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How APLU is Helping Institutions Respond to the Impact of COVID-19

APLU is working to help members address the impact of coronavirus through the association’s councils, commissions, projects, and initiatives. Below is a sampling of some activities the association has undertaken to help members amid the pandemic. APLU is also sharing COVID-19: policy priorities and analysis; public university communications; member research; and teaching and learning approaches.

Council on Governmental Affairs
The Office of Governmental Affairs has developed a comprehensive rundown of its COVID-19-related advocacy efforts and a detailed agency-by-agency analysis of the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic and its fallout. The office is engaging policymakers and members of the Council on Governmental Affairs to marshal support for public universities’ COVID-19 policy priorities. APLU is deeply collaborating with member institutions and partner higher education associations on advocacy.

Council of Presidents
Next Monday, the Council of Presidents is holding a presidents- and chancellors-only open discussion about planning for the eventual reopening of campuses as well as what adjustments and considerations will be made. The webinar also include an update on federal policy. Presidents and chancellors will receive an email invitation for this forum shortly.

The Council of Presidents previously held a webinar covering: the financial fallout from COVID-19; managing the sudden shift to online learning; enrollment questions for the summer, fall and beyond; international student enrollment; challenges facing campus research activities; as well as student, faculty, and staff mental health.

Council on Strategic Communications

The Office of Public Affairs is convening a virtual open forum for council members early next week covering: communicating around the fiscal impact of coronavirus; keeping students engaged while they’re away from campus; alternate commencement ceremonies; and informing campus about the return to in-person classes. Members of the Council on Strategic Communications will receive an invite for the forum shortly.

In mid-March, the office co-hosted a webinar on coordinating and executing communications during the coronavirus. The webinar covered protocols around when and how to communicate about possible and confirmed cases; contingency planning for disruptions to office work (i.e. working remotely, preparing for illnesses); and questions from media, among other topics.

Council on Academic Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs has hosted two online video sessions to provide opportunities for members to collaborate on issues related to COVID-19.

The first session, The Digital Divide: Mitigation Strategies, focused on developing effective strategies for minimizing the negative effects of the digital divide for access-challenged students. Topics included: online classes; labs and other hands-on classes; assisting students with financial need; communication strategies; campus housing; academic regulations.

The second session, Preparing for Summer and Fall Operations, focused on operational plans for the 2020 summer and fall semesters. Topics included: online proctoring, IT infrastructure, faculty training in online instruction, budgets, academic policies, and planning for the fall semester.

The Council on Academic Affairs will continue to host online video discussions on a bi-weekly basis through the Spring and Summer of 2020.

Powered by Publics

The Powered by Publics initiative has temporarily paused collaborative work amid the coronavirus pandemic, but many of the Powered by Publics clusters are still holding drop-in calls for members to discuss their response to the crisis, share ideas, and problem-solve challenges together.

In collaboration with APLU’s Personalized Learning Consortium, the Powered by Publics initiative hosted a webinar on March 23 about bringing courses online fast in response to COVID-19. The webinar, which can be viewed here, covered: ensuring digital access to all students, especially those who are underrepresented; supporting faculty as they transition to online teaching; enhancing online infrastructure quickly; and addressing potential impacts on student learning outcomes. To accompany the webinar, Powered by Publics also created an FAQ document providing answers to common questions that cropped up during the webinar.

Council on Student Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs hosted a virtual meeting for the Council on Student Affairs (CSA) members on March 20th to facilitate shared initial strategies for responding to COVID-19 for senior student affairs officers. Working with CSA’s Program Planning Committee, staff developed a proposal to delay CSA’s Summer Forum until 2021 and to develop a comprehensive slate of virtual convenings covering the most pressing topics for CSA members given the current context.

The virtual convenings, CSA’s 2020 Digital Huddles Series, has been announced and will kick-off with three huddles during the month of April on the topic Responding to COVID-19: Early Lessons from Washington & New York States featuring Mary Jo Gonzales, Vice President of Student Affairs, Washington State University, and Mike Christakis, Vice President of Student Affairs, University at Albany – SUNY.

