remain committed to supporting faculty and student research, both of which enrich our students’ learning experiences. Approximately 200 Colgate students conduct summer research on campus each year, and the University invests about $850,000 to support this important work, with a mixture of direct funding from Colgate, corporate or foundation grants, individual donors, and faculty research grants. This summer, moving to an online mode of summer research will allow nearly 70% of our student researchers to undertake their previously planned projects. 

Summer Transfer Credit Opportunities

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Academic Affairs Board approved that currently enrolled Colgate students may take up to two online courses during the summer of 2020 without those courses counting toward the online course limit. For the summer of 2020 only, those courses can come from any institution from which Colgate has previously accepted summer transfer credit (a list 252 approved institutions is available from the Office of the Registrar). Other transfer course credit limitations apply, however.

Fall Academic Plan

Regardless of the mode of instruction, the semester will begin as planned on August 27 and will conclude on December 11, with an exam week to follow. It remains our hope that the beginning of the fall semester will mark a return to the classic Colgate model of education with students and professors coming together in a residential environment. However, this decision will depend on several factors, including recommendations from the State of New York, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Madison County Department of Health. Colgate will announce whether courses will begin remotely or in person no later than June 30.

Two Discrete Grading Periods

We need to be prepared for the possibility that illness or immuno-compromised health may impede the ability of some students and professors to be present in the classroom (or in online classroom sessions) or to carry out their responsibilities as teachers and learners for extended periods of time. To minimize the effects of such disruptions, courses will be structured so that there are two grading periods: grading period A (August–October) and grading period B (October–December).

Each of the two periods will have similar demands in terms of workload, structures of evaluation, final assessments, and the like. This format will allow greater flexibility as we move forward and could offer multiple scenarios for tailoring instruction to best adhere to federal and state guidelines for gatherings and social distancing. Colgate has earmarked an additional $500,000 in endowed funds for the coming year to support new technologies, innovative instruction techniques, and other academic support during this transitional period. 

Additional Instructional Periods

As President Casey mentioned in his email sent to you earlier today, the first two weeks of January will become an instructional period, if necessary, providing students an opportunity to reclaim elements of the fall semester that might have been lost due to COVID-19. Colgate will also add to its calendar a June term. Students who encountered COVID-19-related setbacks in the previous year will be able to take a single course in an intense block system. There will not be tuition fees for these two instructional periods, but any courses taken will offer the credit they would normally carry during a normal full semester. Some of those courses might be offered remotely. In this way, students who encounter setbacks during the regular semesters can continue working toward their graduation requirements.

Illness Policy and Classroom Management

When classes are once again conducted in person on campus, students and faculty showing symptoms of any illness will be asked to stay home. The University will build in capacity for remote instruction from all its instructional spaces so those not in the classroom will be able to continue to engage with the course. In addition, classrooms will be assigned with social distancing guidelines, while new classroom cleaning protocols will be adopted.

Housing Selection

Many students have already selected their housing for the fall semester, and those housing placements have not changed. There are a few remaining housing selection processes for returning students, however: the InterCommons Transfer application and housing lotteries for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have not yet selected on-campus housing. The InterCommons transfer application will open May 11 and close Monday, May 18, at noon. 

The housing lotteries will take place in June following course registration. Students who are currently enrolled in off-campus study approved programs and those who no longer plan to study abroad in the fall will have the opportunity to select housing with their peers in the housing lottery and should do so even if their approved program has not yet been canceled. This will ensure that all students will have on-campus housing this fall. We remain committed to Colgate’s residential education and the strengths of our residential communities both in the Residential Commons and within upperclass housing for juniors and seniors. Get additional details about the housing selection processes.

Course Registration

Fall course offerings will post on May 22. Registration for returning students will take place June 1–3. In advance of registration, students should contact their academic advisers to plan their fall course selections. 

Summary of Important Dates

  • Course Offerings Posted: May 22
  • Registration for Returning Students: June 1–3
  • Housing Lottery: June 8–12 (rising sophomores); June 15–19 (rising juniors and seniors)
  • Fall Mode of Instruction Announcement: June 30
  • Fall Semester: August 27–December 11
  • January Flex Period: January 4–15
  • Spring Semester: January 18–April 30
  • June Term: June 9–30

Study Groups

We seek to provide to all of our students the possibility to pursue those opportunities that are hallmarks of a Colgate experience. Students whose 2020 fall study abroad experiences were cancelled due to COVID-19 will be offered the opportunity to study abroad in spring 2021.


Colgate athletics is committed to the health and safety of all of our student-athletes and is monitoring national public-health recommendations related to sporting events in collaboration with the NCAA, ECAC, the Patriot League, and Colgate Student Health Services. Decisions about fall sports will be shared in coordination with the University’s announcement of plans for the fall on or before June 30. 

Since our last email to you on April 9, you have remained committed to your academic priorities under incredibly challenging circumstances. You have taken advantage of online student services and participated in programs remotely, while also finding ways to stay connected with each other at a distance. We admire your ability to adapt and remain positive during uncertain times. As you head into these summer months, please know that all of us, faculty and staff, will continue planning for the fall semester with you in mind, for the commitments you have made this semester serve as an inspiration for all of us. 


Tracey E. Hucks ’87, MA’90
Provost and Dean of the Faculty
James A. Storing Professor of Religion and Africana and Latin American Studies

Paul J. McLoughlin II, PhD
Vice President and Dean of the College