From the Chancellor

Solidifying our fluidity (July 28, 2020 6:43 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well. With so many feelings of uncertainty these days, I want to keep you updated about the things we now know.

The start of our fall semester is fast approaching, and we have plans for increased on-campus activity beginning August 3. For example, while maintaining their current phonebank, our student financial aid team will expand their workdays to allow families to attend meetings with their students while maintaining safe social distance.

For staff still working from home, please be on the lookout for a message from your VP about returning to on-campus work. Different parts of the university will operate differently, depending on the needs of the area. I think we all recognize that childcare, K-12 school openings, and individual health are weighty concerns. Deans, chairs, VPs, the provost, and so many others are balancing numerous factors as we move forward together.

We continue to update the Fall 2020 website and recently sent a message to students about fall plans.

We are currently offering about 40 percent of our classes with a face-to-face component (including hybrid sections). Based on an analysis of available seating relative to enrollment trends, undergraduate students are currently showing a slight preference for hybrid classes, while graduate students are enrolling more in online sections. About 2,100 students are currently registered to live on our Denton campus.

We are doing everything we can to create an engaging fall experience—both in the classroom and out. I am inspired by the preparations our faculty and staff are undertaking.

Three cohorts, totaling 99 faculty, are enrolled in a professional development course called “Promoting Active Learning Online” that runs from June 19 to August 16. This course focuses on planning, designing, and managing key concepts to optimally engage students in online courses. Through this program, faculty have the opportunity to develop relationships with colleagues and instructional designers to learn more about effective online course design and teaching strategies.

Twenty-three adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) also are enrolled in an opportunity called “Camp Operation Online Learning,” a six-week summer course that guides them through the process of developing engaging online courses for fall.

In the first two weeks prior to our quick transition to online classes in the spring, our instructional designers worked with more than 300 faculty in group and individual meetings. Since then, they have had 1,627 appointments with faculty, adjuncts, and GTAs.

We also have a group dubbed the Captioning Brigade. Some staff have redirected portions of their duties towards supporting our students and faculty by editing the auto-captioning of videos and lectures to accurately reflect the content. In sum, they have reviewed and corrected the auto-captioning for 344 videos in courses, 7 videos used in orientation, and 17 videos for marketing. And, of course, in doing so they have advanced support of visually impaired, the deaf and hard of hearing community, and those for whom English is not their first language.

Student Life has partnered with the provost and our risk management team to make use of non-academic spaces such as our beautiful new, high-tech ballrooms in the Student Union to support teaching and learning, and help reduce classroom density.

We cannot eliminate risk, but we can mitigate it. If a student or instructor comes down with symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive, our contact tracing team, certified and trained by the renowned experts at Johns Hopkins University, can minimize the impact on face-to-face classes. With accurate attendance logs and seating records, they can even further minimize disruption.

If asked to go into quarantine following the contact tracing process, instructors who are well enough might choose to continue holding scheduled classes via a videoconference. Others may work with their department chair to engage substitute instructors. Some may pivot to an asynchronous online format for a time, and once the quarantine period is over, move back into the physical classroom space. 

Our IT Solutions team is busy outfitting 60 classrooms with quality camera and microphone options—including working with Academic Affairs on safe-use protocols—to add new versatility to our physical classrooms. As a reminder, we previously added cleaning supplies, installed various plexiglass shields and traffic flow guides, posted signs, and launched a protective face covering campaign that includes branded masks for purchase online or at the bookstore.

The Center for Faculty Excellence is working with the risk management team on a safety checklist for classroom management. Dr. Hansen-Thomas, vice provost for research, has been working with our institutional review boards at each campus and Risk Management to ensure research safety protocols are in place.

I hope this relatively brief summary of our preparations for fall is helpful. I have had some in the community plead with me to prioritize community health—and I would like to underscore that the health and safety of everyone is of primary importance. That said, health and safety mean different things to different people. For each student who writes advocating to move completely online, there are others who share their struggles with learning online. Many have written to express their lack of resources. Others say their preferred learning environment is face-to-face. In those messages, students worry their preference means they may have to drop out or wait until the pandemic passes. 

Experience shows that when students take breaks, they rarely return. The need to pay back student loans and earning a living becomes a focus. The structure of campus life is also a lifesaver to some who struggle with mental illness, or for those who depend on the campus for food security. Those who write to me do not always realize that “health and safety” has multiple facets—and may wish to consider the safe space that campus life provides, even during this pandemic.

I have said several times recently that as a 6-foot-2 woman, I know one size does not fit all. For those students who are concerned about their risk of contracting—or spreading—COVID-19 from learning on campus, we have tried to create options for online courses. For those who express the opposite concern, we are creating a different experience for them. In both cases, we want students to have options to keep moving forward towards degree completion. If students find their schedule is not working for their needs, I encourage them to work with their academic advisor on options.

We believe there is ample evidence that with protocols—distance, enhanced hygiene, and protective face coverings—we can safely interact with one another on campus. Many countries and communities have shown these protocols work when followed. Nevertheless, we know many do well with teaching and learning online. And, if that is the case, we want those students to thrive academically as well.

I know we are all adapting to life in this “new normal.” I believe it will get easier and safer, too, as we acclimate. When you step back and consider our university’s legacy, we have found ourselves on the front lines of health crises before. In all of them, our “leadership DNA” has shone through—from our nursing and health care professionals who helped teach and support those who healed the sick and wounded, to those who helped pioneer innovative teaching approaches and technology for students near and far. Already, just months into this global pandemic, I am proud to see the leadership and contributions of the members of our community, and I look forward to seeing more and more of you in the coming weeks!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

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

Message From the Chancellor (COVID-19 July 14, 2020 3:23 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well, even as the country and state see a spike in positive COVID-19 cases.

It is the impact of this spike for which I write to you today. We predicated our plans to bring employees back on the assumption that community spread would be decreasing. We had hoped that by now the contagion would be well under control, and we would be doing our part at Texas Woman’s to mitigate transmission locally by instituting social distancing protocols and guidance from public health experts.

Since COVID-19 cases are not going down, we need to postpone the date by which we plan to have most staff working from their offices to August 3. This delay will give Texas a little more time to turn things around. Our staggered move-in plan and quarantine guidance from the NCAA have some of our athletes scheduled to move into the residence halls on August 3. I hope we will be ready.

This virus is demonstrating how interdependent we are as individuals in a society and even in a global economy. While we may desire stability and certainty, we depend on others. I am still holding out hope that together we can stop the rapid spread. At the same time, we also have to be realistic.

If we could come together and sing kumbaya, now would be a good time. Since we cannot, we will keep planning for multiple possibilities, collaborating with agencies and other universities, and watching the numbers with hope for a better tomorrow.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Happy Fourth (July 3, 2020 at 5:52 p.m.)

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well as we ease into the Fourth of July weekend.

I understand “ease” is hardly the word of this week as we each grapple in our own way with news of COVID-19 spikes and the pandemic’s effects such as the state’s call for budget cuts, course planning, and potential enrollment declines. There are many variables and many ripple effects to any decision, especially in a volatile and seemingly uncertain landscape. So, I can understand the unease that I hear expressed on social media, in conversations, and through the grapevine.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” —quote from Faculty Senate

When in these uncharted waters, I depend on a breadth of data, multiple perspectives, and a network of collaborators and resources in my strategy for keeping the ship afloat and sailing. Since the beginning of this pandemic, my leadership team has brought all of these to the table in spades. We have managed to weather the storm so far without furloughs or position cuts. We maintained tenure and promotion raises. With all hands on deck in a student-calling campaign, among many tactics, we even managed to increase enrollment this summer over the last. If there is any ease to be had in preparing for the forecast ahead, it is in believing that my leadership team is capable, dedicated, and weighs the myriad concerns of the Texas Woman’s community—health and safety paramount among them. I especially want to thank Provost Kapinus’ leadership as academics sit at the heart of our higher education mission.

TWU campus with an american flag flying

As I spend time this weekend thinking about the United States’ founding ideals such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” I will reflect on the application of these to our current context and the tension between individual and common good we face today. However you spend the weekend, I hope you will find some solace and even opportunities for joy. Happy and SAFE Fourth of July!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Success through flexibility (June 24, 2020 at 4:17 p.m.)

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well, even as new cases of COVID-19 are on the rise here in Texas.

We had projected that with protective face coverings and new health and safety protocols, we could have everyone back in their offices by July 1, but Texas Woman's is not an island. In line with Gov. Abbott’s call, we must respond to the increase in COVID-19 cases by pushing back our projection to July 20. Some employees will still transition from telecommuting to on-campus work before July 20, depending on function. Your supervisor will let you know when to return. Faculty already have access to their offices, and that will continue. As you do return, we have written a “guide for returning to work on campus.”

We continue like water in a river, moving forward but changing course as obstacles arise. We have so much riding on our success, so I am grateful as ever for your continued flexibility and commitment to the Texas Woman's mission.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Pioneers Protecting Pioneers (June 18, 2020 at 9:38 p.m.)

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well on the last day of this workweek. Again, I wish you peace and hope as you take time tomorrow to reflect on Juneteenth and all that it means for us right now.

As we look forward to the July 1 phase of the return to our campuses, I want you to know the facilities and risk management teams have been busy preparing. They have installed plexiglass shields in several areas, increased hand sanitizer stations, and posted new protocol signage on walls, doors, and floors. You will find it impossible to ignore our new normal upon your return.

To reiterate, everyone needs to wear a protective face covering anytime they may cross paths with others and cannot follow the 6-foot physical distancing guideline. It’s as simple as one, two, three to remember: 1) wear a protective face covering, 2) space out at least six feet, or 3) both. This effectively means that indoors we will wear masks unless alone in a personal office. To help us spread this message, we are launching a new campaign for our campuses: “Pioneers Protecting Pioneers.”

As we acclimate to our new normal, I am as grateful as ever for this #campuswithaheart culture that is patient and kind. While wearing protective face coverings on campus is the norm, some individuals who read lips may have difficulty understanding you through your mask. Others may have health reasons that make wearing face coverings difficult, and keep in mind that different abilities are not always visible.
What we are seeing from literally a world of evidence about this coronavirus is that we can mitigate the threat through a combination of proactive measure, contact tracing, and cooperation.

While our new normal poses inconveniences and new risks to mind, we have an inspired calling as educators, researchers, and leaders. I know we are as passionate about the Texas Woman’s mission and cannot imagine a world without this institution. Amidst the complexities of our current milieu, it is more essential than ever that we pull together and figure it out. It is a new world. Let’s learn—and empower others—to lead it.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Respecting and protecting each other (June 5, 2020 12:33 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,
 
As promised in yesterday’s email “whether it is my fault or not, it is my problem,” I want to offer an update on our plans to foster thriving campus communities in the fall. 
Teaching and learning
In the spirit of one-size-does-not-fit-all, we are continuing to work on a fully immersive, technology-enhanced academic experience that is flexible and fluid. We have always provided an exceptional Texas Woman’s value—faculty, support services for academics, health, and personal development, alumni recognition, libraries—whether enrolled face-to-face, online, or hybrid, and we will continue to charge tuition and fees at the same rate regardless of modality. Provost Kapinus and her team are deep into scheduling as they refine the application of safety protocols. The use of a protective face covering allows us more options in designing classroom experiences; therefore, we will ask everyone to wear one. In exceptional cases where students cannot wear a mask, they will be asked to physically distance more in a reserved section of the room. With the coverings, we envision some classrooms where every other chair is left empty, for example. The provost plans to:
  • Prioritize courses that need in-person instruction to achieve course objectives;
  • Work with facilities to creatively use spaces we do not typically use as classrooms to maximize the opportunity for on-campus instruction;
  • Potentially increase the number of classes that meet on Saturdays;
  • Facilitate large sections online, some with smaller breakout sessions for discussion;
  • Ensure each course can easily transition to fully online—and perhaps back—should our contact tracing team require individual isolation for a time; and
  • Publish an updated schedule in July to allow time for any needed changes.
In the spirit of fluidity, we will be more prepared than ever to move around any impediment, ensuring students’ progress towards degree completion. We will have the same published start and end date, but we will remain agile should local and state health officials change their guidance on maintaining the health and safety of our community.
We will continue to encourage virtual committee meetings to free up space for classroom scheduling, avoid inter-campus travel, and invite members of every campus to participate on an equal footing. 
Discovery 
Lab research is starting to resume. We have also developed a process for approval of human subjects research provided researchers take steps to address the new concerns for health and safety posed by the coronavirus pandemic. 
 
Several faculty have begun work specifically related to COVID-19: virologists in biology; social workers interested in the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning at Hispanic Serving Institutions like Texas Woman’s; and nutrition and food sciences faculty looking at food security during a pandemic. I am eager to see what else emerges on the research front. 
Commencement
We had hoped to host a postponed, in-person commencement ceremony in August, but as our understanding about the spread of coronavirus deepens, federal guidelines still warn against large gatherings. We have decided that our virtual commencement in May will have to suffice. We are also following the lead of other public universities in Texas in planning for a virtual commencement this December as well. 
Protective face coverings
New publications in peer-reviewed journals support the use of protective face coverings as effective mitigators to the spread of the coronavirus. We are working on messaging campaigns to build a culture that embraces this practice while being mindful of our deaf and hard of hearing community and others who have conditions that make wearing coverings difficult. 
Housing and dining 
University Housing & Dining will open residence halls and campus apartments in the fall following the guidelines set by federal, state, and local authorities. We are also working with the University’s Risk Management team to implement recommended safety practices. Planning has begun to adjust our traditional staggered move-in process. In addition, we are reviewing all of our residential experiences to ensure safety is at the forefront of all that we do. The Fall 2020 move-in details, found on the housing website, will be available late next week.
 
