July 13, 2020

Livestream Session Addressed Return-to-Campus Culture

Faculty and staff attended a live Q&A webinar via Zoom yesterday, as the state entered Phase 3 of the governor’s “Forward Virginia” reopening plan. Called “Commitment to Community,” the session focused on how the University will help students prepare for and commit to behavioral and social expectations and requirements when they return to campus next month.

UMW Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken moderated the livestream event, which featured panelists Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair, Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker, Assistant Dean for Residence Life and Housing David Fleming, and University Physician and Director of the Student Health Center Nancy Wang.

“We know how much our students want to come back to campus,” Landphair said. “They want to resume their holistic Mary Washington experience as much as possible.”

Landphair explained that establishing a culture of compliance – an environment that encourages adherence to sound public health principles and a purposeful intent to prevent the spread of disease – is a “gating requirement,” or prerequisite to re-opening. In that vein, UMW’s Return to Campus Plan will be submitted to SCHEV for approval and shared with campus on Monday, July 6.

The plan, panelists said, focuses on moving forward the core mission of Mary Washington and builds on existing codes of conduct, as well as the University’s statement of community values, known as ASPIRE.

“We don’t want to see a situation where individuals feel stigmatized in any way,” said Rucker, who has spent the past several weeks speaking with incoming students. “That’s why ASPIRE is also important. We want to celebrate everyone but also make sure that everyone is committed to ensuring that the academic process moves forward as smoothly as possible.”

Students, faculty and staff will be asked to complete training modules focused on “MMDC” – monitoring, masking, distancing and cleaning – and all individuals must pledge to uphold the guidelines.

Among their many questions, employees who tuned in to the hourlong session asked how faculty and staff will be expected to enforce behavioral guidelines, how claimed health exemptions to regulations will be handled and how the University is collaborating with city officials.

The Return to Campus Plan will address many of yesterday’s topics of concern, such as quarantine and isolation, testing and tracing, and communication of positive cases, McClurken said. If questions still exist after reading the document, he encouraged employees to restate them at next week’s livestream Q&A event on Wednesday, July 8, at 3 p.m., via Zoom or YouTube.

Watch yesterday’s Q&A below.

 

 

Virtual Town Hall Addresses Campus ‘Hurt’

UMW President Troy Paino addressed an audience of concerned students yesterday afternoon during a virtual town hall meeting.

The event – planned for an hour but extended by 15 minutes to allow more students to speak – was called in light of protests taking place throughout the country and in the Fredericksburg area since the May 25 murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

“I just wanted to let you all know that my mind and my heart have been with you over the past week and a half, and really since we left each other back in March,” Paino said at the start of the session, hosted live via Zoom.

While a number of faculty and staff members expressed interest in participating, President Paino wanted to have an exclusive conversation with students. Their concerns centered on the presence of UMW Police Sunday night during a protest when city police used tear gas to displace protesters. Other topics included the university’s stance on systemic racism and on the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Black lives do matter,” said Vice President for Equity and Access Sabrina Johnson, who joined Paino yesterday as a panelist, along with UMW Police Chief Mike Hall. “I want to mention the names our leaders mention: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd. I want their names to be in this space during this very important discussion.”

Just hours before Floyd’s first memorial service was set to be begin in Minneapolis, students took their turns onscreen to pose questions to Paino, who told them that he has lined up discussions with Fredericksburg officials, including the police chief, city manager and mayor. The university is committed to working through what happened, he said, and to maintaining transparency in communicating those findings.

Paino pledged that UMW will continue its efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty and to live by its code of community values, also known as ASPIRE. He acknowledged his intent to join in solidarity with students who planned a peaceful walk from Mary Washington to Fredericksburg’s Market Square this afternoon. The march, officially announced in a UMW email today from Student Government Association President Kyree Ford,was meant to support students of color and “to show the campus community that black lives matter and hate has no home at Mary Washington.”

UMW Introduces New Fully Searchable Course Catalog

The new University of Mary Washington course catalog is out.

The fully searchable, online publication, available at catalog.umw.edu, has been thoughtfully consolidated to avoid waste, and includes all the bells and whistles.

