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Update from the President

November 20, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

A semester that began more than three months ago with many questions and more than a few anxieties is about to end. We believe it was a successful semester despite the challenges, and we hope you agree. 

Our successful semester would not have occurred without the support, guidance, and dedication of the faculty and staff who have continued Wheeling University’s tradition of academic excellence. Over the summer, the University’s twenty-one person COVID Task Force, led by Dr. Ted Pauls and Dr. Gail Nickerson met for many hours identifying, planning for, and implementing the necessary health and safety protocols so students, faculty, and staff could return to campus.  

As I shared last week, our goal was to provide our students with a near-normal college experience as possible. As you prepare to leave, my heart is filled with pride, knowing together we accomplished that. This semester has been trying at times but witnessing our students together, whether in the RATT playing pool, practicing on the field, or sitting in the B-Room with friends, seeing them safe and happy was what every member of the Wheeling University faculty and staff worked for.  

All of our students seem to have taken this opportunity to be together on campus and treated it as a gift – a special chance to pursue their goals in the middle of a pandemic that has suspended the plans for so many and disrupted the education of many of their friends elsewhere. 

As we wrap up our first semester amid a pandemic, we offer our gratitude as well as outline what the weeks ahead will look like. Getting to this point was not easy. We sacrificed our days off, wore our masks, washed our hands, and kept our distance. We kept at it — day by day, week by week. 

Along the way, we learned a lot about how to live with COVID-19 and how relentless it can be. It found its way to our campus despite our best efforts. But these lessons help guide us as we exit this semester and resume classes in January: 

•          Masks will remain mandatory.  

•          Daily health screenings via the LiveSafe app will still be required when classes resume.  

•          Social distancing measures will remain — in classrooms, across campus, and at all events.  

•          On-campus surveillance testing and tracing will remain critical pieces of our containment strategy.  

These efforts will endure until a vaccine, or other solutions makes the need for them unnecessary.  

For now, there is more work to be done. For students, there are exams to complete. For staff and faculty, there are grades to be submitted and projects to be finished before the Thanksgiving holiday. We want you to enjoy these holidays. After all, you’ve earned a break – from class, from work, from worry, from COVID. But please be safe – keep wearing that mask, using sanitizer, and watching your distance. We also ask that you do check our website for COVID updates regularly.  

The University will continue to be open, and function during this long break, much like it does after the end of the school year. Several parts of campus will be operating on reduced hours throughout the long break, including the mailroom and library.  

The daily temperature scanning at the Security Gate will be suspended during the break. For employees, daily temperature scans will be done by a designee in each building. Visitors will be asked to stop at the Public Safety Office to have their temperatures checked. Buildings will be locked, and employees will need to use their Cardinal Card to enter all buildings. LiveSafe must continue to be completed daily by employees coming to campus.  

At this time, Wheeling University plans to test all students upon their return to campus in January. The testing format will be a staggered schedule over the week of January 4 through January 8, with classes beginning January 11. Our goal remains the same into the Spring semester, to have our campus remain fully open with residential students and in-person classes, providing as close to a normal collegiate experience as possible. We stand firm in the belief that we can continue to do this in our safe campus environment.  

We received good news this week as Governor Justice announced he will be providing the necessary funds to cover all of the required NCAA testing for all of our athletic programs in the Spring.  

On Monday, we will welcome our new Vice President of Enrollment, David Rhodes to campus. David has a history of developing data-driven programs that have increased enrollment, student academic profiles, retention, and revenues at numerous institutions of higher education. He brings more than 35 years of experience in enrollment management, financial aid, marketing, and admissions to Wheeling. 

Once again please remember to register for the Spring semester. I encourage you to utilize your Winter break by getting ahead academically to earn a few extra credits by registering for our “Wintermester.” The term begins December 12 and runs until January 10, 2021.  

As you return home for break, please continue to take great care and make good choices heading into the holidays. We know how much everyone wants to gather together for holiday parties or dinners or attend church during the break, but more than anything, we want you to be able to go home healthy and keep your families (and any vulnerable friends and relatives) safe and healthy.  

On a personal note of thanks to our faculty: You have done remarkable work with our students – adapting to new teaching methods and supporting students in this unprecedented journey. I want to offer my deepest gratitude for the strength of spirit and compassion you have shown to others throughout this semester. 

With Thanksgiving next Thursday, my weekly update will resume on December 4. 

May grace and peace be upon you during this holiday season. Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving. 

With appreciation,

Ginny R. Favede
President, Wheeling University