Dining operations will open for the fall semester at the same time as on-campus housing. Pioneer Kitchen has spent the last few months redesigning services and practices to keep diners and staff safe while providing delicious, healthy food options for any diet. Dining locations will operate with reduced seating, while still offering dining-in, grab-and-go, and order-ahead options. This fall you will find more meal plan options for commuters, faculty, and staff. 
Pioneer Athletics
Pioneer Athletics has begun the process of returning to campus and will cautiously monitor conditions throughout a multi-phased approach for both staff and student-athletes. Per NCAA regulations, limited numbers of student-athletes resumed voluntary workouts with staff from both TWU's sports performance and coaching on June 1. Through collaboration with all constituent groups, we have instituted procedures that we will continually review and update as we move through each phase. Physicals, medical history questionnaires, daily self-assessments, and on-campus screenings compliment the required COVID-19 safety education and training programs.
Thank you for reading through all these details so that we continue to move forward together, respecting and protecting each other.
 
With pioneering spirit,
 
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President

Whether it is my fault or not, it is my problem (June 4, 2020 6:58 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,
 
I hope this message finds you well and hopeful—even as we grieve—in hearing Rev. Al Sharpton’s eulogy for George Floyd: “May he rest in power!
  
I recently learned that technology has apparently failed in some cases to transmit my messages. This failure has left a few feeling like “the university’s silence is deafening and disheartening.” I am sorry to hear it! The web team does post these messages on my website. Nevertheless, I will take your expressions of disappointment as an opportunity to step up efforts—in words as well as communication through action—so that Texas Woman’s renouncement of injustice and support of our black and brown communities is undeniably clear.
 
As protests continue, I have heard loud and clear from members of our black and brown communities: “We are tired!” and “We are NOT ok!!” I have also heard others express a feeling of being lost and unsure of what to do. And recently, I have learned the concept of performative allyship, which includes the notion that it is easier to express outrage about others’ behavior than, as the popular refrain goes, to “take a look at yourself and make a change.” 
 
At last year’s annual conference of the American Council on Education, Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility (2018) and Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the updated Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (2017) led a keynote, Talking about Race. What I took away from this session and their influential texts is that we each have to commit to walking the road; there are no taxis or shortcuts.
 
My research area includes a focus on listening, and I plan to use my experience with listening in a new project intended to heal, acknowledge, challenge, and ultimately spur change. I will unveil the project on social media—@TWUpres—next week. Heeding the words of Michelle Alexander in her final chapter of The New Jim Crow (2010), it is incumbent upon those with privilege to lead change rather than to ask those marginalized by systemic racism to fix it themselves. So, just as the Disney organization implores its team, my challenge is to the Texas Woman’s community: whether it is my fault or not, it is my problem.
 
While we have recently—and rightly—shifted attention to protesting systemic racism against black and brown communities and police brutality, we are also continuing to grapple with the far-reaching impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Tomorrow, I want to offer an update on our plans to foster thriving campus communities in the fall.
 
I know we all have much weighing on us, each differently, and some more than others. Your courage, wisdom, and perseverance continue to inspire me. The care you have shown each other and our communities assures me that we are actively engaged in building a better tomorrow. We must stay the course, and we will walk it together.
 
With pioneering spirit,
 
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President

Our journey to a more just and equitable tomorrow (June 1, 2020 at 4:11 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we begin the last month of spring in 2020.

I have received messages from both a faculty and a staff member who personally knew George Floyd from his time living in Houston. They shared deep grief about his brutal treatment and death, and my heart aches in hearing the pain of this recent experience on top of many others throughout their lives. George Floyd’s killing is a culminating event in a long history of racism and violence that has rightfully sparked new anger and hurt for so many. The fear expressed by those in our black and brown communities is more palpable now than I have ever seen in my lifetime.

Thought leaders like Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, T.I. & Killer Mike, Flint, MI Sheriff Christopher R. Swanson, and Barack Obama offer valuable historical and social context, impassioned pleas for peaceful activism, philosophical perspectives that underpin social and political systems, as well as an outline for a path forward to effect real change. I am also grateful to hear reports of those in our community who have joined in peaceful local protests. Your activism can shine through today’s veil of darkness on the systemic racism and other social issues that have led us to this moment.

At Texas Woman’s, I know we are committed to continuing to do our part in building a peaceful and more just society through teaching and learning, research, and student development (e.g., inviting Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, to speak at the recent Jamison Lecture, screening of the film True Conviction, faculty scholarship such as ESFL Chair Genevieve West’s recently celebrated work on the writings of Zora Neale Hurston, Pioneers Votes efforts, Civic Engagement work, Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy wins, to name a few). I am encouraged by past leadership of our alumni, faculty, and staff, as well as our developing leaders. It’s going to take all of us.

For some good news of the weekend: our staff member who had tested positive for COVID-19 is recovering well. The staff member diligently wore a face mask per guidance while on campus, and our trained contact tracing team identified and notified two other individuals, both of whom are well through the period of self-quarantine and back on campus. We have fully detailed in our coronavirus FAQs about what happens if there is a positive COVID-19 case on one of our campuses. I am proud to report that our Risk Management team completed, some weeks back, professional development, certified by Johns Hopkins, for COVID-19 contact tracing. Their forethought allows us to protect individual privacy better while mitigating spread of the contagion.

As I move about more these days, I encounter those who eagerly wear nose and mouth coverings while interacting in public and those who do not. I believe wearing a mask shows respect for each other, and I know respect is a core value shared by those in the Texas Woman’s community. It is on the pillar of respect that we will keep our community safe while returning to on-campus interactions as well as build a more just and equitable tomorrow.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

To go far, go together (May 29, 2020 at 8:23 p.m.)

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well, even as we grapple with the week’s difficult emotions—from George Floyd to the ongoing situation with COVID-19. I find encouragement in the following message Student Life sent to our students and want to share it with you now.

Dear Students,

Our campus and our communities have faced unprecedented challenges over the past three months and reactions to those challenges have varied widely. We have witnessed the extremes of humanity—good and bad, tenacious and yielding, compassionate and intolerant. There have been shared moments of healing and celebration and unfortunate, unspeakable acts of violence.

A sense of community runs deep at TWU. It is what attracted many of us here, and what keeps us going. Our sense of community is what has always been unique at TWU. That feeling of belonging—the sense that you're an integral part of a community where you're accepted and valued—is healing. It is associated with greater wellbeing, cognitive function and job satisfaction.

With the rise of concerns about COVID-19, there have been increasing incidents of xenophobia and racism targeting Chinese and other Asian people worldwide. Acts of exclusion, harassment, and hate speech simply impair our abilities to work together as a community at a crucial time.

The last few months have also proved difficult for many in our community as we watched the forcible return of at least 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children to northern Central America and Mexico. There have also been increased incidents of discrimination against DACA students. As a community who values inclusion, we continue to witness racism that should have no place in a civilized society.

Most recently, the death of George Floyd and the tragic events in Minnesota bear witness to the continued problem of historic racism and violence that simmers just beneath the surface of our nation. This incident as well as other recent events, including the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky are heartbreaking examples of what happens when long-standing bias and racial prejudice are not confronted.

Texas Woman’s stands against these acts and condemns racial violence and inequity. Students struggling with the impact of these events are encouraged to visit Counseling and Psychological Services for additional support. I also encourage you to contact the TWU Department of Public Safety any time you are concerned about physical safety, and you may use the incident report form to report any acts of intolerance.

While we try to look for the best, we are often confronted by the worst. Let us join together in our continued commitment to each other and our dedication to combating racism and ending racial violence.

Sincerely,

Monica Mendez-Grant, Ed.D.
VP for Student Life

I am grateful for the leaders among our faculty and staff at Texas Woman’s who have brought issues of racial injustice, privilege, and historical trauma into our collective consciousness through forums, films, workshops, guest panels, and the most difficult of all, classroom conversation. Recent events mentioned in the Student Life message may feel deflating to your efforts, but now is the time for more work, more leadership, and more conversations. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” The road to justice is long. We must go together.
With a pioneering spirit,

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

Friday and Fluidity (May 22, 2020 at 2:28 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as the workweeks draw to a close for many of us. For Muslims in our community, this weekend marks the end of Ramadan with celebration of the Eid-el-Fitr. Happy Eid! This is also the weekend we honor those who have given their lives in service and sacrifice defending the ideals of democracy. I hope you will join me now in taking a moment of silence to remember these American heroes… Thank you!

A group of tiny American flags arranged in a heart shape.

During recent emergency management meetings, I have heard reports that some staff and faculty are confused about how one is able to return to campus while others continue to telecommute. This is the nature of our phased reopening. As you may recall, we only plan to have about a quarter of the workforce back in their offices by June 1, and during June, we will increase these numbers incrementally. We are prioritizing employees who provide the most essential student services while also weighing custodial support and personnel density. The vice presidents are working with each other and with supervisors to make decisions about who returns and when.

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds on, I have gravitated towards the idea of fluidity. I think of our movement forward as a river that is unstoppable and that flows over and around impediments. Somehow having that metaphor in mind gives me courage to better process the ever-changing landscape and our movement forward.

Right now, we are fighting a different threat to our way of life with different heroes serving on the front lines. This weekend, though, I hope we can each find a moment to reflect on history. I wish you a Memorial Day weekend full of remembrance and peace.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Building tomorrow together (May 18, 2020 at 8:53 p.m.)

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well. I always enjoy the weekend after a board meeting, and I hope you found time to relax as well.

As I said in my email on Friday, financial realities are taking shape, but the devil is in the details. When it comes to the details, as Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University said—four (4) times—in last week’s Freakonomics podcast (What Will College Look Like in the Fall (and Beyond)?): “We don’t know.” What we do all know is that we are in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, each bad on its own but truly formidable in tandem.

Still, we cannot just wait around to see what happens, and I want to continue to communicate with transparency as we go along, listening to your feedback. I am in almost daily conversations with the provost and CFO. As we wrangle with the variables, we are guided by the following:

  • Prioritize academic offerings,
  • Protect people as much as possible,
  • Gather as much input as possible,
  • Target cuts (rather than across the board), and
  • Invest in the future.

The immediate problem

On Friday with the regents, we agreed to plan for a hypothetical 10% decrease in state appropriations and 3% decrease in enrollment while facing our committed cost increases.

Revenue assumptions for the coming fiscal year

  • State appropriations decrease of 10% ($7M)
  • Enrollment decrease of 3%, affecting tuition and fees ($4M)

Commitment to the following cost increases

  • Promotion and tenure raises ($400K)
  • Student scholarships ($6.5M)
  • Fixed costs (e.g., utilities, insurance premiums) ($1.4M)

The solution

Part of our solution to address the immediate problem will include the following expense-cutting and cost-containment measures.

  • Saving unused travel money (exceptions reviewed by the provost and CFO)
  • Budget review by unit
  • No new budget requests
  • Suspend merit raises (~$1.9 million); performance reviews will continue
  • Natural attrition (retirements and vacancies)
  • Continue with process efficiencies initiative (e.g., managed printing, contract sourcing to increase rebates to the institution)

We will need to do more. With targets and parameters, we will seek your input for further solutions from each division (e.g., summer compensation, administrative cuts).

The long term

While we address the immediate problem, we also need to invest in growth and other revenue-generating activity for the longer term.

  • Commit to innovative academic programs
  • Efforts that focus on student recruitment and retention
  • Renewed focus on the growth of Dallas and Houston campuses

Just as we saw with the successful alternative grading plan that was developed for the spring semester, I want to take the time to make a robust and nuanced plan when it comes to not only securing our financial future but also our transition back to campus.

At the risk of an even longer message, I want to acknowledge the challenges of returning to campuses. It is like reverse culture shock as my chief of staff, who is back in his office today, can attest. We had to take turns in the little break area and talked to each other from awkward distances. If it is tricky for two people on one floor, we have our work cut out in devising teaching environments that are safe.

Risk Management is still working on signage for entrances, stairwells, and foot traffic; Environmental Health and Safety is developing self-screening protocols; HR is producing other guidance for supervisors about various employee scenarios; and the provost is setting up a committee to look at scheduling, classroom protocol, and course delivery. Though still not easy, it was much easier to close buildings than to re-open them. With your patience and care, we can do it slowly and carefully, optimizing our health and safety while advancing the mission of the university.

A screenshot of Wesley Crusher from Star Trek The Next Generation asking Captain Picard why there aren't handles on doors anymore, and Picard answers, Wesley, it's time I tell you about the year 2020.

In closing, there are many unknowns. I want to be real and honest about that. For all that we do not know, one thing we do is that we go farther together. With patience, careful thought, and perseverance, we will come through stronger, wiser, and more agile. We will carry the Texas Woman’s mantle, playing our part in building a better tomorrow.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Board meeting highlights and reopening thoughts (May 15, 2020 at 4:47 p.m.)

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

You’re simply the best (May 8, 2020 at 6:41 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well on the final Friday of this semester, one like no other in my experience.

Now that students have completed their exams, I have received several more thank you notes. I want to join in their praise of our faculty and staff. Stephanie Wesson shared these sentiments:

...I want you to know what wonderful professors we have at TWU. I want to particularly speak about Dr. K. Rose (Research Methods), Dr. J. Armstrong (Family Financial), Dr. C. Dutton (Family Housing), Dr. E. Ramey (Developmental Sexuality) and Mrs. McDonald (Family Resources). These professors, first and foremost, wanted their students to know they were not alone in this. They were just as concerned as the student, if not more, about the success of their students. …[She] went over and above the call of duty, making sure her students completed assignments on time. She did this because she did not want any student to get a zero. ...When I talk to others who attend college somewhere else, they tell me they were not afforded the same help or opportunities. I am so glad I chose TWU. I can’t imagine going to college anywhere else.

Stephanie’s effusive positivity about the faculty at Texas Woman’s joins the sentiments of many others, thanking instructors of every ilk, from professor to assistant professor, clinical faculty, adjuncts, and graduate teaching assistants. It is this #campuswithaheart culture of teaching and learning, research, and service that also attracted me to Texas Woman’s. I, too, cannot imagine being anywhere else!

Changing hearts and minds does not happen easily; yet, I have noted a pattern of changed perspectives expressed in the emails I have received. We open ourselves up to the possibility of change when we really listen, rather than assuming we know what another person is going to say. We cannot possibly know what others have lived through; so if we guess based on our lived experience and world view, it only cements that view rather than potentially changing it. Scarlet Whitcomb’s recent note of gratitude exemplifies this unusual yet highly desirable pattern change:

...I came to this college jaded from seeing all of the struggle and carelessness that enveloped other colleges, including my previous one. This trust has been earned [here] many times over, however.

