Message From the Chancellor (COVID-19 April 24, 2020 6:22 p.m.)

Friday Realness

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as many in the Texas Woman’s Muslim community complete their first day of the month-long sunrise-to-sunset fast for Ramadan.

I heard from Michelle Kelly-Reeves today, director of the TWU Health and Wellbeing Initiative. Given our distributed model for the initiative, Michelle receives input from a multitude of campus constituents. She summed some of the current vibe with the following:

It is really easy to get stuck in the loss, and one coping mechanism is to become very task-oriented. …I also have the desire to over-plan as if that will somehow mitigate the unpredictability of the future. …It’s okay to take some time to appreciate our own resiliency.

Another theme I am hearing is “I am not doing enough.” …Over the last few weeks, many of us have seen/heard that we should try new recipes, play virtual games with family, virtually volunteer, become quarantine fit, start new hobbies… There is no perfect quarantine version of life. There is no ideal version of how to navigate this. …[Let’s] stop comparing ourselves to others or feel compelled to be perfect. It wastes valuable time and energy, and we are doing the best we can.

To summarize Michelle's thoughts in the words of Pose character Pray Tell, it is time for some Texas Woman’s “realness.” It is not all roses! If the characters of Pose have taught me anything, it is about resilience in the face of adversity, or in the lyrics of Andra Day, to “Rise Up.”

I frequently hear right now from community members who want a definitive answer about summer classes or even about the fall. Many feel anxious without a sense of certainty about the future, and I get it. American Ninja Warrior has taught us that it is easier to hop onto a fixed stone in a pool than a moving, unstable one.

I heard the same uneasiness earlier this semester about taking so long to unveil the alternative grading plan. I am grateful that our academic leadership took the time to carefully listen to all perspectives before finalizing the Texas Woman’s plan. It made our plan robust compared to the woes I have heard from other presidents. Similarly now, the administration is not sitting around waiting to see what happens. We are actively involved in listening and bringing in data so that we can firm up, bit by bit, plans about the fall.

Such is the way with agile frameworks for decision-making, a style that I think may be a hallmark of women in leadership. We have heard a lot about women’s leadership of late in the media, and I am happy to share that the Dallas Morning News did pick up my take on it. I am also working on a contribution to the national discussion. In it, I suggest that COVID-19 has accentuated the VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous—nature of modern life. Such an environment takes a different strategy for success than we have seen work in the past, one that involves more listening, more perspectives, and more iteration on a solution.

We will enter into a new normal this fall, which will include at least some version of on-campus activity. Even this summer, we will begin to reactivate our lab-based research productivity. The particulars are still iterating in active discussion among faculty, academic leadership, and others of my leadership team, including the environmental safety crew. We will emerge with a robust solution.

In the meantime, I hope you find time for rejuvenation this weekend, especially with the belief that we will “rise up!”

With a pioneering spirit,

Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President

P.S. For the latest information, check out the TWU COVID-19 webpage.

Page last updated 8:31 AM, April 27, 2020