Provost Update

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

The close of the Spring term was marked by a mix of emotions – perhaps a sense of accomplishment, maybe a sigh of relief, and possibly even a bit of grief for what has been lost as a result of the pandemic. Even during this extremely trying time, I believe that there is much to celebrate and much for which to be thankful. I am profoundly grateful for all of your remarkable efforts to support our students over the last several weeks, which included:

  • the transition of more than 4,000 classes to the online environment to allow students to continue their learning this term;
  • the creation of a Virtual Answer Center to provide students with expanded access to our Student Affairs team;
  • the creation of an online tutoring hub to support students’ learning;
  • the implementation of two new grade options to mitigate negative academic consequences for students, and;
  • the completion of more than 32,000 outbound phone calls to students to check in with them and offer our support.

Any one of these would have been an extraordinary accomplishment under normal circumstances. The fact that they were all completed simultaneously, in just a few short weeks, in the midst of a global pandemic, is nothing short of extraordinary. Thank you for all that you have done; please know that you have made a difference for our students.

Time to Celebrate
While we aren’t able to host our traditional commencement ceremony this year, I encourage you to visit our Virtual Commencement Celebration page beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 3, 2020. You’ll be able to hear from our Distinguished Graduate Tamyia Paul, as well as see slides of all of our graduates. Please also consider celebrating with our newest alumni on social media to recognize their outstanding achievement. For more details, please visit The Grove.

Planning Ahead for Summer
As we look ahead to the start of our Summer term on Monday, May 4, 2020, please allow me to share two reminders:

  • Consider sending your students a pre-term email– reaching out to your students prior to Monday will allow you to welcome them, establish an inviting learning environment, introduce the class syllabus and schedule, and provide details on required course materials. Remember that for many of our students, this will be their first fully online course in which they have enrolled. Many students worry that they will not feel a sense of personal connection in online classes, and this is an opportunity to begin to develop a good rapport with them. You can reach out to your students prior to Monday by sending a pre-course message through Canvas, or by sending a message through Atlas.
  • Remember to design an academically-related activity for the first week – not only is it good practice to engage students in a learning-related activity early in your online class, federal financial aid and Valencia policy require that online attendance is documented during the no-show reporting period in accordance with student engagement in an academically-related activity. Please plan for students to complete at least one of the following activities during the first week of classes:
    • Submit an online assignment.
    • Take an online assessment.
    • Participate in an online discussion about academic matters.
    • Complete an online interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction that is trackable.
    • Initiate contact with the faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

Once again, thank you for all of your extraordinary efforts this Spring and in preparation for Summer. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such talented and dedicated colleagues.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Take good care.

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