I feel really grateful—especially with many of my friends and family forced out by poor business practices—that I am a student, and that I am here. Thank you so much for caring!

I also want to thank the staff who have rallied in many creative ways. University Advancement, in addition to their usual work, has raised over $311,000 for student emergency financial support. Student Life has helped process over 3,000 applications for federal stimulus and privately raised funds. We appreciate everyone’s efforts in keeping students on track to their educational goals.

Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Fitness & Recreation, Housing and Dining, and the many other Student Life operations have continued to support our students’ “whole person” education.

Academic support operations for Write Site, Science Learning Resource Center, and others, along with new tutoring services, academic coaching, and TWU Libraries, have all pivoted to online delivery options for service. College and department staff kept mail flowing, forwarded phones answered, and faculty supported. Instructional designers pulled off a tour de force helping hundreds of faculty transition online in less than two weeks and continued their extraordinary support throughout the semester.

The grounds crews are keeping our campuses beautiful, custodian workloads have increased with new cleaning protocols, and DPS has continued to protect our facilities and provide building access as needed. Marketing and Communications teams have done an exceptional job of keeping our website organized, useful, and beautiful, all while maintaining their usual project flow. HR made sure employees were paid on time and supported throughout. Purchasing shifted focus to prioritize essential needs while also keeping workflows moving on their projects. Admissions, Admissions Processing, Financial Aid and the Bursar's Office have continued their operations.

The Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership and its Center for Women Entrepreneurs developed and instituted AssistHER grants for women-owned businesses in response to the times. While some research operations took a hit, the staff supporting research continued to help faculty with grant applications and processing of awards. Construction projects have moved forward. Emergency Management is in the throws of its operations. And, of course, IT Solutions, the backbone of so much of this online transition, pulled out all the stops in supporting students’ access to their education, communications and call forwarding, and the tools we all needed to do our work—from home.

I could write all day about the contributions of our stellar faculty and staff, but let me end with this one brief sentiment from Sandra Conrad, an accountant in the Controller’s Office:

I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to not have had any loss (financially or health-wise) due to this pandemic. …

My first day of employment with TWU was March 2, 2020. So I barely got my feet wet before we all started working from home. [Now]...I feel “part of the family”, even as a very new employee.

Even though we are still slowly phasing back to on-campus work, I am going to take a break from writing to you daily. My goal was to act as a bridge from what was our social campus life to our physical isolation at home. I cannot thank you enough for your patience, ingenuity, and perseverance through this upheaval. I will end where I began on March 16, with the idea of ubuntu—I am because you are. As Tina Turner refrains, “You’re simply the best!”

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Our pioneering spirit will shine on (May 7, 2020 at 6:28 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as spring 2020 draws to a close.

On the one hand, I can hardly believe it. On the other, we are the Pioneers—“marking a trail in a pathless wilderness.” We have overcome obstacles. Some of you have even had obstacle upon obstacle. A few are not yet out of the woods. We have lost much. We have gained much. We have laughed at memes and parody videos, spent hours on TikTok squelching anxiety, and cried more tears than I care to count. From all the canceled events, trips, and plans, we have learned to go deep into our core and change our minds about someone or something. Ask yourself the last time that happened.

There is no sugarcoating the pain many have endured. Yet through it, I believe we have strengthened our solidarity and sense of community. I have received hundreds of emails with stories that span the spectrum of lived experience in this pandemic. For those who were unable to write, others wrote on your behalf. In my attempt to share your stories back, I have written over forty messages. It has been a labor of love to retell your stories of courage and resilience, of self-care and giving back, and, most importantly, of patience and perseverance. We made it.

As with the many societal disrupters of the past, we are and will continue rebuilding. What we have done and what we are planning to do at Texas Woman’s is all about keeping the light of our mission in higher education shining bright despite the coronavirus. Though this semester is over, our ending is not yet written. Our light—and pioneering spirit—will shine on.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Revenge of the Sixth (May 6, 2020 at 6:07 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we cross the hump of the workweek and slide into the end of finals week.

This week’s end would also usually kick off our spring commencement ceremonies in both the Kitty Magee Arena for Denton/Dallas and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion for Houston. Since we cannot yet gather en masse, I will look forward to the creative ways you build virtual watch parties with family and friends once the commencement website goes live on May 22nd. See further details on the registrar’s website, e.g., “Your diploma will be mailed to the address you provided on your application for graduation approximately 6-8 weeks after the graduation date.”

I want to thank many of you for the outpouring of Star Wars memes I have received since Monday. I can tell “the Force is strong” within the Texas Woman’s Community. While the debate looms large on Twitter as to whether the second most important day in Star Wars fandom should be the fifth or the sixth (as a pun on “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”), in communities that celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the sixths have it as the fifth is already taken. #maximizethecelebrations

Good luck with the last day of final exams!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Happy Cinco de Mayo! (May 5, 2020 at 7:31 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as many in Texas celebrate Cinco de Mayo! You can be sure that I will indulge in Taco Tuesday for the occasion.

Two mariachi performers in full costume play trumpets out on the TWU Denton campus grounds.

Throwback “Thuesday” to when we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with mariachis on the Bernice Abreo Fischer Amphitheater outside the Student Union at Hubbard Hall.

By now, I know most faculty are deep into grading. Students, likewise, are squeezing every minute out of the day as if it’s their last lime, and tacos are their only remaining sustenance. Good luck staying the course!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

May the 4th be with you! (May 4, 2020 at 9:00 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well on what fans around the globe refer to as Star Wars Day.


May the 4th Be With You! on Disney Video

I’m a Trekkie myself, but with themes on teaching and learning and a message of hope, it’s useful at times like today—while deep in final exams amidst the coronavirus pandemic—to borrow that message of hope from Star Wars. And, to offer you that timely sentiment: May the 4th be with you!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Happy May Day (May 1, 2020 at 6:52 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well on the first day of May and the final class day of the spring semester.

In Belgium, May Day is a national holiday, known in our three official languages as 1) Dag van de arbeid 2) Fête du Travail, and 3) Tag der Arbeit — Labor Day. And, while it may also be the final day of classes, I know many are making a last push before final exams start—tomorrow! Your “labor” is not over, yet. Good luck to everyone!

Though foreign, I would also like to use this Belgian holiday to acknowledge once again our medical personnel, essential workers, and first responders. My husband acquired a yard sign mady by university photographer, Michael Modecki, that he installed outside University House, where we live here on the Denton campus.

Thanks also to the Texas Tribune and Shannon Najmabadi’s article—“Texas’ front-line workers in the pandemic are predominantly women and people of color, analysis finds”—whose headline speaks for itself. Front-line workers, THANK YOU, indeed!

A yard sign which reads 'Thank you! Medical Personnel, Essential Workers, First Responders.'

Remember this weekend to adopt the mindset that “failure is not an option,” whether your goal is to rejuvenate or to redouble your efforts in 1) solving quadratic equations, 2) memorizing the conjugations of the most common irregular Spanish verbs, 3) synthesizing the metabolic manipulations in virus-infected cells, …the list goes on. Whatever the case, I wish ya’ll the best of weekends as we continue to persevere—with courage derived from the support of one another—through what lies ahead.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Failure Is Not an Option (April 30, 2020 at 3:34 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well on this final day of April 2020.

I am grateful today for the reminder that good news begets good news. I recently received several messages from faculty about the resilience of the Texas Woman’s community and this morning, Dr. Raisinghani, professor of business and economics in the College of Business, shared a story about the Apollo 13 mission that parallels our call to “boldly go!”

When failure, or giving up, is an option, it’s much easier to make and accept excuses for why something difficult can’t be done.
Gene didn’t know how to save the lives of the three astronauts. He left that assignment to the experts. His role was to continue to clarify the goal, stress why success was the only alternative and inspire individuals to keep giving their best effort to solve the next problem.

Leading with Questions April 30, 2020

I have held some of my deepest concerns for our students in the arts. Dr. Richard Shuster, professor of music and piano, recently confirmed the challenges they face but then also raised my quarantine spirits with his recounting of the semester and a montage of his students’ incredible artistry and talent:

Some of my piano students made a short video montage. In it, they are playing excerpts of pieces they learned this semester. Since the closure, I’ve been teaching them online from my home, using my piano, computer, phone, cables, and lighting. Students continued to have regular one-on-one lessons at their normal times via Skype, Google Meet, or Facetime, and we continued with our weekly group performance classes via Zoom. They have been practicing on whatever piano or keyboard they had in their apartments or parents’ homes. Some of these instruments don’t come close to capturing their full artistic capacity, but this did not deter them. The situation has been difficult, but they maintained their focus and continued to make great progress throughout the semester. For this, I’m overflowing with gratitude and pride.

One of the unique aspects of teaching music is that we can hear, usually instantly, if a student is engaged or not. Music teachers can detect intentions, moods, and attitudes in the interpretations of the pieces they are playing. I think that in this video montage, which was recorded last week, you will be able to sense a very high level of engagement and enthusiasm, despite the unfavorable conditions. To me, it is a sounding example of TWU’s pioneering spirit.

  1. Yurimar Santiago-Torres, undergraduate music therapy major, Souvenir de Porto Rico, Op. 31 by Maurice Gottschalk, performed in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  2. Kamila Swerdloff, graduate music therapy major, Sonata in C Major, K. 330 by W. A. Mozart, performed in Denton, TX
  3. Olivia Manghera, undergraduate liberal arts music major, Prelude in D Minor, from Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I by J.S. Bach, performed in Carrollton, TX.
  4. Alicia Smith, graduate music therapy major, Jeux d'eau, by Maurice Ravel, performed in Denton, TX
  5. Inja Kim, graduate piano pedagogy major, Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48, #1 by Frederic Chopin, performed in Flower Mound, TX
  6. Clark Cavender, undergraduate liberal arts music major, Sonata in C Major, K. 332 by W. A. Mozart, performed in Sherman, TX
  7. Katya Chaniewicz, graduate music therapy major, El Choclo by Ángel Villoldo, arr. Uwe Korn, performed in Dallas, TX
  8. Cody Henry, undergraduate music therapy major, Liebesträume No. 3 by Franz Liszt, performed in Dallas, TX
  9. Cecilia Esparza, graduate music therapy major, Chaconne in D Minor by Bach-Busoni, performed in Dallas, TX

Produced by Alicia Smith
Edited by Clark Cavender and Rich Shuster

I am delighted beyond words! Teaching students as far away as San Juan. Though incredible, I do look forward to future performances back in Margo Jones.

Jordan Fuchs, professor, interim chair and coordinator of the MFA program in the Department of Dance, also shared inspiration from his department’s recent adjudicated concert.

The concert features a series of short 60-second dance solos choreographed by students in their living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, garages and backyards, using the limitations of social distancing and stay-at-home-orders to inspire new creative possibilities in dance.

 

1200 Seconds: a TWU Department of Dance virtual dance concert

https://www.facebook.com/TWUDance/videos/319806765667934/

Again, I am inspired not only by the resilience and vision of the dance faculty and students, but also by their artistry and seeing what is possible in dance.

I hope you, too—like me—are left inspired to keep believing in what we are becoming. With the support of dedicated staff and the guidance of virtuoso faculty, the students of Texas Woman’s are demonstrating, in the words of Dr. Shuster, “a sounding example of TWU’s pioneering spirit.” As Dr. Raisinghani conveyed: “Failure is not an option!”

With a renewed pioneering spirit,

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

Some Good News, as it were (April 29, 2020 at 9:50 p.m.)

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.

Images of TWU's three campuses side by side, Denton, Dallas, and Houston.

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.

The TWU flag flutters in the breeze among the Denton campus' redbud blooms

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.

As mentioned before, these federal stimulus funds complement the more than $221,000 donors gave to the student emergency fund.

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.

The TWU campus Blagg-Huey Library and its fountain

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

students walk along the wide sidewalk which runs past the Denton campus student union building

Try shifting gears! (April 28, 2020 at 7:59 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well. Is it only Tuesday?!

I have been in back-to-back meetings again today, working with deans and others in academic affairs, marketing, risk management, student life, financial aid, and the multitude of student support services to iron out summer and fall plans. We are getting close to framing a way forward. I will share specifics over the next couple of days.

I am happy to see Dr. Mendez-Grant sent out a message to students letting them know the federal stimulus funds have finally arrived. Within 40 minutes of her message, her team had received more than 400 applications. As the month draws to a close, I know financial anxieties rise, especially at this stage of the pandemic. Our teams will do their best to award these stimulus funds as quickly as possible.

Dr. Mendez-Grant has also built a volunteer network of faculty and staff who are calling more than 6,500 students who are admitted to Texas Woman’s but have not yet enrolled. A personal call may well be that deciding factor in growing and strengthening our #campuswithaheart student body. I am inspired by this coming together of our community.

I have also heard the urgency in students’ messages and calls about continuing their education without delay. Dr. DaSilva in Houston shared a story about one of our future PT students:

Sangin Na has been accepted into our DPT cohort scheduled to start in August 2020. However, now the US Embassy in South Korea is closed, and he cannot get an interview to obtain a new student visa due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that South Korea seems to be recovering pretty well, and businesses are gradually being allowed to reopen; he is hopeful the US Embassy will reopen, too. During this entire time, he has shown us patience, strength, perseverance, flexibility, professionalism, and service. We hope that we can help him fulfill his dream of becoming a PT in the U.S.—sooner rather than later.

All of these stories of courage and hope keep me pressing on through the complexities of summer and fall planning. As an avid cyclist, one of my mantras in the saddle is, “when life starts going uphill, try shifting gears!” We will get there, but for now, we have to keep pumping the pedals.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Bon courage! (April 27, 2020 at 8:33 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we begin our last week of classes before finals.

This week, we see parts of the country reopening certain sectors of the economy, often with caveat of curbside pickup only. As I suggested in my “Friday Realness” message, the future is going to look different. We will adapt, and with “respect, empathy, and responsibility,” we will eventually thrive again.

I return to those words because I learned from one of our kinesiology students about her heartbreaking experience this weekend.

I was waiting at the bus stop. I’m wearing my face mask and keeping my distance from other people. This lady who was on the phone sat two seats from me and out loud said, “I’m scared to sit next to a Chinese Asian person right now.” Then she got up and said, “I’m gonna sit behind her.” She would rather sit on the ground than sit on the bench. ...For the longest time I didn’t want to wear the mask because I was worried that I would be attacked.

