Campus Update from President Ken Kitts - March 26, 2020

Colleagues:

This has not been the spring break any of us expected.  I’m sorry for any travel disruptions or other change of plans you have experienced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.  On the other hand, time spent with family is time to be treasured.  In the Kitts home, Dena and I have kept our boys busy with chores, school lessons, movie nights (inside, of course), and occasional day trips to places where we can hike and explore the outdoors.  We hope you have found similar opportunities to make the best of these challenging circumstances.

As we begin to look ahead to next week, I want to let you know that all cautions and adjustments to UNA work schedules remain in place.  We continue to follow state and federal guidelines that highlight the necessity of telework arrangements and other modifications designed to reduce the amount of employee contact in the workplace.  Catherine White will be in touch soon with updated guidance for supervisors and employees.  We want you to be safe!

As announced last Friday, all spring classes have been moved online for the remainder of the semester.  Special thanks to the faculty and support staff for assisting with that very large undertaking.  Just yesterday we received an advisory from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education asking us to continue the remote / online-only instructional environment for the upcoming summer sessions.  That guidance is not surprising given concerns about the growing threat posed by COVID-19 to our state and country.  I have asked Provost Alexander to consult with deans and department chairs regarding plans for summer courses at UNA.

The checkout of students from the residence halls has also progressed smoothly.  Staff from Housing & Residence Life (HRL), Health Services, Student Counseling Services, International Affairs, University Police, Facilities, and many departments in the Division of Student Affairs and other campus offices came in during spring break to help our students.  Another special round of thanks to those individuals!  As of yesterday, HRL had checked out 1,025 students with others scheduled to move out today or tomorrow.  Approximately 220 students, 160 of whom are international, have requested a hardship exemption that will allow them to stay in the residence halls for the remainder of the semester.  Students approved to stay on campus will have access to various food options, health screenings, and other support services.   

As additional information becomes available, know that we will process it and continue to make the best decisions we can for the University of North Alabama.  I am meeting frequently with the Executive Council to discuss developments on this issue, and the EC and I are, in turn, receiving input from an ad hoc group of advisors that includes the Council of Academic Deans, the chair of the Shared Governance Executive Committee, and the presidents of the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and Student Government Association.  I share this information with you to underscore our desire to be inclusive in our decision-making process and to let you know who you may contact if you have questions regarding the University’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

I hope you find this summary helpful.  Dena and I value your contributions as fellow members of the UNA family, so please take care and continue to make good decisions regarding your health and wellbeing.

Ken Kitts

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