Provost's Messages

June 16, 2020  |  Provost’s Update to All Returning Students

Sent to returning students on behalf of Provost Winebrake

Dear Returning Seahawks,

Greetings! I hope you and your families are healthy and well. Before I go much further, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is James (Jamie) Winebrake, and I am the incoming Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UNCW. I officially start my position on July 1st, and I am very much looking forward to being a part of your Seahawk family!

It is an understatement to say this is a difficult time for our community, for all of higher education, and for the world at large. There remain many outstanding questions regarding how we must address issues of racism, inequity and intolerance on our campus and in our communities. While we work on answers to those questions, and possible solutions to help make sure you feel safe and supported when you return to campus, I felt it was important to provide you some updates regarding the fall semester, in terms of COVID-related impacts. We are working hard and as quickly as possible to finalize details on many fronts, but I hope the information below is helpful in the meantime. 

Fall Calendar. As Chancellor Sartarelli announced in early June, we have adjusted our fall academic calendar. Just as a reminder of the plan: Although classes will start as scheduled on August 19, we will conclude classes before Reading Day (now November 25), with final exams occurring either in class before Thanksgiving or remotely between November 30 and December 5. We regret that we’ve had to cancel Fall Break in order to ensure adequate instruction time. Most institutions of higher education are following similar blueprints to enable students to attend college this fall. For more details on the calendar, please visit this page. 

Learning Spaces. In addition to a modified calendar, we are making substantial changes to the spaces in which we provide instruction. We are working hard to prepare all UNCW classrooms, labs, studios, and other learning facilities for use in the fall; maintaining a healthy and safe community will be the primary driver in how those facilities are used and populated. For example, we will not deliver any courses with more than 50 students in a face-to-face environment. We will also be working to follow appropriate social distancing practices in all our classes, which means that the number of students physically in each classroom will be greatly diminished.  For example, a classroom that would normally serve 30 students may now only serve 10-15. This may also mean that many face-to-face courses will be supplemented with other forms of instruction - for example, in a hybrid or “blended” course where some learning is done in the classroom and some is done online or via alternate means. Again, our goal is to provide you with the vibrant student-centered learning experience that UNCW is known for, but to do so in an environment that adheres to all health and safety guidelines.

Course Schedule. We are creating a course schedule that aims to ensure a healthy and safe community, given the constraints we will have on our learning spaces. You might see some of your class times shift as we roll out the new course schedules. We will be working between now and July 10 to adjust our course schedule as needed, and you will be receiving another communication around that time so you can check and revise your schedule if necessary. In the meantime, SEANET will be unavailable in order for us to update the schedule. We will also be “tagging” courses with various labels so that you will know whether a course will be delivered in a face-to-face, online, or a hybrid format, and also to make it clear where courses will likely require alternative means of instruction, outside the classroom. When we share more information on scheduling, we will also provide additional information on how to connect with advisors for help in addressing any scheduling issues that arise due to these adjustments. Also, if there are situations where we must cancel a course, you will be notified right away so a substitute course can be identified. Our goal is for every student to have a schedule that allows them to efficiently continue their progress toward completing their degree.

Adapted Programming. The Academic Affairs team is working closely with our partners in Student Affairs and others on campus to ensure you will have a positive and fulfilling experience this fall, even beyond your academic endeavors. Countless staff are spending this summer working on programming and activities that will transcend many of the challenges before us. We won’t let you miss a single opportunity to explore your extracurricular interests, get involved with campus organizations, build an affinity with students who have similar interests or goals, meet other students you may otherwise not, and participate in activities designed to help you connect with our campus, grow, or even just unwind. We will share more details as we continue to firm up plans, but we are very excited to welcome you back to these aspects of university life.

We will continue to use the latest guidance from health officials to inform all academic and other decisions. We ask for your patience in the event that we must make changes to our current plans, based on developments outside of our control, like updated guidance from the UNC System or state authorities. We will keep you posted at every turn.

Lastly, I want to say how eager we are to have you back on campus. Students are our lifeblood.  As I join the UNCW community, I want you to know that I want to help our faculty and staff provide a safe and engaging learning environment for our students. We have a lot of work to do, as an institution. I want to assure you that we are committed to that work, and we are committed to learning more, listening more, and doing more. 

Please continue to monitor your inboxes for additional information. I look forward to seeing you in the fall!  


James J. Winebrake, Ph.D.
Incoming Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs