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Rising to the Challenge

Thank youDuring the past month, the commitment you have shown to our students and to each other is inspiring. I know it has been a tough transition to online teaching and telecommuting, but overall, things are going well. From faculty members who have transformed the way you share knowledge to our students who have adapted to a new college experience, we have worked together to meet the challenges brought on by the emergence of the novel coronavirus.

I hope you are doing well and adjusting to the many educational and personal challenges. I am sure many of you still have anxiety about the impact of this pandemic. The 24-hour news cycle and rampant uncertainty is a challenge and can affect your mental health and emotional well-being. If you feel worried about the coronavirus, I encourage you to read these tips on coping and reach out to friends and family if you need help.

Sadly, one of the many casualties of this pandemic is our annual staff appreciation event. While we will not be able to dance the afternoon away this May, we will plan to host the event and recognize our outstanding staff when we return to campus.

At this point, I am sure many of you are aware of the changes in academic policies for the spring semester, which are posted on the Provost’s website. RJ Hinde, vice provost for academic affairs, prepared a video to help faculty and professional advisors understand the policies. I invite you to watch it online and reach out to Chuck Collins or Missy Parker if you have any questions.

Earlier this month, Chancellor Plowman provided an update on summer term plans and announced that we will continue online-only instruction through the May mini-term and the two summer terms. We are making decisions about grading policies, available courses, and compensation for transitioning courses to online format. We will share the information as quickly as possible.

Despite the disruption, we have had some good news, which I am excited to share with you in this edition of Dialogue. Highlights include the news that UT ranked number one nationally for Goldwater Scholarships, new graduate program rankings, and stories about members of our community coming together to help the growing need for PPE.

While I may not be able to speak to each of you directly, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or are in need of assistance. I appreciate the work each one of you do as a member of our Volunteer community. Please take care of yourself and those around you. We will get through this together.

Sincerely,

Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences