WSU committed to robust educational experience during distanced fall semester

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Washington State University President Kirk Schulz emphasized during the COVID-19 town hall that just because the fall semester will look different, it won’t be any less academically rigorous or fulfilling for students.

“I want to remind folks we are not going back to lectures done 10 years ago on a video tape and putting them up there,” Schulz said. ‘It is our world-class faculty at all of our campuses that are doing live classes with updated materials and interacting with students on a very regular basis.”

In addition to resources like academic and career advising as well as tutoring being delivered remotely, WSU is launching a new hotline for academic questions on Aug. 3.

The number to call will be 509-335-6000. The hotline will be staffed by the Academic Success and Career Center weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. An email channel is also being created that will enable students to submit questions nights and weekends.

Thousands of members of the WSU community tuned into the live broadcast Friday afternoon, which is available in its entirety online. Schulz was joined by Provost Elizabeth Chilton, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Stacy Pearson and Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Theresa Elliot-Cheslek.

Chilton noted that WSU is not saving money by going to remote learning. Many faculty are working more hours this summer planning for the delivery of their classes remotely, with a close eye on the concerns of their students. She also noted that the Fall 2020 academic schedules for undergraduate and graduate students is set to debut on Aug. 1.

While discussing the fiscal impacts of COVID-19, Pearson noted that the university has conducted hearings on budget reduction plans submitted by departments and will allow them to use up to 5 percent of their carryovers from the prior year towards addressing necessary budget cuts. All areas can look at keeping open positions vacant, reducing operational expenses such as travel as well as using furloughs to meet their goals. Furloughs can last a maximum of 30 days for WSU employees.

“Some areas may be looking at furloughs as a means to address their budget reductions,” Elliot-Cheslek said.

While WSU employees had access to tuition waivers for WSU Global classes taught this summer, staff won’t have access to tuition waivers for remote classes that are blended with WSU Global this fall. Questions can be directed to the Office of the Registrar.

While plans for the spring haven’t been finalized, Schulz pledged that the university would let its students and families know well in advance what those plans are. Much will depend on the current status of testing as well as whether a vaccine is available.

Speakers also discussed a bevy of resources available ahead of the beginning of the fall semester. A student guide on preparing for remote classes is available courtesy of Academic Outreach and Innovation. A toolkit for faculty participating in distance delivery is also available online.

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