UPDATE FROM PRESIDENT, JASON S. WOOD, Ph.D. – March 23, 2020
Today felt like the first day of school. J Many of you reported that, for the most part, things went well. Yes, there were some issues and setbacks, but by and large we are grateful you helped make it a successful day.
Please note the following updates:
- Governor Evers has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses. Our facilities will be closed but our online courses will continue. We will have very limited staffing onsite to maintain the safety of our facilities.
- We will use our current withdraw and refund policy, including the appeal process, in order to help students make the best possible decisions for their individual situations. We removed the ability to withdraw online to ensure students have to speak to someone. This is important, not because we don’t want to help the students, but because we want them to know the ramifications of their decisions. Faculty have overwhelmingly and very graciously offered to help students through their situations and are accommodating students as much as possible. Advisors are going above and beyond to provide information to help students. Financial aid staff are superb at outlining grant and loan implications, if any. We are also following federal legislation that may provide relief for those who withdraw or additional aid for those who choose to remain in school. There are certainly students who may need their money back for a variety of reasons. We simply hope a little more time will help provide better information to help our students. Students can, of course, choose to withdraw now.
- Because we are in an ongoing emergency response situation while also still offering classes and services (online only), we will use the “Board Prep” group (Caleb, Krista, Garrity, Derek, Holly, Karen, and Glass) to address policy considerations for the emergency situation while also running the affairs of the college. The Exec Team is temporarily suspended. The Board Prep group will meet three times a week. I will strive to share brief (if I’m capable of brevity” J) notes of our work. This email contains many of the topics from today. The “emergency operations” team will implement crisis-related decisions made by the Board Prep group and complete their regular responsibilities. This team is led by Caleb with Kris Wubben, Dan Imhoff, Kim Maier, Connie Haberkorn, Heath Ahnen, Derek, Cynde Larsen, and Nicole Nelson.
I am grateful I was able to connect with all but a handful of you by phone over the last several days. The few others received emails for various reasons. My heart goes out to those who have been negatively impacted by the events of the crisis or who are experiencing personal life tragedies that are compounded by the stressful situation. Please take care of yourselves and your families and know that we support you putting your family first. I am also deeply inspired by the tremendous efforts being made to help our college thrive despite the adversity. You have been sincerest appreciation for your efforts and your achievements.
After visiting with you, my priorities remain clear: 1) Take care of our faculty and staff so they can 2) take care of our students so they can 3) serve our communities and businesses as competently trained professionals. How will we do this? To achieve our goals related to the priorities, here is the initial framework for the work ahead:
- Academic options under consideration
- Offer as much as possible online for the duration of the semester
- Develop a plan for required face-to-face in-person learning if it is absolutely essential. Implement additional safety protocol.
- Consider extending the semester or blending summer term
- Invite students to enroll in the fall or next spring
- Refunds as necessary
- Taking care of faculty and staff – short/long term planning
- EAP referrals available
- Home School Support program being developed
- Adjusting employee leave to ensure people can take care of their families
- Employee support fund available
- Salaries until June 30 and working on budget for plan beyond that time
- Many informal and grassroots efforts to care for each other
- Brainstorming additional ideas and will collect more from others
- Taking care of our students – short/long term planning
- Fundraising efforts are underway to support the needs of our students. We have had a number of offers to give financial assistance so we have created a way for people to donate in support of our response efforts. There will not be a dollar amount goal and we are not track giving percentages. We will simply provide access so people know how they can help if they are so inclined. More information will be provided on Friday.
- Cora will provide an update on financial aid options to convert work-study to grants.
- Melissa is restructuring grants to provide more resources directly to students.
- Darnell is working with a team of volunteers to contact every single student and help them develop a plan to complete their studies.
- Brainstorming additional ideas and will collect more from others.
- Budget Planning for 2020-2021
- Re-establishing priorities
- What are our FTE and other revenue estimates amidst the chaos?
- How can we honor the 1.81% CPI raises?
- How can we still move forward with the ERP implementation?
- How can we ensure as many jobs as possible?
- We will look at travel, professional development, overload, overtime, etc.
- Brainstormed several other possible options but no decisions were made at this point.
- We will discuss options with the Leadership Team who will gather additional feedback.
- We will work on various scenarios and report back options through these channels.
- Telling our story of the COVID-19 response
- The marketing folks will be documenting as much as possible, gathering the stories and photos that can be used to remember how we respond and what we accomplish
- People are encouraged to share stories, photos, videos, etc. with anyone on the marketing team…how are you experiencing the events of this crisis?
This week has been extraordinary in historical proportions. The unprecedented magnitude of the situation continues to complicate response planning but it has not kept us from doing an amazing job. So many of our faculty and staff are giving their very best to take care of each other, our students, and our communities. I could not be prouder of the amazing response from each of you. For that, I am eternally grateful. I know we will be successful. 🙂
Finally, if there is anything I can do to help you or someone else at the college, please let me know and I will strive to match your best with my best.