Campus Message - July 14, 2020
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear from our faculty and staff during a town hall meeting. It was an invaluable experience to listen and interact with a broad spectrum of those on the front lines for EKU. I thank Dr. Marco Ciocca and Dr. Caelin Scott for organizing the forum, and the hundreds of members of the EKU community who joined us. I welcome more conversations like these, primarily as we work together to adapt to changing circumstances.
The primary topic of the town hall centered around the opening of campus for the fall semester. As the semester rapidly approaches, we have made several strategic decisions, and we will have many more to make in the coming weeks and months. It is essential that we fully realize several points:
- Based on feedback, most of our students desire an on-campus experience, and they prefer face-to-face learning. We have adjusted our instructional model to accommodate both on-campus and online instruction. We have given the students options that allow them to choose their preferred learning method or a combination of the two.
- One of our institutional hallmarks is our dedicated faculty. We have taken the necessary precautions that allow our faculty to teach face-to-face and in a virtual environment. The Colonels Comeback Plan incorporates faculty recommendations about what is best for student learning based upon their disciplinary knowledge and teaching experience. It also respects those who are susceptible to the virus by offering avenues for online instruction. Throughout this process, we have listened to the wisdom of our faculty.
- We have already felt the economic impact of COVID-19 during the spring semester but still balanced the 2019-2020 budget. Any further financial setbacks will affect employment, services, and mission-essential programming. The financial impact of another complete semester conducted remotely, although not insurmountable, will be profound.
There are simple, scientifically-proven steps to preserve a productive learning environment at EKU and help reduce the potential impact of the virus on our campus.
- Wear face coverings
- Practice social distancing
- Commit to good personal hygiene
- Stay home if you feel ill
Until a vaccine or therapeutic drug becomes available, the previous items are our best defense against COVID-19. While we will do our level best to enforce the guidelines, the responsibility for compliance requires each of us to do our part. If one person ignores the Colonels Comeback Plan guidelines, it puts the entire campus at risk of illness and further exacerbates our ability to function effectively. In the most understandable terms, non-compliance with university guidelines risks your employment, your colleagues' health, the health of our students, the health of our community, and the ability to work together to continue providing educational opportunities for our students. Single acts of non-compliance will run the risk of depriving students, who excel in an on-campus environment, the opportunity to perform their best. Compliance also extends into the community. Richmond and Madison County are an integral part of what makes EKU a great University. COVID-19 knows no boundaries and we must respect that for our community partners too.
Our approach to a complex problem is simple and it is entirely in our hands. To enjoy an on-campus experience and learn, work, play, and operate closer to normal, I ask for your complete cooperation to best serve each other and our students.
One key to compliance is education and awareness. Recently we have formed a new group, the Colonels Care Committee. This committee will educate students about necessary measures to promote their well-being and health, and equally important, to help them understand the importance of working as a community. While we want our students to act as individuals to protect themselves, we also want them to understand collective responsibility and how they can help take care of each other.
EKU has weathered many storms in its storied history. COVID-19 poses a monumental challenge and it will test our resolve. I have witnessed the Eastern family's power, and we are relentless in our desire to address issues and support each other. Now, we need all the positive energy and love we can muster. Show the world what Eastern can accomplish when we work together, care for each other and prioritize others over ourselves.
Thank you for all you do.
David T. McFaddin
Eastern Kentucky University
Published on July 14, 2020