Posted on Aug 5, 2020
in Campus News
Chancellor Girod shared the following message on August 5, 2020.
Students and colleagues,
An important part of a successful fall semester is helping to keep our KU and Lawrence community safe by minimizing exposures to the COVID-19 virus. One way to do this is to identify those among us who have the infection, even without symptoms, as we all return to campus. We will accomplish this by using a simple, non-invasive, saliva-based test for students, faculty and staff on re-entry to campus.
This message includes important instructions for how faculty, staff, and students on our Lawrence and Edwards campuses can obtain a COVID-19 test before our fall semester begins later this month.
This testing will be mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff on our Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
Saliva-based tests will be provided at no charge for faculty, staff, and students in partnership with Clinical Reference Laboratory in Lenexa, Kansas. We will begin providing tests for students in KU Student Housing as part of the move-in process that is beginning later this week.
Other students, faculty, and staff in Lawrence should visit protect.ku.edu/covid-19-testing-information to sign up for an appointment at one of two drive-up testing sites. Students and employees at the Edwards Campus will receive separate instructions directing them on how to complete a test before the semester begins, but are also able to use Lawrence testing if it is more convenient for them.
It is my hope that you will view this testing event not only as an opportunity for you as an individual but also about a chance to demonstrate your responsibility to the health of our entire community. If we are to be successful in welcoming more of our population back to campus this fall, all of us will have to do our part. This testing is an important step in the process, and I encourage each of you to take advantage of it.
Positive faculty and staff results will be shared with KU Human Resources, and students’ positive results will be shared with KU Student Affairs and KU Student Housing, if applicable, along with the individual’s local health department in order to inform protective actions for our community. Watkins Health Services will also receive notification of positive results, and those who test positive will be contacted by a health official.
A testing opportunity like this is one way we can demonstrate personal responsibility to prioritize the health of our community. Again, visit protect.ku.edu/covid-19-testing-information to learn more about how you can obtain a COVID-19 test before returning to campus.
I know these are trying times, and I appreciate all of the hard work and dedication our faculty and staff have shown in preparing for the semester ahead. As we all respond to evolving circumstances, I know members of our Jayhawk community will work together and support each other in the days and weeks to come.
Douglas A. Girod
Posted on Jul 29, 2020
in Campus News
Chancellor Girod shared the following message on July 29, 2020.
Earlier this year, we postponed our 2020 Commencement due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, in the meantime, hosted an online recognition event commemorating the Class of 2020. During that online event, we promised the graduates they would get to walk down the Hill during an in-person event as soon as it’s possible to do so — and that’s a promise we look forward to fulfilling.
I am writing to let you know we have ruled out the possibility of hosting a Commencement ceremony during the fall semester. Instead, we will target spring 2021 to celebrate the 2020 graduates with a Commencement ceremony on Mount Oread.
At this time, we are hoping to host two separate Commencement events — one for the Class of 2021 on Sunday, May 16, and the other for the Class of 2020 on a yet-to-be determined weekend in May. Of course, our planning is subject to change based on evolving circumstances and the latest medical guidance.
Additionally, given that Commencement typically brings about 25,000 guests to Lawrence from across the nation and the world, we will be sure to coordinate with community partners as we determine the best way to celebrate our graduates.
We will continue to monitor circumstances and provide you more information later this fall.
Douglas A. Girod
Posted on Jul 15, 2020
The following was announced July 15 by our partners at PeopleGrove, who power the KU Mentoring platform.
The threats facing higher education and the economy have accelerated amid a global pandemic and have made future paths for students and recent alumni unclear. In an effort to unite institutions and their communities, PeopleGrove introduces the BridgesAlliance, a growing network of 40 universities worldwide that have pledged to connect students to meaningful experiential learning, and open doors to non-traditional career opportunities.
In a pilot program this summer with Wellesley College, the founding member of BridgesAlliance, more than 300 students have been hired through the college’s network.
“We approached PeopleGrove to help us serve current students and class of 2020 graduates facing a challenging job and internship market. Our goal was to fill this gap through skill-building and networking experiences that were short-term and virtual in nature,” said Jen Pollard, Director of Operations and Analytics for Career Education at Wellesley College. “Bridges has helped us celebrate what makes our community diverse and unique, promote a deeper level of connection, and reach record engagement in experiential learning. We’ve increased accessibility to opportunities for all students in a way that is meaningful and lasting.”
