Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Message from the President: Universities, as Always, are Adapting and Evolving

March 24, 8:30am

Good morning everyone,

If there were any doubts that social distancing measures would continue and intensify, they were dispelled yesterday.

In the space of a few hours, the prime minister asked everyone to “go home and stay home,” and the premier announced that Ontario’s state of emergency will be expanded and that only essential services would be allowed to operate for the next 14 days, starting tomorrow. The premier did clarify that businesses that can operate with employees working remotely, the way we are doing right now, will be able to remain open. The mayor of Toronto also declared a state of emergency in the city, and other municipalities may follow suit.

In a sense, we are extremely fortunate that we are able to maintain our academic mission and core operations remotely, which would have been unthinkable only a decade ago. I hope this gives pause to anyone who thinks of universities as traditional, behind the times and unable to change. Universities haven’t flourished over the centuries by standing still, but by always adapting to emerging challenges and constantly evolving. Not only will we survive this crisis, but I for one have no doubt that Carleton and other universities will come out of COVID-19 stronger and more relevant than ever.

I have been absolutely amazed by the creativity and flexibility of our teaching staff as we transitioned to online and other methods of distance learning. Dan Rubenstein’s recent story includes some inspiring examples of our colleagues’ commitment to learning and to our students. I understand Dan is now working on a second story about how our operations have also been creative in moving online. If your unit has a good story to tell, please email editor@carleton.ca with your ideas!

The campus is nearly empty and that creates different kinds of safety risks. Campus Safety Services and Facilities Management and Planning are working on new building access protocols and these will be shared before the end of the week. For those few still on campus, we continue to strictly follow our safe meeting protocols and social distancing guidelines, and I want to reassure everyone that these have been shared with all our contractors, whether food services, cleaning services or builders.

The Academic Continuity Committee is currently looking at a number of pressing issues, notably alternative grading options for students, tenure and promotion deferrals for faculty, and options for the postponement of spring Convocation. These decisions will involve consultation with other groups such as Senate and our unions but we will provide clarity on these issues as soon as possible.

As always, any questions not answered by Carleton’s COVID-19 information website and its FAQ section should be forwarded to covidinfo@carleton.ca.

Please ensure that the information you read and share online comes from credible sources like Ottawa Public Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health or the Public Health Agency of Canada, as the spread of misinformation poses a significant risk to the health and safety of our community.

Not to make light of the difficulties of this current situation, but this version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” by Prof. Michael Bruening on the experience of moving his courses online deserves to be shared!

Have a good day everyone,

Benoit

Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 in , , , , , , ,
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