Think it’s tough being at home with your kids out of school and your spouse working from home (or not)? 

Consider the situation of Bolton Hill resident Sammy Hoi, who as president of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), has sent most of this year’s students home, still has over 30 international students stranded and living in dormitories, and has no expectation that summer or even fall classes will be anything like “normal.”

“As you can imagine, it’s non-stop work for me and the senior team at MICA right now,” Hoi said.  The school is open for fall enrollment, with tuition deposits due in May – early June.  Only then will they have a clearer idea what the fall semester may look like – whether it will be on-campus, remote and alternate education, or some hybrid of both. In a typical year, first-time undergraduate enrollment would be around 415 students. 

MICA is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation.  It has a typical degree student body of about 2,200 and faculty and staff numbering in the mid-500’s.  About a third of the student body comes from other countries.  Getting visas lined up and nailing down travel and housing is a challenge in the best of times but restrictions in the U.S. and around the world because of the pandemic have created new complications.  The school may not have as many students on campus or in the neighborhood in the fall as usual.

Most of the undergraduate and graduate students left for home when schools closed in March, but some could not travel to their home countries and are living and studying in MICA dormitories.  In addition to pro-rated refunds for housing, meal plans, and other fees, the college is providing relief to students facing financial hardship through initiatives like MICA’s Angel Fund.

For those who remain, MICA shuttle busses and security patrols continue, albeit on a reduced schedule.  The school’s art supply store, post office and all other facilities are closed until further notice.  Students do not have access to labs, shops or art studios.

– Bill Hamilton