Members of the BridgesAlliance include Wellesley College, Johns Hopkins University, Georgia State University, University of Miami, Drew University. A full list of members appears below. These institutions will leverage their networks, including alumni, families, supporters and corporate partners, to provide students with real-world career experiences in respective fields.
“Our university stands behind the values of diversity and inclusion, and joining the BridgesAlliance will support us in achieving a new vision of equitable access to immersive experiences and mentoring for all students – regardless of background or social capital,” said Farouk Dey, Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life at Johns Hopkins University. “Joining this alliance enables us to partner with a network of peers in higher education to empower all students to design their most audacious futures.”
Like-minded universities are encouraged to join the BridgesAlliance and pledge their commitment to connecting students and alumni with mutually beneficial experiential learning engagements.
Rising seniors and recent graduates face a challenging job market
“Hiring freezes and the withdrawal of jobs and internships are just a couple of challenges today’s students and recent graduates are facing – we must tap into the wealth of knowledge and innovation that exists in higher education,” said Adam Saven, co-founder and CEO at PeopleGrove. “Universities from across the country have banded together to form BridgesAlliance, and will work to identify new ways to get graduates into the workforce at a time when their skills are needed most.”
PeopleGrove helps higher education institutions bring personalized, connection-focused communities to students and alumni. PeopleGrove’s Bridges online platform empowers students and universities to tap into their network of alumni, parents and friends for short-term project-based work. BridgesAlliance magnifies the power of Bridges, providing access to real-world work experience shared across PeopleGrove’s network of innovative institutions.
“By engaging our rich and diverse network of alumni, we can connect students to meaningful opportunities that will help them build the skills they need to be successful in the workforce of today and tomorrow,” said Christian Garcia, Associate Dean and Executive Director, Toppel Career Center at the University of Miami. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the BridgesAlliance, and eager to address the pervasive barriers to entering the workforce that today’s graduates are facing, particularly those from marginalized communities.”
To learn more about BridgesAlliance, please visit bridgesalliance.org.
Boise State University
Brigham Young University
Georgia State University
Johns Hopkins University
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola University Maryland
San Francisco State University
San Jose State University
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Tulane University of Louisiana
University of Alabama
University of California-Berkeley
University of California-Irvine
University of Delaware
University of Kansas
University of Miami
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of New Hampshire
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Notre Dame
University of Pittsburgh
University of Southern California
University of Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Jayhawks can post their own projects today at mentoring.ku.edu.
Posted on Jul 8, 2020
in Campus News
Chancellor Girod shared the following message on Wednesday, July 8.
Yesterday, Provost Bichelmeyer shared with you a new federal policy regarding fall enrollment for F-1 students in the Student and Visitor Exchange Program. As a result of this new policy, it appears the decisions we make regarding assignments of instructional modes to courses can ultimately determine whether international students are able to stay at KU, in the United States, or whether they must leave the country.
I write today to assure you that the University of Kansas joins peer institutions nationwide in strongly condemning this new federal policy. Moreover, I want you to know we are coordinating with our peers in both the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to encourage federal lawmakers to reconsider this truly mean-spirited and unworkable policy.
As AAU President Mary Sue Coleman articulated yesterday, this federal policy is misguided and deeply cruel to the tens of thousands of international students who come to the United States every year, whose lives would be thrown into chaos as a result of this policy. This new policy is also likely to further damage our nation’s universities, which are already struggling with unprecedented uncertainty and financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To put it plainly, blocking and possibly expelling international students in the middle of their studies is inhumane, serves no one’s interests, and would set back the United States’ ability to attract the brightest minds to study here.
Our university’s Office of Federal Relations continues to work this issue and is in touch with Kansas’ federal delegation in Washington. We are also monitoring this morning’s newest development, which is that Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding the new policy. We will keep you posted as new information becomes available. In the meantime, it’s imperative that we all continue our work toward developing hybrid and hyflex courses for the fall semester that can reach our students wherever they may be.
As you know, we continue our planning to reopen campus to the greatest extent possible while maintaining health and safety as our top priority. We will stand firm against federal pressure that in any way compromises that priority.
Douglas A. Girod
Posted on Jul 1, 2020
in Alumni News
It started as a simple idea: donate pizza to the lab workers processing COVID-19 tests at the University of Washington’s virology labs.
