Faculty and Staff - October 15, 2020

Dear Colleagues:
As we reach the halfway point of in-person instruction this semester, I wanted to share some information that may be of interest to you as we look to complete the semester on campus. 

First, I hope you have seen our COVID dashboard and the low numbers of cases we have seen. Vice President for Human Resources Lisa Cowart noted that, while the number of faculty and staff who have been infected continues to be low, through our on-campus contact tracing, we have learned that none of those who have been infected appear to have contracted the virus at work.  This is encouraging and suggests that employees are following the health-related guidelines to wear masks and maintain a safe distance from coworkers and students. While we are not so naive as to think that will continue indefinitely, we do want you to be aware of this and to keep doing what you are doing to keep yourselves, your co-workers and our students safe. 

On another note, I wanted to let you know that there have been and will continue to be some limited in-person events on campus. You are likely aware that we are currently declining requests for external groups to visit and hold events unless we have a contractual obligation to do so. We have, however, been holding some in-person events within the University Events guidelines that were developed this summer using guidance from the CDC, DHEC and MUSC, among others. One recent example was the socially distanced CSL induction ceremony I attended in September. I’m pleased that such events offered in a blended delivery format (synchronous in-person/virtual) have been well received. This format, in particular, allows a comfort level for participants who may not be ready to physically attend gatherings. 

We are hearing regularly from students and family members that in-person experiences outside the classroom setting are desired (safely, of course), and we are pleased that our efforts along this line help contribute to the engaged college experience that students and their families want and expect. Fortunately, we have not experienced any COVID-related issues as a result of holding these events. 

Finally, as campus events continue to be scheduled and successfully offered according to our guidelines, my wife, Alison, and I are beginning to host very small presidential events outside at our home. We are following all CDC, DHEC and MUSC guidelines as would be expected for any event on campus. In addition, earlier today we were able to show our heartfelt appreciation to the Facilities Management staff at a luncheon we hosted outdoors with all of our safety precautions in effect.  The Facilities area has worked tirelessly since March while others of us worked from home and under Phase 2 guidelines. Their efforts are among the key reasons we have been as successful as we have been in our campus response. Our event staff and the Sodexo team provided a safe, socially distanced lunch with no university funds used. Alison and I were happy to host the event for this deserving group.  

We will be looking at ways to creatively host or deliver other events as well. We recognize that it is important we find ways to acknowledge the many people who have contributed to our successes in these difficult times. 

If you have ideas for how we might acknowledge groups and teams across campus, please send a message to the president@winthrop.edu email address. We will add your suggestions to those we are considering. Thank you again for all that you do for Winthrop. 



George W. Hynd
Interim President