Letter from the Provost: August 14, 2020

Dear U of A Parents:

With the start of classes fast approaching, I hope you and your family are preparing for a semester that will be unlike any other. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: our goal this fall is to offer an educational experience that is robust, engaging and high-quality, while simultaneously ensuring the safety of our students and the rest of our campus community. I’m confident the investments in technology and work we’ve completed over the summer will make that vision a reality.

To help incoming freshmen with the transition from high school to college, we are offering our annual A-Week this fall with expanded online and remote options for students. A-Week begins after students move in and runs until the day before classes start. A-Week focuses on the following specific themes related to student success: Traditions, Involvement, Diversity and Wellness. If you have a first-year student, I hope they’re able to join us in person or virtually for this week of events.

And as move-in continues this week, we have prioritized the health and safety of our campus in a number of ways, including enhancing our cleaning and sanitation efforts, adding more move-in dates to allow for additional social distancing and fewer people present as students move in. These enhanced cleaning and social distancing efforts will continue throughout the semester.

As we work to make this fall semester a successful one, I ask that all our parents work as partners with the university to help students navigate this semester. I hope you are encouraging your students to comply with the new health and safety standards and recommendations for our campus, including hand-washing, adhering to our face covering policy and socially distancing. Also, as we have more information to communicate than ever before, it is crucial that students check their emails regularly to keep up to date on campus developments.

To help in these efforts, we are providing sanitation kits to all faculty, staff and students, including masks, hand sanitizer, wipes and other necessary items, to guarantee everyone has the proper materials to be safe on campus this fall. And, of course, testing and expert medical and mental health services are available at Pat Walker Health Center on campus.

This week we also concluded a summer slate of virtual forums with our campus community. While these forums were primarily centered around COVID-19 and our return to campus this fall, we also discussed some of our efforts to improve the racial climate on our campus and ensure the U of A is a place where all students can succeed. We plan to continue these forums into the fall as we want to continue open lines of communication with our campus as the semester progresses.

Lastly, I want to reiterate that we understand your concerns and frustrations about some classes being moved to remote or online format because of the pandemic. We have worked tirelessly this summer to train our faculty and upgrade our technology to bolster our remote teaching and learning efforts this fall. Still, if a student prefers in-person learning, please urge them to reach out to their advisor to see about the possibility of changing sections from remote delivery to in-person. I appreciate your agility and understanding as we navigate this pandemic together with the necessary flexible options to ensure all of our students are able to stay safe and on track academically.

In closing, I’m excited for this fall semester. It will be new and challenging territory for us all, but we’re determined to make this a successful and safe semester for our students.


Charles F. Robinson

Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Student and Academic Affairs

Professor of History