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April 21, 2020

Good morning everybody,

I hope that this finds you well as we complete final exams for the winter term and our 2019-2020 academic year. I want to offer my most sincere congratulations to our 5,000+ graduating students now in the process of taking their very last exams. Though Convocation is postponed, know that we are proud of you and your achievements, and that we will celebrate with you at the first opportunity.

Registration for our summer semester opened on April 16 and, already, over 9,000 students have signed up for one or multiple courses. We can all take pride that we were able to offer such a diverse and high-quality slate of online courses to give students the opportunity to advance their studies over the summer. Many thanks to our exceptional teaching staff in all five faculties, and to key units supporting our summer success, notably decanal and departmental offices, Information Technology Services, the Registrar’s Office, Business Office, Scheduling and Examination Services, Teaching and Learning Services, etc. All units deserve immense credit for moving operations online so successfully and this new story on this topic is definitely worth the read!

Our next challenge is to prepare for fall 2020. I am confident that at Carleton we have the talent and tools to continue to adapt to circumstances, and to offer an outstanding semester to all our students. In Ontario, the current state of emergency has been extended to May 12, 2020, but it appears that we have now reached the peak of the epidemic. It is likely that provincial and federal public health officials will soon follow the models of Germany, Denmark and other European countries, and that confinement measures will start to be partially and progressively lifted. Almost certainly, however, the very last measures to be lifted will be those around assembly in large groups and restrictions on international travel, which would continue to pose challenges for post-secondary institutions.

In the face of uncertainty, we must plan with creativity and flexibility for a broad array of scenarios. The Provost and I have asked Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Planning), Lorraine Dyke, to lead a small team of academic and operations experts to start defining what these scenarios could be, and how to best prepare. An integral part of this work will involve consulting with key stakeholder groups on campus, and sharing information with other institutions, as well as provincial and national bodies. The first phase of this work began last week and will unfold into May. I expect that by mid-May we will be in a position to narrow the range of scenarios and report to Senate, the Board of Governors and the broader community.

While it is too early to speculate about what September will look like exactly, it is difficult to imagine a return to full international mobility, and a complete lifting of physical distancing measures that would allow the return of large gatherings in confined spaces. In these matters, we will carefully follow the guidelines of public health authorities and government regulations. As such, I would encourage deans and department heads to engage their units in discussions on how to best use digital technologies as alternatives to large classes, and as important options for international students who may be delayed in returning to Canada.

As we look to the fall, it is essential that we consider every angle – pedagogy, research, academic regulations, support services, etc. With the right plans and the right execution, we will maximize the continuity of our operations, academic excellence and student success. It goes without saying that in doing so the safety of students, faculty and staff will be our first priority. Social distancing will almost certainly remain part of our reality, in one form or another, and we will soon engage unit heads in how to start preparing our physical spaces in anticipation of an eventual progressive return to campus.

Any questions you may have that are not answered by Carleton’s COVID-19 information website and its FAQ section should be forwarded to

Please ensure that the information you read and share online comes from credible sources like Ottawa Public Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health or the Public Health Agency of Canada, as the spread of misinformation poses a significant risk to the health and safety of our community.

I was recently reminded that it is especially in difficult times that great institutions separate themselves from the pack. I can imagine a not too distant future when the crisis is behind us, and with a new strategic plan in place we usher in a new era of tremendous opportunities and success for Carleton.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read this message and for your continued collective calm, creativity and care throughout this crisis.


Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 in
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