Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, UTC courses will move to online delivery for the final four weeks of the semester. Students and faculty are two-thirds of the way through an academic term, and we are all trying our best to support them as they complete the semester. The preparation to go 100% online has not been easy, but we can do this. I have spoken with creative, innovative faculty who are planning engaging online experiences for students. Faculty are helping each other, and campus resources like the Walker Center, Library, IT, and many more are in high gear providing support and guidance. Students are preparing to interact in new and different ways with their faculty. The most important thing we can do to ensure this online experience is a success is to engage in straight forward, solid communication on a continuing basis.
Faculty, if you have not yet done so, I encourage you to reach out to your students as soon as possible. I am hearing from students that they are anxious about this move online.
Students, be sure to check Canvas for each of your courses and reply as necessary to your instructor. Be sure to respond to questions as they are posted on Canvas.
The campus webpage – utc.edu/coronavirus – has links to helpful resources for both faculty and students as we move online. This page also has updates and notices about the developing health crisis.
I also want to provide an update on several other items that I am being asked about:
- S/NC (Satisfactory/No Credit) Grading Option. There is a petition from students to suspend all instruction and award students a S/NC (Satisfactory/No Credit) grade. Early in this crisis UTC made the decision to move online and finish the Spring Semester. We would like to provide students the option to select a S/NC (Satisfactory/No Credit) grading option. There are major concerns with the impact of such a decision. The Hope Scholarship requires coursework be taken for a grade; many graduate and professional schools require specific courses be taken for a letter grade, and certain major and general education requirements must be taken for a grade. Provost Hale will have an announcement about the S/NC (Satisfactory/No Credit) option no later than Wednesday, March 25th.
- Commencement Ceremony Options. We are working on options to acknowledge, celebrate, and honor students who will graduate this May. Graduating seniors and graduate students were sent a survey asking for input on options for commencement. The survey will be closed at 5PM on March 20th. We have had a very strong response rate, and it is clear that students want to reschedule the May commencement ceremony. Information on the results of the survey and options for students will be forthcoming in the next 7-10 days.
- Housing, Parking and Meal Plan Refunds to Students. We are in the process of finalizing refund schedules, and information will go out to students next week.
- Residence Hall Move-Out. Housing and Student Affairs will be assisting students in their move out of UTC residence halls in the days ahead. Much volunteer help is needed to assist students and their parents with this task. Please contact Val Sample at Valara-Sample@utc.edu or 423-425-4304 if you are able to help with this effort.
Our campus is home to many international students, and they are caught far from home during this crisis. We all need to do everything we can to help them feel comfortable.
The Novel Coronavirus crisis is challenging and can at times seem overwhelming. I hope each of you have found your fellow faculty, staff, and students to be a source of inspiration – I know I have. The people who are UTC make this a special place, and I feel this even more during this crisis than ever before. We need to continue to keep each other informed and respect the incredible expertise and wisdom we have in every department, in every division, and in every person. I have never been more proud to be a MOC than today. Thank you for all you do.