Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, 6:02 p.m.
KU Lawrence All Staff, Faculty and Affiliates KU Graduate Teaching Assistants

Dear Colleague,

Welcome to the spring semester! Thank you for all you did to bring us successfully through the fall semester, and thank you in advance for all you will be doing to support our students this semester. I know I speak for all our students when I say your passion, commitment, support and mentorship are greatly appreciated.

We have received a number of inquiries about adjustments to the policies, processes and dates that will guide our academic activities during the spring semester. While this not an exhaustive list, we’ve assembled information that will help manage several of the temporary changes brought about by the pandemic. Students are receiving a similar message. Our Unified Command team and numerous supporting teams continue to identify issues and address concerns that affect our campuses and together we will work to keep you informed. Your questions and concerns are welcome by sending an email to provost@ku.edu or using this anonymous form.

On-Campus Support and Service

Throughout the fall, we fielded concerns from students who, for a number of reasons, needed to access services in person but sometimes found doors locked and services difficult to secure. Although the number of complaints were not many, the needs were valid. Therefore, we’ve asked all student-facing offices to have a greater on-campus presence during the spring semester. Our goal is to find the delicate balance between serving our students and making safety a priority for our staff. Thanks to all our supervisors and staff who are managing work schedules and spaces with an emphasis on safety and maintaining physical distancing, and modifying your work as needed.

Course Withdrawal Refund Date

The deadline for 100% refund for course withdrawal has been extended by one week to Feb. 12 for full-semester courses, and proportionately for short-term courses. Additional academic calendar dates and deadlines are available online.

Students are being reminded that financial aid is affected when students drop below full-time status.

Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) dates

As in spring 2020, many students will be able to see grades before seeking CR/NC status for a course. For consistency, I have asked units to honor the CR/NC guidelines they implemented in spring and fall 2020 semesters. Students are being reminded there are many courses that are not eligible for the CR/NC option – courses required for licensure, graduate-level courses required for degree completion and more. We are strongly encouraging students to consult with an academic advisor before pursuing this option.

  • The deadline for graduating students to seek CR/NC for spring 2021 courses is June 4, 2021.
  • The deadline for continuing students to seek CR/NC for spring 2021 courses is Dec. 3, 2021.

As a reminder, graduate students may seek CR/NC if the course is not needed to fulfill hours toward the satisfaction of requirements. No course graded CR/NC can count toward the satisfaction of requirements for a graduate degree or graduate certificate.

We are reminding all students that this decision can affect financial aid, scholarships, acceptance into professional and advanced-degree programs (including programs at KU) and much more.

Course Adaptation

Due to the challenges course adaptations posed on instructors in the fall, the availability for students to apply for course adaptations for spring semester courses is much more limited. Students were notified in fall of the importance of building their spring course schedules with courses that meet their program needs as well as instructional format needs. The period to request an adaptation has closed. Students who need a short-term adaptation due to quarantine or isolation measures are being told to contact their instructors, as soon as possible, to work out a plan. Students who find they have a long-term incapacity to attend in-person courses are being advised to work with their academic advisor or department to switch courses or class sections to those that better meet their instructional format needs and situation.

If you are a GTA and you need help creating a requested and approved course adaptation, please work with your supervising faculty or department chair.

Graduate Program Milestone Exams

The Office of Graduate Studies will continue to suspend in-person attendance requirements for graduate milestone exams, such as thesis and dissertation defenses, during the spring 2021 semester. Graduate students are being asked to evaluate whether some or all individuals should participate in exams remotely. In cases where a student prefers all committee members to be physically present, we ask that you do all you can to honor the student’s preference. To clarify that we value the health of committee members as well, we are advising students that, depending on pandemic conditions, a preference for in-person exams may require rescheduling and may delay progress to degree.

Exam Accommodations

The Testing Center team in the Student Access Center will resume in-person proctoring services during the spring semester. The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to offer accommodations for in-person exams only. The service is not available if the exam will be available online or a mix of online and in-person formats. Visit the Testing Center’s information page for more details.

Student Mental Health and Mid-semester Breaks

We are all aware that the stresses students face today are different from those faced by students 10 or 20 years ago, and that mental health has been a growing concern among students – and that was prior to COVID-19. When we made the decision last summer to run our fall and spring semester calendars in as condensed a format as possible to limit the potential exposure of our community members to COVID-19, we consulted with our accreditor and we know there is very little wiggle room for additional adjustments. One of our lessons learned from the fall semester, is that all our students, faculty and staff would benefit from having a few breaks during the semester to provide mental health days. Should we continue to be in pandemic conditions next year, we will work to adjust academic calendars to make these available. For this spring, we ask that instructors check in with your students periodically to monitor their reaction to the course workload and adapt or provide a break from class if needed. We have also encouraged students to let their advisor or you know if they are struggling to keep up and work together with you to identify a strategy to address the challenges they face. If you see a student who appears to be struggling, please submit a Care Referral request with Student Support and Case Management.

Support for Faculty and Staff

COVID-19 has been challenging for all of us in ways as unique and as individual as we each are. Our Unified Command teams continue to monitor conditions and make recommendations to address our situation and needs. As a community, we need to maintain vigilance with our protection efforts so the pandemic doesn’t further hinder our important work. As a community, we possess resources that can ease the stress many faculty, staff and students are experiencing. Many of our offices are able to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Faculty Development & Mentoring Centerfacultydev@ku.edu, 785-864-6489

Center for Teaching Excellencecte@ku.edu, 785-864-4199.

IT Education Technologyitedtech@ku.edu

Center for Online and Distant Learningcodl@ku.edu, 785-864-1000

Human Resource Managementhrdept@ku.edu 785-864-4946. Also, see resources regarding mental health and the state Employee Assistance Program.

Operations and Facilities Serviceskuoperations@ku.edu,

KU Information Technologyitcsc@ku.edu, 785-864-8080

Academic Successacademicsuccess@ku.edu, 785-864-4907

Diversity Equity Inclusion & Belongingdiversity@ku.edu, 785-864-4904

Office of Researchovcr@ku.edu, 784-864-3441

Protect KUprotect@ku.edu

Thank you for all you do to serve our students and our many constituents across the state, the nation, and the globe, and for your stewardship of our university.

Respectfully,

Barb

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer

Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor