School of Architecture, Syracuse University
by Michael Speaks, Dean and Professor

March 20 to Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Dear students, faculty and staff:  

I am writing with updates on School of Architecture operations and guidance during this challenging period created by the COVID-19 health emergency. 

Following Chancellor Syverud’s announcement on Monday, March 16, that Syracuse University would not resume residential instruction this semester, and that all students in university housing should begin preparations to depart as soon as possible, the School of Architecture adjusted normal spring break hours and operations at Slocum Hall including the following: 

Beginning at noon on Tuesday, March 17, access to Slocum Hall was restricted to those with valid swipe card (SU I.D.). 

On Tuesday, March 17, the following facilities in Slocum Hall were closed until further notice: King & King Architecture Library; all shop facilities; computer labs and plot and print facilities. 

On Tuesday, March 17, faculty began preparations for online course delivery and most staff began working from home. 

 On Tuesday, March 17, The Dean’s Office and Student Services began operating with reduced staff. 

Going forward in Slocum Hall and Shaffer Art Building 

At the end of normal operating hours today, Friday, March 20, The Dean’s Office and Student Services will no longer be open in Slocum Hall but, like all School of Architecture offices, will remain open online. All staff will be working remotely and can be reached at their email addresses listed on the School of Architecture website. 

Slocum Hall will remain accessible by valid swipe card (SU I.D.) until 6pm Sunday, March 22. After that time, only faculty and staff using the building to assist in the delivery of online courses will have swipe card (SU I.D.). access to Slocum Hall. 

Students currently in Syracuse are encouraged to remove any valuables from their studio desks by 6pm Sunday, March 22. If you are unable to retrieve valuables or other items, including desk chairs, they will remain safely locked in studio and will be available for retrieval when Slocum Hall reopens. 

Online for students, faculty and staff 

Beginning Monday, March 23, and continuing until the end of the semester, all School of Architecture courses will be delivered online. 

Please follow email and other communications from the university as we will continue to receive updates from Chancellor Syverud and other university officials and offices.  

I will also be updating you with information and guidance for the School of Architecture community.

For general Syracuse University updates and information please continue to follow here: 

For School of Architecture updates and relevant information please continue to follow here: 

We are all challenged by the health emergency that has disrupted the lives of students, faculty and staff at our school, at Syracuse University, and across the world. I want to remind everyone to continue to follow the recommendations by the CDC and the WHO for safe and healthy practices including social distancing and hand washing. 

I also want to reassure everyone that we at the School of Architecture will do everything possible to continue to offer a world class educational, teaching and work experience, during and after this semester. We are challenged, but we have outstanding students, faculty and staff, and we will persevere. When the immediate health emergency passes—and it will—we will continue to build the great community and school that has been, is, and will continue to be, among the very best in the world. 

Take care, be safe and stay in touch. 

 Very best wishes, 



March 23 to Faculty:

Dear Faculty Colleagues: 

 I am writing now, at the conclusion of your first day delivering courses online, to thank you for the extraordinary effort you have made to prepare for this unprecedented teaching and learning challenge; and to congratulate you for getting to the end of this first day. 

 I know it was not easy and it will not be easy for some time. Indeed, we are likely to spend much of this week struggling with the Blackboard platform, with connectivity, with bandwidth, and with many of the pedestrian matters we face in the normal course of teaching—all while living our other lives at home. But I am certain that we will soon begin to move past these challenges and find new ways of teaching and new ways of learning. That is the promise of your genius as faculty and it is the promise and one of the enduring qualities of this great school that we all serve. 

 In addition to thanking you, I want to encourage you to free yourselves from the constraints of the syllabi you wrote at the beginning of this semester. Those syllabi were written for teaching in a different world than the one in which we all now teach. As we begin to live in this new world, I ask you to be forgiving with yourself, with your colleagues, and with your students. Please be flexible, generous and understanding—with yourself, with colleagues, and with students. You are all brilliant teachers, designers, writers, and thinkers. I know that you want to live up to your own standards and you want your students to live up to the standards you have set for them. And you will; and so, too, will your students. We will all arrive at that place of achievement, accomplishment and excellence that you and they deserve. But let’s find other ways to get there this semester. 

 I want to close by thanking you again for all that you are doing. We have a ways to go but we will travel and arrive there together. Please let us know how you are doing and please do stay in touch. 

Very sincerely yours, 



March 24 to Staff:

Dear Syracuse Architecture Staff Colleagues: 

 I am writing this morning in hopes that you are all well and working safely from home. Your health and safety were the primary consideration that led to the closure of Slocum Hall and move for all to online work. This new work environment will challenge us like never before, as our Slocum Hall and home lives—normally separated by the commute to and from work—have been collapsed one into the other. 

 I am also writing to thank you for all that you have done, are doing, and will do to keep the School of Architecture operational, even during these very difficult times. You participated fully in the workshops run by Andy and Thuc, which laid the foundation for the work we will do over the next weeks and months. It was clear to me when I visited the classroom in the library where some of these workshops were being held, that you embraced the workshops as you have our students, our faculty, and each other. That spirit and embrace was even more fully evident during our lunch break that day when we joined together for the annual lunch that Karen organizes on or near St. Patrick’s Day each year: it was evident in the warm conversations heard around the table and even more so in the lovely song-blessing and dance that Jennifer performed. You hold us all together and make us the great school that we are, and I cannot thank you enough for that, and for all that you have done and will do to continue to hold us together. 

 I also want to thank the small group of staff working in Slocum Hall last week, from Tuesday, March 17 to Friday, March 20.  You helped us transition to online and put us on a good footing. And I especially want to thank Andy and Thuc for all that they have done, are doing today, and will do tomorrow and through the next weeks and months, to keep our school open. We knew before this health emergency that we had the best IT team at this university and indeed at any university. And if we did not know this before, we certainly do now. 

 While Andy and Thuc have laid the digital infrastructure on which we all now depend, we are, each and every one of us, playing crucial and important roles in helping to keep our school open and alive! I cannot thank you enough for all that you are doing. We will all be challenged by this terrible virus and the disruption and worse that it has caused, and we will all, together, face and move beyond those challenges. 

 Though we are all online, some of us will continue to work on occasion from Slocum. One example is the work that Michael G. and Robbie Weaver are now doing in our shop. They are working with teams at VPA to fabricate and assemble face shields to be used by front line health workers in area hospitals here in Syracuse. We anticipate that our teams will be able to produce nearly 90 face shields each day. This work, like all the work you are doing is important: it is what holds us together; it is what makes our school such a remarkable place and community. 

 I want to thank you again for all that you are doing. Be safe, be well, and stay in touch with your team and with each other. 

 Very sincerely yours, 




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