But for Ellen Kuwana, c’92, her plan to utilize her lab experience to safely deliver food to health care workers in her free time continued to grow. A side hustle turned into a full-time commitment on weekends and eventually led Kuwana to quit her full-time job to focus on supporting both front-line workers and local restaurants in the Seattle area.
Kuwana, a freelance science writer, launched We Got This Seattle to spend her workdays coordinating donations, picking up food from Seattle-area businesses, and bringing the food to lab workers and other health care personnel.
The daughter of a KU chemistry professor, Kuwana graduated from the University with a biology degree before earning her master’s degree at UC San Francisco, where she also worked in research labs. Since then, she’s called Seattle home.
How did We Got This Seattle grow from a one-time idea to a full-time job?
“I would not have embarked on this road had I not been a scientist by training. In January and February 2020, I was spending a lot of time on Twitter following science journalists discussing the situation in China and Italy with the novel coronavirus. Most of our friends, in part because my husband is an MD–PhD, are in science or medicine.
I knew UW Virology was working around the clock, literally 24–7 to process the COVID-19 tests, with 80 people per shift. Health care workers are a visible workforce who get recognition for their work, and I felt the lab personnel deserved some recognition for their part in keeping everyone safe. I tweeted out to three local pizza places, asking who wanted to help me send pizzas as a thank you to UW Virology. I got a donation from one within three minutes. I figured that I could deliver the food safer than a random driver because of my lab training. You learn to not touch your face, and to be very aware of what you are touching, as well as how to properly put on and remove protective gear.
With my husband working six days a week in a hospital, I could not completely keep myself safe, so I decided to do some good with an amount of risk that I was qualified to mitigate to the extent possible. I was working two jobs at the time, and delivering food on Friday, Saturday and Sunday when I wasn’t working my main job.
This was really just me from March 13 to April 4. Then Signe Burke, who works full time at Amazon, contacted me and wanted to help. She’s been a lifesaver and has helped me with fundraising and tracking the eight to 10 deliveries each day. On April 1, I got a little scared for my safety and hired two college students to help me with picking up and delivering food, as a way to lower my personal risk of getting sick. This was out of concern for myself, but also to protect my husband’s well-being as much as possible, as he is an essential worker.
On April 10, I quit my job, because this effort was taking 40 to 50 hours a week. It was a tough decision in many ways to quit and fill that time with unpaid volunteer work, yet it also felt right. Sometimes you just know. At the same time I was deciding to quit my job, restaurants had closed. So what began as a gesture of appreciation, delivering food, became a lifeline of meals.”
What’s your relationship with the restaurants?
“The first few meals were donated, but as restaurants went takeout-only and offices and the University of Washington closed, revenue was down 80 to 90 percent for most restaurants. I set up a personal Facebook fundraiser and raised $25,000, then found a 501(c)(3) called Open Collective and connected that to the WeGotThisSeattle.co website so that people could make tax-deductible donations with 100 percent of funds going to local restaurants. I find out what front-line sites need, order from one of 65 plus restaurants I’m working with, pick up the food, and deliver it to a point person at a hospital, clinic, firehouse, homeless shelter, ambulance company, etc. I took the same work ethic and sense of professionalism into this volunteer effort as I would into a $1 million-dollar grant-funded research project.
I didn’t set out to do this—it just snowballed and the need was there. Not only did people in hospitals and labs need meals, but also restaurants desperately needed the business. Almost all have given me some kind of discount, and a few have been able to make rent or bring back a few workers because of the support of We Got This Seattle. The journalist in me loves asking questions, which is how I found out that one Thai restaurant that contacted me and donated two meals were $1500 behind on rent! I made it a point to order more meals from this Thai restaurant and got them enough business that they could pay rent on time. It was a win-win. So our mission statement reflects the importance of supporting local restaurants: Our dual mission is to support our front-line workers and local restaurants during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
And I know it’s meant a lot to the restaurants. One other component of this project is that Seattle has a vibrant Chinatown–International District, and we often go there for food. There are wonderful gift stores and a strong sense of history that you can sense and touch. There have been racist incidents: windows broken, graffiti, business owners threatened. It became important for me to order from many restaurants there as a show of support (and who doesn’t love Chinese food after a long day at work?). Everyone is trying to help each other. Every one of those restaurants has discounted the boxed meals for We Got This Seattle. They suggest other restaurants I should support, if I can. It’s a great community, and I hope everyone weathers this tough time.”
What will you remember from these months?