Such stories are truly disturbing and their sentiments counter our call for “...transformational learning, discovery, and service in an inclusive environment that embraces diversity…”—from our mission statement. Ranked among those in the seventh place by U.S. News & World Report for the most diverse student body, Texas Woman’s is in a position of strength to solve intractable problems. I am grateful that among the Texas Woman’s community, we continue to act with respect, empathy, and responsibility.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Friday Realness (April 24, 2020 at 6:22 p.m.

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

Our “True Colors”—maroon and white—shining through (April 23, 2020 at 9:03 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we continue to persevere through COVID-19, one day at a time.

The recent outpouring of support I have seen for one another brings me comfort and inspiration, knowing I am a part of the #campuswithaheart.

Dr. Victoria Henderson, one of the staff psychologists in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), discovered an app called “COVID Coach,” endorsed by the VA but one she says is useful for all. Her mentor, Dr. Carmen Cruz, shared other homegrown resources:

...to the tough stories our CAPS therapists are hearing every day [via telehealth]... we started two Instagram pages, one for Denton and one for DAL/HOU.

These feeds of videos for students, faculty, and staff help us exercise our emotional and mental fitness, critical dimensions of health and wellbeing.

Beth Whitley, assistant director in the Office of Honors Programs shared another staff perspective on our community supporting each other:

...the education is only part of what [students] get at TWU. They also get experiences they will take with them throughout their lives, and role models to inspire them to live their lives to help others and tackle things they didn't know they could.

Our quick shift of services, role modeling, and mentorship to the virtual realm is a part of what makes the Texas Woman’s experience more than just a college education.

Dawn Marie Murphy, who just defended her nursing dissertation yesterday, prioritizes past students among her daily concerns:

I have not been on the front lines as a nurse. [For that], I feel fortunate and guilty at the same time, but I have many past nursing students who are, and many of them are new graduates; I worry about them every day.

I, too, worry daily about our alumni, students, and all who are on the front lines of this pandemic. I hope that our shared concern translates into courage as they face real dangers and the full gamut of human need, especially those sick and isolated from the love and support of family and friends. Healthcare work at a time like the present is a calling beyond my comprehension.

Shamethia Webb, a PhD student, graduate teaching instructor and assistant in Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies, wants to form a network of support:

Thank you for that important reminder from Picard regarding fear. I'm grateful that TWU continues to direct students and staff to the campus resources page and am amazed by how much help is being offered. I wanted to ask: How can we, as students, do more to support each other within our TWU network? Many of us are surviving on limited income and worried about future expenses, but still willing (and wanting) to share our resources and offer help as we are able.

I appreciate Shamethia’s generous spirit, but more importantly, her leadership, creativity, and gumption to “build it” if it does not already exist. In some cases, our collection of funds connect financial gifts directly to those in need, but as we have seen, many of us have other gifts and talents to share. I was heartened by a recent story in The Lasso about our social work students who raised money for the community food bank.

I’ll end today with a return to the philosophy of ubuntu shared by nutrition and food sciences major, Brandon Kelley, that ties today’s sentiments together:

The tradition when you see someone else is to say, “sawa bona!” meaning, “I see you!” The belief goes, that when someone is acknowledged by somebody else, they are brought into existence in that moment and should reply “sikhona” or “I am here!”

So, sawa bona to the Texas Woman’s community. I see you! Thank you for your courage, vulnerability, and wisdom as we persevere, one day at a time.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Happy 50th Earth Day (April 22, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we celebrate the 50th Earth Day—flowers for the occasion.

Colorful tulips bloom on the TWU Denton campus

Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, we have had many reminders of connection and interdependence even though distanced by geography, language, culture, and the like. I have often heard that we are all in “the same boat” (i.e., on Planet Earth), but in a recent unattributed meditation that a colleague sent me, “the same boat” may be a problematic metaphor.

WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT ...

I heard that we are in the same boat. But it's not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.

Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa. For some, quarantine is optimal: a moment of reflection, of re-connection. Easy, in flip flops, with an iced tea.

For all, this is a desperate crisis. For some, it is facing loneliness. For others, peace, rest time, vacation.

Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills? What room is my abuser lying in wait?

Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter.

Others were concerned about bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.

Some were in their "home office".

Others are looking through trash to survive.

Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.

Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks and stores. Others to escape.

Others criticize the government for the lines.

Some have experienced the near-death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don't even believe this is a big deal.

Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during 2020.

Others say the worse is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat.

We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different. And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.

Some with a tan from their pool. Others with scars on the soul (for invisible reasons).

It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.

Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other. Don't be a judge. Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him.

We are on different ships looking to survive. Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy, and responsibility.

~ Unknown author

I believe this meditation reflects many stories and thoughts that members of the Texas Woman’s community have sent me. Though an apt metaphor, it is not a new idea. You all continue to inspire me by your expressions of “respect, empathy, and responsibility.”

I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming days. For now, I will leave you with some of Earth’s beauty.

Today, among all days, I will be particularly mindful to also treat the Earth with respect, empathy, and responsibility.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Fear is an incompetent teacher (April 21, 2020 at 8:26 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we continue to persevere in our “universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

As mentioned yesterday, stories about overcoming challenges are tempered by ones that reflect some harsh realities of this pandemic. Just this morning, a student shared grief upon learning of a loved one’s passing due to complications caused by COVID-19. There are no resources that can replace that loss, and I know you join me in sending our condolences. We send our thanks, too, for the comforters, caregivers, and healthcare experts who are our strength and help. There are other losses, too. I have melded together a few in the following narrative from real email messages.

My family lives in a region that is being hit pretty hard right now with COVID-19. Many of them work in hospitals that are seeing the worst. My fiancé has been trying to file for unemployment for the past several weeks, unable to get through to anyone. Things are extremely stressful, not to mention this is my first year at university. My funds from food stamps expire this month. Reapplying along with the many others now seeking funds will be more challenging, likely impossible. My scholarships do not apply to the summer term and without the wages from my fiancé to support us through the summer months the reality of paying tuition is becoming bleak. Spending our money for tuition and fees will mean not having any money to live during the rest of the summer. I realized I have the privilege of being enrolled at university, but I think I speak for many of my peers in saying we will be working through some of our hardest times financially, negatively impacting our mental, physical, and financial well-being.

We want to connect students who have lost income due to COVID-19 with financial help. Combined with my seed money, we raised nearly $140,000 for students. Student applications have completely exhausted those funds already. Students who applied for those funds will not need to reapply for access to federal stimulus funds, whenever the federal government releases that money. If you are a student, not fully online, and your livelihood was interrupted due to this COVID-19 pandemic, then you are likely eligible to receive federal stimulus funds, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines.

Dr. Natalie Malin, Instructor of First Year Composition, Literature, and Multicultural Gender and Women's Studies, shared the following useful resource for addressing mental illness:

Our Student Health Services has a wonderful webpage, Online Health Hub, created by Assistant Director of Student Health Service / Health Promotion, Amy Allison.

...I want to highlight the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention links that are under the top ribbon "Health Topics" dropdown menu. As an instructor myself and mother of college-aged students, I know that many students are struggling with the loss of their normal routines and how such abrupt changes can affect their mental health. I don’t think there can ever be too many mental health resources to share, especially now.

...The Active Minds link can also be found on the top ribbon on the Online Health Hub webpage. After clicking that Active Minds link, one of the most helpful resources is the Active Minds Community Resources link shared by the national headquarters.

Our faculty and staff are working harder than ever before. While the demands of our work may be greater, I am grateful that we are able to keep everyone employed, even if working in new ways than before. Still, some faculty and staff have significant others and family who have not fared as well. For those who need it, we do have resources, including the Employee Emergency Assistance Fund, among others, on the HR resources and Coronavirus webpages. I hope there is something to help every need, even if that need is just a sympathetic ear.

As one of my favorite characters said in a recent episode of Star Trek: Picard, “Fear is an incompetent teacher… Life is a responsibility! ...We have powerful tools. Openness. Optimism. And the spirit of curiosity… The future is left for us to write.” I hope we use our tools to cope with grief and find answers to the hard questions rather than let fear drive our behavior.

With kind regards,

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

Cuarentena con arte…Quarantine with art (April 20, 2020 at 7:24 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well and rejuvenated from the weekend. Happy “quarantine” Monday...

I have not had a chance to read all my email today due to back-to-back video-conference meetings. Making time for these messages is a discipline for which even I fail. I will have to redouble my efforts tomorrow.

I will quickly say that while it is often easier to share the stories of triumph, creativity, and shifts of attitude, I am profoundly saddened by the stories of loss. The times are hard for everyone, but for those of us who are still employed and still have our health, our “hard times” are incomparable to those who have suddenly lost income or health. Skipping meals to stretch funds, worrying about evictions and missing mortgage payments, and losing loved ones, these are the deeply felt stories of these times. I want to focus some attention on these stories this week and also highlight the resources we have to help address those essential needs.

For now, though, I will leave you with another perspective on the times. Looking at paintings through the lens of COVID-19 brings to light some new thoughts from classical images.

My Spanish-English translations of the subtitles:

  • Nada de contacto – no contact
  • Los besos – the kisses
  • El metro de distancia – one meter distance
  • El estetista cerrado – hairdresser is closed
  • Las charlas desde los balcones – chatting from balconies
  • El centro ciudad – center of town
  • Las mañanas interminables – never ending mornings
  • La primera semana – the first week
  • La segunda semana – the second week
  • La tercera semana – the third week
  • Tápate al toser – cover when coughing
  • Verano 2020 – summer 2020
  • El enésimo paseo – the umpteenth walk
  • La compra para dos semanas – shopping for two weeks
  • El chat de grupo – a group chat
  • Cuando todo pase – after it’s all over
  • Los reencuentros – the reunions and catching up
  • No cuentes los días, haz que cada día cuente – Don’t count the day, act as if every day counts
  • #quédateencasa – #stayhome


I hope we might rekindle that ancient African philosophy of ubuntu—I am because you are—that I mentioned in my first message, and that we keep it in mind as we move throughout this week.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Here comes the sun (April 17, 2020 at 5:47 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as the workweek comes to a close.

We may have scattered showers in the weather forecast for each of our campus localities today. But, as national, state, and local leaders announce strategies to reopen, the Beatles' 1969 Abbey Road track “Here Comes the Sun” comes to mind—thanks to a quarantine, group-sing video sent by one of my Instagram followers.

Also, the “True Colors” of Texas Woman’s "shining through” are indeed beautiful. Thank you for sharing your courage and strength with our #campuswithaheart

Technology has taken us a long way from Abbey Road. Back then, we could not “flatten the curve” with physical distancing while maintaining our educational goals through the online migration mid-semester, learning new stay-at-home exercise routines on YouTube, or staying connected via social media and video conferencing apps. Modern technology has also allowed the human spirit to shine through in a 6,000-person-couch-choir tribute to the healthcare workers on the front lines.

Couch Choir weaves videos collected from 6,000 strangers in 45 countries of strangers singing David Bowie’s “Heroes” as a tribute to nursing and healthcare workers.

We may see a glimmer of a reopened world in the weeks to come; however, the flexible- and agile-thinking we have practiced over the last few weeks will need to continue into the “new normal” that we build together.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

One month later (April 16, 2020 at 7:55 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well on what would have been Thursday of homecoming week.

Looking back, today marks one month since my first message regarding the coronavirus and extending spring break. It feels like a year—and at the same time, like yesterday. Time has never held such duality. I started my email version of Roosevelt’s “fireside chat” with the hope of drawing us closer even as we began to physically distance. I continue to look for ways of building community. I am grateful as ever for the resilience and courage I discover each day among this Texas Woman’s community.

Chancellor Feyten conducts a video chat session with the TWU community from her office at home

My first ever Instagram Live is upping my fireside chat game today. Over sixty people joined the event. In times of uncertainty, regular communication on multiple channels helps me feel connected to our shared mission, and I hope it does the same for you. Since I live on the Denton campus, my office is mostly the same as sheltering at home.

 

 

Afternoon scenes from my office

Isabel Goyco, one of our gymnasts who is sheltering at home in San Antonio, shared these words that hold encouragement for us all:

As a TWU student, I could not be more proud of my school: the professors and staff, my coaches and teammates, the athletics department, the honors society, and everyone else ... I am truly blessed to be a part of a school (or, rather, a family) that cares so much about students.

As I sit behind a screen at home, hundreds of miles away, I somehow still feel connected to everyone. We've all been given the opportunity to view things from a different perspective, work on ourselves, or try things we have never been able to in the past. Ironically, my communication skills have been improving significantly, though I am unable to communicate with anyone face to face! So, although I'm heartbroken for the things that couldn't be, I am thankful for the things that have grown out of a difficult situation. As the saying goes: there is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.

Graduating senior Jillian Cruzet just received the good news that she was accepted into the TWU Counseling and Development program. Her note offers useful insights on how to cope with longer-term ambitious goals:

We are currently learning about problem-solving in my cognitive psychology course this semester. One chapter talks about the means-end analysis, which is a strategy that can be used to find a solution and reduce the difference between one's initial and goal states. This is done by creating subgoals, or lesser goals that help us reach an end goal. When I came to TWU as a freshman, my initial goal was to get a degree. It sounds like an easy feat... but that statement hides so many learning experiences and subgoals that needed to be accomplished to reach that end goal (figuring out my major, making good grades each semester, staying involved on campus, etc). Although the likelihood of celebrating [graduation] with my peers in person seem slim, I have been learning through this quarantine that my hard work is valid, and my experiences give me the same pride and joy that a ceremony would bring.The current pandemic truly changes a lot of things for many people and honestly, it is rather difficult to see the end of it all. However, I like to think that each day is now a subgoal that will lead me towards the end goal: normalcy (whatever that may look like when this is all over) and experiencing the privileges that I took for granted before COVID (waiting in line at Starbucks, chatting with friends by the fountain, talking to my classmates in class, etc).

My husband, Ambassador Wick, recognized Jillina’s means-end analysis. He used it when cycling across the U.S. On some of those long treks up the Rocky Mountains, he did not know if he could make it to the top, but he did know that he could crank one more revolution of his pedals.

