Letter from the Provost: July 30, 2020

Dear U of A Community:

With the fall semester fast approaching, I know you are all gearing up for what will certainly be a busy semester for us all. I want to thank each of you for your tireless work this year and say again how proud I am of our response throughout the pandemic.

I want to update you on some decisions and policy revisions we have made for the fall. First, we have developed a new campus event policy that includes an approval process and approval form for events. This policy supplements the university’s existing facilities use policy and is intended to align with guidance issued by the State of Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Health. If you plan on hosting events this fall, please make sure to familiarize yourself with this new policy and how it may impact campus gatherings.

Second, we continue to work on strengthening our COVID-19 testing capability, which is crucial to our return to campus plan this fall. Despite national supply shortages and increasing demand for efficient turnaround time, Pat Walker Health Center is optimistic its new partnership with an Arkansas-based lab will meet our on-campus testing needs. Although a strong testing regimen is vital, we recognize the national and state challenges can impact this.

Third, we have been hard at work this summer preparing our faculty for remote teaching. While the spring semester was challenging and our move to remote teaching and learning was abrupt, our faculty members navigated those adverse, uncertain and difficult conditions to continue delivering the high-quality instruction that is the hallmark of our institution.

Still, there is always room for improvement. We have assessed our remote delivery performance from the spring, learning what we did well and where we need to improve. Nearly 500 faculty members participated in additional training for remote teaching this summer. Our instructors have been quite creative in developing methods to turn remote learning into an advantage wherever possible. We are confident that these efforts, combined with the quality of our students and the dedication of our faculty and staff, will result in high quality instruction, regardless of the format.

Students will hear from instructors and/or colleges by Aug. 19 with additional information about each of their classes (the mode of delivery is now available to students on UA Connect) including how their in-person classes will be structured. Students who prefer one type of instruction over another may request to switch to another section. Our intent is to grant as many of these requests as possible when a desired alternative mode of instruction is offered.

I’m personally looking forward to teaching an in-person history course this fall with appropriate social distancing, but certainly understand the need for flexibility, especially when it comes to larger classes or for an instructor who has an underlying medical condition.

Please continue to utilize the Coronavirus Update site for the latest, in-depth information and available resources as we work together to keep our campus community safe. I am inspired by your hard work and dedication to our mission, and I look forward to providing more updates as they become available.


Charles F. Robinson

Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Student and Academic Affairs

Professor of History