With a single URL for both graduate and undergraduate programs, the new catalog features “bubbles” that pop up with descriptions drawn directly from Banner when users hover over hyperlinked course numbers. A navigation bar includes sections containing general information about UMW, specifics about fees and financial aid, and other details that apply to both grads and undergrads.

The catalog also comes with a course search option, directory of programs and A-to-Z index of topics, and is available in a PDF format that can be printed or saved.

Software provider CourseLeaf designed the publication based on a UMW style guide, after the decision to stop printing was made early last year. Administrators also made the change in order to sync the catalog with course records in Banner, meet accessibility guidelines and accommodate multiple browsers.

Led by Associate Provost for Academic Affairs John Morello, the group behind the new catalog includes Kevin Caffrey, Rita Dunston, Angie Sawyer, Evie Sherlock and Brian Ogle from the Registrar’s Office; Ben Kjar from IT; Amy O’Reilly and Ginny Irvin from the Provost’s Office; Mike Breitenbach and AJ Newell from University Relations; Jen Cirbus from Academic Services; and Provost Nina Mikhalevsky and Associate Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Success Tim O’Donnell.

Full PDFs will be posted sometime this summer, Morello said, as academic program and calendar particulars are shored up. Meanwhile, course catalogs from previous years are available by visiting catalog.umw.edu and clicking the link listed under “Archived Catalogs,” and through UMW Libraries’ Special Collections.

Q&A Session Focused on Recruitment and Retention

UMW faculty and staff tuned in yesterday to a Zoom presentation and Q&A session centered on fall enrollment and retention in the time of COVID-19. Facilitated by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, the hour-long event included Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski, Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young and Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Buster-Williams and Yakabouski, who together have worked half a century in college admissions, said that the recruitment-related woes they’ve faced throughout their careers have been trumped by unemployment rates, health concerns and other disruptions caused by the current pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken an increasingly competitive college-enrollment landscape to new heights, the administrators said, forcing them to re-imagine strategies for recruiting and retaining students, and pose innovative solutions. At the time of the talk, first-year deposits stood at slightly more than 100 less than anticipated, according to Buster-Williams. This mirrors a downward trend across the country, she said. Mary Washington, like other schools, has extended the enrollment deposit deadline to June 1.

“We find ourselves in the midst of a recruitment crisis, and the outpouring of support has been truly appreciated,” she said of faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Mary Washington community who are pitching in to help yield a strong incoming class.

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

After working for years to build a 2020-21 UMW undergraduate cohort – visiting schools, attending college fairs, reading applications and more – “our entire operation went online,” Yakabouski said. Without the overwhelming support, she said, “we could not have pivoted as quickly or as well.”

Among incoming students’ top concerns, she said, are a need to connect and a desire to know if Mary Washington will be able to meet its goal of providing in-person learning this fall or if the coronavirus crisis will force courses back online.

Pack and Young said they also have been “sorting through uncertainties” to meet the changing demands of adult learners by enhancing testing and pathway options, and financial support opportunities.

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Together, Pack said, the two have hosted virtual sessions throughout the past six weeks for 150 students interested in enrolling in UMW’s MBA, M.Ed., MSGA, BSN, BLS, GIS-certification and other professional development programs.

“Uncertainty means we have hope,” said Young, who is keeping a close eye on the ways in which UMW can help meet the changing needs of area industries, such as offering COVID-19-influenced courses required of educators.

Participants posed a host of questions about such topics as how other schools’ decisions impact UMW’s admissions operations and what unique enrollment strategies are being considered.

“We are making sure we’re being really brilliant at the basics,” Buster-Williams said.

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

In answer to Professor of Chemistry Nicole Crowder’s question on how the entire UMW community can continue to support this crucial effort, Yakabouski suggested being responsive to inquiries from prospective students and their parents, and sharing innovative ideas.

“Recruitment isn’t just about the four of us on this panel,” Young said. “It’s about all of us.”

Watch the May 20 Q&A session on YouTube.