Thirteen-year-old Lucy Lawrence spoke at TEDxTWU on “Breaking endurance barriers, one step at a time.” She shared a four-step process, and note the insightful fourth step. 1) Make a goal. 2) Start. You cannot achieve unless you start. 3) Take small steps. You see, she ran 155 miles by running 50, 5k races in 50 states in 50 days. She didn’t know she could run 155 miles, but she knew she could run a 5k. So she just did what she knew she could do and achieved something she didn’t know she could achieve. 4) Look back on all the work that has resulted in your achievement and be proud.

 

Dr. Camelia Meier and Chancellor Feyten engaging in social distancing in the TWU Butterfly Garden

Professor and herbarium director, Camelia Maier, PhD weeds the gardens on her free time, taking care of our beautiful space… Practicing physical distancing with her yesterday, the exemplary faculty at Texas’ #campuswithaheart even during challenging times. #leadership

 

 

 

 

The Dr. Bettye Myers Butterfly Garden

This challenging time we are in provides some great opportunities to critically think about who we are, where we are, and consider theories and practical examples about how we move forward in what I mentioned before is the VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous—world, and time, in which we live.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Leadership in a pandemic (April 15, 2020 at 9:16 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well, and well over the hump of the workweek.

As you likely know, “Women & Leadership” is one of Texas Woman’s four areas of distinction in our “Learn to Thrive” strategic plan. Our distinct student body—the combination of ethnic diversity and gender composition—is one of our points of pride, and also a source of strength in leadership development for both women and men who enroll as students or who work here. Women have more opportunities to practice leadership in this environment than at other universities, and men have more opportunities to practice serving on teams led by women, as well as how to lead teams with high proportions of women. These are opportunities only available at an institution with an enrollment like we have—and right now, we are one of a kind in the nation.

Our setting is particularly relevant as we navigate uncharted territory. Tim Wentrcek, a project manager in Facilities Management & Construction, recently sent me “How the 1918 Flu Pandemic Helped Advance Women’s Rights” from the Smithsonian Magazine, which offers perspective from a century ago. This week, others sent me two opinion pieces: “What Do Countries With The Best Coronavirus Responses Have In Common? Women Leaders” from Forbes and “Women leaders are doing a disproportionately great job at handling the pandemic. So why aren't there more of them?” from CNN.

Nurses in 1916 stand holding empty stretchers with protective masks over their faces. Photo from Library of Congress

“More women than men were left standing after the war [WWI killed around 17 million people] and pandemic [the “great influenza” left more than 50 million people dead, including around 670,000 in the United States].”

Smithsonianmag.com, March 2, 2018

 
 
 

photo credit: Library of Congress

I have also written an op-ed on the topic of women and leadership during this time of the coronavirus that media outlets are considering. I believe these readings offer us opportunities for critical thinking as we all learn new ways of moving forward through uncertainty.

With kind regards,

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

Creativity and discipline (April 14, 2020 at 6:50 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we continue through uncharted territory.

Jessica Sapp, who is pursuing a degree in education, wrote me: “At first, I was truly disappointed in the cancellation of graduation and having to cut my student teaching experience short, but now, I look at the positive. Now, I have so much more to fuel my research on creative thinking. I have more hope for how to teach my students effectively when I finally do make it back into a classroom.” She closed her note with a quote from Debbie Allen, a former member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, “But out of the limitations...comes creativity.”

The limitations of physical distancing have felt particularly acute to me recently. I suppose this feeling ebbs and flows for us all at different times. Even though I am blessed to receive more email than most with stories of contagious courage and hope, I miss the bustle of campus life, terribly. These daily email messages were my “creative” attempt to ameliorate our loss of connection in real life. On Thursday at 3 pm, I’m going to try an Instagram Live event as a further means to draw us closer.

I want to close today with a special thanks to the nursing and healthcare workers on the front lines of this pandemic. Students in nursing and healthcare-related majors comprise over half of the Texas Woman’s student body. Many of our students in these majors are working on the front lines even now, and a few have shared how exhausted they are working long hours while trying to stay on top of their studies. Rosy Lilly Sanjeeviraj from the family nurse practitioner program in Houston shared with me about the routine of reciting her “Nurse’s prayer for the day.” She reminded me how returning to the daily discipline we learned in school—for her, this included hand-washing rituals and abstaining from wearing jewelry that could carry germs—can be sources of strength in times of waning courage.

These students offer great wisdom in coping with the times at hand, both in redirecting our attention towards creative outlets as well as through the discipline of rituals and familiar routines. Whatever works best for you, let us persevere together with our shared pioneering spirit.

With kind regards,

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

Student financial concerns and the summer term (April 13, 2020 at 7:31 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well and rejuvenated from the weekend.

I want to focus my message today on two frequent concerns I hear from students: 1) student financial resources and refund concerns, and 2) the summer term. It may feel like a lot to read, but I hope what follows will offer everyone a better understanding of these complex issues.

Student financial resources and refund concerns

Let me respond to a summation of several concerns: “1) I have a lot of financial anxiety now; 2) online classes are less expensive than on-campus classes to teach; and 3) I’m not using student fees; so, please offer a partial refund of tuition and fees.”

The faculty, staff, and alumni, along with my leadership team, have been deeply concerned about many students’ unfolding financial situation. From the start of this pandemic, we began to expand the Student Emergency Fund and seeded it with $100,000 (see Student Resources section of the COVID-19 webpage). This seed money came from discretionary funds that the University Advancement team and I raised from donors—alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Texas Woman’s. Contributions have come in since, and 100% of all of these funds are going directly to students who have financial hardship and loss of income due to COVID-19 repercussions.

The nation is also concerned for students. Many students across the country are not eligible for the direct federal stimulus because they are considered dependents on parent or guardian tax returns. For this reason, part of the stimulus package from the federal government is coming right to Texas Woman’s students. The U.S. Department of Education has stated that colleges should “first prioritize the most disadvantaged students with the greatest needs and second, support continued learning.” We plan to use an expansion of the Student Emergency Fund that we used for the donor-raised funds, following federal guidelines that are still being refined. The VP for Student Life will send out more information once federal funds are available and guidelines are set.

The Student Emergency Fund is how we have addressed—and hope to continue addressing—the changed financial situation of students from the economic impact of COVID-19.

The question of partial refunds for tuition and fees is different, so let me explain. Texas Woman’s is a public university. This means that taxpayer dollars go to support the mission of university. According to an independent analysis in 2018, Texas Woman’s adds $1.8 billion annually to the state economy—which is seen as a worthwhile investment from the point of view of students, taxpayers, and society. Taxpayer investment in students generally carries stipulations about academic progress and completion for students. This is why there are state law limits for Texas Woman’s students on the maximum number of course repeats and why there is a refund schedule published by the bursar on students dropping and withdrawing from classes. It is our duty as a public university to maintain access to education and not disrupt student progress to achieving a degree. Faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to move almost every class online and to continue providing student services such as counseling, advising, academic coaching, and even fitness and recreation programming to ensure that our students are well supported in making the transition online.

More than 20 years ago, Texas Woman’s pioneered distance education. Well before COVID-19, over a third of our courses were already offered online. Our experience put us in a position of strength for the transition to fully online this semester. We already had the online platform—Canvas—established. We already had exceptional instructional designers on staff. We also have many years of perfecting online teaching and learning. So we spent two weeks—one extra week of an extended spring break—to allow faculty to move their face-to-face courses online while seeking to maintain the established teaching and learning excellence that is Texas Woman’s legacy.

In almost every aspect of university operations—library, technology, student services—we are doing more than ever to stretch taxpayer and student investment. For students who lived on campus and chose to move home amid this pandemic, we offered prorated credit on housing and dining for the remainder of the semester. These are what we call “auxiliary operations” which are not taxpayer-supported. Therefore, we offered refunds to students who left university housing and were not using these discretionary services.

I hope these somewhat detailed insights offer you a better understanding of why Texas Woman’s University is not offering across-the-board refunds for tuition and fees. Nonetheless, we are still deeply concerned about our students’ financial wellbeing. As I mentioned earlier, we are addressing student financial need through grants, both from internally raised funds, and soon, from economic stimulus funds granted by the federal government.

The summer term

Starting this summer, there will no longer be four distinct terms as there have been in the past, but rather we will consider all seven sessions within one summer term. This change will benefit students by simplifying billing and financial aid, and it will eliminate multiple billing of fees previously charged each term of the summer. These plans were in the works well before COVID-19 came on the scene, but I’m happy to share the 2020 summer session format information from the registrar's website.

Secondly, University Housing plans to offer free housing this summer to qualified students as it has in the past, provided that official health guidelines allow us to relax the physical distancing requirements. You can look for an application to apply for limited free summer housing soon on the housing website. Again, you will be able to apply soon, and we will do the best we can, assuming the coronavirus situation improves and health officials lift restrictions.

We currently plan on offering courses that start May 11 in a fully online format. We hope that as the summer progresses, official health and safety guidelines will allow us to offer limited face-to-face courses, especially those labs and practicum courses that provide students with valuable experience in using instruments, lab equipment, and other in-person facilities. We also want to prioritize the research focus of faculty and students, following safety protocols, to re-energize the research mission of the university.

Let me reiterate that these are our hopes for this summer, but all plans are contingent upon federal and state officials guidelines for the health and safety of our community. I cannot predict the future with much certainty right now, but as much as we can, we are planning to lift campus restrictions as soon as health officials deem it safe to do so.

In conclusion

I hope this message provides you with helpful perspectives and information underpinning how our university, state, and federal policy and regulations apply to individual students. Texas Woman’s exists to serve the needs of the State of Texas and its citizens, working together—as we always have done—to make our world a better place for all through higher education. I hope that mission shines through in what I have shared!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

TGIF (April 10, 2020 at 3:56 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well…TGIF.

I want to end the week by simply sending my warmest wishes for a rejuvenating weekend. I thought I would leave you with one of my favorite composers and compositions, performed by the National Orchestra of France — Le Boléro de Ravel par l'Orchestre national de France —in quarantine.

For those who celebrate it, Happy Easter! And, for others, Shabbat Shalom! To all, have a great weekend!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Marking a trail in a pathless wilderness (April 9, 2020 at 7:39 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well on what some observe as Maundy Thursday.

A former colleague forwarded me a poem that was supposedly about the Spanish Flu pandemic in the early 20th century. That poem invoked an eerie familiarity with today’s upheaval. I can only guess at the intentions of whomever contrived this misinformation that has spread virally—no pun intended—on social media. It is a reminder that with great power—technology and the Internet—comes great responsibility. We truly are in uncharted territory; yet, that is where we at Texas Woman’s have always found ourselves as Jessie H. Humphries’ words carved in our 1938 Pioneer Woman attest:

“Marking a trail in a pathless wilderness, pressing forward with unswerving courage, she met each untried situation with resourcefulness equal to the need; with a glad heart, she brought to her frontier her homeland’s cultural heritage; with delicate spiritual sensitiveness, she illumined the dullness of routine and the loneliness of isolation with beauty; and with life abundant and withal, she lived with casual unawareness of her value to civilization. Such was the Pioneer Woman, the unsung saint of the nation’s immortals.”

Graduate student Sylvia Rowe in our Master of Library Science program lives in Tennessee and feels somewhat removed from Texas Woman’s while taking classes in a fully online program. She ended her note to me with this inspiration: “This is my last semester at TWU since I will graduate next month, but more than ever, I know that I made the right—and the best—choice by attending TWU.” Sylvia is marking a trail.

Another recent favorite about blazing trails—and changing attitudes—comes from music education major Michaela Brandt:

“When this whole ‘online classes’ thing started, I was very nervous about my education and how a student in a major requiring lots of face-to-face instruction, would learn anything. My past experiences with online classes were not the best learning-wise, and only added to my hesitance. … So, on your recommendation to us all, I buckled down and made sure I treated the online experience with both the same intensity as in-person classes and an open, flexible mind. ...So far, it’s been both difficult and eye-opening about how much one can really learn when their professors put in the time to make online learning the best it can be.”

One of our development officers, Patton Griffith, has been working with TWU Distinguished Alumni Maggie Snyder (Nursing 1976), who was on the front lines during another viral pandemic that gripped the world with fear, HIV/AIDS. Her leadership documented in Quiet Heros, a 2018 Sundance Film Festival selection, is another testament to the Texas Woman’s pioneering spirit.

I will end today summarizing a note from Dr. Nila Ricks, who like many, is juggling family, students, and faculty needs with responsibilities to her health and wellbeing. She is “blazing trails” in her back yard with boot camp-like workouts, and living her best shelter-in-place life while helping her son with his seafood boil mukbang on YouTube.

Dr. Nila Ricks with her son

In conclusion, she writes, “I’m also thankful that my students and faculty are starting to adjust. We will get through this and have some monumental experiences and memories to share. We won’t come out of this tunnel empty-handed!!”

We are marking a trail in a pathless wilderness. We are Texas Woman’s University!

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Courage through balance (April 8, 2020 at 6:23 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well as some of you begin the observance of Passover today.

Over these past few days, I have heard more stories from people who feel overwhelmed—by working from home and finances, to relationships, educational pursuits, and news of the pandemic, to name just a few. Last night as I spent time reflecting, I remembered the wisdom of Salma Hooshmand’s TEDxTWU Talk “The myth of stability.” At the time, Salma was a Master of Occupational Therapy student in Houston. She talked about times of feeling overwhelmed in her life and profession, and how seeking balance emerged for her as a path to courage.

That reminded me of how balance is central to our Health and Wellbeing Initiative—MindWell, EatWell, MoveWell, SpendWell, and BuildWell. Through the initiative’s hashtag #pioneerstrong, I found #thankyoutuesday where softball student-athlete Britney Hitt praised Associate Professor Nasrin Mirsaleh-Kohan, Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry for the exceptional care shown to her students during the past weeks.

