Provost Update: May 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

I hope this message finds you well and enjoying a successful summer semester! For this month’s message, I’m sharing a few updates on the fall semester, information about emergency aid for students and my plans for June.

Planning for Fall

My special thanks to everyone who worked to build the fall course schedule, incorporating both online and on-campus options to meet our students’ needs. Registration has started, and it will be interesting to see what our students’ modality preferences are.

While we continue to monitor changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local officials, we have committed to smaller in-person class sizes this fall. Even if the CDC guidance related to physical distancing is lifted, most of our in-person classes will have fewer than 20 students to help students (and employees) ease their transition to on-campus learning.

In order to reduce class sizes without constraining access, we’ve added significantly more sections to our schedule than we would offer in a typical fall semester. To build this additional capacity, we have invited part-time faculty in select discipline areas to apply to serve in a temporary one-year, full-time, visiting professor role. More than 200 of our of part-time faculty members have accepted this invitation, allowing us to offer smaller, in-person classes while continuing to ensure that students have access to the classes that they need to make progress toward their desired degree or certificate. Furthermore, our visiting professors will enhance opportunities for students to connect with faculty as engagement hours will be a key part of the role, in addition to teaching responsibilities.

Our teams continue their collaborative work to prepare for the fall semester, both inside and outside of the classroom. We are working with our staff to design the plans for how our services will be provided to students and one another in the fall, using design principles created by the Conditions to Reopen team. Please stay tuned for additional updates throughout the summer.

Emergency Financial Aid Grants

Yesterday, our Board of Trustees approved our plans to provide students with Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants during the summer and fall semesters.

HEERF guidance has changed to make all degree- and certificate-seeking students eligible to apply for emergency aid this fall, and we anticipate these grants to be in an amount of at least $1,500.  In addition, we are now able to make emergency aid available to students enrolled in Accelerated Skills Training programs or continuing education English language programs. Students enrolled in credit classes this summer received this email yesterday about the availability of emergency aid.

Some Time Away

While I normally invite you to reply to my Provost Updates, this time I encourage you to reach out to one of my colleagues for a more timely response. Like many of you, I was not able to take time off last summer while we were working through our response to the pandemic. I have coordinated with College President Sandy Shugart so that I can take vacation leave for most of June to have an opportunity to rest, reflect and prepare for my new role. It is so important that we take care of ourselves. If you haven’t had a recent opportunity to take leave and don’t yet have plans to do so, please connect with your supervisor to identify an ideal time to disconnect, relax and rejuvenate.

In the meantime, if you have questions about plans for fall, please reach out to your campus president or Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, at For questions about emergency aid available for students, please connect with Joe Richardson, vice president, student affairs, at

I look forward to being back with you on July 1!

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