March 23, 2020 - Message for Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff

From the Provost
March 23, 2020

Dear Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff,

As we begin offering remote instruction tomorrow, I want to thank you for the flexibility you are showing in these unprecedented times. Your creativity, persistence, and commitment to educating our students in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic are truly inspiring. We are all navigating this situation together, and we are doing the best we can to adapt to changing circumstances. I know SSU staff are working hard to help us all adapt, and I want to give a shout out to the staff in Academic Affairs for making this possible.

I am pleased to share with you an editorial written by one of our own faculty: Richard Hertz’s Welcome to the New World of Online Education provides a simultaneously sobering and uplifting commentary on the reality in which we find ourselves today.

I also want to acknowledge that the situation that arose with Zoom today was truly frustrating across the board. I am very sorry for the problems this presented and the extra work it created.

In light of these Zoom issues, the Faculty Center has provided us with new resources for using Zoom in Canvas. This document is linked through two of the Faculty Center’s key support sites:

Many of you have asked to know how we are communicating with our students and what supports are in place for them.

  • We are working hard to provide students with a wide array of services to help make learning go more smoothly. Our tutoring, DSS, CAPS, and other services are all operating remotely (see the resource guides for more information). We are developing, through the Advising Center, a peer success coaching program for students. We have also reactivated NomaCares to provide support for students. Students who are struggling can get help at and will be directed to the right resource for help and information.
  • We have provided policy and procedural support on the Academic Affairs Info Hub, which offers both faculty and student resource guides that address a wide range of issues related to remote instruction and safety and well-being during the pandemic.
  • Please make sure students know about the Student Resource Guide. Take this opportunity to be in touch with your students if you have not already.
  • On the advising side, students enrolled in courses that allow credit/no credit will now have until April 17 to change the grade mode from letter grades to credit/no credit. Students have been informed of this change, and we will provide a process for this change in the next couple of days. Please stand by for more information.

Please stay safe and follow all recommendations to shelter in place, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds. We all are juggling an incredible amount of change and pressure, so the most important thing to do is to take care of ourselves and those we love.

Please remember we have a cadre of people here to support you: Academic Programs, Faculty Affairs, Deans, Academic Advising, the Faculty Center, Academic Resources, Institutional Effectiveness, faculty leadership, etc. We are all available to answer questions and help SSU faculty and staff continue to deliver instruction to our students in these tremendously challenging times.

With gratitude,

Lisa Vollendorf, Provost