From the Provost on Pivoting to Fall

June 1, 2020 - Provost

Dear Colleagues,

There are many committees currently developing plans for employees to safely return to work this summer and for all of us to safely welcome students back in the fall.  Before I highlight the work of two of those committees, I want to acknowledge that many of you are anxious and want answers to all of your questions at once.  I understand your anxiety about “reopening” campus, even as I ask your patience as we methodically work toward something resembling a final plan.  But I hope it will comfort you to remember that “reopening” is probably not the correct term to use about our plans for summer and fall because we were never completely closed. 

More than 2,700 students stayed in campus and affiliated housing after March 20 (and many continue to live in our apartment and affiliate housing), and Aramark continued to provide food services to many of them.  All of our students who remained in Louisville (whether on or off campus) were able to go to Ekstrom Library to access wifi and online materials, and between 2,000 and 2,500 people each week since the semester ended (and more during the end of spring semester) have made use of spaces in the SAC to study and socialize (with appropriate physical distancing and regular cleaning and sanitizing); our Cardinal Cupboard (our food pantry) continues to serve students this summer.  In other words, we have been here—safely—for our students, many of whom had nowhere else to go. 

During the week before commencement, I saw dozens of students in their cars with their families lining up in front of Grawemeyer Hall and waiting patiently for their turns to take traditional graduation pictures in front of the Thinker.  As I watched the same tableau unfold many times over the course of the week, I was reminded how much being on campus matters to our students. But even more, I felt how much having students on campus matters to the vitality of our institution, to the ability of the faculty and staff to do our jobs of educating, advising, mentoring and preparing the next generation of the Cardinal family for their own careers and lives.

The Pivot to Fall is a work in progress.  We will continue to respond to the guidance of our public health officials and the governor of Kentucky, the latest science, advice from our researchers and faculty working on COVID-19 and input from our employees and students over the next two months.  We are guided in our planning by our mission as a university and by the desire to balance four different and sometimes competing goals:  enabling our students to make academic progress through engaged learning and meaningful, safe interactions with faculty, staff and other students; keeping our faculty, staff and students healthy and safe; ensuring that our researchers and scholars and the students who learn from them can continue their important and innovative work; and mitigating the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 on our university, our employees, our students and their families, the city, the region and the state.

These are big and important goals, and the pivot to fall has been quite a balancing act: those of us in leadership are doing our best to keep all four goals in mind, but I know it will take all of us doing our parts to keep the various plates spinning.

A DRAFT of the plan is available at https://louisville.edu/coronavirus/assets/pivot-to-fall-2020.  The plan includes a feedback form; please share your comments and questions with us by Friday, June 5.

Also, I will hold a forum for faculty, staff and students Friday at 2 p.m. Watch UofL Today for more details on the forum.

Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to prepare for the upcoming academic year.

Best,

Beth A. Boehm

Executive Vice President and University Provost