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News Items from UNC Greensboro

On April 22, Faculty and Staff Senates hosted the second spring virtual Town Hall with Chancellor Gilliam and Provost Dunn, prior to a UNCG General Faculty Meeting and a mandatory UNC System call for the chancellor and provost.

Faculty Senate chair Anthony Chow welcomed the attendees. He mentioned that a vote feature had been added to the Zoom format. The Town Hall will be posted in full on the Faculty Senate and Staff Senate websites.

The chancellor offered opening remarks. He stated that through the CARES Act, UNCG expects to receive $18.6 million, half of which must be used for emergency funds and half of which will offset COVID-19 expenses and revenues.

There is hope of being able to use UNC System emergency funds but the amount will be determined in the future. The chancellor mentioned that colleges and universities will not benefit from the second wave of federal stimulus money.

The chancellor mentioned and praised both the incoming Executive Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Bob Shea and the departing Interim Vice Chancellor Charles Leffler.

He also spoke positively of incoming Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management Tina McEntire and the incoming Associate Provost of International Programs Maria Anastasiou, who will succeed Nell Pynes.

The chancellor also mentioned the search for a new provost, which is underway through virtual visits and the upcoming search to find a new director for the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

He also spoke of the new website launch, led by ITS and University Communications, and how both entities will be looking for input from faculty and staff to connect our resources, tell our story, and function across the University.

The following questions were posed and responded to by the chancellor and provost.

When will campus re-open?
The chancellor stated that the UNC System office has asked universities to plan around a variety of scenarios. They are working with the system office to figure out the best and safest way to conduct the fall semester. There is a vigorous national debate about this, and opening dates will be led by the System and the governor. The provost stated that given the uncertainty that may remain for some time, all faculty should do their own contingency planning and prepare to meet their classes online as well as face-to-face.

“The best approach is to be ready, with whatever circumstances unfold,” she said.

There will be more support for faculty over the summer for adapting to the changes.

How are we working with students who had trouble getting online and accessing classes?
The chancellor reminded everyone that for the fall, we will have more time to plan for this, and that the online transition for the first wave occurred within six days.

ITS did a lot of troubleshooting with students and will continue to do so. For getting students online, it is only possible to solve the problems that are known.

There is equipment that can be made available to students. In the future, hot spots could be provided to students who are without internet. There is discussion about providing socially distant technology space on campus if stay-at-home is lifted.

Are students still paying wellness and activity fees if facilities are closed?
Students will pay for access to wellness resources, but facility fees will not be charged if the facility is not open.

Will faculty and staff receive refunds for current parking?
Usually you can receive a refund until March 1. This semester, if faculty and staff want to cancel their passes, they can drop them off or mail them in by May 8 to receive a refund. If stay-at-home ends, and they come to campus, they will have to re-purchase their passes.

Are new hire searches moving forward?
Yes, selectively. There will be some permanent funding cuts due to student enrollment reduction. The provost is working with each academic unit to make strategic choices. A fraction of lines will be pulled back. There is a hiring pause for the UNC System, but it is not a freeze. Each hire is case-by-case per individual campus.

Is there a plan for reaching out to students for relief packages?
Guidelines are still being developed for how half of the CARES Act funds will be used. Rescue funds can be issued directly to students for paying tuition. Guidance is still coming in from the UNC System and specific categories are still being determined, such as for international students.

If faculty are not fully certified for online delivery in the fall, and classes are online, will students receive a discount?
The hope is that all faculty can be credentialed to teach online, through faculty development opportunities offered now and especially in the summer.

Is there concern about furloughs?
It has not yet been discussed at a System level. It is not known how long we will need to make up a loss of revenue. Lower enrollment is a factor. There is optimism about Tina McEntire’s new role and contribution to enrollment. The preference is not to furlough.

Is it possible to compensate faculty for extra time needed to go online in the summer?
A plan for $1,500 for faculty summer participation is in place.

Several college presidents have announced pay cuts to help. What plans do we have for that?
The chancellor stated that if pay cuts were necessary, it would certainly apply to upper administration.

When do we anticipate enrollment projection numbers for next year?
It won’t be known until the add/drop dates in the semester. SOAR registration is up, which is good news, but we don’t know the numbers yet.

The provost reminded listeners that we are looking at all three semesters and not just fall. Admission is usually known in June, but there are disruptions this year, and we don’t know what a post-COVID-19 world will look like for families, spouses, etc.

The provost stated that while the environment is uncertain, without work and travel at hand, it may be a good opportunity for students to invest in themselves through online classes, which may help enrollment. Students who withdrew this semester are being contacted.

“We are turning laser light focus on enrollment management,” said the chancellor.

Is there a plan for employees who cannot work remotely or those on administrative leave?
There are some areas where employees can’t do their usual jobs, but other opportunities have opened up, or other offices or areas need help. We are thinking about how to “cross-train” staff for other areas.

For tenure-track faculty who have started the process, what about the “tenure clock” ?
The provost stressed flexibility and working with faculty and departments case-by-case. One year has been added to each tenure process. The next step is to rethink a future research program.

When campus fully re-opens, what social distance effort will be there?
UNCG will follow all system guidelines with the priority of keeping our campus community safe. Cleaning frequency and thoroughness is paramount. The System will need to dispense resources to test and trace, and we need to find the support to handle that level of effort.

What is the plan following the end of stay-at-home orders?
Most likely a phased re-open.

“It’s not a light switch kind of moment or timeline.” said the chancellor. “Things are going to be different in a post-COVID-19 world. We will see what System guidelines will be.”

Provost Dunn offered the following closing remarks:

“This will be temporary. We will navigate through this to the other side having learned a lot. If we work collaboratively, I am confident we can work through it. We are very privileged to work in a university environment. I understand concern and questions, but we only know so much right now. As soon as information is available we are committed to passing it along. All communications channels have been enhanced and we will continue to communicate over summer. Some plans will be contingent. We are right there with you.”

And Chancellor Gilliam offered the following:

“It was no small thing to pivot the way we did. One concern I do have is people’s mental health. Encourage everyone to take care of themselves and their families. Find ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Take walks, exercise. We are committed. The University will be here in a post-COVID-19 world. I am confident we will come out the other side, and learn a lot about ourselves, and will continue to offer high quality education to students.”

 
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