From the Desk of President Elfred Anthony Pinkard
The 2019-2020 academic year is over and despite the challenges of completing the academic year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wilberforce University community prevailed. You, our students, faculty, staff and administrators should be justly congratulated for responding quickly and effectively to circumstances that were unprecedented and for which there was, and is, no playbook. Once again, we have demonstrated our resilience and ability to rise with tenacity to face and overcome a challenge. We must now begin the work of preparing for the 2020-2021 academic year and, most immediately, the fall semester.
I fully recognize that the uncertainty regarding the fall semester is the source of anxiety and disquiet for many in the University community. That sense of the unknown and the stress it causes in predictable and understandable. While we are not alone in determining what the fall semester might be, our path forward will consider the specific institutional reality and needs of the Wilberforce campus community and what will be the best course of action for our students, faculty, staff and administrators.
The health, wellness and safety of the entire Wilberforce University community is at the center of our thinking and paramount to our planning. This is unchartered territory for everyone and we will be thoughtful and well-informed in making decisions that will protect the campus community. We will be guided by science and data and the most up to date information and guidelines on infection control and minimizing the transmission of the coronavirus from the public health community. We will also adhere to guidance from the Office of the Governor and local government officials. We are members of the higher education community and have the additional benefit of engaging in on-going discussions with peer institutions which gives us access to shared experiences, ideas, perspectives and wisdom as we plan.
Because the course of the pandemic and its impact on communities is ever-changing, we have determined that it is premature to make a definitive decision about our fall semester at this time. I will provide periodic updates regarding the University’s plan for the fall semester. I understand that the collegiate future of our current and prospective students require that we make and announce a decision soon. As we attempt to establish and navigate a new normal and mitigate the most egregious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wilberforce’s future, we ask the patience of the University community. We will continue to bring the full measure of our critical thinking and decision-making to assuring that our University community is risk-free and able to conduct the business of teaching and learning in an on-campus environment that is safe and secure.
We are the inheritors of the formidable spirit of Daniel Alexander Payne, our founder. This, too, will pass and we will be stronger because of it. We are Wilberforce Strong.
From the Desk of President Elfred Anthony Pinkard
Statement to University Community
March 30, 2020
As we were first confronted with this pandemic and prepared to leave campus and modify campus operations, I promised to keep the University community informed. What we know about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is ever changing and our decisions continue to be dependent on the most available information from informed and reliable sources and established guidelines for public safety. As governments and public health officials worldwide attempt to control the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are all challenged to change our behavior and adjust to a new normal. As a result, we have had to make several decisions regarding activities for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.
Continuing Classes: Wilberforce University will continue on-line instruction for the remainder of the academic year. We will also continue to follow the guidelines regarding physical distancing as have been outlined by the Governor of the State of Ohio. Today, March 30, 2020, the President of the United States announced that the practice of social distancing would be continued until April 30, 2020. At Wilberforce University, we too, will adhere to that deadline regarding on-campus University operations.
Emergency Assistance: During this time of uncertainty, there are resources available to assist students with completing the semester. Students may complete a request for assistance by visiting the following link – https://wilberforce.dreamkeepers.org/login.php. Review of requests will begin April 1 and end April 10, 2020.
Retrieval of Items: As we continue under the direction of the Federal and State government, we are unable to finalize next steps for students to return to campus to retrieve their possessions or complete business. When restrictions on social distancing are relaxed and the campus is open again students will be allowed to return. Specific details will be provided as we announce the official retrieval period. Students should be assured that their possessions are safe and that they will be able to retrieve their positions when the campus is opened again.
Website Updates: We have also created an on-line CO-VID-19 webpage on the Wilberforce University website, https://wilberforce.edu/statement-to-the-university-community-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19/. Please check this site for University updates and important facts and details about issues that matter to you during this time.
We know that this is an extremely difficult time for everyone. We ask that you continue to take care of yourselves, be kind to yourself and your loved ones and remember that we will get through this. We look forward to welcoming you back to Wilberforce when we are able.
We are Wilberforce!
From the Desk of President Elfred Anthony Pinkard
Statement to the University Community Regarding University Operations
March 16, 2020
We continue to be guided by the most available information regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Office of the Governor and federal, state, and local public health organizations to make the best decisions to protect the health and well-being of the Wilberforce University community. Given the latest developments in the state of Ohio with the closing of more public spaces and the mandate to practice social distancing, we have made the decision to further restrict the on-campus operations of the University.
Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the University will operate on reduced hours with designated essential personnel in key offices. The remainder of the University’s workforce will work remotely under the supervision of their respective supervisors.
On Tuesdays and Thursday, 10:00am-2:000pm (EST), personnel in the University Mailroom, IT, Office of Admissions and Enrollment, and the Office of the President will be present on campus.
The University Police will have a 24-hour presence on campus to protect University property and respond to emergencies. Communication to University personnel and students will be through the University’s One Call System. We recognize that these are unsettling times and that new information is uncovered on a daily basis. We commit to providing information to the University community and the decisions that impact the University in an open, honest and disciplined way.
We ask that you keep Wilberforce University in your prayers and that you remember, during these uncertain times, the importance of self-care. We will get past this and we will be stronger because of this experience. We will re-evaluate this decision on April 1, 2020 to determine our path forward.
FROM THE DESK OF PRESIDENT ELFRED ANTHONY PINKARD
Statement to the University Community
Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
March 13, 2020
We value the health and well-being of every member of the Wilberforce University community. As a campus community, we are currently confronted with an unprecedented event in the form of coronavirus (COVID-19). Our primary responsibility is to assure the safety of our students, faculty, staff and administrators and to provide accurate information and make informed decisions. To that end, we have relied on information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ohio Department of Health and our local health department to keep us fully engaged and informed. We have also consulted with peer institutions to determine their best thinking and practice under the current circumstances.
On March 9, 2020, the Governor of the state of Ohio, Mike DeWine, declared a state of emergency in direct response to the report of three individuals testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio. As a result of Governor DeWine’s proclamation, Wilberforce University has initiated the Emergency Preparedness Plan as a proactive step in responding to a looming health crisis.
After careful consideration, effective Monday, March 16, 2020, the University will suspend all face-to-face instruction to include lectures, laboratories, seminars and precepts and will move to remote (on-line) instruction. University faculty will be provided comprehensive training on remote instruction on Thursday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th.
The University will cease on-campus operations until March 31, 2020 and will reevaluate the decision to return to normal operations at that time. All members of the University community will be notified of that decision on or before April 1, 2020. Essential personnel will be identified and expected to support limited on-campus University operations during the period, March 16th through March 31st.
The Division of Student Engagement and Student Success will assist students as they prepare to depart campus and have developed a set of helpful instructions and protocols which will be distributed to students.
All on campus Dawn Dance/Alumni Weekend events have been cancelled. At this time Commencement 2020 is still scheduled to occur on May 9, 2020. We will continue to monitor coronavirus (COVID-19) and will make decisions based on the most recent and available information from credible and well-respected sources about the virus and its transmission.
While these are certainly unsettling times, it is critical that we continue with our lives while following healthy habits and practicing good hygiene and behaviors outlined by health professionals and health care providers.
For additional information please visit www.cdc.gov/nCoV. We have established a link on the University’s website to provide updated information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) at https://wilberforce.edu/coronavirus-covid-19/.