Dear UWest Community:

It is hard to believe that it’s a bit over 100 days since the first alert of the presence of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our lives have been changed forever. Thanks to all of your, our campus continues to be open for business and we have taken good care of our students to ensure that they can continue with their education and we have been able to shelter those students who could not return home. We made provisions for our staff to work remotely and I am still in awe with those staff members who come to work each and every day to make sure our campus operations are running smoothly. Thank you to those who come on campus whenever possible to support our students, faculty, and staff!

The latest news – again this may change – Los Angeles County has made a mention of possibly opening up more as of July 4, with lots of cautions, still. We will keep you posted on all the movements as they are made available.

We have about a week before the end of the academic year. We are still heartbroken not being able to offer a commencement ceremony on May 30, 2020. However, we are working on a virtual way to celebrate these graduates’ achievement. Stay tuned to our University website…

Before the end of the academic year, we would like to gather input from our faculty members regarding this semester’s transition to remote teaching. We will meet at 12 noon on Thursday, May 28, 2020. All current faculty members should have received a Zoom meeting invitation. We will be listening to your thoughts of the following:
1. Were there particular difficulties when we first moved to remote teaching? Were they addressed/resolved?
2. Were you able to receive the technical support when needed? How were they addressed or resolved? Are you experiencing more?
3. Have you had any health and safety concerns regarding your physical access to the campus resources? Were they addressed?
4. What are some of the other issues you wish to address?

The academic departments have been working very diligently to create opportunities to recruit more students even during this difficult time. The Institute of the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (ISHB) is developing a new initiative using both new and existing courses from the Religious Studies and Chaplaincy departments to entice our partnership schools and temples and the public to participate in learning with us. The details will be published soon. Other departments have been working to create online courses as well as moving existing courses online for better access to our students if and when needed. There is no doubt that face-to-face instruction provides better exchange of ideas. Nevertheless, thank you all for the innovative thinking to offer the opportunity to engage the community and utilize this as a recruitment strategy!

All of us have had to make accommodations to what we normally do. Here is an article that suggests we may require our thinking differently about the traditional way to conduct higher education or education in general.
https://insidehighered.com/views/2020/05/18/colleges-must-deliver-what-matters-most-students-employers-and-society-opinion.

Finally, Monday is Memorial Day, the day to commemorate those service men and women who had given their lives for our country and our liberty. This year, it brings a different meaning with so many people who have succumbed to COVID-19, especially those frontline health workers we lost for fighting this disease. We thank them!

This day is also commonly known as the unofficial first day of summer. Enjoy the long weekend and stay safe and positive!

Sincerely,

Dr. Chou

Chiung-Sally Chou, Ph.D.
Interim President
University of the West