TWU sophomore Britney Hitt thanks chemistry professor Dr. Mirsaleh-Kohan
Fit and Rec home workout instagram post

In my morning’s emergency management situation reports, Fit and Rec noted their Zoom meetings include fun themes, such as “80s haute couture” and “crazy hair” as they continue to program online content for those of us seeking balance related to MoveWell. I particularly appreciate the rec’s produced-from-home workouts with Marybeth. Human Resources and other departments have shared that increased numbers of videoconference meetings have helped everyone stay in touch. I also have moved to a daily Google Meet with my staff.

 

TWU Eat Well program posts an easy recipe for parents and children to make together

EatWell posts from @kdnutriprof, Nutrition and Food Science Assistant Professor Kathleen Davis, Ph.D. includes #kidfriendlymeals for faculty, staff, and students who are balancing a plethora of needs as working parents. One of her recent posts reminds me of Voltaire’s’ aphorism “le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”—the best (organic, gourmet) is the enemy of the good (canned, wholesome #plantprotein).

As we cross over the midpoint—balance-point—of the workweek, I hope you continue to find balance amongst the constant of change that is all around.

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.

First full moon after the spring equinox (April 7, 2020 at 7:33 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well on today’s first full moon after the spring equinox.

Celestial events such as today’s carry meaning in various cultures and religions, giving a bearing to holidays such as Passover in Judaism or Easter in Christianity. They also give perspective: 1) of humanity’s significance and 2) of a recurring theme that meaning is derived from one’s worldview. It should also be a call for unity, reminding us that we are all under the same big sky.

Whatever existential meditations that this week may hold for you, I find words often give way to music and poetry.

Dr. Vicki Baker, professor of music, shared her experience with the transition to teaching online: “We are seeking to be creative in our approach to teaching, in order to keep our students engaged and motivated, yet using a medium that is largely unfamiliar and is not easily adapted to many of our performance-based classes.” In her personal life, she is part of a “Musicians Making Masks Ministry.” The group supplies material to individuals who can sew facial masks, and then collects the finished masks for use primarily by senior-living communities. Her story is a testament that musicians can inspire through more than their transcendental performance on stage.

Chair of chemistry and 2019 Cornaro Professor Doc Sheardy sent me his poem inspired by the times, one stanza (full version in the postscript) of which weaves particularly well here:

On a day like today, I can’t help but ponder
All of the Beauty and all of the Wonder.
On a day like today, I can see forever
As I search for the Truth in my endeavor.
On a day like today, I understand the goal
Of living a life with heart and soul.

Rather than quiet time in reflection, others like to celebrate holidays in community. Dr. David Rylander, professor in marketing, shared with me the joy he finds attending “virtual happy hour” with friends and colleagues. Others invited me to a virtual Seder dinner tomorrow.

However you celebrate holidays during these times, I will close with undergrad Stephanie Wesson’s call to action: “With all that is going on, I think we should reflect on what’s really important to us, and whatever that is, make that a priority.”

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.

 

“A Day Like Today”
—by Doc Sheardy

Just another rainy day in Texas — 
A day like today the mind perplexes.
It is cold and it is chilly
Like a late winter’s day just north of Philly.
The rain hits my window as I quietly sit
But I’m not complaining, not in the least bit.

Friends will come and friends will go
And there are times when I just don’t know
What I can do or what I can say
To someone like me on a day like today.
And the words come harder each and every time
There is no reason — there is no rhyme.

On a day like today, I can’t help but ponder
All of the Beauty and all of the Wonder.
On a day like today, I can see forever
As I search for the Truth in my endeavor.
On a day like today, I understand the goal
Of living a life with heart and soul.

Just another sunny day in Texas —
A day like today the mind complexes.
It is warm and it is bright
From the dawn until night.
The warmth feels good on this aging skin
And I still feel the fire from deep within.

Bracing for a hard week (April 6, 2020 at 6:15 p.m.)

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

Ending the week (April 3, 2020 at 8:12 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well as the workweek draws to a close.

Unemployment skyrocketed this week and confirmed cases of COVID-19 are hitting closer to home. I have had off-campus students write who are symptomatic and even had one from the hospital where doctors admitted her with pneumonia—all of whom are still anxious to finish the semester. Trust me! There is a time to worry about classes but also a time to focus on health.

Grad student Saduman Gubuz shared with me her tutorial on making filtered face masks. She also made 100 of these and donated them to Wise Health System in Decatur, TX. I have seen several other how-to guides in publications from the New York Times this morning to a Japanese Creations blog, which offers a sort of origami approach to folding these masks, no sewing required. Given that health expert guidelines may suggest that everyone wear at least some sort of respiration mask when leaving home on essential errands, these may be useful resources.

Biology and medical technology undergrad Yaratzeth Ortiz shared, “With everything going on in our personal lives and work lives, it seems like we’re playing Jenga, and one wrong move could make everything fall down. This transition to online classes has been overwhelming, but I have faith everything will fall into place.” You have no idea how much that Jenga-metaphor resonates with me.

My favorite uplifting story came from Emily Holland, who feels hearing other’s stories in these messages are “gulps of fresh air amidst the clouds of ashes and anxiety.” She went on to share her story, from which I have pulled an excerpt:

I have worked my tail off during the past five years to put myself through school, always maintaining two jobs while studying biology, and graduation was the light at the end of the tunnel for me. With a tendency towards melodrama, I should have known that it was a train coming!

All we can do now is take care of ourselves and each other, and re-evaluate the things that are actually important in life. I had been so caught up in the details—getting my dress altered, sending out announcements, how I was going to do my hair—and now I see that none of that “stuff” ever really mattered. My people are well; they are proud of me. I am well; I’m proud of myself, and I will still have a bachelor’s degree at the end of this, which was the immediate goal anyway.

Texas Woman’s University has the beauty of opal, the strength of diamond, and an elegant, motherly influence. I am forever thankful to have had the opportunity to learn and grow and blossom there.

I particularly love her poetic, penultimate sentence! Let me conclude today with history major Gary Winner's perspective, shared from Scott Padgett, chief meteorologist on CBS 11 News in Dallas/Fort Worth: “On cloudy days the sun is still shining, you just have to look harder to see it.”
When I do feel those “clouds of ashes and anxiety” swirling overhead, the Texas Woman’s community gives me the courage to stay strong! Thank you for continuing to share your joys and concerns with me.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Have Strength multimedia work by Marysia Schultz

Marysia Schultz, New York artist and relative of a former Texas Woman’s community member painted “Have Strength” — pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 30x22”

“To our health care workers, nurses, doctors, caregivers, pharmacists, hospital administrators, hospital staff and every other person that is fighting this fight against Coronavirus, THANK YOU. Thank you for risking your lives, for going in to battle every day to take care of our community and loved ones. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making right now, and for all the sacrifices leading up to this day. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for holding the hands of our loved ones when you cannot see your own, for offering comfort to those who need it, even though you have so little left to give. You are our strength, for this, thank you.” —@reeshapaints

Conserving resources (April 2, 2020 at 7:36 p.m.)

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well.

Today, I have been in back-to-back meetings, so I have not yet had time to read your e-mails, which have been a rich source of inspiration for my messages to you. Given the topics of my meetings today, a key theme emerged.

In the current VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous—situation, we want to be thoughtful about our resources and plan for what may lie ahead.

We are reviewing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and what it might mean for Texas Woman’s. Similarly, we are working with the state to monetize the response required to meet the needs of our students. The exact impact of COVID-19 on the state economy is still unknown, but it would be unrealistic not to expect some state budget challenges.

Therefore, it would be prudent for us to start thinking in terms of cost containment and freezing all non-essential expenditures. We must begin to plan for the future, and that begins with conserving our resources, so they are there to support our efforts going forward. I am asking our Vice President for Finance and Administration, in consultation with the provost, to issue guidelines that govern spending for the remainder of this fiscal year. You can help by reviewing anticipated expenditures and identifying those that are non-essential.

We at Texas Woman’s have always been good stewards of funding from those who invest in the university, which is why College for All Texans ranks us as one of the most competitively priced universities in the state. We are committed to upholding that legacy.

The Texas Woman’s community continues to impress me with the grace, patience, and ingenuity it has shown in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming together, we have tackled urgent needs that have allowed students to continue their education. Together, we can face the future.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

“Now is the time to unite” (1:20 min animation about working together)

The value of perspective (April 1, 2020 at 5:49 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

April Fool's Day is cancelled this year because no prank could match the unbelievable stuff going on in the world right now

I hope this message finds you well as we start April with courage and hope.

Coronavirus is unaware of month or day, not at all like landlords and mortgage lenders. The first of the month may spark a more acute awareness about the economic reality right now. I have been grateful for messages from students and others who have shared their need before it becomes a crisis. There should never be shame in asking for help, least of all now. I wish I had a way to fix everything magically; I don’t!

What I do believe is that early communication about problems and perseverance in finding solutions has served me well in my life. I have heard stories about ways you are reaching out at this time of the month to those in your social circles. Even though you may not have financial resources to help others, offering your ear to listen is powerful. Sharing our struggles, disparate though they may be, can be a source of strength, giving us the courage to persevere in finding a way forward.

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated by the value of perspective. That is why I became a linguist. Each language is like seeing the world out a different window. The outside does not change, but what I see and how I see it can be very different. Some of you have shared your woes about learning online. Others, like my son Max, have told me that it is so much less stressful to “read on my own, do homework, figure things out, and take tests.” I believe the key phrase there is: “figure things out!” I believe that is precisely what higher education is all about, and I think it has special meaning as we all “figure things out” here at the start of a new month, in a world that looks so different from what we have known.

'Wherever you go, the sky is the same color.' Persian saying

I want to end with a Persian proverb: “Wherever you go, the sky is the same color.” My hope for April is that we “figure things out” together.

With a pioneering spirit,

Carine M. Feyten
Chancellor Feyten, Ph.D.

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

The VUCA world (March 31, 2020 at 8:07 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well on this last day of March.

Speaking of “last,” a question on many minds is, “how long is this going to last?” Students write hoping I might have a crystal ball—I don’t—to help them make decisions about housing, dissertation defense dates, and final grades. Faculty are planning their syllabi, wondering if the next round in the course rotation will need to be online. Administrators and staff are planning new events, new dates for postponed ones, or the point at which they pull the trigger on canceling already planned events. It’s not easy living with uncertainty.

I have been talking about the VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous—world for many years now. My response to living in such a world has been greater agility and focusing attention on the present. I always tell guests who visit Belgium with me that if we wait for the rain to end, we might waste valuable time and may even miss the beauty of the rain. Similarly, I have been telling students rather than wait for those more ideal circumstances to come around, make the best of what you have now. As the doctoral-faculty mantra goes, the best dissertation is a done one.

Dr. Fuqin Liu, associate professor in the College of Nursing, did not wait for change. She made change happen. She knows the needs of healthcare workers and the bureaucratic hurdles in hospitals, so before the region even had shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), she was raising money for its purchase. She organized a volunteer network that used the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat to raise over $100,000, committed 100% of it to buying PPE, negotiated with global suppliers, and prepared to distribute the supplies, which arrived in Dallas today. I am inspired by Dr. Liu’s leadership and heart for service that is unmistakable on her KRLD radio interview yesterday.

To practice more of a present focus myself while also being social, I am going to join the “Breathe It All In” experience hosted as a live event on Thursday, April 2, at 9:00 AM via the International Women’s Foundation Instagram page. I will leave you today with some chill music from Uganda.

With pioneering spirit,

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

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

Bobi Wine / Nubian Li (1:52 min of coronavirus and chill from Uganda)

Keeping the faith that the best case is also possible (March 30, 2020 at 6:09 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well and rested from the weekend.

I want to start this week by acknowledging that many—most, really—of us are going through a sort of grieving process, all while keeping up with new and often increased demands on our time. As we enter another week of the coronavirus situation, some things are beginning to settle, and in your messages to me, I see a pattern emerge. We have lost so much: seemingly little things such as our favorite study spots, access to comfort foods, or five minutes of social banter before class; and big things such as income, delayed dreams, and even loved ones.

I also believe there is a tendency of pandemic rhetoric to gravitate toward a focus on the worst-case scenarios. I have to remind myself that there are best-case scenarios, too. We have to balance the two—inventing the best case often ourselves—and keep those in mind. Part of my angst comes from the worst-case speculation in the background, all that I am doing in the foreground, and yet what I accomplish failing to bring the usual sense of satisfaction. One staff member shared that he copes with this feeling by making lists and tackling the easy items first, literally checking off the accomplishments. That has helped him cope.

Text reads 'If the sky falls, hold up your hands' then repeats the phrase in Spanish

No matter your method for moving forward—or even if you do not feel forward movement at all—I have found so much strength and encouragement staying connected to you all through social media, email, and other virtual means. Let us keep it up—and keep the faith that the best case is also possible.

With pioneering spirit,

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

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

First Friday fully online (March 27, 2020 at 4:32 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well as this first work week of the fully online transition draws to a close.

A popular meme right now suggests that parents will be the first to find a cure to the coronavirus! Kemi, mother and doctoral student in sociology, wrote to me to share all that she is managing:

“...I work full time, take a full load of classes and am a graduate research assistant...add to my list of duties the roles according to current needs of my four children who are now working and learning online: career coach, 9th grade dean of students, 7th grade academic coordinator, 4th grade teacher, cafeteria manager, dorm mother, help desk representative, gourmet chef, project manager, and athletic director…

I’m taking it all in stride...being present in the moment, focusing on what’s most important, and juggling priorities ...this is a new normal.”

She expounds upon the seemingly impossible logistics of having five or more subjects per child, with teachers who assume each child has her/his own computer, then ends by extolling the value of grace in abundance. Like Kemi, I am tired, and I do not even have kids at home. Many faculty and staff share a version of Kemi’s story. Others are in fragile states of health. Even those in low-risk categories are anxious or stir crazy. “This is the new normal,” indeed!

I will end the week by simply sending my warmest wishes for health, strength, and perseverance. As we move into the weekend, I plan to step up my self-care and take some time away to enjoy spring weather in my yard. In this time of spatial distancing, I hope to keep on being socially present with friends, family, and this gracious and caring Texas Woman’s community.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

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

My favorite video of the week is of an Israeli mother who feels that distance learning is harder than it sounds. Her passionate plea makes me laugh in empathy every time.

AssistHER and love…in the time of coronavirus (March 26, 2020 at 4:13 p.m.)

a field of bluebonnets with the TWU campus buildings rising up in the distance

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well on this warm, cloudless day in Texas.

