Message From the Chancellor (COVID-19 May 15, 2020 4:47 p.m.)

Board meeting highlights and reopening thoughts

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well as we close out this workweek and our first-ever virtual meeting of the TWU Board of Regents.

Let me start by once again congratulating the faculty and staff on being highly “adaptable to life and learning during the COVID-19 crisis,” earning Texas Woman’s “Tier 1” status according to an article in the Dallas Business Journal. Various regents joined in applauding your accomplishments.

Special congratulations are due to the 28 faculty for whom the board approved their bid for tenure and/or promotion—ten in the College of Arts and Sciences, two in the College of Business, nine in the College of Health Sciences, three in the College of Nursing, and four in the College of Professional Education. Like commencement for our graduates, we will properly celebrate this remarkable milestone as soon as we can and Provost Kapinus plans to share highlights at the August board meeting. Check out next week’s Inside TWU for tenure and promotion highlights.

At today’s board meeting, conversation focused on the university’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Since you all lived and breathed that response, I have little that is new to highlight for you. I will only add that the regents expressed great appreciation for our tour de force and our many collaborative successes. I will also briefly mention that the financial impacts of the pandemic on the university are taking shape, but I will share more thinking about that next week. You can always refer to the Meeting Broadcast and Agenda for further details about the board meeting.

I want to end with some thoughts about reopening. As with so many polarizing issues, it seems some consider only all-or-none options. As someone who is consistent in valuing multiple perspectives, I believe all-or-none is usually a false dichotomy.

I recognize that COVID-19 susceptibility varies. At the same time, so does socioeconomic status, mental health, food security, and many other realities. While those susceptible to the virus may benefit from stay-at-home orders, many others suffer greatly. Our initial approach to “flatten the curve” worked, but not without cost. The opioid crisis, a preexisting epidemic, has seen a surge of overdoses in the past few weeks, as one example. Another is the unemployment rate, disproportionately affecting those with the least economic security. One student shared with me that she has been at home with 12 others under the same roof. Her quarantine fatigue most certainly has different dimensions than mine.

What we need, as The Atlantic posed in a recent article, is “a manual on how to have a life in a pandemic.” The need for a how-to manual as well as the vast array of social, health, and economic issues we are weighing seems right out of our playbook as we being to reopen our campuses. We have federal guidance that physical (“social”) distancing, hand washing, hand sanitizer and cleaning protocols, face masks, self-screening, and other health and safety measures can allow us to operate on campus while managing risk. In fact, re-engaging our on-campus operations—safely, not as we were—could address the disproportionate health impact the coronavirus is having on those who are taking greater risks just to make ends meet.

I know at Texas Woman’s, we have a #campuswithaheart culture that will embrace these risk-mitigating practices, and that we will model them and support each other in their use. We also respect the one-size-does-not-fit-all reality. Yesterday, Jason Tomlinson sent out a message about “TWU Reboarding Training,” which is part of that “how-to manual.” Just as we learned a new way of air travel after 9/11, we now need to practice a new way of reengaging outside our homes until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the thinking that supports our reopening plans and timeline. Words of appreciation are insufficient to thank you for all that you have done to bring us successfully through the spring semester. Still...thank you! I am humbled and honored to be a part of the Texas Woman’s community. I hope you find rejuvenation this weekend as we prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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 5:02 PM, May 15, 2020