COVID-19 Update and More
- Wednesday, August 4th, 2021
I hope you enjoyed a summer of rest and renewal and are as excited as I am about the approaching fall semester at WKU. This summer has been one of growth and transition on our Hill as we welcomed new leaders, bid farewell to several campus structures and made plans for the 2021-2022 academic year.
As the COVID -19 pandemic evolves, the Coronavirus Task Force, in coordination with public health officials, continues its work to protect our campus community and preserve the WKU Experience. In the days ahead, the Task Force will release comprehensive guidance for the fall semester.
In advance of those guidelines being released, the Task Force has updated its masking guidance for campus to reflect changes in recommendations from our health partners and regional data. Beginning Monday, August 9, everyone on WKU’s campuses will be expected to wear a mask indoors. I know this will come as a disappointment to some but will allow us to continue with a normal semester in light of the spread of the Delta variant in our communities. The Task Force will continue to monitor appropriate variables and to determine when masking will again become optional for vaccinated individuals.
WKU’s highest priority has always been the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. Vaccines remain one of the strongest deterrents to viral transmission and serious symptoms or complications. If you have not yet been vaccinated, please schedule an appointment with GGC WKU Health Services by calling (270) 745-2272. Other vaccine locations can be found at www.vaccines.gov.
Thank you for warmly welcoming Dr. Robert “Bud” Fischer as WKU’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Bud is a critical part of our campus leadership team, and he brings with him many years of administrative experience that will serve our institution well. I look forward to working with him on furthering the goals established in our strategic plan as well as other crucial campus initiatives.
Additionally, two of our academic colleges welcomed new leaders. Last month, Dr. Terrance Brown began his role as Dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, and Dr. David Brown assumed the position of Dean of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. Both are valuable partners in our work to ensure the success of our students, faculty and staff.
In June, President Joe Biden signed legislation establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, an important step in honoring the idea that the promise of freedom means freedom for all. WKU closed on Monday, June 21, to separate from our daily activities and reflect on this historic act, and as previously shared, we will add Juneteenth to the university’s official annual holiday calendar.
Also this summer, our primary accrediting body, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), notified WKU that we successfully completed our Fifth-Year Interim Report. Of particular note, our report was returned with no issues of concern and no additional reporting required. I am grateful to the entire reaffirmation committee for their diligent and meticulous work.
This summer our campus returned to its usual bustle as we welcomed in-person camps and workshops back to the Hill. WKU hosted a number of athletic and academic camps and saw the demand for these in-person activities exceed pre-pandemic levels. Almost all of our athletic camps reported higher attendance than 2019, and several of them added additional sessions to meet the increased interest. These activities illustrate our commitment to and connection with the broader community. The time these young people spend on campus serves as a valuable recruitment tool in exposing future Hilltoppers to all that WKU has to offer.
Campus progress continues with the removal of Garrett Conference Center and Tate Page Hall. These spaces provide opportunities for campus beautification and, in the case of Tate Page, pave the way for our eventual new Gordon Ford College of Business building.
The Commons at Helm Library remains on schedule to open this fall. While we hoped it would be available at the start of the fall term, it will open later in the semester. However, this provides us with an opportunity to bring some community favorites, exciting options and diverse offerings with food trucks at the top of the Hill. Look for more details soon from The WKU Restaurant Group.
The Start of Fall 2021
This summer also saw the arrival of the initial group of first-year students to campus as we welcomed a new class of Summer Scholars. These 88 students arrived at the beginning of July for the five-week program that provides experiential learning opportunities for our participants and prepares them for success during their undergraduate careers.
The rest of our incoming class arrives later this month, and we will again work as a community to assist them with the move-in process. Our Housing and Residence Life team requests volunteers to help welcome students and their families to campus and help move them into their residence halls. For more information and to volunteer, please visit this page.
Recently, you received an email from Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience Ethan Logan requesting volunteers to assist with Topper Directions. This program gives us a chance to provide directions, maps, water and support to new and returning students as they navigate The Hill for the first two days of the semester. Please consider volunteering for Topper Directions at this link.
I look forward to seeing you at Faculty and Staff Convocation on Monday, August 16!
Timothy C. Caboni