Signs of Rebirth as Spring Arrives

Spring is a time of renewal. And I am happy to report that after nearly a year of pandemic-related disruptions and changes, the spring 2021 semester has begun amid hopeful signs.

Dr. Christophe Pierre, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

After a delayed start, classes got underway February 1 with many of our graduating undergraduate seniors joining the groups of students who had previously been invited to campus. I am pleased that we can offer these students one more opportunity to be together before they graduate, and I wish them the best as they conclude their careers at Stevens.

I am also gratified to report that enrollment figures remain strong this semester. Whether they are interested in attending classes online or in-person, students are telling us that they value the opportunities that Stevens offers.

Undergraduate enrollment for the semester stands at over 3,634 as of this week, up by 146 from spring 2020. For the upcoming fall semester, applications reached a record rate, indicating that we are hopeful to continue our trend of strong freshman classes.

And despite our initial concerns about graduate enrollment, I am happy to say that we welcomed over 775 new graduate students this semester. This is over 300 more new students than last spring. In total, we have 3,610 graduate students enrolled as of this week — 89 more than in spring 2020. This success has been driven, in part, by an increase in part-time students and in StevensOnline. Our online programs have grown from 386 students in spring 2020 to 641 this semester, a phenomenal 66 percent increase.

Indeed, our online education efforts are paying off. Stevens Institute of Technology has also been named one of the top providers of online graduate programs in the state and nation in the rankings published last month by U.S. News & World Report.

I am glad that students are making the choice to press ahead with their education despite the pandemic. I truly believe that these students will be best positioned to take advantage of professional and other opportunities when conditions improve.

Moving Forward

Looking ahead to the coming months, Stevens plans to offer a hybrid, full summer 2021 semester option, beginning in May. This option, announced last week, will be open for new incoming graduate students, for those students who started their programs online and have not been able to begin on-campus studies, and for any interested continuing and returning graduate students. Amid the challenges brought on by the pandemic, I hope this is another opportunity for us — conditions permitting — to welcome new students to our campus this academic year so they do not need to further delay their in-person studies.

I am also pleased to announce that the 2021 Stevens Innovation Expo will feature a smaller, socially distanced, in-person component with attendance by reservation only. Although the main expo, featuring hundreds of exhibits, will take place virtually on Friday, April 30, we expect to present select projects in-person for a limited audience on Wednesday, April 28, health conditions permitting.

The Expo is a highlight of the Stevens undergraduate experience and an important showcase of Stevens undergraduate design, innovation and entrepreneurship. There will be specific guidelines to promote the health and safety of those involved in the in-person Expo; more information will be forthcoming.

I would also like to thank everyone who participated yesterday, virtually, in the latest installment in the Provost’s Lecture Series on Women in Leadership, featuring best-selling author Gretchen Rubin in a talk titled, “How to Be Happier, Healthier and More Productive in the Age of COVID-19.” Virtual events such as this one are an important part of our efforts to keep the Stevens community connected, and I was pleased to see that hundreds of you chose to spend some time with us!

Challenges Remain

These recent events and positive developments, along with the arrival of vaccines, offer hope. Yet I remind you that we continue to face considerable challenges due to the impact of the pandemic on the world, on higher education and on Stevens.

Many of our students remain away from campus and will receive their education completely online. This places a strain on our instructors and student services, and certainly on our students. I remain confident that we will continue to work together so we can deliver the high-quality education that Stevens is known for regardless of instructional modality.

Throughout the pandemic, Stevens has continued to promote campus and community health and safety while delivering a high-quality educational experience. Despite the optimistic signs that I noted, it is vital that every member of the Stevens community remain diligent about observing health and safety protocols and take precautions on and off campus so that we can continue to make progress toward a return to normal.

Workday Student: Arriving March 4

Finally, I am delighted about the imminent launch of Workday Student, scheduled to begin in stages starting next week, after years of extensive development and testing.

Workday Student, Stevens’ comprehensive new student information system, will replace several outdated legacy systems and streamline many of the tasks students, faculty and staff need to perform, including registration, advising, study planning, student finances and more.

Congratulations to the members of the Workday Student project team in the Office of the Provost, who have collaborated with partners across Stevens to bring this effort to fruition.

Best wishes for a successful spring semester.