3-9-20 Message to the Community


As you saw in the message from President Crawford this evening, we, as an institution of higher education, are faced with a significant challenge. The State of Ohio has now confirmed cases of the Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) and Governor DeWine has declared a state of emergency to enable agencies to coordinate a response and to mobilize resources.

This is not a time to panic. It is time to show that we can respond to this moment in positive and constructive ways. Earlier this afternoon our University Senate passed two “Sense of the Senate” resolutions that clearly affirm our core institutional values. President Crawford and I endorse both of these resolutions.

The first resolution clearly states that we as a community care about the health and well-being of all of our members. We urge faculty, staff, and students to stay home when ill to avoid spreading any contagion. This resolution further affirms that it is not in line with our core values to penalize students for staying home from class if ill, and that we as teacher scholars commit to accommodate reasonable needs arising from illness. It is time for each faculty member to modify attendance policies to accommodate any student who is sick, allowing them to make academic progress without penalty for doing the right thing for our public health. 

The second resolution reinforces our commitment to being prepared to serve our students in the event our access to campus is limited or disrupted. This resolution states that, no later than March 20, “... all instructional staff must ensure they are prepared to deliver their classes remotely through Canvas, by accomplishing the following steps:

  1. Ensuring each class section they are responsible for has a Canvas section that includes;
    • the course syllabus;
    • grades earned for each student on each assignment for the current semester;
    • announcements to students enrolled in each section, including the attendance policy as amended by the Sense of the Senate Resolution;
    • assignments, quizzes, and other types of activities for the balance of the semester
  2.  Providing students with the information to access the Canvas site for the course.”
Guidance released by the US Department of Education indicates that these are the minimum requirements to accommodate students when classes are temporarily disrupted by events such as COVID-19. This is remote delivery of instruction and not a fully realized online class and we ask you to meet these minimum requirements. To help every faculty member accomplish this goal, we have taken the following steps:

Sunday, March 8:
  • The deans and other academic affairs leaders met to identify key goals and strategies to help our campus prepare for potential disruption of on-campus operations.
  • divisional representatives met to be trained on how to pull data from canvas that will identify what sections or faculty might need support;
  • the President’s Executive Committee met to discuss preparedness throughout the entire campus operation;
  • University Senate discussed COVID and institutional preparations
Here is what we will do in the coming days:
On Tuesday, March 9, we will:
  • hold a meeting of academic affairs leaders to continue planning for all eventualities related to COVID-19;
  • ask all department chairs to identify faculty members who are already skilled in these areas, and who can quickly provide peer mentoring to their colleagues;
  • announce drop-in sessions where faculty can come receive individualized mentoring in these areas as needed;
  • prepare detailed online resources to support these goals;
  • identify help-lines to call for support with Canvas;
  • host a discussion immediately following Faculty Assembly (March 10, 4:45 pm - Shriver 104) to discuss these and other strategies.
On Wednesday, March 10, we will:
  • distribute a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” from our Center for Teaching Excellence that will help you identify some easy good practices to use with remote delivery of course content, and to avoid pitfalls;
  • begin hosting drop-in sessions for Canvas and remote delivery of course content;
  • IT services will hold a limited test of systems and work-from-home capability to begin identifying areas of concern.
By Friday, March 13, we will:
  • send department chairs a list of course sections do not appear to be prepared to the level needed; and
  • finalize a plan for advising and registration in the event in-person advising is not possible
I hope that you will please join us tomorrow for Faculty Assembly beginning at 4:15 pm and stay for a brief update immediately following, when Butler County Health Commissioner Jenny Bailer will join us to discuss university preparations related to COVID-19 and we can begin to answer your questions and concerns. 

Love and Honor,

Jason Osborne