On March 17, the University of Southern Indiana made an unprecedented decision to close its campus as COVID-19 continued its rapacious spread around the world and across our nation. The decision was both an easy one to make and a challenging one to accomplish. Easy because nothing is more important that the health and wellbeing of USI’s campus community—our students, faculty, staff and visitors.
Challenging because the rapid shift to a virtual campus, to ensure students’ learning experiences remain whole and as uninterrupted as possible, required an all-hands-on-deck approach during difficult times. I’m proud to say that our faculty and staff have risen above and beyond the challenge, and will continue to do so, as we navigate this unknown territory.
Our mission and priorities remain as true today as they were 55 years ago when this institution first opened its doors—that of an engaged learning community committed to advancing education and knowledge. COVID-19 has not and will not derail USI from its goals or visions, it has merely altered the landscape in which we achieve them. For our students, this means all classes are online for the remainder of the semester.
It is new and daunting territory for many, but it is a given that USI’s world-class faculty will be by each student’s side throughout this process to alleviate them of anxiety and fill them with confidence in their ability to embrace these times by adding a new level of skill to their vast knowledge.
To keep the University operating, faculty, administrators and staff continue to perform as many of their daily duties as possible remotely via virtual portals. This ability to adapt enables the institution to continue its work as seamlessly as possible until the campus reopens.
Closing the campus of an institution the size of USI requires our faculty, staff and administrators to put in long hours to create viable and imaginative solutions to shift learning and support services online in a relatively brief time span. The achievements made are nothing short of impressive and nothing less than anyone who knows our community would expect.
As illume makes its way to the printer after months of production, there may be unforeseen developments not addressed in this message. We all have questions and concerns, and USI’s website will be updated to keep our campus community informed of decisions and to provide new insights concerning COVID-19 and our response.
The University of Southern Indiana is a caring community and we are working to ensure our colleagues and students remain as whole as possible during these trying times. We step up to help each other. While the virus carries with it an uncertainty, one thing is certain, USI will prevail and return to normalcy as quickly as it is deemed safe for everyone to do so. In the meantime, stay safe, remain calm and caring of others, and maintain grace.
We will get through this together.
Faculty have fully shifted all their classes to an online setting for the remainder of the semester.
The University continues to house and support those students who could not move home, including international students.
Hundreds of employees pivoted to working remotely to support faculty and students and maintain business continuity for the University.
Commencement is not just an event; it is a milestone. While postponed and a new date has not been set yet, the University is committed to finding a time and place for all senior students to have the opportunity to participate in a commencement ceremony.
Students who vacated housing due to COVID-19 will have their account credited for specified, unoccupied days. They will also be able to convert meal plans into a format that can be used until the end of the fall 2020 semester.
For current information on University decisions and messages from President Rochon, visit USI.edu/covid-19.
The next issue will be filled with stories of our students, faculty and staffs’ responses to this pandemic crisis.