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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
On April 21, the Council of Presidents held a presidents – and chancellors-only open discussion about planning for the eventual reopening of campuses as well as what adjustments and considerations that need to be made. The webinar also included an update on federal policy. An upcoming virtual meeting will explore how several campuses are working through plans to reopen.

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
On April 21, APLU’s Council on Strategic Communications convened a virtual open forum for members covering: communicating around the fiscal impact of coronavirus; keeping students engaged while they’re away from campus; alternate commencement ceremonies; and the pivot to communicating the value of public universities in this new environment. The council will continue holding virtual open forums on COVID-19.

Council on Academic Affairs
Last week, the Council on Academic Affairs hosted two virtual open forums for provosts, covering academic programming for Fall 2020 and managing crisis communications, topics the council identified to be of primary importance during this time. Both sessions covered the same topics, but were scheduled to provide alternate times to accommodate schedules.

The discussions focused on how campuses are approaching the process for planning for fall and the future; public health conditions and protocols for re-opening campus; how to ensure a safe environment for the entire campus and provide high-quality educational experiences for all students (including providing opportunities for hands-on activities); and dealing with anticipated enrollment declines. Crisis communications focused on communicating the value of public research universities, and effective practices for communicating with campus stakeholders, international students, and the local community.

Council on Student Affairs
The Council on Student Affairs has announced their newly developed slate of CSA Huddles through June. CSA Huddles are one-hour virtual convenings that allow senior student affairs officers to connect and share resources on important and time-sensitive topics.

The newly announced slate includes the following topics developed with CSA’s Program Planning Committee:

  • May 7 – Envisioning a COVID-Resistant Campus: Planning for Fall 2020
  • May 26 – Financial Impact on Student Affairs Divisions related to COVID-19
  • June 10 – Mental Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19: For Students & Staff
  • June 24 – Cultivating Civil Discourse on Campus through Diverse Viewpoints During an Election Year
  • June 25 – CSA Virtual Happy Hour: Remembering our Summer Forum

CSA members can contact Travis York, APLU’s Assistant Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs to access the huddles. CSA Huddles in development for summer and fall will be announced in July.

Council on Research
The Council on Research (COR) instituted a listserv to help senior research officers respond to the effects of COVID-19 on university research programs, augmented with as many as 140 participants on a weekly video call. Senior research officers are now interspersing webinars with the video conference calls discussing how to address institutional challenges. You can view the recording of a Council for Research webinar about the ramp-up and recovery of the research enterprise.

COR members have participated in the collective development of principles and framework for the phased reopening of research laboratories. The University of California research vice chancellors began and are curating the document, with contributions from COR members. Those who would like access to the document can contact Bethany Johns, Assistant Director of Research Policy, for more information.

Commission on International Initiatives
The Commission on International Initiatives is convening regular monthly webinars to help senior international officers share best practices, challenges and solutions on dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Yesterday, the commission held a virtual huddle to discuss plans for the Fall 2020 semester. The call examined operations and management of global affairs offices, budgeting and staffing, and student and scholar mobility for fall 2020 and beyond.

Future webinar themes will include the future of study abroad, how to keep international offices sustainable during the pandemic, and a discussion on the possible impact of COVID-19 on student mobility trends. The commission is also working with a group of eight member institutions to identify innovative ways to provide global learning through online instruction and virtual exchanges.

Commission on Access, Diversity, and Excellence
To aid our institutions in addressing the impact of the Coronavirus, the CADE Executive Committee has created CADE Coffee Breaks. The purpose of these virtual biweekly chats is to provide support to diversity officers and other interested APLU members, allow members to have a space to stay connected, to 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. These coffee breaks allow for us to stay engaged with our members and to also stay abreast as to the ongoing issues that they me experiencing on their campuses due to COVID-19.

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 also created estimates of funding for Minority Serving Institutions under the CARES Act.

Coalition of Urban Serving Universities
The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities is convening calls for presidents and separately for urban-serving provosts tackling topics such as the financial impact of COVID-19 and preparing for the fall semester. Other USU-wide calls have covered meeting basic student needs, supporting successful admissions and transitions, and preparing the class of 2020 for the workforce.

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. 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. CECE members can register for the drop-in virtual calls here.

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. Some clusters are also holding group calls with the presidents of participating institutions. Topics have included, among other things: faculty development activities over the summer to support high-quality online learning and student engagement; projecting enrollment; contingency planning for fall semester; distribution of student funds from the CARES act; grading and assessment policies; and the impact of COVID-19 on university budgets. We anticipate a phased re-start to the Powered by Publics project over the summer with a focus on supporting institutions as they transform.

Personalized Learning Consortium
The Personalized Learning Consortium (PLC) moved all its operations online in early March. PLC hosted held collaborative virtual meetings in mid-March and has started doing virtual site visits with participating universities. PLC’s collaborative grant work with the Every Learner Everywhere network has resulted in the publication and sharing of multiple resources for best practices on remote learning. The consortium will also soon be releasing faculty handbooks on improving remote teaching to moving into a fully online designed course. On May 7, PLC will host a webinar on designing college math course collaboratively with multiple faculty leveraging digital tools. This is part of an ongoing series to improve student success in first year courses.

The Aspire Alliance
The NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance, which APLU and University of Wisconsin-Madison co-lead, 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. As a result, Aspire maintains resources on the following topics:

Aspire’s Research Team released a new guide for institutional leaders to support inclusive institutional faculty practices and policies during the current health crisis. The guide is publicly available and targeted for Chief Academic Officers and Associate/Assistant Provosts for Faculty Affairs – Supporting Faculty During & After COVID-19: Don’t let go of equity.

Finally, Aspire announced this week a new mini-course opportunity for faculty, Teaching Online in Summer & Fall 2020, designed to walk instructors through the process of designing an online course that is effective, equitable, and inclusive. It will focus on developing both synchronous and asynchronous formats and will include both types of sessions. The course will address the basics of online and inclusive pedagogy and over the three weeks, participants will design their own online course materials. Those interested in taking the course can register here.

  • Council of Presidents

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