“There are many stories that will stick with me. An old friend got back in touch with me on Facebook to ask for my help. Her beloved father-in-law, who had been at UW for many years, died from COVID-19 complications, and she wanted to send a meal to the medical team at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) who took such great care of him. It took quite a bit of coordination and more than 20 emails, but we made it happen.
A woman who was a patient at UWMC contacted me and wanted to bring up snacks (several hundred dollars worth), thank you cards and cookies to thank the medical team, and wanted my help to coordinate a lunch, which I did. She has a cochlear implant, which she could not wear when she was sick. Imagine the fear and vulnerability of being in the ICU with this virus, and it’s hard to communicate with your medical team? She said they went above and beyond (and had to get really close to her face) to communicate with her. It was very important to her and her family to thank them, and they drove in from more than an hour away to do so.”
If you want to help, visit We Got This Seattle’s website to learn more.
Posted on May 31, 2020
Read about Jayhawks who are lending a hand to those in need.
As William McNulty helped care for survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, an insight guided him to co-found Team Rubicon: Military veterans—trained in crisis management, experienced at responding calmly under pressure and passionate about service—are ideally suited to fill a gap in disaster-relief efforts around the globe.
Ten years later, with more than 100,000 volunteers in five countries (and with four countries working to launch teams), Team Rubicon faces a global health crisis that calls for different tactics. How does a group known for putting armies of volunteers on the ground contribute to a pandemic response that counts lockdowns and social distancing among its most effective tactics?
When Camila Ordóñez Vargas, a political science and economics double-major, traveled to spend spring break with her family in her home country of Colombia, she never imagined that she would be unable to return to finish her junior year in Lawrence. Now facing this unexpected new reality, she’s finding ways to help alleviate the impact of the crisis in Colombia as the country grapples with social and economic uncertainties.
If you’re looking to mask your Jayhawk pride, John Killen is your guy.
Killen, j’85, is president & CEO of WinCraft, a manufacturer of licensed and promotional products for over 500 colleges and professional sports teams. As COVID-19 continued to spread, the company began to look at how they could help.
It’s not unusual for college students to balance their classroom education with real-life learning experience in the workplace, either through a full-time job or an internship. For 23-year-old biotechnology senior Justin Carroll, however, the experience has taken on a different sense of importance in the last few months. For the last four years, Carroll has worked for clinical laboratory company Quest Diagnostics, first in specimen processing and later as a laboratory assistant. Since the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, Carroll has been helping process COVID-19 tests.
For Chandra Swanson, M.D., who’ll soon begin her pediatrics residency at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, the effort and experiences she put into earning Global Scholar Distinction helped focus her vision of the work she’ll do as a doctor.
Dr. Travis Batts is a board-certified cardiac specialist with a focus on disease prevention, nutrition, fitness optimization and cardiovascular screening in San Antonio, Texas. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas in 2000 and his medical doctorate (MD) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, before practicing medicine for over 10 years.
He was a letter winner on the men’s track and field team as a Jayhawk from 1996-2000, where he was a sprinter in the Crimson and Blue. He currently serves as Medical Director of the Cardiology clinic at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.
Posted on Apr 30, 2020
Read about Jayhawks who are lending a hand to those in need.
Danny Caine knows what it’s like to receive a bit of unseasonal holiday spirit. Last year his Raven Book Store benefited when bestselling author Shea Serrano enlisted 300,000 Twitter followers to forgo Amazon Prime Day and instead order books from the small Lawrence shop as a way of supporting striking Amazon warehouse workers. The Raven enjoyed its best day ever for online sales and Caine called the slow-season boost “a bit of Christmas in July.”
So when a wave of closings ordered by state and local authorities began shutting schools, businesses and community organizations across Lawrence in mid-March, it was only natural that Caine, g’17, would be among the KU alumni finding creative ways to bring a bit of normalcy to the city during an unprecedented public health crisis by offering curbside pickup and delivery services.
Three students at the University of Kansas, Grace Roepke, Ibolya Konkoly and Taylor Arneson, created a T-shirt design to raise money for three Lawrence charities to help with the effects of COVID-19.
From April 2 to 9, the three sold T-shirts, hoodies and crewnecks with a “Take Me to Lawrence” design for people who were missing their city after having to return home for quarantine.
Before he even attended his first class at the KU School of Medicine, Zach Krumsick had accumulated a world of experience dealing with challenging health issues in difficult circumstances.
