Updates from the Provost
- Author: Monday, September 14th, 2020
We’ve had a very good start to this unusual semester, but as we move into the fourth week of classes, we must remain vigilant to effectively minimize the number of new COVID-19 cases in our WKU community. We must limit gatherings to ten people or less, wear masks, social distance, and practice good hand hygiene. Because our community has remained mostly compliant, our week over week cases for the past three weeks have declined. Please continue to reinforce these Healthy on the Hill standards of behavior. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to the COVID-19 hotline.
We are actively preparing for the start of registration for the Spring 2021 semester which begins in early October. Last week, we conducted a survey of WKU students to determine which modalities they preferred and how they might prefer to have a mix of modalities within their semester’s schedule. Not surprisingly, the distribution for a sampling of 2207 students was face-to-face 15%, a mix of hybrid and face-to-face 55%, and fully online 27%. Thirty-nine percent of the students that responded to the survey preferred all or a significant amount of face-to-face instruction. As you did before the Fall 2020 semester began, work with your department head or chair to determine what modalities will be used to deliver your courses. We are hoping to have a mix of modalities to accommodate student preferences and learning styles. Please let us know if there is anything that our office can do to help.
While we continue to focus on the pandemic and how it affects our campus, the Divisions of Academic Affairs and Enrollment and Student Experience have continued to work together on several initiatives. Our two divisions must work together to support student success. A short update about some of the joint initiatives is:
- CITL and staff from Housing and Residence Life are working together to identify Living Learning Communities (LLC) to be launched in the Fall 2021 semester. LLCs are proven high impact practices that, if done well, can lead directly to an increase in student retention, persistence, and student success. This is a key example of an initiative that is jointly developed and programmed by both faculty and HRL staff. Ideas for LLCs and programming are welcome.
- During this past summer, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup created a solid plan for campus-wide education and training, dialogues, and actionable change. They have also updated their website and have posted several campus opportunities for participation. Please see attached DEI update.
- The Strategic Enrollment Plan subcommittees have worked collaboratively for over a year to develop a Draft Implementation Model. After significant discussion, initial strategies have been chosen based on quick enrollment impact, low cost to implement, and a positive return on investment. Top strategies include expanding recruitment to target URM, out of state, and transfer students using proven strategies; expanding marketing strategies; redesigning of gateway courses; and designing Living Learning Communities. Much more about this will come soon.
Finally, here are a few notes and reminders.
- To ensure that our students are off to a strong start, I encourage you to assess your student’s learning as early as possible and submit the Fifth Week Assessment. Doing so allows us to address any attendance issues and/or academic performance challenges.
- Please review your class roster to make sure that those on the list have attended your course. If the student has not attended any of your class meetings, please complete a drop for non-attendance through TopNet.
- As you are well aware, the nature of education is changing especially as it relates to course delivery and student engagement. Further, we don’t know yet when we might return to “normal” or what the new “normal” might look like. For these reasons, the comprehensive review of all student fees will be delayed. I had intended to begin that work this past summer but now believe we should wait until we have a better idea of what a WKU post-pandemic will be like. Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for all you do to help our students succeed.
Cheryl Stevens, PhD
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs