UPDATE April 1, 2020
I want to start by thanking so many of you for making an effort to join us yesterday for our weekly University Forum. If you did not have the opportunity to view it live, or would like to see it again, it is available here. By our count, about 1,300 participated in the call; more than 90 of you asked questions. While we did not get to all of your questions, we have them all and will update the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section on our COVID-19 Landing Page.
We are all living and working under challenging conditions, but as students, I know your experience is particularly challenging. You must be thoughtful about your health and wellness; make sure that your families are safe and secure; resist anxiety; and keep up with your studies, particularly the seniors, graduate and doctoral candidates who WILL be graduating this May.
This is a difficult time, but you are resilient souls. Many of you found your way to college through what might have seemed to others like insurmountable circumstances. Failure now is not an option.
Today, I want to address some of your concerns as the University has effectively become a completely digital campus during an unprecedented period in American history. Let me begin by reiterating that Delaware State University will not allow your academic record to be compromised as a result of COVID-19. We will work with each of you for as long as it takes.
Academics: Committing to your success without sacrificing quality or high expectations
The University has initiated a Pass/Fail Option for Spring 2020 under the leadership of Provost Saundra DeLauder and our faculty. This effort was a direct response to the sensitivities of online student learning during this very challenging time. The formal policy will be posted shortly, but the highlights include the following:
- At the end of the Spring 2020 Semester, faculty will submit a letter grade for each course as per the standard grade submission protocol.
- After the grades are posted, students can choose to keep the standard grade given or move to a Pass/Fail for each course. Standard grades A–C = Pass. Standard grades D–F = Fail.
- A Pass/Fail grade will not be counted in a student’s GPA. A passing grade will earn credits; a failing grade will not receive any credits. Students will follow the established timeline for grade changes.
Enrollment Management: Keeping our students whole for lost access to housing and meals
As a reminder, prorated Cost of Attendance Credits (COAC) for the period beginning March 18, 2020, through May 8, 2020, covering your residency and meal plans have been calculated and will be posted to your account. The COAC was applied to your respective accounts on March 25, 2020. The final reconciliation of your accounts will be completed after May 8, 2020.
Commencement: Providing two options for seniors and graduate and doctoral candidates to celebrate your success
On Friday, May 15, the University will hold a virtual Commencement celebration, and your diplomas will be mailed to you. At a date to be announced during Fall 2020, we will welcome you back for a physical Commencement on campus.
Scholarships: Waivers for the present; opportunities for the future
This year’s volunteer service requirements relating to scholarships (including INSPIRE) have been waived. In addition, between the efforts of the University’s Office of Institutional Advancement and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, there are additional scholarships available to continuing students. In this context, it important to note that TMCF awarded nearly $6 MM in scholarships last year, and Delaware State University has enjoyed successive record-breaking years in fundraising to support our students. Visit desu.edu/scholarships or consult with your Financial Aid counselor for details.
Student Affairs: Keep our students safe and energized
Due to the State of Emergency order which is in effect until at least May 15, we are not allowed to let students return to campus to pick up belongings or move out. We will notify you immediately if the Governor’s order changes. We are developing as many virtual opportunities as possible through WebEx and social media to keep you engaged with the campus community, your friends, and your organizations. Student government election campaigns will be hosted through Instagram, and there will be many other offerings available through the new Student Affairs webpage that will go live this week.
State of Emergency: What that means to you
Governor Carney’s State of Emergency Declaration is consistent with declarations that are reaching across the United States, particularly the Eastern seaboard. These orders are essential, have the force of law, and must be followed if we are to curb the COVID-19 crisis.
It is important to realize how serious the government is taking this threat. In Rhode Island, the National Guard is stopping travelers from other states to enforce a 14-day quarantine. Both New York City and Washington, DC are imposing fines for those who violate “shelter in place” orders. From Virginia up the Atlantic Coast to Connecticut, every state has imposed a “stay at home” order, closed public schools and nonessential businesses, and begun restricting travel.
In Delaware, with emphasis on our students, a State of Emergency means:
- Delaware citizens are required to “stay at home” except for essential travel.
- Nonessential businesses must shut down; essential companies (like the University) operate with the maximum number of people working from home.
- Anyone entering Delaware from another state is required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
To ensure your safety, we must all be mindful of this guidance in Delaware and from elected officials at city, county, and state levels throughout the country.
Students, I cannot express enough how proud you have made us all. You have dealt with the disappointments and challenges of this crisis. You are overcoming incredible obstacles by logging into your classes and doing your coursework.
Your attitude has been exceptionally positive. I can promise these moments will make you stronger throughout the rest of your lives.
Former South African President and Freedom Fighter Nelson Mandela once said, “Do not judge me by my success. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” You keep getting back up and tackling your challenges. You will succeed; we will all succeed together!
It all matters,
Tony Allen, Ph.D.