The Frontenac native was determined to learn about diverse cultures beyond his small southeast Kansas hometown; during his undergraduate days at Pittsburg State University he completed medical missions to Peru, Belize and Mexico. Craving deeper immersion, he spent a year between undergrad and medical school doing humanitarian work in public health and education in Kenya, helping the “poorest of the poor” in a Nairobi slum manage the AIDS epidemic and take full advantage of support offered by local schools.
Former Kansas basketball standouts have made pledges to assist their communities in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Ben McLemore, who is in his seventh year in the NBA, currently with the Houston Rockets, is teaming up with C3 International to produce critical N95 respirator masks needed for coronavirus relief efforts.
On April 21, James Elliott joined a group determined to bring a smile to the faces of those who need it most right now: the health care workers and patients in Lawrence and Kansas City area hospitals.
Unleash your inner artist, or just relieve a little bit of quarantine-induced stress, with a Jayhawk coloring sheet!
Our latest coloring sheet has another purpose, too: It’s a simple way for Jayhawks everywhere to show their gratitude for those working on the front lines of the pandemic.
Posted on Jun 18, 2020
For over a year now, we’ve been compiling career resources, news and info while also highlighting some of the Jayhawks who really rock their 9-to-5. The Water Cooler is a monthly email newsletter for alumni, students and friends of the University. If you’re interested, be sure to subscribe here.
The KU Alumni Association joins the University, nation and world in denouncing racism and the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others. As the recent letter from Dave Roland (National Chair, Board of Directors), Tamara Huff-Johnson (President, Black Alumni Network), and Heath Peterson (President, KU Alumni Association) states, the KU Alumni Association is committed to equity, inclusion and the upholding of the ideals that the Jayhawk represents.
This commitment to being part of the solution extends to the pages of the Water Cooler. As we move forward and continue to grow, we will redouble our efforts to offer content that not only provides the latest in industry and career trends but also helps us live up to our Jayhawk ideals.
This month’s Water Cooler revolves around a theme of financial literacy and wellness. You’ll also find links to articles and podcasts that can help businesses learn how to become more just and equitable–part of the long-term solution to ending racism and building stronger communities.
Howard Graham, g’08, PhD’19
Director of the Jayhawk Career Network
P.S. Remember, Jayhawks flock together. Be a resource to the class of 2020 through one-on-one connections in KU Mentoring or gift a one-year membership to kickstart their KU Alumni career.
Let’s Talk: Financial Literacy
The benefits of saving money: set goals, spend less and save more
The average American isn’t saving nearly enough.
According to a Federal Reserve survey, if faced with an unexpected $400 expense, almost 40% of American adults say they wouldn’t be able to cover it with cash, savings or a credit card charge they could quickly pay off.
Have these savings shortcomings always existed? Not exactly, the data shows.
Take a closer look at the benefits of saving money
*Sponsored by our connections at INTRUST Bank
How to save money by spending intentionally
When so many have lost their jobs and so many more are wondering what’s next, spending less and saving more feels a lot like the right thing to do.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you could need to cut way back to an essentials-only budget, especially if you’re making a plan for recovering from job loss. But if you’re doing OK right now, it’s still a good idea to find opportunities to save money.
The 10 most common investing questions—answered
Investing. It’s complicated, foreign, and daunting, and yet, we’re secretly fascinated by it. Stocks. Bonds. Don’t they sound so intriguing?
Well, Career Contessa hit up some of their favorite financial sources and money experts to answer 10 common questions on personal investments. And, dare we say it? Learning all of this was kind of…fun.
The 30 best high-paying jobs of the future
The future of work is looking pretty bright, at least for nurses and software developers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections program publishes estimates for job growth across hundreds of occupations.
Business Insider combined those job growth projections with 2019 median annual earnings for each occupation from the Bureau’s Occupational Employment Statistics program, using the geometric mean of the two numbers, to find roles that are both growing and high-paying.
Ask your money questions
For so many of us, a big part of the coronavirus uncertainty has to do with money — our income, our jobs, and our savings and investment accounts.
The Ellevest team is here all day, every day, continuously answering money questions — in the order they get them, right here on this page. All questions asked, by anyone, are listed anonymously in case they help others. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for new entries.
KU EDWARDS CAMPUS
What do I say? How to communicate social support, initiate authentic conversations with coworkers during turbulent times
Employees are experiencing today’s tumultuous environment differently, depending on race, family status, socioeconomic status and physical location. Here are some thoughts on how to communicate with humility and empathy in your everyday workplace conversations.
