Message from the Chancellor: Weekly COVID-19 Update

April 3, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff –

Together we have conquered another week of learning, teaching and working while navigating the many new circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created. I hope you all are adjusting well. I dearly miss seeing our students and interacting with faculty and staff on a regular basis, but it’s comforting to know we are all doing our part to flatten the curve by staying home as much as possible.

Just as I shared last Friday, here are some new developments that have occurred during the past week:

Stay-at-Home Order

Gov. Pritzker extended Illinois’ stay-at-home order through April 30. This means we “stay the course,” and continue to work, learn and teach remotely. This is an adjustment for everyone. Resources exist to help anyone who is struggling with adjusting to remote learning and working. Please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance and keep watching your email, social media channels and the COVID-19 website for resources and events focused on helping our UIS family navigate this unique time in our lives.

Introducing: QuickChat

Our talented UIS staff have developed a way for students to obtain quick information about support and resources currently available throughout campus. QuickChat is a new resource for all current UIS students to be able to get their questions answered by UIS staff and fellow students. Students can chat instantly and get assistance with an immediate problem they are having or be referred to an appropriate resource for help. Check the UIS homepage for the chat bubble on the right-hand side. QuickChat is staffed from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 4 to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Census 2020

Census Day was Wednesday, April 1. If you are a student who lived on campus the first part of this semester: UIS is counting you. All you need to do is inform members in your home that you are already being counted. All other students (living off campus), faculty and staff should complete the census. If you need information about how to participate, please visit www.2020census.gov.

Leadership lived

UIS faculty and staff are stepping up in so many ways to help our students, fellow coworkers and our communities navigate these unprecedented times!

  • NPR Illinois recently featured UIS faculty, describing how they’ve adapted to remote learning – including ceramics professor Shane Harris and how he has met the challenge of teaching a traditionally hands-on course, ceramics, remotely. Harris also talked to our Campus Relations team about how he had never taught a class remotely before the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that – quickly! Harris contacted each one of his ceramics students to find out where they would be living for the remainder of this semester. He hand-delivered or shipped 25 pounds of clay, tools and instruction cards to each student, including one living in Florida, so that they were prepared for online learning and hands-on making.
  • Vickie Cook, executive director of online professional and engaged learning, research and service, reports that, in addition to the exceptional service her team is providing our own campus, the Illinois Board of Higher Education has looked to UIS for expertise and support. The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service is providing private and independent colleges across the state with support and instruction as they also transition to teach remotely. And COLRS and our Continuing and Professional Education staff also are providing support for a variety of state agencies as they move face-to-face professional development and on-site work to online programming and working from home.
  • Bruce Sommer, director of economic development and innovation, is hosting free webinars for small business owners via Zoom to help them navigate the effects and risks related to COVID-19. The discussions will include information on programs that are available for aid and how to access them. The first webinar, hosted April 1, attracted more than 100 attendees.
  • The system’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) has assembled a team of faculty experts from all three universities who will report on the pandemic’s impact on the state’s economy, fiscal condition, community resilience and healthcare professionals. Professor Ken Kriz and Professor Beverly Bunch are assisting with assessing COVID-19’s economic impact.
  • Members of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), including UIS, have shared the availability of testing equipment, materials and PPE items from their institutions that could be supplied to healthcare organizations across the state. Additionally, UIS faculty are volunteering to assist local labs to help increase testing capacity.

Students, faculty and staff at UIS are adapting to this “new normal” with remarkable resilience and courage. It has been incredible to see how much dedication and compassion our UIS team has for serving others in this crisis. I am so proud to be your Chancellor and thankful for each of you!

Speaking of being thankful, I encourage you to follow and participate in our “Thankful Thursday” series on SnapChat. It’s a wonderful way to highlight the many ways we are inspiring one another to keep persisting through this unprecedented time in our history.

Please keep up the social distancing, hand-washing and other ways of staying healthy.

-Chancellor Koch