Paino Addresses Faculty/Staff Concerns in Live Chat

President Paino spoke to faculty and staff yesterday in a live online forum designed to address questions and concerns that have surfaced throughout the past weeks as the University community has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and worked to adjust to a “new normal.”

On the heels of a similar live student Q&A session, hosted on Zoom and YouTube, Paino answered more than 20 questions from employees in departments across the University. He covered a range of issues, from plans for students’ return to campus and admissions yield strategies to budget concerns and telework situations.

“Going through this, we’re going to learn a lot about ourselves and our operations moving forward,” Paino said. “I think that this will probably cause us to have a lot of deep conversations about our work in a variety of ways that we weren’t expecting just a month ago.”

Paino said he remains optimistic that students will be back on campus for the start of the fall semester and that he is putting together a task force to think through how that might work.

Provost Nina Mikhalevsky and Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams joined Paino in the live chat, answering questions related to their respective areas. Together, they addressed concerns about how altered operations have impacted students, how the overall UMW landscape could change, and the importance of community-wide contributions to admissions efforts.

Paino praised faculty for their ability to make a quick change from in-person to remote teaching and urged all employees to take time to care for themselves, both physically and emotionally.

“I think the thing that I’m most gratified by is that I get to work, even if it’s remotely, with such amazing people, and that has lifted my spirits,” he told Procurement Services’ Michelle Pickham, who joined the conversation to ask about Paino’s personal well-being.

“Even through the challenge and uncertainty of these times, I get to work with … people like yourself and others on campus who have given me such encouragement and such a sense of optimism that we’re going to meet this challenge and make it through.”

Hear the live Q&A session in its entirety on YouTube.

It’s Census Time: Help Get UMW Counted

It’s Census time, and the Center for Community Engagement is working to get the word out to all UMW students. Please take a look at the CCE’s Census FAQs, and contact CCE Associate Director Sarah Dewees for social media posts that you can share. Thanks for helping get UMW counted!

UMW Receives ‘Tree Campus USA’ Recognition

University of Mary Washington has earned recognition as a 2019 Tree Campus USA® by the Arbor Day Foundation. The honor goes to colleges and universities, and their leaders, for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

To obtain this distinction, University of Mary Washington met the five core standards for effective campus forest management: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project.

“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe. “Because of University of Mary Washington’s participation air will be purer, water cleaner and your students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide.”

A Message to the Class of 2020

Class of 2020 President Eleanor Kilmon shared a moving message with her classmates.

To My Fellow Seniors,

One week ago, I sat down on Ball Circle surrounded by the bustle of excited students emerging from their residence halls ready to enjoy the first touches of spring in the air. I began writing the greeting I would share as we prepared to receive our diplomas on commencement day. And now, I sit on my bed in my sweatpants and an XL t-shirt surrounded only by my own emotions and an embarrassingly large amount of tissues. Still though, I am writing to my people, the UMW Class of 2020. Ironically, my speech was going to focus on what I like to call the “uncomfy” zone. The space where at Mary Wash where I have built my character as a friend, a leader, and a grown to be a better person. I was going to encourage you to find that growth in your own “uncomfy” zone as you move into an unfamiliar world where we don’t see our friends, professors, and mentors every day. Little did I know, we would all be thrust into an undeniable sense of uncertainty and uncomfortable so soon. While we mourn the loss of what could have been, I would like to share what I know for certain. The UMW community stretches beyond the brick and mortar of our beloved buildings. I find solace in my privilege of existing in these “uncomfy” times surrounded by a what I believe to be the best “Class of 2020” I could have imagined. I hope to see you all soon and celebrate IRL. By the way, what is stopping us from screaming IT’S FRIDAY, having a higher than average love of goats, or painting a rock in our yards?

Yours,

Eleanor Kilmon

Class of 2020 President

Letter from the President: Remote instruction continues through end of semester

To all members of the Mary Washington community,

It would be difficult to overstate how unprecedented the last several days have been. Our lives and institutions have been disrupted in ways that we never could have imagined when the semester began. Like many of our colleagues across the Commonwealth and around the country, our decision to temporarily suspend face-to-face classes last week was done with the hope that such an interruption would be brief and that normal operations would return in a short period of time. It is now clear that this will not be the case as a more concerted national social distancing effort is needed.

