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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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
I am writing to let you know we have filled a key position on our senior leadership team.
I am pleased to announce Dave Cook, vice chancellor of the Edwards campus and dean of the School of Professional Studies, will become our new vice chancellor for public affairs and economic development. He will begin his new role May 1.
As vice chancellor for public affairs and economic development, Dave will serve as senior advisor to me and the university’s leadership team on issues of communications, public affairs and economic development. He will oversee all messaging, outreach and government relations to advance KU’s interests at the local, state and national levels. He will have responsibility for internal and external communications and message integration across all KU campuses, affiliates and partners. And he will coordinate our economic development efforts with an initial focus on chamber and industry relations and workforce development issues.
You will note the phrase “economic development” is new to this vice chancellor title. This change reflects my belief that economic development, broadly defined, must continue to be elevated as a priority for KU.
Dave’s background in higher education policy, public affairs and workforce development make him an ideal fit for this position. Moreover, his experience across multiple KU campuses and his relationships with key partners enable him to immediately advance our efforts to elevate KU’s status, attract top students and scholars, and improve in every aspect of our mission.
As vice chancellor of the Edwards campus since 2014, Dave has been chief executive officer of the campus, launched a new instruction site in Leavenworth, and overseen Professional & Continuing Education. Additionally, he has developed extensive relationships with industry leaders, workforce development groups, elected officials and community colleges. Under his leadership, the campus increased enrollment by 36 percent and launched 16 new academic degree programs and 21 new academic certificates leveraging traditional, hybrid and online models.
Prior to his role at Edwards, Dave served for 14 years in multiple administrative and faculty positions at KU Medical Center. From 2008-13, he was associate vice chancellor of the Institute for Community Engagement and associate director of the Institute for Community & Public Health. From 2008-11, he was executive director of the Midwest Cancer Alliance. Before that, he was assistant vice chancellor for public affairs from 2005-08 and director of Health and Technology Outreach from 2002-05.
In addition to his time at KU Medical Center, from 2011-12 he completed an American Council on Education fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dave first earned tenure as a faculty member in the KU School of Medicine. He is now a full professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Like many universities, KU faces challenges in enrollment and funding — and that was before the unprecedented challenges we now face as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Now more than ever, KU needs to be innovative in how we recruit students, develop new teaching models, partner with industry, serve an increasingly diverse population, and align our campuses for maximum impact. Dave has expertise in all of these areas, and as such, he is a great fit for this position.
Of course, Dave moving into this new role means we will also have a change in leadership at our Edwards campus. Provost Bichelmeyer will provide additional detail about our plans for the Edwards campus within the next few days.
I want to thank Julie Murray for serving as interim vice chancellor for public affairs for the past four months while continuing her role as my chief of staff. She has guided us through a legislative session, helped frame our Strategic Planning 2020 process, and been central to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful for her leadership during this transition period.
Please join me in welcoming Dave to his new role. I know he can count on your support as we work together to move KU forward.
Leaders from the University of Kansas, the KU Alumni Association and KU Endowment shared the following message on Thursday, March 26.
Dear KU Alumni,
Our thoughts are with the worldwide Jayhawk family as we all navigate these uncertain weeks. Thankfully, our sadness, loss and fear are tempered by compassion, dedication and hope. In the midst of crisis, alumni and donors have reached out asking how they can help. We’ve seen students volunteer to help our most vulnerable citizens, and Jayhawks everywhere are connecting with and supporting one another and their larger communities as we all rapidly adjust our daily lives. We are grateful for your genuine concern and spirit. In response, we’ve identified three meaningful ways to help in the short term:
Nationally, regionally, and locally there is a shortage of N95 respirators, isolation gowns, isolation masks, surgical masks, and eye protection. If you or someone you know lives near KU and has access to personal protective equipment (PPE) or manufacturing expertise in plastics, textiles and/or 3D printing, please contact: COVID19supplies@kumc.edu. Your contribution and assistance during this critical time will help keep our healthcare workers safe and decrease the spread of COVID-19.
Also, a COVID-19 Emergency Relief fund has been established by KU Endowment to help meet the University’s most pressing needs during this crisis. As with all donations to KU Endowment, 100% of funds raised will go to support KU.
Finally, we’ve been humbled and heartened by stories of hope and resilience from throughout our KU family. We want to hear what you and others are doing to make a difference in the lives of those affected. Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, we hope you’ll enjoy this video message that was shared with the University community today at coronavirus.ku.edu, and please remember: As we come together to lift our communities, we show the world what it means to be a Jayhawk.
