The university is preparing for a fall study abroad semester but ultimately will not make a definitive decision until some point in June.
Dr. Susan Lewis, ACU Vice Provost, said that it’s expecting students will get the chance to explore these programs.
“As of right now, we have decided that those [study abroad] programs will continue,” Lewis said. “At the same time, it’s important to note that the safety of our students and faculty is the highest priority; so that decision may change.”
Lewis also mentioned the complexity of having to adhere to the other countries’ guidelines. It will be one of many factors they consider entering the summer.
The final decision on these programs will be recommended by the emergency response team and delegated between the senior leadership team.
Steven Shewmaker, Executive Director of ACU Study Abroad, mirrored Lewis with the university’s plans for the fall.
“It’s something that has been under discussion very similarly to what the fall semester will look like on campus,” Shewmaker said. “Our expectation as of this moment is that those programs will run, more or less, as planned.”
Along with fall planning, communication has been a top priority for those planning to go abroad.
“Our office has been engaged heavily in students who are slated to go abroad for the fall of 2020,” Shewmaker said. “We have been in frequent communication with those students.”
The study abroad programs also embraced a financial hit, cutting short the spring semester and the cancellation of summer programs. However, Shewmaker believes it won’t cause any long-term impacts.
“The financial impact is significant to us, but it’s not necessarily overwhelming for ACU study abroad operations,” Shewmaker said. I think we’ve done a good job with how we have handled what is an unprecedented situation.”
Shewmaker also wants to continue communicating with students and their parents throughout this difficult time.
“Students want to go abroad, and that’s why they’ve signed up for these programs,” Shewmaker said. “I think this is one of the most transformational things a student does while they’re at ACU. We want them to know we’re walking through this with them.”
Both, Lewis and Shewmaker, have traveled to all three study abroad locations and have been working for the university for a combined 45 years. Despite all that time, they believe this year has been the most challenging and unique.
“It’s been a very unusual experience,” Lewis said. “I don’t think the world has experienced something like this together. So that idea of a global community is really highlighted at this point.”