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Welcome to the Fall Quarter from the Dean of Students

Dear Students:

Welcome to (and back to for most of you) the 2020-21 academic year at PAU.  In times like no other in modern history, we are so grateful that you have continued your education as part of the PAU community.

Things are definitely different than many of us expected this fall.  We are still limited, due to the pandemic and the public health orders of Santa Clara County, in who we can have on our campuses.  As I write this, only essential personnel are allowed on campus.  Whether you were already a fully online student, in one of our hybrid programs, or studying remotely while enrolled in a residential program, you are sure to feel this impact.  Please know that faculty and staff have been working hard all summer to make necessary accommodations and support available, including:   

  • Increased training around online teaching for faculty and TA’s;
  • Emergency financial support for students who have been impacted by the pandemic, and now forest fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters;
  • Increased support for students who are having difficulties accessing the internet to study;
  • Additional mental health support;
  • A sustained effort to build community through online engagement.

As soon as we are allowed to have students and PAU community members at our facilities, we will do so, with the proper safety protocols and limits set by the county. Our Facilities team has been working all summer to ensure best practices are implemented during the pandemic.  We are committed to your safety.  As a reminder, no students, faculty, or staff will be required to be in person during the pandemic (and at least through the spring quarter).  Basically, your comfort level will dictate your return this year.  This is our commitment to you.

We also know racial and social justice issues are rightfully in the spotlight after a year of continued violence and harm to many of our BIPOC community members.  Additionally, natural disasters seem to be never-ending this year.  Any one of these stressors on their own would be difficult to navigate, when they are compounded, they start to feel overwhelming.  But, we are a resilient community.  We will overcome this together.

While learning, research, and training might look a little different than expected, we will continue to listen to our community about their needs and respond accordingly.  I wish you good health-both physical and mental health.  My hope is that we are graceful with ourselves and those in our lives.  Please reach out for support as needed.  If you are not sure where to start, you can start with me at, and we can go from there.

Again, welcome to the fall quarter.  We are so happy that you are part of the PAU community.

Thom Shepard, M.Ed.

Dean of Students

Palo Alto University-Allen Calvin Campus