In recent weeks, the University of Dallas has been featured on several news medias as an anomaly among colleges, many of which have already moved classes online after experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, while UD remains with fewer than 10 cases. Fox News, Catholic News Agency, Eternal World Television Network and Dallas Morning News have all called attention to UD’s Irving or Rome campus as a back-to-school success story.
In comparison to the three active and eight total cases at UD, the University of Georgia reported 1,400 new coronavirus cases as of Sept. 11 (FOX News). CU Boulder has moved to online-only classes amid a massive spike in cases and currently has 68% of their available isolation spaces in use (The Denver Channel). As of Sept. 14, Temple University shifted 95% of all classes online for the remainder of the semester (MSN).
According to Joe Scholz, student body president, UD’s small size has been valuable in keeping the coronavirus under control.
“We do have structural advantages to start with. We’re a small, private school and we’re able to do systemic testing that some very large programs are not able to do on a regular basis. That aside, we have a great combination of community compliance with the COVID measures that have been better than decent on both the Irving and the Rome campuses.”
“Staff have also been very charitable with how they enforce the social distancing measures, which can be challenging for students but nevertheless necessary for us being here. The mixture together puts us in a good position,” said Scholz.
Dean of Students Julia Carrano also cited UD’s close-knit community as key to our campus coronavirus policy success, naming the “UD Bubble,” as it is jokingly referred to, as an advantage.
“Even if students are not following every social distancing measure, they’re largely hanging out with the same people. In really large communities with no bubble, surveillance testing may not be that helpful. But we’re confident that there is no unknown outbreak on our campus,” said Carrano.
In the Dallas Morning News’ Aug. 30 article “How Texas campuses may be missing the silent spread of the coronavirus,” UD is noted as a standout among seven other north Texas universities. Of the schools surveyed, UD was the only university that immediately tested all students when they arrived on campus and plans to continue testing throughout the semester.
The Dallas Morning News highlighted UD as the only university in Texas that required coronavirus testing for on- and off-campus students.
UD was also featured by the Dallas-based Fox News crew for standout testing protocols. President Hibbs was quoted on the UD Facebook page, “We have to remain vigilant, but I’m very proud of our faculty, students, and staff for working together to ensure we can stay on campus for the remainder of the academic year.”
UD is one of the few schools to resume a study abroad program after the pandemic halted international travel. Only two American Catholic colleges, UD and Christendom College, proceeded with a study abroad program this fall.
Dr. Peter Hatlie, dean and director of the Rome program, was featured in an EWTN segment on the Rome program’s success and UD students’ desire to go to Rome.
“We’ve created a model of governing and containing the virus,” said Hatlie in the EWTN interview.
Other news outlets, such as The Catholic World Report and the Catholic News Agency, have featured the UD Rome program for its exceptional dedication to remaining open.
According to Carrano, these news features will alert those who are unfamiliar with UD to the excellence of the Rome program.
“The Rome program is still not as visible as it should be. Partly because [Due Santi] is outside of the city [of Rome], and partly because people still don’t know what UD is,” said Carrano.
Scholz said that UD’s new reputation of exemplary on-campus responses to the coronavirus, both in Irving and in Rome, will help our school’s image going forward.
“In the midst of this pandemic, we have gotten good coverage and good exposure. I’m hoping that people will see these articles [and news features] will bring familiarity of who we are and what we do,” said Scholz.