I hope this message finds you safe and adapting to the new normal, which seems to be constantly changing.
The past couple of weeks have been a reminder about how quickly lives can change. We must continue to look out for each other and be protective of our loved ones, friends and coworkers. We can still be supportive of each other through phone calls, email, social media, the Internet, even Zoom meetings. We must treat each other with compassion and care.
While UTC remains open, we have dramatically scaled back face-to-face operations and meetings. Even those of us required to come to campus communicate by Zoom and conference calls. We are trying to minimize physical contact and the chance of passing the virus to others.
Faculty and staff who can work from home have been told to do so. We are examining what changes we would need to make should a shelter-in-place order be issued for the state or city.
Although the number of coronavirus cases in Hamilton County remain low, I do need to emphasize this point: no one is invincible. You can catch this virus and not feel any symptoms. And you can catch it and pass it on to someone you love—someone older or with a compromised immune system. Please, do not endanger your health or endanger the health of others. In the long run, a couple of weeks staying at home is a minor inconvenience, not a sentence. We all need to do our part to get through this.
Many students and their families are experiencing extreme financial hardship. Please know that we are doing everything possible to expand financial aid options for our students. We are advocating for increased financial aid for students at the federal level through several educational organizations and at the state level directly with legislators and through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). In addition, UTC is initiating a fundraising campaign through the UC Foundation, and our campus is setting aside additional funding to develop an enhanced scholarship fund to assist students.
The Denise and Tim Downey Student Emergency Fund (SEF) remains operational during this time; however, available funds are limited. Students in need of emergency assistance should fill out the SEF application as additional funding may become available in the coming weeks. If you would like to donate to the fund, click the link Denise and Tim Downey Student Emergency Fund.
Tuesday, March 24, there was an announcement to students regarding housing, parking and meal plan refunds. That announcement, along with all updates and notices, can be accessed through the utc.edu/coronavirus website. For detailed information on the refund policy and daily rates, please click here.
I also want to keep you informed on other items that we are being asked about:
Receiving a diploma is something you never forget, and a ceremony celebrating and honoring our students’ achievements will now take place in August. Graduating seniors and graduate students were sent a survey asking for input on options for commencement, and an August celebration was far-and-away the winner. We will announce the date(s) soon and provide options for students to attend a future commencement ceremony if they are unable to participate in August.
Academic Affairs will have an announcement regarding Satisfactory/No Credit grading in the next few days. The delay in addressing this as an option is the need to clearly define the risks and impact on students should they elect to take this option. Selection of the S/NC grading option may impact student financial aid, completion of major requirements, and admission to professional and graduate programs. Students will be strongly encouraged to consult an academic advisor before choosing this option.
Our values as an institution revolve around our students and the campus community. Making sure students, faculty and staff are safe is the focus of what we do.