In 2020, a small group of students filed a class action lawsuit alleging Rensselaer committed a breach of contract when we pivoted to remote learning during the pandemic. I am writing today to inform you of our decision to settle the matter and provide some context for the settlement.
As you know, in March of 2020, the pandemic caused us to suspend in-person classes. We shifted to remote learning to keep our community members safe and allow our students to continue their studies. At that time, we proactively refunded a portion of room and board fees to students who were required to move off campus. The students filing the lawsuit felt that the refund did not adequately compensate for the loss of their on-campus academic experience.
Countless universities across the country faced similar challenges during COVID. Since then, more than 400 COVID-related tuition lawsuits have been filed against universities nationwide. In many cases, universities have settled in order to avoid costly legal battles and move forward.
While there has been no finding of liability in Ford v. RPI (the lawsuit), it is time to move on, and we agreed to a settlement of $6.5 million. This settlement is a more productive alternative to a lengthy legal process and enables Rensselaer to move forward with a focus on serving our students.
As I shared with many of you during our Spring 2023 Town Meeting, the pandemic was an unprecedented event in our lifetimes with no road map for decision-making. We came together as a community to protect our collective well-being and continue educating our students. The shift to remote learning was challenging for everyone at the time and, in typical RPI fashion, we emerged from the struggle stronger.
We are extremely proud of the work all of you did during this uncertain and difficult period in our history. Thank you for your commitment to our students, each other, and our university.
If you have questions, as always feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.