Message from Chancellor Koch: Weekly COVID-19 Update 5.1.20

May, 1, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff –

As we approach Finals Week, I want to again commend you all for persevering through such a challenging time in the life of our university. I know this hasn’t been an easy semester, and it has required a lot of time, energy and flexibility to see it through.

Students: On behalf of all faculty and staff, I want you to know just how very proud we are of you. Your success matters so much to us. When you chose UIS as your academic home, you inherited hundreds of steadfast supporters who have devoted their careers to you and your future. While I know Finals Week won’t include the hustle and bustle we’re used to, or that delicious bacon at the late night breakfast, we are cheering you on from afar! Let’s see this semester through, together, to the very end. We’re almost there!

Here are this week’s updates:

UIS CARES Grant Program

UIS is expected to receive $865,000 of emergency grant funding for students through the federal CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. CARES funds will be provided as direct grants to qualifying students, up to $1,000, for expenses related to pandemic disruptions such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, transportation and child care. Full-time undergraduate and graduate students eligible for Title IV (those who have completed the FAFSA) and who were not enrolled in an online-only program as of March 13, 2020, may apply. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been expended. Application information will be emailed to students who meet the qualifying criteria next week.

Guidance on Face Coverings

Gov. Pritzker’s updated stay-at-home order effective today requires anyone over the age of 2 to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering or mask when they are in a public space and a six-foot social distance isn’t possible. This applies to any UIS essential employees working on-site. If you are working on campus, please wear masks when others are present and social distancing is not possible, including in office settings. If you do not have your own face covering (a CDC tutorial on making your own reusable mask), UIS Police has a limited supply of disposable masks. Please call 206-6690 or stop by the police station at any time to secure a mask. Students who remain on campus and need a mask should contact Health Services at 206-6676 or uishealthservice@uis.edu.

Planning for Fall

Two UIS taskforces are being formed to plan for the Fall 2020 semester. Provost Papini is leading a team focused on the continuity of instructional delivery, and Vice Chancellor for Advancement Dr. Jeff Lorber will lead a team focused on the continuity of student life and community engagement. Provost Papini also is serving on a system-level taskforce dedicated to planning for the 2020-21 academic year across the UI system. Though many unknowns still exist due to the uncertain trajectory of the pandemic, we continue to hope and plan for in-person course delivery in the fall. At the same time, we are considering a variety of scenarios to ensure students have a high-quality experience in the coming year.

Celebrating the Class of 2020

Our countdown to Commencement Day continues! I hope you’re staying engaged with UIS social media channels and the #UIS20 Virtual Graduate Celebration website to learn more about how we plan to celebrate the Class of 2020. (There are some surprises in the works!)

You are invited to help congratulate our 2020 graduates by recording a 15-second video clip for use on UIS social media. Members of the Class of 2020 are also encouraged to submit photos from their time at UIS or images wearing commencement regalia. Submit your video and photos.

Leadership lived

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly created disruptions for Assistant Professor of Exercise ScienceAngela Doering’s courses, it also has provided extra opportunities for learning. From adapting the annual Health and Wellness Fair to a virtual event to conducting health assessments on family members at home, students responded creatively and rose to the challenge to meet their learning objectives. And for Doering’s EXR352 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention students, the virus has provided the opportunity to study a global health event in real time. “From a health promotion standpoint, what they’ve learned is playing out in real life, and they are learning the importance of disease and early detection,” Doehring said. “It’s a real-life, invaluable lesson.”
  • To help students prepare for and excel in upcoming job and internship interviews, the Career Development Center has created a new YouTube video series titled Ace Your Interview. Watch the series on the UIS Career Development Center YouTube page and contact the Career Development Centerfor assistance with interviews.

We’ve learned so much throughout these past two months, including how we can rise together to meet a challenge. I hope all of our students, faculty and staff can take time to reflect on this unique time in our collective history and be grateful for how we’ve each persevered through a truly memorable semester.

Be well,

Chancellor Koch