Retired faculty Barney Sanborn in kinesiology—via Lisa Silliman-French in adaptive PE—sent me a photo of bluebonnets and the iconic TWU towers from her home as she shelters in place today.

 

 

 

Lauren Hendershot in University Advancement had to pivot on her big wedding plans. Rather than cancel, she employed spatial distancing methods #sixfeetapart. I have to say that the pictures brought a tear to my eye. Love in the time of coronavirus has shown through.

a wedding party stands 6 feet apart from one another to comply with CDC safety guidelines for coronavirus activity

And the last bit of big news I want to share today is that Shannon Mantaro, in our Center for Women Entrepreneurs, a part of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership, created a new opportunity for women-owned businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 situation. The center has been helping women entrepreneurs succeed through training, advising, networking, and incubator funding. Today, the center announced that it would allocate a million dollars of its state funds for one hundred $10,000 AssistHER grants.

The center’s plan received broad support from Texas leadership. “Small businesses are the heart of our communities and of this great state,” First Lady Cecilia Abbott said. “In these challenging times, we especially need to encourage women to continue investing in their small businesses to help sustain local jobs and to help provide more financial security for more Texas families. By supporting our small businesses, we will overcome this challenge — we are #TexasStrong.”

I continue to be amazed by the myriad of ways Texas Woman’s is responding to the times, from retired faculty’s moments of joy to the earnest rethinking about what each of us can do—and then stepping up to lead. I also continue to be mindful of the seriousness of the economic woes and lives we are saving by cooperating and working together.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

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

Research and service work…in the time of coronavirus (March 25, 2020 at 6:01 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well as I share a glimpse of today’s activities in our Texas Woman’s community.

Last night, I heard that 499 people attended a recent virtual yoga class led by a student-yoga teacher and produced by Fit and Rec—keeping our student workers employed even at home. With those numbers, we are clearly hungry for connection. After academic leaders met in their regular videoconference, one of the librarians led some chair yoga for those who wanted to stick around on the call.

Jacob M. Blosser, a professor in History & Political Science and president of Phi Alpha Theta—one of the nation’s oldest and largest honor societies—launched a daily “moments for history.” He hopes to offer followers (Ig, Fb, YouTube) a momentary break from the somber realities of this COVID-19 pandemic while also building community among the honor society’s 400,000 members. Like Dr. Blosser’s, some service work and research projects have creatively shifted online, but others have had to put plans on hold until they can return to their labs. As someone who did a lot of my education research in the K-12 classroom, I am empathetic to these delays.

My leadership team continues to meet each morning, looking for ways to help. Our first duty is to the Texas Woman’s community, but we also have an eye fixed on the needs around us and our place in the broader community. I will have more to share about some external efforts soon. As the group makes decisions for the day, we have our gaze steadfastly focused on the future and are ready to lead beyond the challenging realities of today.

With a pioneering spirit,

Carine M. Feyten
Chancellor Feyten, Ph.D.

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

Staying connected…during the COVID-19 social upheaval (March 24, 2020 at 5:47 p.m.)


Dear Texas Woman’s Community,

I hope this message finds you well on this warm, sunny spring day in Texas.

Those in communities surrounding each of our campuses will all be under shelter-in-place orders by tomorrow evening—we are ahead of the game, implementing limited access to the last of our campuses today at five o’clock. My family in Belgium has been under similar orders for almost two weeks already. Their stories have painted a preview of what is to come. Some have become armchair policy-makers, obsessively monitoring country counts and news accounts. Others have withdrawn from the newsfeeds to focus attention on new hobbies. Regardless of the routine as they have isolated in place, they have also begun to share more with me through messaging apps. I have appreciated that deepened connection during these times of social upheaval.

A baby wears a TWU shirt while he plays on a blanket with colorful toys

I continue to hear stories from far and near. One student left on a personal trip but is now waylaid abroad. Another is due to give birth, but current protocols limit the presence of any family in the delivery room. Another mother wrote to me from Germany where she teaches US military children; she expressed gratitude for the care Texas Woman’s is showing her daughter, whose only home here is in our residence halls. Another is working to produce CDC-approved hand sanitizer for first responders in South Texas at a distillery-converted-to-manufacturing facility, and she expressed relief knowing her daughter is in “safe hands” at Texas Woman’s while she is busy helping protect first responders. My favorite story of the day comes from students—sisters—in counseling psychology who shared a photo of Niam sporting the Texas Woman’s brand while they isolate themselves and complete studies from home.

I continue to remind myself here in my home on the Denton campus that while in isolation, we are still a community. Thanks to technology, we can always call on each other for help or just to share our latest creation in the kitchen. When we do that, I believe we can actually deepen our connection, just like I have with my family in Europe.

I hope you stay safe and well—and connected.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

What We're Made Of (March 23, 2020 at 9:44 p.m.)

Dear TWU Community,

I hope this message finds you well as we near the end of our first day “back”—some of you sheltering in place—from a long spring break. Dr. Nila Ricks, chair of social work, and I were emailing today, and we mused about a saying that social workers know only too well: “it’s at times like these that you really see what people are made of!”

I am heartened by what I see “our community is made of.” Dr. Tina Fletcher in Occupational Therapy – Dallas shared a story with me about her youngest daughter, who is home from the Air Force Academy because of the COVID-19 upheaval. Her daughter is required to attend synchronous online classes in “air[wo]man’s battle uniform.” So, when Tina peeked in at her “in class,” she saw her daughter in a camo uniform top and pink pajama bottoms. Meanwhile, Tina is sewing much-needed medical masks out of fun fabrics, inspired by memories of the days when nurses she worked with used to draw smiley faces on them. At times like these, Tina says, “the sound of that sewing machine humming along is so comforting.”

Amidst the many challenges and questions each day, I am inspired hearing about the joy you all find in spite of everything we are facing.

As we move to a “stay in place” order for Dallas county tonight and limited access in Denton tomorrow, I am temporarily suspending the creation of new positions, new hires, promotions, and reclassifications for staff. In most cases, it makes no sense to bring new people on board right now. We will also hit “pause” on faculty searches as we cannot bring candidates to campus. The deans and provost will offer further guidance on searches in progress.

Some worried that the internet might have a meltdown today with all of the traffic. It seems it is made of more than we thought, too—knock on wood! Whether up or down, these days call for patience and persistence—and empathy. While many of us are doing our best to move forward, our #campuswithaheart goes out to those who are struggling with health in general and this virus in particular. I send my warmest wishes for strength and healing to all.

With a pioneering spirit,

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

Donations to Student Emergency Fund (March 23, 2020 at 8:21 a.m.)

Over the past few weeks, we have entered unfamiliar and challenging times as our state, nation, and the entire world, grapple with the reality of COVID-19. While there is a great deal of uncertainty about the course of this disease, we know that we will experience many challenges, both health-related and economic, within our communities. At Texas Woman’s University, our students, faculty and staff are meeting those challenges with Pioneer strength and character.

As you are no doubt already aware, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has altered, or in some instances halted, the university’s normal operations. While most of our residential students have vacated their campus housing to move home this week, our faculty have diligently moved all courses online for the remainder of the semester. In addition, all on-campus events in Denton, Dallas and Houston, including our May commencement ceremonies, have been postponed or cancelled.

Unfortunately, these additional safety precautions are causing significant financial burdens for our most at-risk students. As a result, I am allocating $100,000 from the Chancellor’s Fund comprised of unrestricted donations to the TWU Foundation to provide immediate relief to those students with the greatest needs.

I know that some of you have asked how you can help. In response, we have expanded the Student Emergency Fund to provide additional financial support to our students. If you would like to contribute to this special fund, please visit our website to make your gift online. We are grateful to you for standing with our TWU community at this difficult time.

During this time of mass disruption for all of us, I am reminded that you and many TWU alumni and friends are at the forefront of helping preserve the health and safety of our communities and our most vulnerable populations. You can read about some of the amazing contributions our alumni are making to society under the tab “Women Who Lead

Finally, I wish you and your family the very best as we navigate this “new normal” together and work collaboratively to ensure the health and well-being of our local, national and global community.

Sincerely,

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

Dallas…“Stay Home Stay Safe" (March 22, 2020 at 9:40 pm)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community:
 
This is my second message today, which speaks to the rapid rate of change as communities respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Earlier today, Dallas County Judge Jenkins issued a “Stay Home Stay Safe” order effective March 23, 2020, at 11:59 pm. We will, therefore, close our Dallas campus at that time. This order will impact those living within Dallas County who would otherwise commute to our other campuses. As some of you may hurriedly access your offices on Monday to obtain items needed while you shelter in place, please remember the rules of social distancing.
 
Although this notice has not given us much response time, I am grateful that so many are ahead of the curve. Your work is now paying off. As always, please contact your supervisors with any questions or concerns that these new changes pose.
 
I will end by sending my warmest wishes to stay well and persevere through these rapid changes.
 
Kindest regards,
 
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President
 
P.S. See the coronavirus with FAQs for the latest.

To faculty/staff - Coronavirus and restricted access (March 22, 2020 at 3:22 p.m.)

Dear Colleagues:

I hope this message finds you well on this first Sunday morning of spring though the coronavirus situation continues to evolve around us.

Although we have taken significant steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, world, national, and state health leaders predict impending stress on our healthcare system. We believe we can and must do more. In line with plans at other universities around the country and here in Texas, we will begin a tighter restricted access policy for a period.

Starting at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, we will limit building access to only those needed for essential operations and in support of our students still residing on campus.

Therefore, you will have until then to retrieve any needed items from your office. Supervisors will identify essential personnel who will need to continue to have access to the campus during this period and will coordinate that access.

I know many of you are very concerned about student wellbeing, especially those who have lost income and are facing financial challenges. I have allocated $100,000 from the Chancellor’s Fund comprised of unrestricted donations to the TWU Foundation to provide immediate relief to those students with the greatest needs. For those of you who have asked how you can help, we have established the Student Emergency Fund that we will use to collect donations, 100-percent of which will go directly to students in need. These funds complement other efforts we have made using recent federal changes that allow universities to pay Work-Study funds, for example. We also have waived late fees for students paying tuition and fees on installments, and Student Life is evaluating options for housing and dining contracts

I am frequently reminded of the late Dr. Bettye Myers, who served as faculty in the School of Health Promotion & Kinesiology for over 40 years and who was also a dear friend to so many of us. She often recited this quote from Helen Keller, which seems apropos for the times as we each try to do our part:

I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

Earlier this week, the Indian prime minister asked everyone to make some noise for five minutes at five o’clock from their windows and balconies in support of the healthcare workers and others on the front lines of this pandemic. While such actions do not stop the unfolding realities, they are symbolic of the fact that we are all in this together, and all should do our part. While the phrase is starting to sound repetitive, these are unprecedented times, but I continue to feel a sense of solidarity in our collaborative and coordinated efforts.

With Pioneer Pride,

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

P.S. See the coronavirus website with FAQs for the latest information.

For Students - Coronavirus and restricted access (March 22, 2020 at 1:17 p.m.)

Dear Students:

I hope this message finds you well on this first Sunday morning of spring though the coronavirus situation continues to evolve around us.

Although we have taken significant steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, world, national, and state health leaders predict impending stress on our healthcare system. We believe we can and must do more. In line with plans at other universities around the country and here in Texas, we will begin a tighter restricted access policy for a period.

Starting at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, we will limit building access to only those needed for essential operations and in support of our students still residing on campus.

Many of you have sent emails to me and several others about housing and dining. We are aware of the different challenges facing our students and residents and are working on options to provide needed support as the situation evolves. The VP for Student Life will send you more information by Tuesday regarding housing and dining contracts. Earlier this week, the

Indian prime minister asked everyone to make some noise for five minutes at five o’clock from their windows and balconies in support of the healthcare workers and others on the front lines of this pandemic. While such actions do not stop the unfolding realities, they are symbolic of the fact that we are all in this together, and all should do our part. While the phrase is starting to sound repetitive, these are unprecedented times. Still, I continue to feel a sense of solidarity in our collaborative and coordinated efforts.

With Pioneer Pride,

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

Message to Parents (March 20, 2020 at 7:09 p.m.)

Dear Parents,

I hope this message finds you well amidst this unprecedented coronavirus situation. As leaders in healthcare and nursing education, we have headed with earnest the call by federal and local authorities to engage in social distancing. To that end, I extended spring break for a week while the campus prepared for next steps, including going fully online starting Monday, March 23rd. I say “fully online” glibly, but this undertaking is enormous to do well—testing equipment and infrastructure bandwidth, training for faculty who have limited online experience, creative solutions for labs and arts courses, and significant changes to operations.

Texas Woman’s actually pioneered “distance education” even before the birth of the internet, and we continue to be a leader in online pedagogy—with almost a third of our courses online even before the coronavirus emerged. Our history and infrastructure put us in a position of strength as we move to a fully online experience—one that lives up to the excellence in education for which Texas Woman’s is known.

While we have no confirmed case of COVID-19 among the Texas Woman’s University community, many faculty and staff are already working remotely. For those remaining, we have implemented additional steps to protect the health and safety of all in our community, including aligning cleaning protocols with federal guidelines and implementing controls to enforce social distancing as we stagger student move-outs and other means to reduce population density on our campuses.

Our emergency management and my leadership teams meet each morning to ensure a highly coordinated response in this ever-evolving situation. We are maintaining a coronavirus webpage with all the changes and FAQs. While many students move home and employees begin telecommuting, we are committed to staying open and operational, especially to serve students from whom our residence halls are their only home.

This week has been anything but easy, but as it draws to a close, I feel more gratitude than ever for my colleagues and leadership team as well as for our students. Texas Woman’s is genuinely a #campuswithaheart.

While in awe of the many incredible feats of courage and ingenuity as we prepare for next week, I do not minimize the health challenges still ahead. Our bold moves are a beacon, though, for those of us who are still well, to keep us engaged and moving forward with the mission of Texas Woman’s University as best we can during this unparalleled disruption in our normal routines—and while some fight for their lives.

With Pioneer Pride,

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

Final day of the extended spring break…boldly go online (March 20, 2020 at 3:23 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community:

I hope this message finds you well on this last day of the workweek before we move our courses fully online Monday.

