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Campus Communications

This page contains important messages sent to the Chatham community regarding our fall plans and response to COVID-19. 

Dear Students,

As part of our efforts to protect against the spread of COVID-19, Chatham has trained a team of staff members to act as contact tracers in the event we have a positive case on campus.  Contact tracing is a process used to contact all individuals who have been within a 6 foot radius for more than 15 minutes of the positive case.  You can learn more about contact tracing on the fall planning website.

In order to contact students quickly and efficiently through contact tracing, we need every student to update their personal information on myPortal by no later than Sunday, August 23rd to make sure their cell phone number is listed in the system.  You may update other information, but please leave your address as your permanent residence (do not update to on campus address).

Please review the following information about the process of updating personal information. 

  • Students should login to the Chatham University online Student portal to update personal information. Type https://portal.chatham.edu , select the ‘Login’ dropdown and choose the option of ‘Student Portal Homepage’.
  • Put in your username and password and click ‘Sign In’. The same username and password that you use to login to the campus network and for checking email is also your login for myPortal. If you experience problems logging into myPortal please contact the Chatham University Helpdesk at 412-365-1112.
  • Go to My Profile > My Information:
    • Select the edit button on the address screen.
    • Select the address type / contact information you are changing from the upper left dropdown: Mobile Phone
    • Make the appropriate changes and click Save. 

For more detailed instructions, please refer to the attached document. It is imperative that Chatham has the correct phone number for all students in the system to ensure quick and effective contact tracing to keep our community safe. 

Be well,

Heather Black, EdD
Dean of Students

Kailin Nelson 
Contact Tracing Coordinator  

Dear Students,

Chatham is working diligently to open our campus for the Fall 2020 term in a safe and healthy way.  This fall will look different than ever before and it will take all of us – doing our part – to keep our community healthy.  Our efforts include adjusting residence hall occupancy and policies, decreasing classroom sizes to ensure physical distancing, increased cleaning protocols, and community-wide mandates such as requiring a mask. 

As part of these efforts, Chatham is strongly encouraging all students – commuters and residents - to self-isolate at home for 14-days prior to arriving on campus. 

This self-isolation is not a quarantine. Students are asked to limit your exposure to those who do not reside in your home environment.  We also ask that you be extra vigilant if having any friends and family good-bye gatherings: such events are now the #1 source of COVID spread in Allegheny County.  

Your at-home self-isolation should begin 14 days prior to the first day you will be physically on one of our campuses. This would begin 14 days prior to your move-in date (residents) or your first on-ground class (commuters).  For example, a commuter student who has an in-person class scheduled on Monday, August 24 should begin your at-home self-isolation on Monday, August 10. 

If you need to go out to a store or public area for errands, please engage in the following proactive behaviors: wear a mask, observe physical distancing (6 feet), and regularly wash or sanitize your hands. Please note, this does not apply to students who have already started classes, been living/working on campus this summer, or students who plan to be virtual in the fall. 

We understand the at-home self-isolation may create financial hardship for some of our employed students. If you cannot afford to stop your job two weeks early, we ask that you do all you can to observe all the behaviors that are part of the Cougars Care Commitment when working and avoid any other activities outside your home.  

Chatham is also requiring all community members to complete the Cougars Care Commitment and training to learn more about our community expectations for the fall.  Please be sure to complete your pledge by August 7th. We hope you understand that Chatham is doing this and all mitigation efforts to promote a healthy and safe start to the academic year. It will truly take all of us to be able to live, learn, and engage on our campus. 

Be sure to review the email from Academic Affairs sent yesterday regarding the class formats and student class options. More information can be found on the Academic section of the Chatham Fall website. 

Be safe and well.

Heather Black, EdD
Dean of Students 

Dear Students,   

As part of Chatham’s ongoing Fall 2020 planning, Chatham has been working to provide additional virtual and online course options for students (living both on-campus or off) for the fall academic term.   

While it is not possible to offer virtual or online formats for every course at Chatham, numerous changes have been made to provide a variety of courses in the different delivery options for students. These options are available to any student enrolled this fall including those uncomfortable with returning to campus for medical or any personal reason.    

