Message From the Chancellor (COVID-19 April 6, 2020 6:15 p.m.)

Bracing for a hard week

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we brace for what health experts predict will be a “hard week” in the U.S.

I have had several students write with deep concern about alternative grading options for the semester. I want to assure those of you who have written me that Provost Kapinus and her academic leadership team have students’ best interests in mind. Her team is being methodical and taking into account many perspectives. To alleviate concerns now that many have expressed to me recently, let me reiterate three points. 1) Any alternative grade option will be elective—optional. 2) The provost’s team is designing the process in such a way as to make sure it clearly informs students of potential repercussions in making any alternative election. 3) For what I believe will be the majority of students who do not choose an alternative grading option, the provost is putting in place a couple of “do-no-harm” academic practices for this semester.

I do appreciate the impassioned pleas by many to keep the traditional grading scheme, so rest assured, students will not lose the A or B they have worked hard to earn. For the many students who typically earn As and Bs but ran into challenges due to the coronavirus upheaval, we have great concern for them as well. That is why the academic leadership has been working on an alternative plan, which they will likely unveil late this week.

I continue to be amazed at the strength and resilience that is partly derived from the diversity of the Texas Woman’s community and our many worldviews and lived experiences. Undergraduate psychology student Duaa Alam sent me a thoughtful essay she wrote about her experience as a Pakistani American living in a “highly collectivistic household” with many older family members. When the coronavirus situation began to unfold, her “history of anxiety and OCD tendencies living in [her] current situation were an agonizing combination.” After sharing several stories of human connection she had witnessed in recent weeks, she concludes with a thought-provoking idea:

“Once the normal comforts and regular gestures had been stripped from us, it was remarkable to see how truly ungrateful we once were. A hug from my mother, a handshake from a friend, or a dinner with family. Never would I have thought that I would see a day where rejecting these would be a form of care. Again we found the meaning to family. Again we found the meaning to shelter. Again we found the meaning to humanity. Here we were trying to accomplish great feats as a human race, when all along it was the small things that made life worthwhile. One day there may be a vaccine available for COVID-19, but maybe COVID-19 itself had been the vaccine for loneliness.”

We will be forever changed. From another perspective, change—and resilience that change incites—is the constant. Tim Wentrcek, a project manager in facilities shared these meditations he had while canoeing on Lake Ray Robers recently with his daughter:

“I often tell my daughters what an amazing place TWU is and enjoy talking about the incredible history of the women who fought so hard, and against all odds to establish themselves as scientists, nurses, doctors, and so much more. ... TWU has never had an easy road, but the women of the university have always excelled no matter what the adversity. I have no doubt TWU will continue to excel; there is way too much positive energy that has been invested in the campus for over a century.”

Whatever this week holds for you, I hope you find moments of peace and solace. Your shared reflections hold those moments for me. I hope you continue to diligently engage with your Texas Woman’s community while maintaining physical distancing. Let’s hold each other up this week.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Page last updated 8:37 AM, April 23, 2020