On Wednesday, March 11, Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer shared the following message to students, faculty and staff.
KU leaders have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. We know that some members of the Jayhawk community have been in areas with reported cases, and we don’t expect to be immune from this virus. We have a strong team that is assessing conditions regionally and across the nation and is making recommendations guided by the following principles:
Keep KU open so it can provide services to the fullest extent possible given unprecedented circumstances.
Maintain continuity of operations that support the academic and research missions of the university.
Prevent the spread of the disease at KU and beyond.
Protect members of the KU community through self-quarantine and social distancing, especially the three groups at greatest risk:
those who may have been exposed,
those who have chronic health challenges,
those who are currently sick.
Encourage all members of the KU community to be informed and practice healthy behaviors by following CDC recommendations.
Protect equity for our most vulnerable employees and students, as much as possible, as we respond to the situation.
Respond with agility to the fluid and changing nature of the situation.
Provide clear communications to all members of the KU community.
Provide exceptions for mission-critical activities on a case-by-case basis.
Delayed Resumption of In-person Classes Until March 23
To help protect the health of all members of our community, including those who may be at higher risk of the effects of COVID-19, the resumption of in-person classes will be delayed until March 23.
Next week, March 16-22, we ask that faculty prepare to transition their course content, including lectures, to online instructional platforms, such as Blackboard. Every KU course already has an existing Blackboard shell available for faculty to start the process. Beginning the week of March 23, courses will be taught remotely using online tools. We anticipate needing to stay online for several weeks, however, our team will reassess the need to continue remote-only instruction each week, starting March 28. There will be no schedule change to courses already online.
This approach limits in-person exposure after spring break to align with the estimated COVID-19 incubation period, and allows faculty members a modest amount of time to prepare and begin the transition to online instruction. It also keeps the university functioning and helps students continue toward their educational goals.
For more of the University’s statement and resources from professional health services, visit coronavirus.ku.edu.
Update regarding Big 12 and NCAA Championships
From Kansas Athletics:
In addition to the actions taken today by the Big 12 Conference and NCAA, Kansas Athletics will cancel all planned fan activities surrounding the men’s and women’s Big 12 and NCAA Basketball Championships, including pregame parties and pep rallies.
If you purchased Big 12 Tournament tickets through the Kansas Athletics Ticket Office, you will receive a refund for games impacted by the Big 12 Conference’s decision.
Read more of the statement from Kansas Athletics, as well as the statements from the Big 12 Commissioner and the NCAA president.
University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the following message to KU faculty and staff members Wednesday, December 18.
Today is a special day for our university as we have the occasion to celebrate a former chancellor’s many contributions to the University of Kansas and to our society.
The Kansas Board of Regents voted today to give us the authority to rename our Integrated Science Building in honor of Bernadette Gray-Little, our 17th chancellor.
The building will be officially renamed as Gray-Little Hall, effective in spring 2020.
Today’s news continues a long tradition we have at KU of honoring our former leaders and recognizing their service to our university and our state. Our former chancellors all have a building named for them, and there is not a more fitting selection for Chancellor Gray-Little than the Integrated Science Building.
In her time at KU, Chancellor Gray-Little led a physical transformation of our campuses, particularly with regard to our Central District. There, the Integrated Science Building is the focal point of a new hub of education and research that addressed immediate infrastructure needs and positions KU for excellence for decades to come.
In addition to the building, the Kansas Board of Regents also granted Chancellor Emerita status today for Chancellor Gray-Little, in recognition of her distinguished administrative service.
Please join me in celebrating both of these honors, which are apt recognitions for a leader whose special dignity and grace made her a role model and an inspiration to students, faculty, staff, and alumni alike.
University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the following message to KU faculty and staff members Friday, December 6.
Throughout its history, the University of Kansas has been a community of talented scholars and leaders who believe in the power of higher education. Today, we have a special opportunity to welcome another remarkable scholar and leader — and to do so with excitement and optimism about our university’s future.
It is my pleasure to announce Barbara Bichelmeyer as the next provost and executive vice chancellor of the Lawrence campus. She will begin her new role in late February.
As many of you observed during her campus visit, Barbara is a tremendously talented researcher and administrator, as well as a proud KU alumna with an unabashed love for this place. She is currently the provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she also served as interim chancellor. Prior to that, she excelled in multiple leadership roles at Indiana University-Bloomington – a fellow Association of American Universities institution – and elsewhere within the IU system.