Activate your allyship: 4 ways to be a workplace activist
In many offices, virtual or otherwise, Black professionals and allies are left with more questions than answers.
What should I do if my company is silent about racism? How can I take a stand? Amplify my voice? How do I address racism without losing my job?
The Riveter shares four tips to become a workplace activist and activate allyship.
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
HBR Ideacast: Corporate America’s Work in Fighting Racism is Just Beginning
Ella Washington, an organizational psychologist at Georgetown University, argues that private sector American organizations have a big role to play in sustaining the fight for racial justice that has gained such momentum in recent weeks.
Washington explains how to build more a more just workplace — and society — over the long term.
KU SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
Our online MBA prepares you to become tomorrow’s global leader
With our highly ranked online MBA, you can build a strong network as a Jayhawk and develop the skills you need to advance your career. Ranked the No. 31 Best Online MBA by US News & World Report, our online MBA provides the same quality education as an on-ground program with the added flexibility to achieve your ideal study-life balance. Our curriculum is focused on the opportunities and challenges of being a global leader.
Learn more today!
*Sponsored by our connections at the University of Kansas School of Business
KANSAS ALUMNI MAGAZINE
Diverse KU career prepares Cook for public affairs role
Announcing that he had filled a key role in his senior leadership team this spring, Chancellor Doug Girod named Dave Cook as the University’s new vice chancellor for public affairs and economic development.
Leading a public affairs unit he calls “very strong,” Cook will look for new opportunities to involve all campuses and affiliates. “Now is a great time to call on those key KU stakeholders who love the University and want to step up and help.”
Jayhawks in the news
KU EDWARDS CAMPUS
Veteran learns valuable lessons while earning degree in honors program at KU Edwards Campus
Rising Up at KUEC: In this Q & A series, outstanding 2020 KUEC graduates share how KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance or change their career. Meet Nate Eikmeier.
KANSAS ALUMNI MAGAZINE
Emergency manager helps guide safety-first response to pandemic threats
As a fire control radar technician on the Navy’s advanced Aegis combat weapon system, Andrew Foster watched for potential threats far beyond the horizon. When danger loomed, he promptly delivered options and solutions up the change of command—wartime experience that perfectly suits his current mission as KU’s emergency management coordinator.
“I started watching [coronavirus] reports in early January,” he says, “when reporting started coming out of China about this mystery illness that was killing people off.”
This interactive session will focus on ways to plan and design for the blended or hybrid learning experience that awaits us in the 2020-2021 academic year and beyond.
Tuesday, June 30
Includes presentations and a panel discussion by outstanding practitioners currently working to support mental health and wellness for teachers, students, and famlies.
Thursday, July 2
Want to receive this monthly email in your inbox? Subscribe here. Find an archive of past issues of The Water Cooler here.
Posted on Jun 15, 2020
in Campus News
On June 15, the University of Kansas shared the following announcement with students, faculty and staff:
Last month, we shared with you a document titled Guidance on Reopening Campus, which detailed our guiding principles for reopening campus in a measured, stepwise fashion. Today we write to share the newest components of our plans for the fall semester on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
Our goal is to welcome back as many students as we can while continuing to prioritize the health of our community. To do this, we must continue preparing a dynamic and flexible educational experience that accounts for the realities of life during and after a pandemic. This means rethinking everything from how we design classes, to how we deliver housing and dining services, to how we accommodate extracurricular activities and events.
Undoubtedly, the fall semester will be unlike any in history. It will require flexibility, compassion and resilience. And it will require each of us to behave responsibly and in a way that benefits the entire community. If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that we are all in this together.
The academic calendar will change to minimize potential health hazards. Fall classes will begin as planned on August 24, and classes will conclude before Thanksgiving, at which point students are encouraged to leave campus for the semester. After Thanksgiving, there will be a study week, followed by a week of final exams conducted remotely. There will not be a Labor Day holiday or Fall Break.
Pending approval by the Kansas Board of Regents, the first day of the spring semester will change from January 19 to February 1. Stop Day and Finals Week remain unchanged. Spring Break will not occur midway through the semester as it typically does; rather, it will be added to the Winter Recess, resulting in the later-than-normal February 1 start.
