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COVID-19 Information

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you. So much is happening in this most unique summer! I am heartened by the tremendous activity ongoing as we prepare for a residential experience this fall. Here are important updates for this week.

Return to Campus

Work continues within the Chancellor’s Fall 2020 Campus Readiness Taskforce to implement a health and safety plan for our return to a residential campus in the fall. Last week we received an email from Human Resources outlining initial plans for employees to begin returning to work on campus. As a first step, some supervisors returned this week. They will help sequence the return of other employees. It is important that we follow guidelines for returning to campus to enable safety protocols to be fully vetted and implemented prior to welcoming all employees back to campus. HR will work with all campus units to answer questions related to accommodations and COVID-19 related employee leave. I appreciate your patience and partnership as we work through this together.

TCU Connected Campus Planning

TCU Connected Campus planning is underway. The TCUCC Council held our first meeting this week. This large, productive council includes college representatives and partners outside of academic affairs. In response to questions arising, I’d like to clarify a couple things.

  1. Koehler Center Hybrid Course training: The Koehler Center will assist you in coordinating your individual training plan. While certain elements must be scheduled, instructors assigned to courses in the fall 2020 semester may begin the asynchronous portion at any time. Full details are here. The primary purpose of this training is to develop our skill in using technology to deliver online courses with as much synchronous content as possible. While delivering training, Koehler Center instructors offer great advice on evidence-based distance learning practices. This advice is not a mandate. Please look to your College Connect Teams, particularly your college eTrainers, for discipline-centric advice on course design models.
  2. Regarding course design models and our objective to be prepared for four delivery modalities, it now seems likely that we will focus on two modes.
    1. Modified On Campus and Dual modes combined: This means most students and instructors are on campus and physical distancing guidelines are in effect. Some students and some instructors are online for their health and safety. If an instructor is not in the classroom, a facilitator should be present to greet and organize the students in the classroom as well as manage the classroom technology.
    2. Online: This means learning delivery is fully online because health guidance does not permit us to be on campus.

Please continue to seek guidance from your college eTrainers. Tomorrow, Chancellor Boschini will share a new TCU Connected Campus microsite with the entire campus community, including students and families.

Teaching & Research Subcommittee

We are focusing on health and safety as we carry out our academic mission within the Teaching & Research subcommittee. Deans Hartman and Bunton as well as Drs. Clark Jones and Sean Atkinson, former and current Faculty Senate chairs, are among those serving on this committee.

This week we’ve partnered with our TCU Information Technology (IT) colleagues (Bryan Lucas, chief technology officer, and Joshua Tooley, director of IT support) to pilot-test technology capabilities within different classroom environments – to simulate students and faculty delivering and receiving instruction from the classroom as well as remote locations. The information gathered during this pilot test will inform decisions about additional technology needed to facilitate the TCU Connected Campus plan.

We are also working with Facilities, Institutional Research and the Registrar on physical distancing in classrooms. Jason Soileau, assistant vice chancellor for campus planning, and his facilities’ team mapped out the “physical distancing capacity” for each classroom, which provides six-foot radius between seats, appropriate circulation around the room and ample (eight-feet deep by room width) space for the instructor or course facilitator. Additional non-traditional spaces are being identified to serve as classrooms, including ballrooms, tented outdoor classrooms and potentially sporting venues – lots of creativity going on! Cathan Coghlan, director of institutional research, is meticulously moving classroom assignments as needed to comply with physical distancing requirements. We will then work with the Registrar to move rooms as needed. I appreciate your patience in allowing these teams to work on physical distancing our thousands of courses in a timely manner. As soon as we are able to determine courses that cannot be accommodated without splitting up the class, we will inform so that you are able to complete your course redesign.

Floyd Wormley, associate provost for research and dean of graduate studies, has developed guidelines for the responsible resumption of scholarly activities in our research labs and in the field. Information is coming soon, through your deans.

Shared Governance

In light of Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Sean Atkinson’s email titled “Special Statement Regarding Cuts to Employee Compensation,” I want to reaffirm my commitment to shared governance and convey my cabinet colleagues’ commitment as well. We know that shared governance does not mean that our Trustees, who have fiduciary responsibility for Texas Christian University, can always accept recommendations put forth. We know that we were on a path to “operational sustainability” before the pandemic – to make the TCU experience more attainable for students and families. We can expect that we will need to make uncomfortable changes. That is why it is more important than ever that shared governance be preserved. Thank you for continuing to share your voices.

I am committed to continuing to work with you, particularly through your faculty senate leaders, to uphold our commitment to TCU and our students. I believe our shared goal is the continuation of achieving our mission. To that end, Drs. Atkinson and Clark have joined the deans’ meetings as we resume our “pre-COVID-19” discussion on Vision in Action: Lead On and our commitment to maintain our distinctive Horned Frog experience beyond the next 150 years of Texas Christian University.

In Closing

I sincerely appreciate your dedication during this most unique summer. Please continue to put forth questions, ideas and critical feedback. Thank you for continuing to respond to what has become my mantra - my request for partnership, patience and grace.

With deep gratitude,

Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg
Texas Christian University
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
TCU Box 297040, Fort Worth, TX 76129

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