May 1, 2020
Thank you for all that you have done during this time of massive transition for our campus. Your hard work, creativity, and commitment have helped us continue to provide the very best education and conduct essential research, and I am grateful every day to be working among you. Below, I offer a number of important updates.
IUPUI and the Statewide Stay-at-home Order
The end of or modifications to state and local stay-at-home orders do not govern when IUPUI faculty and staff now working remotely are permitted to return to campus. Those who are working remotely should continue to do so until further notice.
IUPUI Cares about Our Students
IUPUI is deeply committed to ensuring the success of all of our students, especially at this time of crisis. Considering the uncertainty we are facing, I am especially thankful to work among people who put our students first. I know that holding Zoom classes, offering virtual office hours, and coordinating research remotely can be challenging, but I appreciate all that you are doing to maintain your connections with students as we all work towards the end of this semester.
With the challenges we have faced in mind, I want to send out a special thanks to those faculty and staff who have been part of the Jags Check-In Telephone Campaign. Earlier this week, a team from across campus was scheduled to finish reaching out to more than 19,000 undergraduates to make sure that they were on track as the semester draws to a close.
I am also deeply grateful to the hundreds of faculty and staff members who, along with other friends of campus, have contributed $64,461 to the IUPUI Student Emergency Relief Fund. This, too, reflects how deeply we care about our students and want them to succeed.
To this end, the Office of Student Financial Services is coordinating the distribution of federal emergency grants as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support those students most in need as quickly as possible. IUPUI will be disbursing $10.5 million in emergency aid as soon as the federal government releases the funding.
As we move forward, we have done our best to keep everyone informed about the changes taking place on campus. This includes hosting town hall meetings for faculty, staff, and students both as a campus and in individual schools and units. A campus-wide student town hall will be taking place later today, Friday, May 1. I appreciate all of your efforts in keeping the lines of communication open and finding creative ways to connect with students and each other as we work through this crisis together.
As President McRobbie shared in his recent message, although the crisis is not over, planning efforts are well underway for a return to normal operations, however we define "normal" in the future.
This will be a collaborative, data-informed effort with the wellbeing, health and safety of our campus community always at the forefront. I have charged more than 100 colleagues, including every member of the Council of Deans as well as key faculty, staff, and student stakeholders from all major units on campus, to undertake broad-based planning to address the implications of COVID-19 on our programs and to plan for our continued response to this pandemic.
A steering committee will coordinate efforts across 11 task forces, which focus on areas including health and safety, enrollment, student life, academic programs, diversity, equity and inclusion, research, and community engagement, among others. Each task force will be reviewing the following scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Return to face-to-face teaching in the fall
- Scenario 2: Fall hybrid – face-to-face and online; spring face-to-face
- Scenario 3: Fall online and spring face-to-face
- Scenario 4: Fall face-to-face and back to online for spring
- Scenario 5: Entire academic year online
Although we recognize that Scenario 2—the hybrid return—may be the most probable, we don't know what the future will hold and therefore need to be prepared for other possibilities as well.
To this end, I am working with Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson and other leaders on campus to review classroom capacities and to determine what our space needs will be to ensure a safe return to campus that will allow for social and physical distancing even in lecture hall situations.
Addressing all possibilities, we are also working to develop a special curriculum for IUPUI faculty members to strengthen, streamline, and systematize the continuing transition to online or remote instruction. At IUPUI we have a concentration of expertise in online learning especially at the Center for Teaching and Learning, and we will be leveraging that expertise to continuously improve the courses we are offering, regardless of the delivery method.
Task force reports will address these and other issues, including major priorities and specific recommendations for each possible scenario. Reports are due May 15. All deans and unit leaders are involved in this planning effort, so please feel free to reach out to them with questions or comments.
IUPUI's Commitment to Students and the Future
Although the future remains uncertain, we are hopeful that IUPUI's location in the heart and population center of the state will offer students a particular advantage as they make their plans for fall enrollment. Those who aren't already IUPUI Jaguars may not want to travel across the state or across the country and may want a safer option that keeps them closer to home to continue their studies. As Indiana's health and life sciences campus, we at IUPUI know what safety and public health mean, and we have extended a number of deadlines to keep the door open for these students.
There is no place better than IUPUI to keep students safe as we prepare them—right in their own backyards—for the challenges ahead.
As a campus, the message we need to share with prospective students, their parents, and the community as a whole: We are here, we are rising to this challenge, and we are ready to help students in whatever way we can. In the near future, I will reach out to you with more information on ways you can help us with this effort.
As we near the end of the semester, I know that we will continue to pull together as a campus community to help our students cross the finish line, permit our faculty to continue cutting-edge research, and provide all of us with renewed opportunities for community engagement.
Stay healthy and be well,
Nasser H. Paydar