May 28, 2020
Dear WIU Community,
I hope this update finds everyone doing well. We continue to keep our students, faculty, and staff affected by the pandemic in our thoughts, and we will continue to provide resources and assistance to our students who are studying with us this summer and returning this fall.
I want to again offer our congratulations to the WIU Class of 2020. We held our virtual commencement ceremony May 9, and I know many of you tuned in. We are so proud of our students’ perseverance and accomplishments, along with the tremendous efforts of our faculty and staff that helped students achieve their goals. Congratulations and thank you.
We are pleased to report a structured return to work as we enter Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan. For Western, this means a gradual return to work for employees beginning in June and some limited numbers of students on campus in early July. We will begin bringing back staff who have been unable to work effectively from home, as well as slowly increasing the numbers of employees on campus. Face coverings, social distancing, and other health and safety measures will be in place to ensure a successful and safe reopening. Notices will be sent very soon regarding the protocols and plans. Please speak with your supervisor and Equal Opportunity and Access if you require special accommodations associated with personal health conditions that could impact your ability to safely perform your job.
We are also working on our plans for the 2020-2021 academic year. We fully anticipate holding classes in person this fall, with safety protocols in place and other adjustments, per federal and state guidelines and regulations. In addition to the continuous planning from our health and safety committees, we have several teams of administrators, faculty, and staff developing plans for the safe delivery of our face-to-face schedule this fall. Smaller class sections, better timing for classrooms to eliminate back-to-back use of rooms, greater availability of online sessions, and more are under discussion and in various stages of development. Timelines are subject to change, but we expect to be able to announce more definitive plans within the next few weeks. Watch for updates, information, resources and more at wiu.edu/coronavirus.
Continuing and new student registration is underway, and our first Virtual Summer Orientation session for incoming new students took place yesterday. Other virtual orientation sessions are scheduled throughout the next month, and more sessions will be added as needed so that we can accommodate all incoming students. Staff and faculty are providing outstanding virtual events for our new (and current) students, and our advisers continue to be there for our current and new students through the registration process.
We are looking forward to the day when we can be together once again. I cannot thank our University community enough for your cooperation, dedication and patience as we worked – and continue to work – through this extraordinary situation. I am proud and humbled to serve as your interim president, and work alongside each of you.