Reviewing & Making Changes to Schedules    

To begin the process, students should first review their Fall 2020 schedule in the Student Portal. On the Portal and Course Schedule, there is information labeled Delivery and Classroom Space, which will identify the format of the class. There are three format options:  

  • Classroom 
  • Online 
  • Virtual (noted as Delivery = Online with the classroom space listed as Virtual)    

Students should review their schedules to understand any changes to the Delivery format of their registered courses. Additional descriptions on the delivery formats are provided below.   

If a student is registered for Classroom-based courses and does not feel comfortable attending class in-person, they should search the Course Schedule for courses listed as an Online or Virtual format. The student can then register for these courses through the Student Portal.    

In addition to Chatham’s courses, undergraduate students can explore additional online course offerings through our participation in OCICU. Students should work with their advisor to determine course equivalencies and substitutions as needed. Students should read all of the information on the OCICU page to understand the requirements of the online, asynchronous learning environment. Most OCICU courses are 3 credits and are 8 weeks in length.   

If a student is unable to determine appropriate online or virtual alternatives for currently scheduled courses, they should complete this request form as soon as possible to work with their advisor, Department Chair or Program Director to adjust their schedule for the fall.   

Students should follow the usual process for changes to their schedule through the Student Portal from now through the add/drop period on September 1, 2020.  

IMPORTANT NOTE: When making any schedule changes, students need to ensure they maintain the appropriate credit load for the fall semester or their financial aid will be impacted. If you have any questions about your credit load and financial aid, please contact the financial aid department at FinancialAid@chatham.edu.   

The following is a summary of what students can expect within the different delivery formats:  

Delivery - Classroom  

In this mode, face-to-face instruction occurs in classrooms or labs. Students will be required to attend physical classroom/lab sessions during the semester. These will appear on the schedule with assigned days and times and an assigned room. The Delivery will be Classroom on the schedule.  

Many courses may employ flipped learning strategies. Faculty may choose a “hybrid” form of Classroom Delivery where only portions of the class meet on a given day (for example, Group A on Tuesdays, Group B on Thursdays, or Group A for two weeks in lab, then two weeks online, etc.). Any such arrangements are handled by the faculty and posted on the syllabus in the LMS, but not the course schedule. Supplemental instructional material and activities will be included in the LMS.   

Students should plan to report to class for classroom listings unless instructed by faculty member. Be sure to check email frequently the week before classes.  

Delivery - Virtual 

These classes are delivered on scheduled days and times but instruction is delivered via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or another appropriate synchronous classroom platform. Students and faculty engage in the synchronous classroom remotely, from campus dorms, other campus spaces, or at home. These appear in the schedule as Online Delivery, with indicated days and times, but with the classroom space listed as Virtual. This delivery format may be preferable for many students as opposed to an Online Delivery (below). There may be some variations in required student participation in synchronous classes but minimum requirements will be clearly listed in the syllabus.   

Delivery - Online  

These classes are delivered online, in a traditional asynchronous mode. The Day/Time is listed as TBD and the delivery is Online. There is no requirement for campus attendance (with some exceptions for required residencies in fully online programs). These courses may have some required synchronous participation, but it is limited and accounts for students in varying time zones, etc. Online courses offered by Chatham are generally asynchronous and may be in 7.5-week formats. Be certain to pay close attention to the start and end dates of courses in the course schedule.   

Campus Housing Considerations 

Chatham University will continue to provide on-campus housing accommodations to students who register for 12 credits or more, whether they are held in-person or online. Students who transition to a completely virtual or online class format will have the ability to remain in on-campus housing unless they decide otherwise.   

Any student interested in canceling their housing should complete the Housing Cancellation Request Form before checking into on-campus housing during student move-in.  Your account will be updated and the housing reservation fee will be credited to your fall tuition.  

Medical Academic Accommodations
If you need academic adjustments for the fall due to medically-related issues, complete the alternative academic adjustments form no later than noon on Friday, August 14.  