Course scheduling and classroom configuration
Our goal is to maximize the in-person classroom experience to the greatest extent possible. KU is committed to ensuring the majority of students, if they choose, have the majority of their courses with in-person instruction in whole or in part. In-person scheduling will prioritize typical freshman courses, labs or courses that are most effective in-person, courses involved in the KU Core, and courses that are required to complete a degree.
To ensure flexibility and meet the specific needs of students and instructors, we will provide support this summer for faculty to design and develop fall courses so the same section can be offered in multiple formats— i.e. in-person, online and/or a hybrid approach — while ensuring that each format is a highly engaging experience for our students no matter where they may be.
To help limit the density of students in classrooms and allow for frequent cleaning, we will schedule classes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, though most courses will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday will be utilized as a last resort.
Additionally, we will modify time between MWF classes to 15 minutes to avoid congestion in buildings, walkways, buses and other areas. We are piloting a health monitoring app that allows each Jayhawk to check symptoms and access secured buildings based on health status on a daily basis, and we are marking each building to change traffic patterns to help de-densify campus.
Students, as we finalize the class schedule this summer, those of you who have already enrolled can expect there may be some adjustments to your fall schedules. We will reach out to you in July with more information about how your schedule may change.
Testing and contact tracing
Testing and contact tracing will be key to a thoughtful and science-based return to campus. Through our on-campus Watkins Health Services, we will be partnering with The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health to coordinate our testing and contact tracing efforts, in conjunction with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. This partnership will enable KU to access our partners’ medical expertise, technology and data in ways that will benefit both our campus and the broader Lawrence community. We will provide further details later this summer with guidance for how our students, staff and faculty will participate in testing activities.
On-campus housing and dining
On-campus residential facilities and dining centers will be open for the fall, and modifications will be made to promote physical distancing and other health and safety measures in each building. Most facilities will operate near capacity, with additional shared community expectations in place to prioritize the health and wellness of students who live – and staff who work – in these facilities. The move-in process will be spread over a longer period of time to reduce congestion and allow for physical distancing. More information from KU Student Housing will be shared soon with students.
Faculty and staff who are at-risk and unable to return to campus
We know some of you have underlying health conditions – such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease, or weakened immunity – that may put you at higher risk if exposed to the virus. We are ready to work with you to make reasonable accommodations. We will use the same process for COVID-19 as we use for other ADA accommodation requests. Details are available at https://humanresources.ku.edu/employee-accommodations. Please fill out your forms as soon as possible so we can ensure your work is covered appropriately. Per federal guidelines, please be prepared to provide documentation from your physician when you apply. Contact our ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-864-7416, and they will help you make plans. If it is the case that you are not eligible for an accommodation, we will work with you to determine what options may be available to meet your needs.
Safety is each of our responsibility
While no one can ever promise complete safety to another – this was true prior to COVID-19 and will be true after – we are so appreciative of all the people who are giving tireless effort in campus workgroups to explore options that support greater safety for our campus. In sum, it is because you – students, staff and faculty – are KU’s greatest assets that we are taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach to provide for your health and wellness when you are on campus this fall.
While we are providing for your safety, we need to also ask that each of you provide for the safety of your fellow Jayhawks, as well as for your own, when you return this fall. You can expect to be asked to: sign a social responsibility pledge and commit to the actions it describes; wear a mask when you are in a space with others who may be closer than six feet apart; and adhere to social distance guidelines according to public health guidelines. You’ll learn more about our asks of you as we get closer to the fall semester.
More information to come
Of course, all of this is subject to change based on the latest medical guidance and evolving circumstances. Again, we will continue to partner with – and rely on – each of you to help us continue to develop our plans in the weeks ahead.
Thank you for all you do on behalf of KU.
Doug and Barb
Douglas A. Girod
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Posted on Jun 10, 2020
in Alumni News
As the national conversation on racial discrimination continues, Black KU students, staff, faculty and alumni are sharing their experiences of racism, microaggressions and tokenism at the University with the hashtag #BlackatKU.
The hashtag was created by Tiara Floyd, c’20, the 2019-20 student body president. She was the first woman of color elected to that position.
KU departments such as the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, and KU Student Senate have echoed the calls for more stories.
Wondering what you can do to help?
The Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity created a Google Doc of PDFs and videos on subjects such as white privilege, imperialism, and the prison industrial complex.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center created this list of action items and resources:
The University of Kansas, the Office of Diversity and Equity, and the KU Alumni Association have released statements condemning racial violence and discrimination.