My excitement about Barbara goes beyond her credentials. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her for years on initiatives to enhance higher education’s role in regional economic development. As a result of our work together, I have come to know Barbara as a genuine and compassionate person who cares deeply about students, research and higher education. Moreover, she is a Jayhawk to the core and committed to this university’s success. For all these reasons, I have no doubt she will be a strong and effective leader.
I will tell you, this was not an easy decision — and that’s a good thing. Our national search produced four outstanding finalists who each offered distinctive strengths that would benefit KU. That said, when I consider KU’s challenges and opportunities, and my vision for KU, I am confident Barbara is the right fit at the right time for our university.
I want to thank the search committee, including co-chairs Michelle Mohr Carney and Steven Soper, for guiding us through this process. I also want to thank everyone who participated in the process by attending the finalists’ campus presentations and providing feedback. Your input was central to my decision.
Importantly, I would like to express my deep appreciation for Carl Lejuez, who has provided strong leadership and energy as our interim provost amid challenging circumstances. KU is in a better place today as a result of his efforts during the past 19 months. Please join me in thanking Carl as he returns to his role as dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
As I said at Visioning Day, despite challenges in higher education, KU is in a position of strength and poised to determine our own destiny. My vision is for KU to be a destination for talented scholars nationwide, an engine of economic growth, and a strong member of the Association of American Universities. I look forward to working with Barbara, and all of you, in pursuit of that vision.
The 18th chancellor of the University of Kansas will be the grand marshal of the KU Homecoming Parade at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. The theme for the University’s 107th Homecoming is “Far Above the Golden Valley.”
Since beginning his tenure as chancellor in July 2017, Girod has focused on making KU a top destination for students and scholars by improving the student experience, strengthening KU’s outreach to the state and expanding University research. Under his leadership, student recruitment and success rates are at an all-time high, and the University launched Kansas Team Health, an innovative model of medical care and wellness for KU student-athletes.
A head-and-neck surgeon, Girod first joined the KU Medical Center faculty in 1994 and became chair of the otolaryngology department in 2002 before assuming the role of executive vice chancellor in 2013. He also served in the United States Navy Reserve from 1982 to 1997, retiring as lieutenant commander.
The parade is part of a weeklong celebration that begins Saturday, Oct. 19, and includes several student and alumni activities, including competitions, reunions and tailgates, all of which lead up to the KU-Texas Tech football game Saturday, Oct. 26, in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. This year’s event is sponsored by Best Western Plus West Lawrence; Crown Toyota, Volkswagen; and the KU Bookstore.
A complete schedule of Homecoming week activities can be found here.
KU Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the following message to University of Kansas faculty and staff members Wednesday, October 2.
I am writing to share good news regarding our annual 20th day enrollment data — and to thank you for making this news possible.
Earlier today, we announced that the University of Kansas has achieved all-time highs in key metrics related to student recruitment and success. In particular, we set records for our one-year retention rate, four- and six-year graduation rates and entering freshman class GPA, while creating the most diverse student body in university history. Additionally, we have held the line on enrollment this year — we are down just 0.3 percent — as well as for the past seven years despite the national trend of decreasing college enrollments.
This is good news, and we can be proud of our progress related to these institutional priorities. So today, I want to thank you for everything you do to bring talented students to KU and help them succeed.
It’s worth recalling that this progress is no accident. Rather, this progress is the result of your hard work and the strategic choices we’ve made to enhance the way we identify and attract new Jayhawks. Since 2011, we have enhanced our recruitment and enrollment efforts with new renewable scholarships, new admissions standards and a new national/international recruitment model. We’ve made KU more attractive to top students by revamping our curriculum, enhancing our academic offerings and providing experiential learning opportunities. And we’ve worked to support current students and empower them to address challenges both inside and outside the classroom.
I also want to highlight the vital role of private giving in recruiting and retaining top scholars, as well as our alumni, who are the best Jayhawk ambassadors in the world. To our donors and alumni – thank you.
While this year’s record-setting metrics are worthy of celebration, we must not get complacent given the long-term enrollment challenges facing higher education. We must continue to find new ways to recruit and retain top scholars, and we must recognize the reality that it will be harder than ever to do this. Looking ahead, we will have an exciting opportunity to enhance student recruitment and retention through our university strategic planning process, which will begin later this semester. We look forward to this process as a way to strengthen our work as a leading research institution, an engine of economic growth for Kansas and a proud member of the Association of American Universities.
Again, thank you for your role in recruiting new Jayhawks and ensuring they can earn their degree from the University of Kansas.