Message from the Chancellor: Weekly COVID-19 Update 4.17.20

April 17, 2020

Dear UIS Students, Faculty and Staff –

Over the past week, we have experienced typical April weather including sun, rain, wind and even snow! Our campus is always beautiful no matter the season, and I know many of you miss walking the quad, be it on a sunny spring afternoon or a snowy April morning.

As we pass the middle of April, the semester is moving toward a close. Students: Please remember the deadline to withdraw or change grading options to credit/no credit for one or more full-term or last-half Spring 2020 courses is Friday, April 24. Please direct any questions you may have to the Office of Records and Registration at registrar@uis.edu or 217-206-6174.

Here are some other important updates:

Summer Camps

With public health a continuing priority, the University will delay hosting summer camps, including sports camps, until after July 5. Please note this date is subject to change based on the nature of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. New information will be shared as warranted.

Commencement Celebrations

As the May 9 Commencement day approaches, our 2020 graduates are understandably disappointed about the postponement of in-person Commencement ceremonies. Many 2020 graduates have told us how important an in-person celebration is, and I want you to know the Commencement Committee will continue to plan for a face-to-face Commencement for graduates, their families and friends, at a date to-be-determined when it is safe to do so.

However, we are not about to let our original Commencement Day come and go quietly! We have some sweet virtual gifts in store, and at noon on May 9, tune into our UIS social media channels for a special surprise created specifically for the Class of 2020. Various virtual recognition plans are also underway for online grads, honors grads, student-athlete grads, diversity grads and more. Please watch UIS social media channels and the UIS website for information about how we plan to virtually celebrate our 2020 grads in the days leading up to and on May 9.

Students FIRST COVID-19 Emergency Fund

On Thursday, President Killeen announced the creation of a systemwide fund that will provide at least $36 million in new, targeted financial aid to help students who are facing increased need now and for the coming academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Students FIRST (Funding Is Required to Support Tuition and other costs): COVID-19 Emergency Fund will help defray costs for students experiencing unexpected shortfalls and will be supported through the federal COVID-19 relief package, funding from the system and its three universities, and private fundraising. Financial aid for students from Illinois will be a priority, including a guarantee to cover next year’s tuition increase for every new in-state undergraduate student.

We are awaiting further guidance as to how the funds are to be administered, and UIS will announce the procedures for distribution of Students FIRST funding in the near future.

TRAC and Student Union Student Fee Adjustments

On April 9, the Office of Student Affairs announced that beginning late next week, student accounts will be updated to reflect financial adjustments for Student Union and TRAC fees. Students who received institutional financial aid this semester in support of university student fees will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine adjustment amounts. Also, adjustments will first be applied to any outstanding balances within the university before a refund is issued. Students who have questions about their accounts should contact the University Bursar at usfscohelp@uillinois.edu.

Student Support Programming

UIS student support units continue to do excellent work providing programming for students. Keep checking the UIS is Here for You webpage for links to each unit’s website for information on available programming and resources.

The Counseling Center is an active resource and continues to be available for students free of charge for both individual counseling and virtual group support. The Counseling Center website also features a variety of helpful resources including “The Road to Resilience,” a brochure developed by the American Psychological Association that provides important advice for anyone who may want to think more deliberately about how best to navigate these challenging times and circumstances.

UIS Food Pantry Expands

Starting today, a micropantry, available to all UIS students, is located at the west entrance of the Student Union. The pantry is stocked with nonperishable items (and soon, fresh fruit and veggies!) and is open 24 hours a day. For food pantry questions or for more information, contact UISCares@uis.edu​.

Prairie Stars COVID-19 Relief Grant

Thanks to generous donations by staff, faculty, alumni and friends of the university, UIS is starting a COVID-19 Relief Grant program to assist students with expenses such as food, health supplies, cellphone or internet service and technology items like laptops and routers to support e-learning. Students are encouraged to apply today. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and are subject to approval by the Financial Assistance office.

UIS Veterans/Military Emergency Grant

UIS cares about its student veterans and military personnel, and we know that on occasion difficult situations arise. The UIS Military/Veterans Emergency Grant was created to help prevent emergencies and unforeseen events from inhibiting student veterans’ academic progress. The awarding of this grant money is not competitive.  Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. The maximum disbursement for this grant is $500, and a student may only receive one award per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

Leadership lived

  • Casey Thousand, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, certainly didn’t envision the team’s 2020 post-season playing out like it has. All of our UIS Athletics coaches and student athletes, no matter which season features their sport, are disappointed with how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the spring season. Campus Relations this week highlights how Thousand is staying connected with her student-athletes (now scattered across the country) and how she continues to recruit future Prairie Stars!
  • Congratulations to the faculty and staff who pushed through many challenges to help students showcase their technology, arts and research projects through the Virtual STARS Symposium! And congratulations to the dozens of students for producing some truly stellar work. I greatly enjoyed reviewing your projects via the adapted online format.
  • The UI’s Institute for Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) taskforce on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has released a second report featuring the expertise of the Community and Family Resilience Impact Group. The report includes contributions from UIS clinical assistant professor Betsy Goulet and emeritus professor of political science Kent Redfield.
  • I greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet this week via Zoom with both the Student Government Association and the Campus Senate to provide an update on the ongoing UIS response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss other isssues of interest and importance. My sincere thanks to students, faculty and staff who serve in important leadership positions in these and other groups. I also appreciate the continued excellent work of the UIS COVID-19 Response Team. We meet early every Friday morning to ensure the maximum possible coordination of priorities and activities.

Let’s continue to push through these next few weeks, and remember there is plenty of great work to be done and plenty of reasons to be grateful in these uncertain times.

Please continue to be safe and well.

-Chancellor Koch