The full slate of CSA Huddles will be announced in the coming weeks and already include the following topics:

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19: For Students & Staff
  • Emergency Aid, Housing & Food Insecurities: During and After COVID-19
  • Envisioning a Post-COVID Campus – Breaking away from the Urgent to be Visionary
  • Financial Impact on Student Affairs Divisions related to COVID-19

Council on Research

The Council for Research has instituted a listserv and weekly calls to help senior research officers respond to the effects of COVID-19 on university research programs. Vice presidents of research, vice chancellors of research, or a senior research officer from each APLU member institution is invited to be on the listserv and calls. Please contact Bethany Johns if you are a senior research officer and not receiving information via the listserv.

The Councils on Research and Governmental Affairs also participated in a Congressional Research Service report assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the federal research and development (R&D) enterprise. The report details the COVID-19-related disruptions at research institutions, including lab closures, cancellation of conferences, unplanned costs for shutdowns and restarting of R&D projects, and more. The report also outlines financial and infrastructure effects, including university-based research infrastructure, and provides information on current and potential actions Congress may want to consider either through oversight or legislative actions.

The Aspire Alliance

The NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance, co-led by APLU and University of Wisconsin-Madison, is responding to the COVID-19 crisis in multiple ways to support our networks of institutions and faculty. The Alliance is a collaborative effort with an array of groups and universities working to diversify STEM faculty and ensure all STEM faculty use inclusive teaching practices.

Active members of Aspire began sharing resources to cope with the COVID-19 crises in early March. Through engagement from active members and the Aspire National Change Team, Aspire has created and shared a living document of resources.

Aspire’s National Change (NC) Team provided a series of synchronous online workshops for faculty and other instructors to help them teach more inclusively online in response to the need for training in effective, equitable, and inclusive online instruction that has been created by the global pandemic.

Aspire’s National Change team will pivot shortly to begin offering synchronous online workshops for faculty and other instructors to help them prepare to teach their Summer 2020 courses more inclusively online. To find out more about workshops and to register visit the Aspire events page.

Commission on International Initiatives

The Office of International Programs has convened a webinar on implementing internationalization efforts in the wake of the pandemic. The webinar covered: instituting travel registries to track individuals in the event they need to be brought back to campus; the use of rainy-day funds to maintain revenues for international offices amid challenges; and providing international learning experiences in an environment of restricted travel. The commission is hosting a series of monthly webinars on the impact of COVID-19. The commission has also created a working group to identify innovative ways to provide global competencies through online instruction and virtual exchanges.

Commission on Access, Diversity, and Excellence

To help institutions in addressing the impact of the coronavirus, the Commission on Access, Diversity, and Excellence (CADE) Executive Committee has created CADE Coffee Breaks. The purpose of these bi-weekly, virtual chats is to: provide support to diversity officers and other interested APLU members; provide a forum for members to stay connected and share ideas about fostering diversity, equity and inclusion principles in the midst of the pandemic; and to aid in addressing/solving common issues amongst the campuses.

Commission on Information, Measurement, and Analysis (CIMA)

The Office of Data and Policy Analysis created estimates for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to: colleges and universities weeks in advance of the Department of Education publishing their numbers; provided state-by-state estimates of the Maintenance of Effort provision in the CARES Act; and developed estimates for the allocation under the CARES Act of funds specifically for governors to use in support of K-12 or higher education. The office is currently working on developing estimates of funding for Minority Serving Institutions under the CARES Act.

The office also convened a virtual meeting for CIMA on April 1 to give members an opportunity to discuss how they and their schools are dealing with the challenges presented by COVID-19. CIMA will host a second virtual meeting on May 6 to get an update on how our members are managing their challenges.

Coalition of Urban Serving Universities

The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities is convening calls for presidents tackling topics such as the financial impact of COVID-19, meeting students needs, grading and assessment and how to use federal emergency relief funding. Other calls have covered meeting basic student needs and redirecting university “maker spaces” to produce desperately needed medical supplies to protect health workers.

Commission on Economic and Community Engagement

The Office of Economic Development and Community Engagement is holding drop-in calls to share concerns, resources, and strategies among members and share APLU-provided resources and updates. The office is also collating a set of grant opportunities and other resources that will be shared with commission members. The office has also worked with Council on Governmental Affairs to clarify for members the process for counting residential students for the 2020 Census, given that students are no longer living on campus. Finally, the office is gathering information about broadband access and curating and sharing resources and strategies for providing students and communities access to broadband in rural communities and in households that don’t have access due to cost.

  • Council of Presidents

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