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President’s Friday update, March 20.

Posted on: Mar 20, 2020

Dear CUE Community,

I hope that you are all well, and that you are finding different ways of being engaged with CUE as we all adjust to not seeing one another face-to-face as often as in the past. CUE is a community that usually interacts in person, coming together in Tegler or other common spaces across campus. This change in how we interact takes a bit of getting used to. The good news is that our previous in-person relationships provide good background for us to interact in the virtual world.

I have some updates that I hope will help to quell any anxiety in our community.

  • We will not be moving to a system of pass/fail for our courses. While this is now the case at some other institutions, it would not work for CUE. Our students have worked hard this semester and deserve the grade they have earned. There are also other reasons to issue grades, such as for scholarships or admission to graduate and other programs after graduation. We will be using CUE’s normal system of grading this semester and into the future.
  • We will be using alternate forms of final assessment, or final exams, that do not require in-person interaction and that may be conducted online. This will look different according to the course. Our faculty and sessional instructors are working with administration to make decisions regarding final assessment for their courses. Any questions should be directed to the course instructor, although I would suggest that it is too early to do that now as the details are still being finalized.
  • Student evaluations of teaching, or course evaluations, have been suspended for this semester. Given all that is going on the administration and analysis of these evaluations is not a priority. Further, it is doubtful that given the disruption we have faced this semester our faculty and sessional instructors would get a fair and valid evaluation of their teaching from a student perspective. Students who want to provide their instructors with feedback may send them a nice email thanking them.
  • Our campus remains open. Students, staff, and faculty may come to campus in-person, but as I have said previously, we would prefer that they did not. Most faculty and staff are now working from home as we retain a minimal number of people on-campus in order to remain open. The Ralph King Building has been closed.
  • Our Library remains open, with the staff there doing a wonderful job of continuing to serve students and faculty. Most Library services can be accessed online, including online chat if you require assistance. I encourage all users to access these services remotely rather than coming to campus.
  • The one campus visit I do recommend would be to clear out lockers and remove the lock. Once on campus this should be done as quickly as possible to limit the time spent, and students should refrain from moving around our buildings and visiting others.
  • There is a rumour that we are going to be evicting students from our Student Residence. This is not true. If circumstances change and we need to close our dormitories we will find alternative accommodations, and we will see to it that everyone is well-looked after.
  • Don’t believe rumours. They are almost never accurate. Please contact the relevant person at CUE if you require information or reassurance.
  • CUE Wellness is launching an initiative next week to keep our CUE community connected. Keep an eye on our social media (Instagram and Facebook – @CUEdmonton) for Mindful Mondays, Wellness Wednesday, and Fab Fridays. 

There are ways of interacting with friends during social isolation. This afternoon I’m having an end-of-week virtual social hour with our Deans and Vice Presidents via Google Meet. Build some of these sorts of events into your new schedule. You’ll feel better.

Finally, I have been asked how long this will all last. The truth is nobody knows as it all depends on factors out of our control. We are planning on running all of our courses online for spring and summer, and we hope to be back to in-person classes for September.

That’s all for today. Wishing you a pleasant weekend and I’ll be back in touch soon.

Tim Loreman, PhD.

President and Vice Chancellor.