Guidance from public health officials tells us that we should limit gatherings for several additional weeks as we all do our part to take the necessary steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. As a result, we have reached the very painful conclusion that we will not be returning to normal operations this semester. So, UMW will continue remote instruction through the end of the semester and final exams. In addition, all campus-based or sponsored events at Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Dahlgren are cancelled through May 15.

Remote instruction, academic advising and all other instructional support activity going forward will be done remotely through the end of the semester, with grades still being due on May 5. All current academic support areas, including the Teaching Center, Digital Learning Support, Library, Office of Disability Resources, Academic Services, Financial Aid, Registrar, etc. will continue at their current levels and hours.

Faculty and Staff

Thank you for your ongoing commitment and patience during this complicated time. Although we’re being challenged to alter the way in which we deliver instruction and conduct business, it is our intention and desire to keep our employees working and paid. Supervisors have been urged to make every effort to identify telework opportunities, even for positions that do not typically lend themselves to telework. These opportunities may include alternative duties, training and professional development, or both. We are also continually researching options for various types of leave and other resources that may become available as the state responds to the unique challenges employers are facing as a result of the spread of COVID-19. If teleworking faculty or staff need to return to their offices to pack up and take home additional materials, we encourage them to do that as soon as possible. When on campus, please observe social distancing and minimize interactions.

Students

Students will soon be receiving an email from Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair about the timeline and process for residential students to move their belongings out of their rooms and, for the students whose only option is to remain on campus, about the petition-to-remain process. Given CDC and Virginia Department of Health advisories and emergency actions and other advisories issued by the state and federal governments, we strongly encourage any student who can get home to do so as soon as possible. Public health officials are strongly recommending that people of all ages stay at home with limited outside contact with others.

Housing and Dining

UMW intends to give a credit or refund for housing and dining due to this announcement. However, we ask for your patience as we determine the appropriate amount of credit or refund for each student. With many of our employees working remotely and the variety of meal plans and housing fees to consider, this will take a little time to analyze.

Commencement

We are aware that Virginia’s prohibition, as of today, of gatherings of 10 or more people and the CDC’s recent recommendation on gatherings over 50 people for the next eight weeks will affect UMW’s commencement. We are exploring potential options and alternatives. As we know more, we will reach out about how we can best and safely celebrate our amazing graduates.

Community Programming

UMW regrets that it must cancel all remaining community special events and programming through the remainder of the academic year.  Through at least May 15, University and privately sponsored arts, cultural, and general special events and functions will be cancelled, including exhibitions, performances, and lectures. This action will include the UMW Philharmonic performances, Great Lives and ElderStudy lectures, and other fee-based or complimentary services and gatherings.

Let me close by telling each of you how much I appreciate the sacrifices you have made to be a part of the UMW community in the first place, and especially during the disruptive, even traumatic, changes of recent days and weeks. Know that I am proud of us and what we have done as a community to come together (even from a safe 6-foot distance). I am confident that we will survive these challenges, and UMW will be stronger than ever once the crisis passes.

Be well and stay safe,
Troy

UMW announces new work protocols for all employees

Following the announcement of further Virginia guidelines and restrictions to manage the impact of COVID-19, effective today, March 16, 2020, UMW is implementing new working protocols for employees, whether their roles may be fulfilled virtually or must be done on-site. Please read this communication in full for further details as to how these protocols may affect your role.

First, and most importantly, the safety of the entire campus community is a top priority for UMW and the Commonwealth. The steps described in this email are being taken in an abundance of caution and because it is our public and social responsibility to help diminish the potential spread of COVID-19. Self-quarantine by a few members of our community is a safety precaution, not an  indication of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Please help reduce anxiety or fear by correcting and refuting rumors. There have been no reported or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campuses.