I want to start today’s message with a point of pride: Texas Woman’s actually pioneered “distance education” even before the birth of the internet, and we continue to be a leader in online pedagogy—with almost a third of our courses online even before the coronavirus emerged.

This week has been anything but easy. As it draws to a close, I feel more gratitude than ever for my colleagues and leadership team as well as for our students. Texas Woman’s is genuinely a #campuswithaheart.

Our faculty, with staff support from IT Solutions, Teaching and Learning with Technology, and the Center for Faculty Excellence, among others, have been working tirelessly this week to transition our remaining face-to-face instruction to an online experience—one that lives up to the excellence in education for which Texas Woman’s is known.

A young woman wearing a gray TWU t-shirt stretches during a workout session

The TWU Libraries have been retooling a number of their services to tighten up their long-held excellence in providing online access and resources. Even the Fitness and Recreation Center will start streaming options for yoga to compliment their other in-home workouts that help us keep physically active while social distancing.

All of these positive outcomes of the week do not minimize the health challenges still ahead. They are a beacon, though, for those of us who are still well, to keep us engaged and moving forward with the mission of Texas Woman’s as best we can during this unprecedented disruption in our normal routines—and while many fight for their lives.

With Pioneer Pride,

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

P.S. See the coronavirus with FAQs for the latest and TXschools.gov has resources for free school meal pick-up locations.

Staff shifting gears for social distancing (March 19, 2020 at 5:47 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community:

I hope this message finds you well after last night’s thunderstorms, at least in North Texas. Houston, I hear yours are coming this evening.

I am grateful for the stories you have shared with me. Some of the staff who have begun to telecommute with kids at home are expressing a growing admiration for what teachers deal with every day, and some are finding all the family time has them eager never to telecommute again. Others are lonely. Still, others are reminded of the lessons from Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things, specifically those chapters on sharing and also on washing hands.

The family computer time is being split between kids’ homework and mommy’s work, while also, one woman shared, saving a sliver for a “friendly bout on League of Legends”—I have no idea what that is, but it sounded sci-fi, and my Trekkie roots are all about that. I hear from staff who are recalibrating their work, shifting some of the tasks usually completed later in the year to this virtual workspace. Some are even excited about the opportunity to build systems or develop programming they always imagined would benefit our student body. Student counseling, as well as counseling practicums in Family Sciences, are all still able to meet with clients through HIPAA-compliant virtual means.

A coloring sheet that says She Believed She Could So She Did.

Some of our graphic designers and students have put together puzzles and coloring-book pages that you might find useful to relieve stress and anxiety while social distancing.

We are in a brave new world, but I am afraid we will have to be braver yet before we regain some normalcy. Please keep sharing, and I will do my best to respond. Though we are social distancing, we can maintain some feeling that we are still together. As that lyric from An American Tail goes: “It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.”

With Pioneer Pride,

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

P.S. See the coronavirus page with FAQs for the latest and a new tips about working from home page for timely and useful ideas.

Update on coronavirus situation...and redbuds (March 18, 2020 at 3:11 p.m.)

Dear Texas Woman’s Community:

I hope this message finds you well amidst a growing number of reported COVID-19 cases in Texas, across the country, and around the world.

In these times, we often forget to “stop and smell the roses,” but as I crossed campus this morning on my way to the office, I took a moment to enjoy the emerging spring beauty around us. With everything in flux, some things never change: our redbuds are as beautiful as ever! Our Health and Wellbeing Initiative also offers timely and thoughtful posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Measures to curb the impact of the novel coronavirus on our communities continue to increase. I am extraordinarily proud and appreciative of all that faculty and staff are doing to help our students succeed this semester all the while also addressing their own challenges. I am also grateful to hear the stories of patience and understanding from our students.

As I listen and engage during our emergency management meetings each morning—on Google Meet—I recognize the challenges faced by our students, especially those in our arts programs, labs, and field-based experiences given the social distance recommendations by local and national authorities. Many of these programs have significant barriers to overcome. Some of the methods I have heard used are as simple as videocall music lessons and as innovative as projects started by Sam Flippin, our orchestra director. He has invited string players to join a virtual orchestra!

As the adage goes: necessity is the mother of invention. I would love to hear the ways you are helping each other, your neighbors, and our communities despite the challenges we are all facing. Stay well! And, I look forward to connecting with you again tomorrow!

With Pioneer Pride,

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

TWU athlete news related to coronavirus situation...and parking (March 17, 2020 2:50 p.m.)

TWU athlete news related to the coronavirus situation…and parking

 
Dear Texas Woman’s Community:
 
I hope everyone is still well, for the most part, on this second day of our extended spring break. Happy St-Patrick’s Day, too! #goMaroon
I have been hearing from various groups in our Texas Woman’s community. Today, I thought I’d focus on stories of our student-athletes. For some of the teams in mid-season, the cancelation by our Lone Star Conference means their season ended abruptly last week. I can only imagine the grief of so many athletes who have put their hearts and souls into the training to be the best—and show it in competition. Softball’s head coach, Amber Barker, took the time to individually call each member on the team to announce the news and to see how they were doing. Hers is a spot-on example of the importance of the personal touch in this time of ‘social distance’... a great example of leadership. Similarly, as Coach Bowerman shared the news with her gymnasts, she reminded them, “it’s the journey where we grow.”
 
Chancellor Feyten in a yoga pose with the TWU Softball team
 
These examples and sentiments are an encouragement to me too. It is not necessarily where we are going that matters as much as how we move forward today. I remember once reading about the growth of trees and how their defense—their bark—has to shed in order for the trunk to expand. While protective barriers are vital, sometimes, we have to loosen them to grow. 
 
I know online delivery is a considerable shift from face-to-face classes, but there are some key advantages that online educators have highlighted over the years. Online is a space where more voices enter into conversations, and those diverse perspectives can often anchor knowledge better. That’s just one of many benefits, but at the same time, I want to acknowledge that the environment is not without its challenges, including being more resource-intensive, and with a steep learning curve for all those who had to ‘jump in’ on very short notice. As we move along, I hope you, too, will embrace coach Bowerman’s sentiments about the journey.
 
And to end with one more bit of good news—tongue in cheek—parking is no longer the issue it has been on every campus since the dawn of time. Also...as of today, we will stop enforcing parking for the remainder of the semester in Dallas and Denton. Houston, we’ve got a problem! Parking there is enforced by the garage owners, not the university. Those in Denton who have been parking in the remote lots at the Denton Bible Chapel can use the closer, mostly empty lots on the campus. Shuttles will stop running after Thursday. Students who are still living on campus can park closer to their residence halls, and staff can have access to closer lots as well, including the non-reserved spaces in the Oakland Complex.
 
We will keep the news flowing. The redesigned coronavirus page, linked on the main TWU site, should be up and operational by the end of the day.
 
With Pioneer Pride,
 
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President

Latest TWU news related to the coronavirus situation (March 16, 2020 at 5:20 p.m.)

Latest TWU news related to the coronavirus situation

Dear Texas Woman’s Community:
 
I hope you are still well and wish you the best as we take the next steps in proactively responding to the coronavirus situation. 
 
Today, we have decided to move courses online for the remainder of the spring semester. We do not want faculty to hold face-to-face classes either on- or off-campus in support of the CDC-recommendations for social distancing. Students will soon receive an email from Student Life with details related to housing and dining. Provost Kapinus will follow up with more information about classes (including field-based experiences), award ceremonies, and commencement.
 
The communications team is currently reorganizing the university’s coronavirus website to make it more user-friendly and expanding commonly asked questions. It will include a way for you to let us know if you have other questions or concerns that you would like us to address. I will let you know when the enhanced site is ready.
 
I know much is evolving quickly. Faculty and students are often learning about changes at the same time. We extended spring break to give the faculty a week to develop plans for their courses. Students: I hope you will give your instructors time to regroup, but also know, we see you! Many of you have to face hard situations, too, including the possibility of having to move mid-semester, potential financial losses due to cutbacks at work, etc. 
 
At these times, I think about the word ubuntu. It’s an African philosophy, originated in South Africa, mostly from the Zulu language, and means “being self through others” or “I am because you are.” I am keeping this thought—and all of you—in mind as my leadership team and I listen to your voices and make decisions each day about our next steps together.
 
With Pioneer Pride,
 
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President

COVID-19 TWU Update, March 13, 2020 at 2 p.m.

Dear Texas Woman’s Community:

I hope you are able to take a little breather this weekend while we gear up to a new coronavirus-normal, at least for a while. I need to make you all aware of the following details.

Travel between campuses

To clarify about the domestic part of the travel ban (see previous message), we are asking you to travel between campuses, when necessary, by vehicle rather than by air. Please also consider using videoconferencing or other virtual means, when possible. In addition, you should avoid conferences or large gatherings.

Self-isolating requirements for international travelers and those who are sick

Notice to all TWU students and employees who have returned from international travel since February 29th, 2020.

As of March 12, 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has greatly enhanced their travel restrictions. Based on CDC recommendations, all TWU students and employees who have traveled to ANY international location within the past 14 days are requested to complete a self-report form. In addition, employees and students who have traveled internationally since February 29th, must self-isolate for 14 days after your return to the U.S., and report to TWU Risk Management prior to resuming usual campus-related activities. During the isolation, students and employees should monitor their health.

As mentioned before, anyone who is exhibiting any cold or flu-like symptoms—not just a confirmed case of Covid-19—should self-isolate until fully recovered.

Students

If you are asked to self-isolate you should stay home—in your room, your apartment, or your house. Do not go to work, classes, athletic events, or any social gatherings until the conclusion of the self-isolation period. Prior to resuming any TWU related activity, students must contact TWU Risk Management (risk@twu.edu)—see form.

  • Ideally students asked to self-isolate should do so at home, off-campus. If campus is your primary residence, please contact Department of University Housing (housing@twu.edu).
  • Students concerned about medical symptoms or underlying health conditions should seek medical advice from their healthcare provider or Student Health Services at 940-898-3826.
  • An additional communication will be sent to all students who may need academic accommodations.
Employees

Self-isolating employees should contact their supervisors to discuss and make telecommuting arrangements as appropriate. If you become ill during the quarantine period, you are obviously eligible to use sick leave and rest rather than telecommute. Prior to resuming any TWU related activity, employees must contact TWU Risk Management (risk@twu.edu)  —see form.

Lone Star Conference Athletic Events

The Lone Star Conference met yesterday and decided to cancel all athletic events at least until March 31st.

I know each of us has a different set of challenges. Social distancing might also make you feel isolated and unable to share challenges and joys with each other as usual. I hope you will intensify communication with each other, albeit virtually. I also plan on sending you short messages in the coming weeks sharing stories of your innovations and creativity in facing challenges. I hope these will help you feel like we are staying connected. Again, thank you for being part of this wonderful community where we each take care of ourselves while supporting one another.

With Pioneer Pride,

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

 

Update, March 13, 2020 at noon

The university remains committed to ensuring the safety of the TWU community and will continue sharing timely updates regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation. In light of recent developments related to the virus, the university is modifying its operations in the following ways:

  • Spring break has been extended, meaning all classes, including online, will resume March 23. To the maximum extent possible, courses will be migrated to an online delivery format, effective that day. This excludes clinical, practicum, internships and student teaching, which will continue through in-person instruction. The goal is to complete the semester according to the current academic calendar. Faculty and staff are expected to use the next week to prepare for this potential transition.
  • TWU’s three campuses will remain open during the spring break extension and normal business operations and services will continue, including residence and dining halls, the library, and health and counseling services.
  • Some hours of operation for campus services may be modified.
  • Events and activities will be generally limited to essential workers, families and students choosing to remain on campus. Planned events will be reviewed based on a number of risk factors, and organizers will determine the best course of action on a case-by-case basis.
  • Our cleaning protocols have been aligned with the CDC’s recommendations for coronavirus, and we will continue to modify measures as dictated to keep our campus safe.
  • All non-essential university travel – both domestic and international – is restricted until further notice.
  • Student clinicals, practicums, internships and teaching will continue for now. Students should check with their faculty advisors for guidance.

These modifications have been implemented after careful thought and with an aim to minimize the impact of the virus on our campuses and to our students.

As more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth in particular, the university will implement additional social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus while supporting educational goals. These modifications align with recommendations from regional, national and international health organizations and are consistent with actions by other universities in Texas and the nation.  

The university asks that members of the TWU community be supportive of one another and follow guidelines recommended by the CDC and local health authorities. Please continue to wash your hands often, avoid sick people and stay home if you become ill. If traveling, heed travel warnings and advisories. As the situation evolves, please look for the latest information on the Texas Woman’s and the CDC websites.

 

 

Update as of March 5, 2020

Due to increasing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact to Texas Woman’s University, TWU leadership is responding to changing events so it can minimize public health threats to the university’s three campuses.

With spring break near, it is important that members of the TWU community are aware of travel restrictions and warnings that could impact their return to campus. Individuals traveling to affected regions could be subject to quarantine, and it is important to regularly check for travel updates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State maintain updated websites for such travel advisories.

TWU already has suspended university-related travel to certain countries and regions affected by COVID-19. If you have questions regarding upcoming or proposed international travel, please contact International Affairs at intloffice@twu.edu.

Texas Woman’s strongly recommends that anyone who is arriving from a location designated by the CDC as having a Level 2 or 3 travel warning within the last 14 days — or who plans travel anywhere internationally — to self-report their travel to the university by completing this form. Completing the form does not replace the requirement to register travel with Education Abroad or to complete required RTA forms.

If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have traveled from an area where the spread of COVID-19 has been reported in the last 14 days, call ahead before going to your doctor’s office or emergency room to prevent any potential spread. Student Health Services is a resource for students with symptoms of the flu and other illnesses.  

The TWU community is reminded to practice healthy habits:

  • Wash hands frequently, using soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable
  • Clean surfaces and objects that are touched frequently
  • Don’t share eating utensils or smoking devices
  • Stay home if you are ill. Rest helps with recovery and decreases the spread of disease
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or your upper arm
  • Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids, especially when ill

Additional Resources:

Page last updated 12:25 PM, September 8, 2021