COVID-19 Update - March 30, 2020
As we wrap up a month that will be remembered as the most unprecedented overhaul to higher education delivery in modern history, I am thankful for the work each of you has accomplished to make the transition to fully remote instruction at EKU an initial success. Was it perfect? No. Did it come with some growing pains and frustrations? Of course. But did we pull together, sharing the collective knowledge, talent and willingness to adapt as a community? Absolutely. And for that, on behalf of our entire leadership team, we say: thank you.
The path ahead to finish the remainder of the spring semester will be a marathon, not a sprint. I expect approaches and plans will evolve and we will continually seek feedback from our students, faculty and staff on how this new delivery method for instruction and support services is working. If we continue to approach each situation by asking the question, “what is best for our students?” The answers to that question will continue to guide us forward.
In a time when personal responsibility carries such significance for our community’s health and safety, we are also reminded of the role EKU plays as a community partner. A shining example of fulfilling this part of our mission comes in the rapid response to gather and deliver a stockpile of much-needed medical supplies to our local emergency management officials. Thank you to all the departments who contributed, and to Dr. Bryan Makinen for orchestrating this effort as an extension of our COVID-19 response plan. You can read more on the total amount of supplies collected at https://stories.eku.edu/people/eku-donates-protective-gear-fight-covid-19.
In this rapid reinvention of education delivery at all levels, I’m reminded of the idiom we have all likely heard. A core education begins with the “three Rs,” widely known as reading, writing, and arithmetic. As those fundamentals are now delivered across NTI packets, virtual classrooms and online assignments, we, as faculty and staff supporting higher education, are also called to practice what can be categorized as three new “Rs” to be responsive, responsible and respectful. Here are some updates that all focus on these themes:
Academic Grading & Course Registration
Many colleges and universities are grappling with the option to move to pass/fall grading considering the disruptive nature of sudden remote instruction. As you have hopefully seen in an earlier message from Provost Jerry Pogatshnik, removing the traditional grading structure could be viewed as either an advantage or disadvantage depending on the individual student’s circumstances. Cumulative GPAs are not only a factor in course completion, but are also a key consideration for graduate work, licensing bodies and athletic eligibility.
Weighing the benefit vs. risk of altering grading, we have a responsibility to allow our students an opportunity to succeed academically both here and beyond EKU. Our dedicated faculty and staff are certainly fully capable of providing the needed resources to complete this semester’s coursework, and we owe it to ourselves and our students to expect the best work from all of us. Regardless of the situation, EKU faculty, and staff are committed to working with all of our students to ensure their success.
Also, we are moving forward with advising and registration for both the upcoming summer and fall terms and encourage everyone to continue supporting our vital student recruitment and retention efforts.
As we start the second week of remote learning, we are working to provide students with as many resources as possible.
We want you to finish this semester strong. Please utilize the services available to you, and let us know if you have questions or need assistance.
EKU Business Practices /Campus Services
- With the uncertainty of the economic impact of COVID-19, our already limited resources should be preserved. We must be more prudent and thoughtful about every decision we make concerning our financial well-being. Please work with your supervisors and area VPs concerning future spending.
- Effective immediately, any future position openings will require VP approval prior to posting. Hiring managers should work with their department heads and VPs to discuss current and future openings.
- We have moved most employees to remote work, and all EKU buildings remain closed to the general public. Please continue to be mindful of when you must come to campus or if the work could be done remotely to limit the number of interactions. We must practice social distancing if there is a unique need for in-person meetings.
- All faculty and staff can assist in enforcing social distancing in our campus buildings and facilities that are still open to faculty, staff and students. If you witness or have concerns about group gatherings, please use the contact us form on the COVID-19 page to share your concerns or questions.
- Please also bookmark and regularly check the COVID-19 FAQ page for the latest updates regarding campus services and information. Staying informed and helping to provide accurate information is just another way we are all responsible for the health and wellbeing of our EKU community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the work of the legislature, but their work continues to reach an agreement on a biennial budget by the April deadline. House Bill 366, which allows our outstanding Model Laboratory School to continue operating as a public educational entity, passed the House, Senate and was signed into law by the Governor this weekend.
My most profound appreciation goes to the many people who helped form a piece of legislation that has made it into law with overwhelming support. Representative Deanna Frazier shepherded this bill through the House of Representatives. With the support of Senator Jared Carpenter, the bill passed unanimously through the Senate. Our local representatives in Frankfort are second to none, and I thank you.
I also recognize the local efforts of our EKU advocates for this legislation. Ethan Witt, our Director of Government Relations, along with many Colonels, has worked long hours to inform the legislature about HB 366 in a way that resulted in overwhelming bi-partisan support from both the House and Senate. My thanks to our team. A comprehensive update is available about the legislative session on the Government Relations web page .
- Since assuming the role of interim president, our office has made it a priority to provide open and consistent communication. This is particularly important now with the rapidly changing guidance and the responsiveness required to fight the COVID-19 epidemic.
- You will notice some campus messages related to updated EKU services and procedures coming directly from members of the President’s Cabinet to the appropriate audiences. For example, you will continue to see Academic Affairs messaging coming from the Provost’s Office, and some campus service updates will come from the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, etc. Please be mindful of these important campus notices and information delivered via e-mail as our communications rely more heavily on electronic messaging.
- As we dramatically decrease our face-to-face contact, we are increasing opportunities to “see” and “hear” from campus leadership remotely. Beginning this week, we will highlight recurring radio segments on WEKU with updates on EKU’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic. You can hear the first edition on WEKU’s website. We will continue video messages like you received Friday, and offer additional Q&A opportunities for the campus community via video or audio broadcasts beginning next month.
Finally, I have the utmost respect for the willingness our community has shown to persevere through these challenges with great uncertainty of just how long this “new normal” will exist. Time and time again you have proven we can count on you to continue to fulfill our mission as a school of opportunity – under any circumstances – for our students and as a vital education and economic partner of our local community, our state, country and world.
Thank you for all you do,
Dr. David T. McFaddin
EKU Interim President
Published on March 30, 2020