Message From the Chancellor (COVID-19 April 29, 2020 9:50 p.m.)
Some Good News, as it were
Dear Texas Woman’s Community,
I hope this message finds you well as we slide into the latter half of the last week of classes in what, though now cliché, was an unprecedented semester.
Six years ago when I first started here, I went on a listening tour to learn the culture and statewide impact of Texas Woman’s from the perspectives of our three campuses. Through the stories, I began to see how well faculty and staff understood that one size does not fit all—underscored today by your 6’2” chancellor alongside your 5’2” provost, #diverseperspectives. I am humbled to be a part of this Texas Woman’s community—one that cares for one another, cares about excellence in our work, and cares for the communities in which we live. In the plans that follow—plans that we have labored over and will continue to refine—I believe our #campuswithaheart culture shines through.
A vision for a better fall than ever before
Starting with the end in mind, we aim to be back on all three campuses this fall, fully thriving among the beauty of our grounds, architecture, amenities, and social interactions—what past students have told me feels like a private university at a public’s cost.
This does not mean Fall 2020 will replicate Fall 2019. In many ways, I believe we will catapult ahead of last fall in terms of teaching and learning, timely research opportunities, as well as the campus experience. In everything, we need to tailor—one size does not fit all—options for the health and safety concerns of various members in our community.
After this past semester, we all understand better how asynchronous coursework offers flexibility for those who have kids, caregiver obligations, or jobs, to name a few. We have seen how an online format can allow more voices to dive deeper into intellectual dialogue and communicate in new ways that anchor knowledge and build understanding. In short, this fall you will see more delivery options—online, hybrid, face to face, and variations of these—that enhance teaching and learning like never seen before.
We will also find new research underway in fields like nursing, physical and occupational therapy, microbiology, chemistry, textiles, psychology, sociology, music therapy, the value of the arts in understanding the human experience, and so forth—the coronavirus has offers new inspiration towards discovery. This fall, the new “Scientific Research Commons” building on the northwest corner of Bell Avenue and Texas Street, will expand opportunities on many fronts.
This new building, together with “new digs” for the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership will add to other new buildings that came online just months before the pandemic hit. The Health and Wellbeing Initiative and Student Life programming will continue to complement academic offerings that comprise a “whole person” education that is essential to the Texas Woman’s brand.
To make such a vision possible at a time when a new respiratory virus is still part of our reality, we will have to do things differently. We will have more clear plastic barriers installed to protect employees from frequent public interactions. We will offer more hand sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipes, encourage hand washing as well as nose and mouth coverings with new signage. We will heighten our diligence to have employees and students self-isolate when experiencing symptoms of illness. Above all, we will operate with greater flexibility and personal responsibility.
As we begin now to build a new normal together, we will leverage the opportunities of this “Great Pause” to amplify those ideals we have always held dear—one size does not fit all—and emerge stronger and more equipped to face uncertainties. So how will we get there?
Student opportunities for the summer
The U.S. Department of Education sent Texas Woman’s stimulus funds to help ensure that our students’ educational goals were not derailed by this coronavirus pandemic. Their guidelines directed the university to pay out half of those funds to students with the greatest financial need, primarily due to loss of income. In the first day, we awarded students over $300k. For the other half, the guidelines directed us to reduce financial barriers on students’ paths towards degree completion.
There are certain fees such as for the Student Union and the Fitness and Recreation Center that students have to pay per state statute. This summer, we will use stimulus funds to pay those fees on behalf of students—which is about a $223 reduction in the fees per student for courses in the summer term. For those who have already paid their summer bill, those fees will be credited to their accounts.
A wise woman once told me: The best time to get ahead is to move forward when everyone else is standing still. Taking classes over the summer with all these benefits could be such a move.
As I mentioned in a previous message, the registrar also has streamlined the summer in a way that further minimizes the fees for those students who take courses across the summer session. His team is also loading online, hybrid, and face-to-face designations for summer courses.
As the provost and I have already mentioned, most courses will be fully online for the summer. There are lab courses, practicums, and other courses that are richer when offered face-to-face, and those courses are planned for later in the summer, once health and safety concerns are hopefully better stabilized.
Plans for staff and faculty to return to campus
Like much of the state has done for businesses, we have developed a phased plan for staff and faculty to return to their campus. Our plan lags behind the state by a couple of weeks, giving us time to carefully watch how reopening impacts healthcare systems.
Some departments like the Office of the Bursar plan to offer limited window service for those who pay with cash starting as soon as early May. The Blagg-Huey Library plans limited service starting in mid May. Housing and dining never left, supporting those nearly 400 students who continue to live on campus. Many on the grounds crew, power plant operators, custodial team, and public safety officers also continued essential on-campus work throughout this pandemic.
Starting on June 1, we plan to have about a quarter of the staff return. By early July, we hope most everyone is able to return to our campuses. This pandemic has accelerated our use of the telecommuting option. Some may leverage that option more than they had before the pandemic. Most, I hope, will enjoy a return, not to the way we were, but to the way we are becoming.
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 8:50 AM, April 30, 2020