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COVID-19 Update - April 30, 2020

COVID-19 Update - April 30, 2020

Dear campus community,

It is hard to believe we are nearly at the end of the Spring semester. This spring we have faced a pandemic that has been a source of caution and frustration. In contrast, we have also witnessed a great deal of courage, generosity, kindness and fortitude. Our students have made us proud by demonstrating adaptability, remaining flexible, and keeping a positive attitude. Our faculty, staff, and administration have worked tirelessly to ensure EKU remains true to its mission. We call our EKU community a family. In the context of this national crisis, our Colonel family has rallied and made the absolute best of a difficult situation. I commend you for your bravery and resolve to face the COVID-19 pandemic boldly and continue to achieve educational and professional goals. I admire your ability to recognize that with every setback, there is an opportunity.

To our students, good luck on your final exams. Finish this semester strong. While you invest in your future through your studies, know that we support you and are doing everything we can to restore a sense of normalcy to our campus. Our faculty and staff are second to none, and I know we will emerge from this crisis with a renewed appreciation for the comradery and social fellowship that compliment advanced learning in critical ways.

I have several information items to share with you that will impact our semester wrap up and plans for the University moving forward. 

ABC/P/F Grading system

After much discussion and debate about a Pass/Fail grading system, students recently received correspondence describing a hybrid approach that seems to be a good solution. Although no system is perfect, the adopted ABC/P/F system will provide additional flexibility while eliminating the impact that D grades would have on a student’s academic standing. The Provost and academic team have carefully worked through this issue in order to meet the needs of our students.. Details about the grading system can be found on our remote learning website.   

CARES Economic Relief Funds

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress to provide economic relief to many sectors of the nation, including colleges and universities.

Funds allocated to EKU will provide economic relief directly to students and to University operations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We will do everything possible to make sure the funds are disseminated efficiently and effectively.

A CARES working team of EKU faculty and staff evaluated the guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education. They have developed a process to distribute the student portion of funds in compliance with DoE direction and expedited promptly.

The decision was made to identify priority groups of students based on immediate needs and then make block awards to students in those groups who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Priority student groups identified include:

  • Displaced institutional work-study students;
  • Students without alternate housing options;
  • Emergency fund (SAFE) applicants;
  • and Pell Grant recipients.

The initial round of fund distributions will begin next week.

Virtual Commencement Tribute

We are currently working on a project to honor our distinguished graduates. A virtual tribute to our graduating class will be available for viewing on May 16, 2020. We have received pictures submitted by the graduating class to use for the presentation. Thank you for your submissions. If you are a graduating senior and have not submitted your photo, there is still time. Although we regret not being able to share our appreciation face to face, please know that we are proud of you. Your hard work and sacrifice will not go unnoticed and will continue to be celebrated by your soon to be alma mater. You will be forever part of a historic cohort that will be remembered and recognized as extraordinarily successful despite immense challenges.

Giving Tuesday

On May 5, 2020, EKU will participate in Giving Tuesday Now, a new global day of giving and unity created as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

For those who want to support EKU financially on Giving Tuesday Now, we are encouraging gifts to the Student Assistance Fund for Eastern (SAFE). SAFE provides short-term financial assistance to students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses due to an emergency or crisis. Nearly 200 donors have supported SAFE already, helping relieve student emergency needs related to food, housing, medication, transportation, and more.

If you would like to make a gift to SAFE, you may do so at development.eku.edu/SAFE.

Many faculty and staff also choose to give through payroll deduction. To set up a payroll deduction in support of SAFE or any other EKU foundation fund, click on the employee tab in EKU Direct. At the bottom of the page, click payroll deduction. If you have questions about this process, please call 622-GIVE or email giving@eku.edu.

Summer Schedule

In a previous message, I announced the revised work schedule for the summer. It is an energy and cost-saving initiative that we have implemented for the past two years. There was some confusion pertaining to that announcement. Although our work schedule is adjusted, our work environments are not. This initiative is not a call back for workers to return to campus on May 11. Those working off-site will continue to do so until we directly communicate a change in this status. More information is now available at the FAQ.

Fall Semester Planning Group

A challenging topic on nearly everyone's mind is determining how we will operate the University in Fall 2020. We fully intend to welcome students back to campus this fall. I can assure you we will do so in a manner that adheres to federal and state guidelines and presents the safest environment possible for students, faculty, staff and our community. It will also be necessary for us to assist students in a variety of situations to help them be successful.

COVID-19 has created a new normal for us all. As we look toward the fall semester, our new normal will require flexibility, innovation and building on the long standing tradition of looking out for each other. 

To ensure we are well-prepared, I have appointed a Fall Contingency Planning Task Force. The group will be co-chaired by Sara Zeigler, Dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, and Elizabeth Ballou, Executive Director, Enrollment Management. While the group will draft plans promptly, I want them to take the time needed to ensure a comprehensive set of recommendations come into focus for how we welcome students back to campus. We anticipate recommendations from the task force in the next several weeks. Communications to the campus community should be expected after a comprehensive plan has been created. The working group has a heavy lift ahead of it. I ask for your support, consideration and input for the members of this critical planning group as they begin their work. Please reach out to Sara and Elizabeth with your ideas, questions and concerns.

EKU's mission includes providing a quality education to all students. It ensures they are successful in the classroom and as they join the workforce and become successful citizens that power communities in Kentucky and beyond. We will maintain our mission with the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community in focus. Now, and into the summer, we will work together toward another successful fall semester at The School of Opportunity. Your input and support of the Colonel family are crucial and welcome.

I wish everyone good health and safety. 

Thank you for all you do,

David T. McFaddin
Interim President
Eastern Kentucky University

Published on May 01, 2020

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