Say “university,” and what often comes to mind are sprawling campuses, vast libraries and jam-packed sports stadiums. Yet in recent times, a rapidly increasing number of post-secondary students have been moving to a new landscape of online learning. The College…
Coronavirus Update 5.4.20: Virtual Degree Conferral, Planning for Returning to Campus Underway and Other Important Updates
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
This week we conclude the 2019-20 academic year at Syracuse University. It is true that our end-of-semester activities and traditions will look and feel different this year. However, I am convinced that what will come to distinguish this year—and these students, faculty and staff—is not a delayed graduation, or online classes, social distancing or even COVID-19. Instead, with time what will distinguish our campus community are the quiet acts of kindness, offered by so many in support of a colleague, a classmate or friend in need. What will distinguish this community is not the story of the symbols and ceremonies lost to COVID-19, but instead a remarkable narrative that captures all we achieved together in the most difficult of times. While challenging days remain, I am comforted by the fact, which despite the very difficult circumstances, we are working and looking forward together—just as Syracuse University has for 150 years.
In my update today, I will address the following areas:
- For University Community
- Virtual Degree Conferral
- New York Forward
- Return to Campus Working Planning
- COVID-19 Archiving
- For Students and Families
- Retrieving Student Belongings
- Fall Study Abroad
- For Faculty and Staff
- Summer Online Course Development
- Professors Considered Essential by New York State
- Carebridge Webinars
- Virtual Professional Development
For University Community
Virtual Degree Conferral: Let us all celebrate our graduating students during a special Virtual Degree Conferral on Sunday, May 10, at 10 a.m. Although Commencement 2020 will not occur as originally planned on Sunday, Syracuse University will still use this special day to recognize our graduates and acknowledge all of their wonderful achievements. The virtual event will include remarks from Chancellor Kent Syverud, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu, Chair of the Board of Trustees Kathy Walters and Student Association President Mackenzie Mertikas ’20, along with surprise guests and a performance of the alma mater. Visit the Celebrating the Class of 2020 webpage to access the virtual event. Our full, traditional Commencement ceremony will be held this fall at a time and date to be announced.
Governor Announces New York Forward: Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced “New York Forward,” his plan for reopening New York state. Gov. Cuomo reiterated that decisions about which regions to reopen and how to do so will be based on the 12-point plan that includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance about the hospitalization rate, precautions to protect employees and consumers, health and testing capacity, and other key measures. Once a region is cleared for reopening, it is expected that industries will reopen in phases subject to safety plans. Certain upstate regions are expected to be reopened after May 15, with manufacturing and construction being the first industries to reopen. Visit the governor’s website with more details on the 12-point plan.
Return to Campus Working Planning Underway: While we await this official guidance on reopening campus from local and state officials, a cross-functional group of stakeholders (including representation from the Office of Human Resources, deans of schools/colleges, faculty and staff) has assembled to work on various scenarios for returning those who’ve been working remotely back to campus. In this planning, we’ll continue to heed guidance from public health experts and keep the well-being of the campus community at the heart of our decision-making. We will continue to share communications on this topic as reopening efforts progress.
COVID-19 Archiving: The University Archives is documenting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Syracuse University. In particular, the archives wants to collect and preserve the personal responses of students, faculty and staff. Items sought include journal and diary entries, emails, photographs, videos, audio recordings, social media posts and other digital documentation. More information is available in this SU News story.
Students and Families
Retrieving Student Belongings: While New York state remains under an executive order from Gov. Cuomo that forbids any non-essential travel, the University is developing plans to allow students and families to return to campus to pack their belongings. This can only happen when guidance from state and local officials indicates that it is safe to do so. Students and families will be notified as soon as dates can be determined. The University also continues to explore additional options for packing, storage and shipping of student belongings.
Fall Study Abroad: At this time, the University remains hopeful that students planning to travel abroad in the fall, to their chosen destinations, are able to do so. Staff members in the Syracuse Abroad office are developing robust and academically engaging programs at each of the University’s center locations in alignment with public health counsel in the respective countries. The team is also preparing to address any health concerns and respond to national guidelines at each center, as the global health emergency evolves. Additional supports, particularly in relation to housing and academic continuity in Syracuse, will be in place should students’ study abroad plans change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If students have questions about their current travel plans or the University supports in place in the event of disruption to study abroad, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty and Staff
Summer Online Course Development: For faculty members planning their summer courses, a template is available with best practices built in. To tour the template, please follow instructions on Answers to search for the “Summer 2020 Example Course Template” Organization and enroll. Once inside, you’ll see an announcement with instructions on how to have it applied to your course. For additional support in creating a great summer learning experience, send an email to email@example.com, and identify your question as summer 2020. Emails identified in this way are routed to a support team, including staff from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE), the Center for Online and Digital Learning and ITS. The team member best qualified to support you will respond to your email within 48 hours. If you are beginning to think about the fall and have questions or would like support, team members in CTLE are available to help. Please contact the CTLE at CTLE@syr.edu.
Professors Classified as Essential Workers for Testing: Gov. Cuomo recently announced that pharmacies will be authorized to administer COVID-19 tests and that priority for testing would be given to essential workers. The list of essential workers includes, amongst others, professors. We will continue to monitor public health updates and share relevant information with you as it becomes available.
Carebridge Webinars: Carebridge, our Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, continues to offer live and on-demand webinars on a variety of topics that can help alleviate the emotional toll of the pandemic. Upcoming topics include resilience, mental health and staying focused in a highly stimulated world.
Virtual Professional Development Opportunities: Professional development opportunities are now offered virtually, making it easier than ever to squeeze some learning into your day. In May, sessions will be held on the Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act, project management, pronouns and preferred names, the performance partnership process and more. View the schedule of upcoming opportunities for staff members or supervisors for registration details.
As a reminder, Syracuse.edu/coronavirus offers the latest updates, news and information. There is also a frequently asked questions section if you have a specific question you need addressed. Please continue to take care of yourself, your loved ones and each other.
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation