Message from the Chancellor: Weekly COVID-19 Update 4.10.20

April 10, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff –

It’s hard to believe a month ago, many UIS students were enjoying the start of Spring Break. Yet the threat of COVID-19 was looming and many of us on campus were spending long hours preparing for the reality we are now experiencing.

The effort it has taken to significantly shift how we do nearly everything as a university – teaching, learning and working – is nothing short of inspiring. I remain so proud of everyone’s efforts to adjust to this massive change and to continue to deliver on our educational mission. Together (while apart) we will complete this spring semester successfully and be stronger for it because we continue to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge head-on. Thank you all so very much for all your efforts.

As you know, the purpose of this weekly “Message from the Chancellor” is to communicate timely information to members of our community. Here are the important updates for this week:

Summer Classes & Fall Registration

  • Provost Papini announced this week that registration for summer and fall classes began April 6. Most summer courses are already offered online, but out of a continued abundance of caution, UIS will be moving any on-campus summer courses to remote delivery methods. At this time, no changes are expected in the delivery mode for courses offered in the Fall 2020 semester. I encourage all returning students to register for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 courses as soon as possible.

Enrollment Management

  • With the leadership of Associate Provost of Enrollment Management Natalie Herring and her team, we continue to build the next freshman class as well as recruit transfer and graduate students. The Admission office has created a Virtual Visits webpage available for prospective students to learn how to connect with admission counselors virtually or participate in online information sessions. The site also includes video and photo galleries showcasing our beautiful campus and testimonials from students and alumni. Additionally, the student orientation team is exploring how to offer orientation virtually for June sessions, in the event that social-distancing measures need to remain in place during regularly scheduled orientation times.
  • UIS has extended its decision date for incoming fall 2020 first-year students to June 1 to provide students and families additional time to learn about the university. Additionally, application and enrollment fees for first-year, transfer and graduate students have been waived for Summer and Fall 2020.

Support for Students

  • Near or far, UIS is here for our students! Staying connected and available to students is a top priority. Many support services remain available, though formats and hours of availability may have changed. The “UIS is Here for You” webpage outlines how students can connect with academic services, health and counseling services and student-life programming this semester. For example, Campus Recreation has a variety of resources available to aid in wellness while members of our community are sheltering in place, including Instagram live workouts.
  • Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Clarice Ford is participating in regular Instagram chats with groups of students who are learning from home and the Diversity Center, among other student support offices, is hosting regular Zoom chats. Our communications team is using all possible social media platforms to maintain connections across our campus community, and I will be meeting via Zoom next week with both the Student Government Association and the Campus Senate. Please do follow our social media accounts to stay in touch and informed.
  • More than 38,000 alumni, donors and friends of UIS received a message from me this week inviting them to help students overcome additional hurdles they are facing due to the pandemic. Many people—including faculty and staff–have asked how they can provide additional financial support for our students, and I was happy to share these opportunities through the UIS Advancement Office. I encourage you to share this message with anyone who may wish to make a contribution during this challenging time. If you are in a position to do so, I also encourage you to make a contribution.

Commencement

  • You already know we made the difficult decision a few weeks ago to postpone an in-person commencement ceremony in May for our 2020 graduates. Having received excellent input from the Commencement Committee, including thoughts and preferences from members of the 2020 graduating class, I want you to know plans are in the works to celebrate and honor our 2020 graduates virtually on May 9. More details will be shared as we near the end of April. Any virtual celebration will not replace a face-to-face opportunity for 2020 graduates that will be held at a later date.

Leadership lived

  • Interdisciplinary partnerships across the university are more important than ever! Thanks to assistance from ITS Assistant Director of Client Services Kara McElwrath, Associate Professor of Theatre Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson has successfully adapted her theatre classes to accommodate the remote-learning reality, which was no small feat! Like many faculty members, Thibodeaux-Thompson “got creative” to ensure her students meet their learning objectives, and thanks to the wonders of technology and McElwrath’s assistance, students soon will be uploading their acting monologues for Thibodeaux-Thompson to evaluate virtually.
  • The University of Illinois System’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) published its report this week on the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state finances. Dr. Ken Kriz, UIS distinguished professor of public administration and director of the Institute for Illinois Public Finance, played a leadership role in this important research. Dr. Beverly Bunch, UIS professor of public administration, and Dr. Arwi Kriz, a research fellow in the Institute, also made important contributions to the report. You can read the full report on the UI System website.
  • The April UIS Perspectives column, a popular monthly feature in the local State Journal-Register since 2012, features a discussion of how UIS has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • UIS student-athletes have been coping—quite admirably–with the abrupt end to the spring sports season. I encourage you to follow the @UISAthletics Twitter account, which is recognizing our senior student-athletes this month. Our student-athletes also created and shared a very moving and inspirational video message to the Prairie, ending with the powerful words: “We will be back. We will be stronger. We are Stars.” Well done!

It’s that Prairie Stars spirit that will carry us through the rest of the spring semester and beyond. Keep on teaching, learning, working and taking care of yourself – and know that no matter how far apart we are, we’re getting through this together.

Be well.

-Chancellor Koch

Resources:

COVID-10 homepage

UIS is Here for You