All requests will be reviewed by a committee coordinated by the Office of Academic and Accessibility Resources (OAAR), and a decision will be communicated to the student via email. Appropriate faculty and administrators will be notified by OAAR of the nature of the approved academic adjustments. All decisions are final. Even with adjustments, not every class may be available via distance learning, and substitutions may be necessary. Adjustments may not be possible in the case of cohort programs.   


A recap of this email and other other important academic information is on our Fall 2020 Website at the What to Expect > Academics web page. Please visit this page to review this information in detail.   

After reviewing this information, if you have additional questions or need assistance, please contact your academic advisor or AcademicAffairs@chatham.edu for guidance.  



Dr. Jenna Templeton                                  

Vice President of Academic Affairs                                        


Dr. Lisa Lambert  

Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Learning and Professor of Biology 

Dear Residents, 

As we prepare for your return to campus this Fall, Chatham will be implementing a variety of policies and protocols to promote physical (social) distancing and proactive strategies to support students choosing to live on-campus. While there is no way for any organization, including Chatham, to guarantee that students won’t be exposed to contagious viruses like COVID-19, we are confident that we are taking the best steps to mitigate risks within our residential communities.

We’ve identified several new policies and changes that are now outlined in the Residence Life Terms and Conditions. We believe residents should review prior to returning to Chatham University for the Fall 2020 term and we will be having residents sign the document during the check-in process. Please know that these may shift as the summer and fall progress, but we affirm it is important that residents know what to expect as they move onto campus. 

  • Adhere to all move-in policies and restrictions, which includes only bringing one (1) vehicle and two (2) individuals to assist with the move-in process. New and transfer students were emailed their assigned move-in date and time slot by mid-July. Returning students were emailed to sign-up for a move-in date and time slot.
  • Guest privileges are suspended until further notice. Resident students are not permitted to host off-campus guests (including family and friends) in their room, apartment, or building. Additionally, resident students can only visit other residents live within the same building or tower. Example: A resident that lives on Fickes 1st Floor cannot have a guest from Dilworth. However, they can host a resident from Fickes 2nd Floor.
  • Upper Campus Residence Halls have new communal bathroom occupancy limits. These occupancy limits are clearly posted on each bathroom door and residents are expected to adhere to the occupancy limits established to the best of their ability.
  • Lounges and community spaces in the residence halls and Chatham Apartments may be closed or have occupancy restrictions imposed. Residents must adhere to lounge/community spaces closures and any posted occupancy restrictions at all times.
  • Adhere to occupancy restrictions for residence hall rooms and apartments, as indicated in the Terms and Conditions of Residency Addendum 2020-2021. Residents are limited to the number of residents/students who can be in a room and are only permitted to have visitors who reside in the same building or tower.
  • Face masks must be worn in all public spaces. This includes residence hall and apartment stairwells, hallways, laundry rooms, community kitchens, lounges/community spaces, and communal bathrooms. Masks must be worn outside when 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. Masks will not be required when you are inside your residence hall room or apartment.
  • Submit to daily health screenings at designated locations on-campus and follow any guidance or instructions they receive due to these screenings. Daily health screens include temperature and symptoms check.
  • Complete a Resident Safety Plan Form by July 31, 2020 that outlines individual plans in the event of contact with, or exposure to, COVID-19. The safety plan requires residents to determine an emergency relocation plan if they are required to move off-campus due to the closure of campus housing. Students who don’t have a safety plan will not be permitted to move-in.
  • Attend your residence hall opening meeting to participate and complete COVID-19 safety training and any additional trainings or meetings that are announced.
  • Complete the Cougars Care Commitment by Friday, August 7, to acknowledge your understanding of university policies and procedures. Students should refer to the email they received on Wednesday, July 22, for more information about the Cougars Care initiate.
  • Adhere to all signage posted regarding COVID-19 mitigation and social distancing requirements and recommendations.
  • Quarantine and complete COVID-19 testing if you are exposed to COVID-19 while residing in on-campus housing. Any resident notified must self-isolate/quarantine and are required to comply with all instructions provided by the University.
  • Self-isolate in either your room or in an assigned location, as instructed by Health Services or Residence Life, and follow all instructions provided.
  • Comply and adhere to the Terms and Conditions of Residency Addendum 2020-2021 and all other Chatham University policies. Residents found in violation of any Chatham University policies will be subject to disciplinary action.  

