Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Planning for the Fall; Commencement

Monday, April 27, 2020

Dear Campus Community:
I’m writing to you to provide an update on where things stand in our continued response to coronavirus impacts.
I want to be totally transparent here: There is no way to know for sure what the fall will look like. We want our Seahawks to come home to campus, safely and efficiently, as soon as it makes sense for you to do so. To that end, I have put together a task force, comprising a number of smaller teams focused on specific areas of contingency planning, to assess the possibilities for next semester. Our deans and other academic leadership, senior personnel from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Business Affairs, and administrators at various levels are examining this from every angle, beyond academic and financial considerations. In collaboration with the Student Government Association, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate, I am confident in our ability in order to make the best decisions for our students, employees and community.
We know that many elements of your own fall experience will depend on the decisions being considered now, so you have my word that we’ll share updates with you as soon as we can.
A note specifically for students: We are encouraging you to register for fall classes if you haven’t already done so, and to connect with your academic advisors with questions or concerns about your academic progress or class selection. Registration is open and courses are filling quickly, even in the midst of this uncertainty; you can always adjust your schedule as needed depending on how the next couple of months play out.
You have likely read about the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) and the funds it will provide for higher education institutions. We are working through the criteria and restrictions for the first half of UNCW’s allocation, which has been designated for short-term needs of students. I also want to encourage our students to apply for support from the UNCW Emergency Support Fund (and if you are an employee in a position to make a contribution to this fund, please do so here; even a small gift could make a big difference for a student in need). These funds will be a meaningful step in supporting our students and their families as they face these previously unimaginable challenges.
We are happy to share that we have scheduled Commencement for August 7-8, 2020, and, based on the information we have at this point, we do not expect that to change. We know you are eager to make plans around this momentous occasion, and our Transition Programs team and academic leadership are working hard to bring you additional details soon. Undergraduate students who will have earned university distinction will receive their cords prior to commencement ceremonies, and will receive more information before June 30. For more information, please visit the Transition Programs website.
In closing, please know I am aware that it must be frustrating to keep hearing that we’ll “share updates when they’re available.” I’m just as frustrated to not have all the answers at this point, but I can tell you that we are working hard to come up with them for you. There are many things we can’t control, including how or when we receive information that will inform final decisions on some fronts. What we can control is our commitment to communicating to you as often and effectively as we can, when we’re confident we’ve got enough information to make smart and timely decisions. I humbly ask for your continued patience, and I promise you that we are not taking that patience for granted. Please remain mindful of your health and well-being, and, as overused as this phrase may be, hang in there with us. Your efforts have been extraordinary throughout this situation, and I thank you for the commitment and collaboration you’ve illustrated at every point along the way. Let’s keep taking care of each other, in any way we can.

Jose V. Sartarelli