A Message to CAPLA Alumni and Friends from the Dean in Response to COVID-19

March 21, 2020

Dear Friend,

These last few weeks have been challenging for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We hope that you are safe and healthy now and far into the future.

I want to share the measures we are taking at the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture to keep our students, faculty, staff and broader community safe and engaged as we continue the important work of our college—teaching, research, service and student support. This is a long list, which demonstrates I think the seriousness with which we are handling the situation as well as our dedication to the CAPLA community.

CAPLA Buildings Closed and Courses Moved Online

We have closed all CAPLA facilities completely to students and the public, and our faculty and staff are working remotely from home until further notice. Our IT staff particularly have done yeoman’s work to ensure students have the access they need to hardware, software and online learning while our faculty transition to teaching all courses, including studios, virtually—a University of Arizona mandate. Classes resumed online on Wednesday, March 18, and we are pleased to report that our faculty and students remain remarkably resilient and upbeat in light of these challenges. Please know that we are absolutely committed to ensuring an enriching, interactive learning experience online just as we always have in-person.

Student Survey, Resources Web Page and FAQs

Last week we launched a survey to gauge CAPLA student needs and concerns, even before classes began, for immediate triage where necessary and to provide a holistic college-wide response—resulting in the CAPLA Student Coronavirus Information, Resources and FAQs web page, which is updated daily.

Regular Messaging to Faculty and Students

We send an email to students and faculty each weekday evening with the latest relevant information. The student emails are archived on the CAPLA Student Coronavirus Information, Resources and FAQs web page referenced above.

Faculty Outreach to Students

CAPLA faculty continue to reach out to students to ensure they have the instructional, computer, software, emotional and other resources they need to succeed. For example, faculty are using polls to identify student needs within individual classes. Faculty are also forwarding student technical, financial, emotional and other concerns and needs so advisors may follow up with individual students.

Faculty Supporting Faculty

As soon as it was announced that all University of Arizona courses would move fully online for the remainder of the semester, Ladd Keith, assistant professor of planning and sustainable built environments, and Kelly Cederberg, lecturer in landscape architecture, teamed up to provide training for other CAPLA faculty on how design studio courses may be transitioned online —not a simple transition considering studio courses involve both digital and physical design projects, iterative feedback from instructors and peers and critiques on final designs.

Faculty/Student Sharing of Apps and Online Resources via HeadSPACE Group

HeadSPACE is a CAPLA group that organizes time and space where students can collectively explore ways to de-stress and have fun. Normally this is done through a series of in-person events. Now the group, led by Valerie Lane, senior lecturer in architecture, has moved online via email communications—resulting in student-to-student suggestions for meditation, mental health and other apps and tips.

Event Cancellations

With event cancellations and restrictions put in place by the university and City of Tucson, we have also cancelled or postponed some very important events, including:

  • CAPLA Scholarship Reception originally scheduled for April 2 (cancelled, a virtual celebration is coming soon)
  • University Commencement and CAPLA Convocation originally scheduled for May 15 and 13, respectively (postponed to Homecoming, CAPLA will host a Virtual Convocation Showcase for graduating students)
  • University of Arizona Washington, D.C. grand opening, RESTRUCT panel and donor memorial tour originally scheduled for April 23 and 24 (postponed, new dates not yet set)
  • Summer study abroad program in Orvieto, Italy (cancelled)
  • Camp Architecture (cancelled)

Student Support

While these are trying times for all of us, our students are truly the hardest hit. Not only can they not return to campus to continue working in our studios, labs and classrooms, but their internships and jobs have been impacted—and in many cases lost. Many students who are paying their way through college have been laid off with business closures, and other hardships are impacting their ability to continue to pay for school and materials. If you would like to donate to support these students, the University of Arizona has established the Fuel the Response for Arizona Students fundraising campaign. Learn more and donate online at crowdfund.arizona.edu/fueltheresponse.

Thank you for all that you do for the college and the university.

Best wishes and health to you all, 

Nancy Pollock-Ellwand
Dean and Professor of Landscape Architecture
College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture
The University of Arizona