Faculty and Staff - July 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Since yesterday's e-mail focused on our return to work planning, I wanted to update you today on several academic initiatives that currently are underway as we continue to work towards safely welcoming our students back in August.

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Adrienne McCormick shared last week with the campus the approved academic calendar for the fall semester. I'm sure you noticed several modifications, but the highlights include holding classes on Labor Day; forgoing fall break in October; canceling classes on Election Day; concluding face-to-face instruction before Thanksgiving break; and moving to remote instruction after Thanksgiving to complete the fall semester. I appreciate the input from the campus community as we worked to create a modified schedule that would minimize travel to and from campus in order to avoid potential increased instances of COVID-19.

I also wanted to share several other items of interest:
-The Academic Affairs division has been hard at work planning and scheduling fall courses to accommodate our reduced on-campus class sizes in order to effectively social distance students in the classroom. To date, 41 percent of our classes will be in-person, on-campus courses, 32 percent of classes will be a hybrid of online and on-campus instruction, and 27 percent of classes will be offered solely online.
-Staff members are rearranging classrooms and lecture halls in order to enforce social distancing. Regular classroom settings will operate at 40 percent capacity. Extra chairs and desks will be removed in order to abide by social distancing recommendations. Lecture halls or spaces with fixed seating will operate at 20 percent capacity. Signage will be placed on the floors of these rooms to indicate which seats should be used and which rows are unavailable.
-Faculty members have remained dedicated to ensuring that our students receive high quality online academic instruction and offerings. Through training offered by the Winthrop Office of Online Learning, to date, a total of 164 faculty members are now fully certified to provide online instruction. In addition, 188 faculty members completed Winthrop Online Teaching Certification (WOTC) 101: Online Course Design and Development Basics and more than 145 faculty members completed WOTC 102: Online Course Facilitation and Management.
-Winthrop will soon have its own Zoom account that will be utilized in the fall across campus, in addition to other platforms currently available.
-Academic Leadership is working with IT to provide most, if not all, full-time faculty with a laptop to allow for flexibility. In addition, the IT call center is moving to a cloud-based system which will allow the IT staff to respond to calls while off campus in case the university has to pivot to remote work again.
-A Return to Learn website is underway to provide a one-stop resource for students, parents, faculty and staff as they navigate the new semester. In addition, since we know the campus community, our students and their families will have questions about the new semester and how it will look, we will offer a series of town halls to provide an opportunity for questions and answers using one of the virtual platforms. More information will be coming soon on the town hall series.
-In Student Affairs, the Office of New Student and Family Programs is currently in the midst of welcoming both freshmen and new transfer students. These students are currently completing the first part of our Orientation offerings, the virtual First Flight component, along with advising and registration. Once these students arrive on campus in August, they will complete the second component of Orientation - Eagles Landing.
-The Convocation Committee is exploring options for an outdoor, progressive Blue Line walk with stops that would help us provide a safe alternate to our typical Convocation for incoming students. More information will be forthcoming on this semester-opening event.
-Finally, as we see the rise in COVID-19 cases happening locally and across the state, the Commencement Committee has determined that a traditional, in-person Commencement ceremony on Aug. 15 to celebrate our May graduates is not the safest way to welcome our newest graduates into the Winthrop family. A survey will be sent this week to our May graduates to gather their feedback on other options and formats that will allow us to safely celebrate with them and their families. More information will be shared soon.

As you can see, a lot of hard work has been taking place across the university to prepare for the fall semester. I thank you all for your part in these efforts. As I've said before, the Winthrop spirit is real, and it is on display as the campus community works together to safely welcome back our students.

Warm regards,


George W. Hynd
Interim President