At this time, several hundred students have registered to remain on the Fredericksburg campus; however, this number is fluid and changes day by day. Even as we continue to encourage students to go home, remaining on campus is the safest or only feasible option for many. We will continue to serve them to the best of our ability, providing for their physical, emotional, and academic needs. This said, UMW may need to modify the services we have provided to this point. If your department was previously designated to remain open, please consult with your supervisor as to any changes that may affect your work.

UMW is continuing with plans to begin online and virtual instruction today for all students. We have a duty to ensure that students can successfully complete their spring classes and make appropriate progress towards graduation.

Staff and Supervisors

Given the lack of clarity on how long Virginians will need to practice social distancing, supervisors will be expected to identify optimal ways to work with employees remotely and to be available for all typical guidance and direction.

In addition to establishing telework protocols and accountability, supervisors are encouraged to think creatively about new means of accomplishing core functions. Supervisors may also use this time to have employees work on strategic and tactical plans, complete professional development and training, participate in virtual meetings and team activities, or other duties as assigned. Supervisors will work with employees to make sure deadlines are met, duties are fulfilled, and responsibilities completed, albeit remotely.

Please read below for additional information on continuing our work and mission:

Supervisors should take steps immediately to contact their employees to notify them whether they are considered:

  1. Essential personnel—physical presence on campus,
  2. Essential personnel—physical and/or remote presence,
  3. Non-essential personnel—no telework option or
  4. Non-essential personnel—telework only.

Wherein possible, we are starting the process of redeploying all those employees who may work remotely, both essential and non-essential, to telework status. Decisions related to your designation or where your work may be completed are subject to change as circumstances evolve. Your supervisor will reach out as things change, so pay attention to your email and phone.

Supervisors (in consultation with their division VP) should be moving, as appropriate, all eligible employees to telework. Supervisors should consult with their employees about assignments and challenges to working remotely. Supervisors will email HR (Debra Wander – dwander@umw.edu) with a list of employees, job titles, brief summary of what each employee will be doing, while teleworking in their unit.

Supervisors will document telework assignments as follows: email each employee their telework status (see above for the four options), the nature of their remote work assignments, and procedures and dates for checking in with their supervisor or other team members.

All employees will continue to work, but the nature of different roles will require varying campus availability. In most cases, employees will be expected to work their normal shifts and/or complete their full hourly requirements whether remotely or on campus. Employees who need scheduling flexibility to address family or personal needs should contact their supervisors.

As usual, non-exempt employees should complete their time cards to reflect their actual working hours. If you cannot complete your timecard electronically via MyTime, submit your hours to your supervisor in written form via email or text. Employees will be fully compensated at their normal pay rate, assuming they are meeting their onsite or telework assignments and requirements as well as their standard number of working hours per pay period.

Further, employees, whether working on site or remotely, essential or non-essential, should expect to assist wherever needed during these extraordinary circumstances. Many or all may be expected to complete tasks outside their normal job description.

Resources about telework and working remotely can be found at HR’s site and the Help Desk’s advice on working remotely. Additional links will be added as available.

Faculty

Faculty will continue with remote instruction. Department chairs, associate deans, and deans are available to help assist with your general academic questions. The Center for Teaching, Digital Learning Support, Digital Knowledge Center, the Library, and other support centers remain available to assist faculty and students.

All Employees

This transition to telework, where possible, will support the social distancing strategy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and will follow guidance from the Virginia State of Emergency declared by Governor Ralph Northam.

The UMW community’s response to this fast moving and ever-changing situation has been professional and positive, and we are grateful for the way all of you have put the needs of students above personal impact. Your flexibility and agility have been evident, and we will continue to call upon them and your best nature. In times like this, the strength of our community is truly demonstrated, and we thank you for your commitment.

Paul Messplay
Vice President for Administration Finance

Nina Mikhalevsky
Provost

In keeping with ASPIRE, we are committed to a learning environment that supports the wellbeing of all students, staff, and faculty free from harassment, discrimination and unfair bias. If you who have questions or concerns are encouraged to report a bias incident or may contact Terri Arthur at tlockhar@umw.edu or Sabrina Johnson at sjohnson@umw.edu, directly.