The Blueprint is a newsletter from the President that aims to keep the community informed about College-wide initiatives. Read the most recent edition below.
It’s hard to believe, but we are now entering the final few days of the semester. Yet, we still need to make adjustments as a community. It is our absolute priority to make sure that we are all working towards one common goal: to prepare our campus for a safe, healthy and organized return of students this fall. Though we may not yet know when that return will be, we have a responsibility to work with one another to welcome back our students as soon as we are able.
There is a lot of work to do, which is why we are cancelling all on-campus events through July 30. The very few exceptions are those short campus visits that promote social distancing. It may be a quiet campus, but summer partners such as Facetime, the Center for Talented Youth, the University of the Arts and so many others have been terrific supporters of these plans and our commitment to our students. This quiet period also means that we will not have on-campus student employment this summer, and student housing will not be available. Moving forward, our plans for August will be made in keeping with the commonwealth’s guidance for that time period.
I’ve included key updates below in my May Blueprint newsletter.
This is certainly an unusual close of semester, and I know we have all missed the camaraderie of being with our colleagues and our students on campus, celebrating our seniors and saluting their accomplishments. But once again, I want to thank you for your dedication and resilience. Your Ursinus spirit continues to be a great example to our students every day.
This past Wednesday, nearly 180 of you joined our first town hall for faculty and staff. The next session will be co-hosted by Annette Parker and Kelley Williams on Wednesday, May 6, at noon, and will focus on important employee-related updates including paid time off (PTO), work arrangements, and what a return to campus may look like. In order to ensure we can answer as many of your questions as possible, please submit them in advance via Qualtrics. You can register for the Wednesday session here.
Last Wednesday’s town hall has been posted to our covid-19 webpage (You’ll need your credentials to log-in). As a follow-up to that meeting, please view the Canvas site titled “Faculty Discussions,” to which all staff and faculty now have access. We spoke about this during last week’s town hall, but we continue to welcome ideas on how we should approach the official fall semester opening. We have not set a closing date for the conversation and ask you continue to give this some thought.
We are quickly approaching our first virtual commencement ceremony. Along with student-produced video and social media activities, we are excited to announce that NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch has joined the program to reframe the meaning of “isolation” through an inspirational and optimistic lens. And we strongly encourage all faculty and staff who wish to participate in our virtual gauntlet—that should be everyone!—by submitting short videos by Wednesday, May 6. This is a chance to send off our graduates with a personal congratulatory note.
Our academic deans are leading the effort to completely transition our phenomenal Summer Fellows program to a virtual format this summer. This is, much like the many other transitions this spring, a challenge that will bring a new way of teaching, researching and learning. I am very grateful to Kelly Sorensen, along with the faculty and staff who are making sure our students have the exceptional experience we have come to expect from the Summer Fellows program.
The Berman Museum will host the Annual Student Exhibition virtually beginning this May. Not only will we use technology to showcase the wonderful works of nine student artists, but we’ll also showcase a few studio visits, interview our artists and profile their creativity through Instagram takeovers. More will be announced but, until then, mark your calendars and plan to visit the Berman Museum’s website starting May 15.
A few members of our community relations team met with Collegeville’s borough manager and its council president, along with a CEDC representative, to discuss a shared approach to support and promote small businesses and local organizations. The conversation ranged from fall events, including the community opening of the Schellhase Commons, to potential service and volunteer opportunities and a new community-focused website promoting our partners across the Collegeville area.
As you are aware, the final construction on the Schellhase Commons was halted by the governor’s order earlier this spring. I am very pleased to share that we have resumed work and the Commons will be open when the college re-opens.
Kelley Williams has been conducting virtual information sessions to roll out the new features of the Staff Performance and Development System to staff in each division. The FY21 annual review has been revised based on employee feedback and includes the planned addition of goal setting. The 2020 performance review process can begin as early as May and should be completed by the first week of July. Please look for more communication about this process from Human Resources in early May. I thank Kelley and her team for their hard work and diligent attention to this process.
One of our signature spring events is our Celebration of Student Achievement (CoSA), which this year took place on the Digital Commons. While the setting was unique, the enthusiasm, academic successes and Ursinus pride were as impressive as usual. Student presentations, posters and performances are still available for your viewing and engagement. Visit the CoSA page to see the presentations. My thanks to the CoSA organizers, faculty, staff and especially the students for applying the effort and energy to bring CoSA 2020 to fruition providing this opportunity to celebrate our students and enjoy their work.
The enrollment division is executing a robust virtual yield plan for the fall 2020 class, including a three-day Admitted Students Experience, which took place last month. The event offered admitted students and families a comprehensive list of both “on demand” and “live” content, focused on the areas of academics, student life and outcomes. Thank you to all the faculty, staff and students who contributed content, videos, PowerPoint presentations, participated in live panels, made phone calls, and more to help make our outreach to prospective students as robust as possible. And my congratulations to Shannon Zottola and her entire team on a very successful event.
I’m so impressed by how many of you are helping to support your local communities and have offered thoughts and ideas on how the college can do the same. Many thanks to those who have donated and even created equipment for frontline healthcare workers. On campus, the shining blue light of Pfahler’s tower also shows support to all who are working tirelessly during this pandemic. You can read more positive stories like these on our new Sycamore Stories news page. I am inspired by the generosity and selflessness our Ursinus community has shown through this challenging spring.