Week Five of Remote Instruction: Roundup

Dr. Gene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs | May 1, 2020

Email sent to Faculty, Staff, and Teaching Assistants

As we close the fifth week of remote instruction, I am reminded of how much has changed at Texas State University since mid-March 2020. Throughout it all, I have been inspired by the numerous displays of cooperation, transparency, and innovation as we swiftly adapted to the challenges of COVID-19.  Among other initiatives, the university continues to implement plans that bolster student success, enhance the teaching and learning environment, and prepare all of us for a resilient and safe future.

Bobcat Cares

As reported last week, the university launched the Bobcat Cares program to help ease the financial strain many Texas State University students are experiencing. Applications to the program began April 27, 2020. The initial awardees include nearly 4,700 students, who will receive a total of $4.5 million in direct support in the coming days. Please join me in thanking staff in Financial Aid and Scholarships, Student Business Services, Information Technology, and other areas for making these funds rapidly available for deserving students.

Bobcat Promise

Texas State has expanded the tuition-free Bobcat Promise program to give more Texas students the chance to attend the university despite the growing financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bobcat Promise is designed to increase access for Texas students with a family adjusted gross income (AGI) that does not exceed $50,000 annually. Previously, the upper AGI limit was set at $35,000. Read more about this initiative here: https://news.txstate.edu/inside-txst/2020/texas-state-expands-bobcat-promise-in-response-to-covid19-pandemic

Camp Canvas

Earlier this week, faculty received notice about Camp Canvas taking place May 19, 2020 through May 22, 2020. The IT Assistance Center and the Office of Distance and Extended Learning have partnered to bring faculty an excellent learning experience focused on Canvas, the university’s new learning management system to replace TRACS. Faculty are encouraged to attend the camp’s online sessions, ranging from Canvas basics to in-depth sessions on multimedia, student engagement, and other topics. The Canvas Essentials workshop is recommended for all faculty who are new to Canvas. More information, including how to sign up for workshops, may be found here: https://itac.txstate.edu/support/training/canvas-camp

EP Grades

The university has implemented a one-time process for spring 2020 that allows students to request that a final passing grade be changed to Emergency Pass, or EP, upon approval of the instructor of record. Students are responsible for submitting written modification requests to faculty by Monday, May 25, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and for assessing the impact of EP grades on their GPAs, program requirements, financial aid eligibility, and other academic factors. Decisions by faculty members are due by Friday, May 29, 2020. Faculty will use the Change of Grade Web Application for making grade changes to EP: https://tim.txstate.edu/changeofgrade/

While the FAQ webpage on EP grades (https://www.txstate.edu/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions/current-students/emergency-pass-grading.html) is focused on current students, it does answer faculty questions. Faculty are encouraged to check with their chair or director for more specific guidance regarding EP grades.

Final Exam Period

The transition to remote instruction for spring 2020 includes the final exam period.  This means final exams must be delivered in a remote format and may not be conducted on campus. For spring 2020, final exams begin on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.  The final exam schedule remains intact and students should be able to take class finals within the same day and time window originally published in the schedule: https://www.registrar.txstate.edu/persistent-links/final-exam-schedule.html. Faculty questions about the final exams may be directed to department chairs and school directors.

Planning for the Future

This week, President Denise M. Trauth established several pandemic and post-pandemic work groups to address areas related to safety, learning, and university operations. Read about those work groups here: https://news.txstate.edu/inside-txst/2020/statements-regarding-coronavirus-covid-19/president-trauth-establishes-pandemic-and-post-pandemic-work-groups.html.

Like universities around the country, Texas State is implementing a range of measures to mitigate the impact of stress on the budget caused by actions required to safeguard our university community from the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trauth held a virtual university update on April 30, 2020 and addressed the financial implications of uncertainty regarding future student enrollments, the economy, and other matters. I encourage all faculty and staff to view the recording available via your Texas State NetID and password: https://www.president.txstate.edu/communications/recorded-virtual-university-update-for-faculty-and-staff.html.  The university is in the process of addressing common questions by updating the FAQs on the COVID-19 webpage.

Next week, final exams for the spring 2020 semester begin. Thank you for your significant commitment to the university’s mission and for ensuring a safe and healthy semester for all.