Throughout this coming year, you may be asked to self-isolate or quarantine for a variety of reasons, including suspected exposure. By moving on-campus, you agree to follow all policies and instructions provided by Chatham University to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19. Chatham is committed to accommodate you through classes and may request you move to a different space should the need to self-isolate occur. Our policies for self-isolation will be uploaded by July 31, 2020 and students will be emailed so they can review these documents. We encourage every resident to review them to fully understand the commitment to living on-campus.

We will continue to communicate with you throughout the summer to provide updates and welcome you to campus in August! Please visit www.chatham.edu/fall2020 to learn more about our reopening plans and consider attending and registering for the Residence Life & Living on Campus Webinar being held on Wednesday, July 29th, at noon. If you have any questions, please email reslife@chatham.edu. 


Shawn A. McQuillan
Director of Residence Life        

Our entire Chatham community must come together in Fall 2020 to uplift and protect each other.  Cougars Care is an initiative to provide support, resources, videos, and training for our ongoing collective effort towards a safe and successful Fall term.  It will take all of us, caring for one another and doing our part, to keep our community healthy.

We are asking every community members – student, faculty, and staff – to take a moment to review the video and Training Presentation available on the Cougars Care website. The training is a self-paced power point where you will learn about Chatham efforts and community expectations.  Following the completion of the website, all community members should complete the Cougars Care Commitment to acknowledge your understanding and commitment to help keep our community safe by Friday, August 7th.  Please use the individual link below to complete your commitment.

We appreciate your continued commitment and patience as we navigate and plan for Fall 2020. Please visit the Fall 2020 Campus Plan website to learn more and submit your questions and feedback.


Employee & Student Health Working Group

Follow this link to the Cougars Care Commitment :
Take the Survey

Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:

Dear Students,

Like so many of us this summer, I often begin my day with a sense of uncertainty and apprehension as I await the latest news and updates on the Coronavirus pandemic locally and around the world. While it is disheartening to see the sharp rise in cases nationally and continued loss of life, there are also signs of progress and optimism on the horizon, including:

Treatments for those who require hospitalization have improved greatly; vaccine trials are proceeding with encouraging early and rapid results (Note: UPMC is seeking to recruit 750 people in the Pittsburgh area to take part in a Phase III vaccine trial if you are interested); thankfully, cases continue to be mild for the vast majority of those infected, particularly those under 25; physical distancing, daily monitoring, and masks are proving effective at reducing the spread; and Allegheny County has made smart and targeted enforcement efforts to reduce the factors—bars, travel to hot spots, and not wearing a mask—that contact tracing showed were causing recent case spikes locally (helping us so far avoid the fate of hot spots in other parts of the country).

International Student Update
I was also very pleased at this week’s announcement by the Department of Homeland Security to reverse the new rules it had issued which would have meant all international students needed to leave the U.S. if we are forced to return to virtual instruction this Fall due to the pandemic.  Like many colleges and universities across the U.S., Chatham joined the Amicus Brief filed by Harvard and MIT that led to this change in policy and will permit international students, as occurred this Spring, to remain on campus if we do need to change our mode of course delivery.

Planning & Website Update
While I am pleased to see these positive developments, we must also continue to be fully aware of the challenges ahead of us as we proceed with our plans for the return to campus this fall. Plans that are being guided by our goals to:

  • protect community health;
  • provide a quality academic and personalized education experience; and
  • prepare our community to adapt and change based on the results of things within (and out of) our control. 

With this in mind, we have made a major update to our Fall 2020 Planning Site at www.chatham.edu/fall2020. The updates are in response to questions and feedback we’ve received since our initial planning document was shared last month and the ongoing planning by the Working Groups.

You will find more detail on “What to Expect on Campus” by topic, including the latest information on health and safety protocols, testing and contact tracing, move-in and orientation, and more. You will also find information on our Cougars Care Program, and the Cougars Care Commitment we are asking everyone to make in order to help protect the health of our community. Please visit the site to review.

Upcoming Informational Webinars
The site also provides information and registration for upcoming Fall 2020 Informational Webinars for Students and Families on a variety of topics. The webinars kick-off with a Fall Return-to-Campus Overview Update that I will present on Friday, July 24th at Noon. Please visit the site to view and register for the upcoming webinars. Be sure to check back as more are added over the coming weeks, and don’t hesitate to submit additional questions you may have.

Lastly, I continue to participate in regular calls with the other Pittsburgh University Presidents, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Association for Independent College and Universities of Pennsylvania, the City of Pittsburgh, and the Allegheny County Health Department. I greatly value these discussions as they help guide and inform our efforts at Chatham, and for how they showcase the spirit of collaboration and helpfulness present across our region.

These discussions (and the planning work we are doing on campus) also remind me that what we are planning for this fall will not always be easy, that it will definitely be different, and that our ability to succeed will depend on doing it together. 

I hope you are having as good a summer as possible during this pandemic, and I look forward to speaking with you on Friday, the 24th.



Chatham alumna Rachel Carson ’29 showed wisdom and foresight in raising our understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things on our planet, as displayed most acutely today with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The popular rallying cry during these times—“We’re all in this together”—underscores Carson’s thesis. 

If anyone still doubts that “we’re all in this together,” who among us has not been impacted by the coronavirus? Who among us does not know of someone who contracted the coronavirus or lost their job, either permanently or temporarily? Who among us doesn’t know what it’s like to not be able to do things we once took for granted? 

In the wake of the pandemic, I believe even more strongly that “we are all in this together.” I also believe more strongly than ever in the vital importance of the following:

  • Chatham’s Mission, with its focus on building a healthy planet and healthy people, and its commitment to preparing leaders who will solve the big problems and challenges of today and tomorrow (and a pandemic certainly qualifies as one);
  • Chatham’s work in our surrounding communities and the continued importance—indeed, urgency—of helping improve the quality of life in them, and
  • The value of being physically present on campus.

Although Chatham’s campuses are second to none in beauty and uniqueness, my yearning to be back on campus is not simply a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. Great value comes from being physically on campus—interacting and exchanging ideas with other people in the classroom, residence hall, dining hall, and athletic field; bouncing ideas off other people in the lab or in the library; or just hanging out on the quad with friends on a beautiful spring afternoon. These experiences are what most of us remember most fondly from our experiences as undergraduate or graduate students—even more than brick and mortar and idyllic campus settings. And for good reason: these are some of the time-tested ways that students learn and grow intellectually and personally. 

We’ve also learned a great deal more about COVID-19 since we were required to shut down our campuses in March. We now know that the data is showing that the coronavirus poses lower risk to individuals 25 and under, but that we all need to do our part to help protect those most at risk (the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, preexisting conditions or respiratory issues). And importantly, we’ve also learned much more about effective mitigation strategies that all of us can use to help reduce the spread of the virus. 

All of these factors are why Chatham is committed to joining the vast majority of our national and local peers who are planning to reopen their campuses in the Fall, now that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and our local governmental authorities have given us all the “green light” and guidance on how to reopen. That said, our return to campus is directed by our ability to mitigate risk to the extent humanly possible to ensure the health and safety of the entire Chatham community—students, faculty, staff and visitors.

The purpose of this Planning for Reopening Chatham” document and website is to describe our strategies for being back on campus, safely. It is not a task for anyone of us to shoulder alone, but each of us—student, faculty member, administrator and staff member—will need to do our part if it is to succeed. After all, we are all in this together. 

I look forward to welcoming you all back to campus in the fall. Until then, wishing you and your families the very best for the summer.

David Finegold