We have all used the word unprecedented more times than we can count lately, but few words better reflect the recent changes in our personal and professional lives. For several weeks, UNC has sought to manage wide ranging impacts to our students, staff, and faculty, sustain the health and safety of our community, and ensure the continuous delivery of our core academic mission and support functions—even before the federal, state, and local response to the Coronavirus pandemic accelerated. Our efforts involve so many teams and individuals who are working hard to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. I am encouraged, inspired, and grateful for the tremendous Bear spirit demonstrated by each of you as we work through many complicated logistical issues and seek to maintain support operations and the human connections that make our UNC community so very special.
The Bear spirit is strong among our students who have returned to their coursework and are showing great care and compassion for one another and for our faculty and staff in a time that has generated so much anxiety and uncertainty for us all. This spirit is exemplified by the way that faculty have quickly and successfully—and in many cases, quite creatively—modified their courses for alternate delivery. We see that same spirit in our Housing and Dining staff, who have rallied to provide care and service for the hundreds of UNC students who remain in our residence halls. And, our alumni and community are showing their spirit by stepping up to support UNC and our students. In these times, it feels natural to question what’s normal anymore. If one thing remains consistent, it is our community’s strength in coming together and continuing to put Students First.
Naturally, the pandemic and its implications create economic and financial worries. While the full impact will be difficult to quantify in the short term, we know many of our students and their families are already feeling the effects. I have received many messages from students and parents asking what UNC can do to alleviate the burden. Because UNC is continuing to deliver courses and provide services our students count on, even as they transition to alternate modes of delivery, tuition and fees will not be refunded or credited. Our faculty continue to provide instruction in our changing environment. Most student services have been adapted to accommodate access by phone or online; these include counseling services, tutoring, advising, and the Disability Resource Center. Cultural centers, student clubs, and organizations are creating new ways to stay connected while we learn and work remotely. And, we are utilizing UNC’s technology infrastructure and support staff more than ever before.
While we will not refund tuition and fees, we have made several decisions that mitigate the financial burden placed on our students:
- All student employees will continue to be paid, even if they cannot work at their on-campus jobs or complete work from home, through the end of April.
- Students with on-campus housing and/or dining contracts who have left campus or notify us that they will do so in the next few days will receive a credit to their student accounts for use through the 2020-21 academic year that is equal to the unused portion of their contracts.
- We have suspended the assessment of service charges on past due student accounts through May.
- Registration holds for students with outstanding balances from spring semester are waived to allow them to register for summer or fall courses, provided those balances are paid by the first day of classes in the summer or fall, respectively.
- Student parking fees will be refunded as prorated through the end of the semester. Similarly, faculty and staff parking fees will be refunded for the period of time that campus is closed.
One of the most important things we can do in this time is to stay connected and share feedback with one another. A student feedback form was launched today to give our students a place to provide input about their experience—positive or negative—as courses and student services transition online. I encourage our students to share their thoughts here, and ask our faculty and staff to help spread the word about this opportunity for students to exercise their voices.
If you have questions, UNC’s Coronavirus Information and Resources website is still the best source of up-to-date information and includes recordings of our Daily Operational Status Update calls. If you find your questions are not answered on the site, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the UNC Coronavirus Hotline at 970-351-4848. As always, I also welcome you to reach out to me with questions, comments, and kudos for your fellow Bears who are doing exceptional work during this difficult time.
Although we are physically apart from one another for the time being, we remain a Community of Bears helping Bears. Thank you and take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and one another.
Rowing, Not Drifting,