Mar. 23, 2020 - Executive VP and Provost Cyril Clarke; Interim VP for Student Affairs Frank Shushok; Additional updates and notices

March 23, 2020

A message to faculty from Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke

Dear faculty:

As you start delivering Virginia Tech’s educational programs online, I want you to know how impressed and appreciative I am of all that you have done to serve our students and support each other. This is not what we thought we would be doing at the start of this semester. I was particularly excited about your progress in advancing experiential learning involving study abroad, undergraduate research, design and field projects, and internships. For now, most of these must be set aside for future development. Instead, you have been called upon to convert your current courses, enriched by the personal interaction with students that is a mark of excellence at Virginia Tech, to online formats and to accomplish this task within a period of just two weeks.

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A message from Frank Shushok, interim vice president for Student Affairs

We’ve had to redirect social energy from anxiety and panic to love and preparation—and I’ve seen you do this again and again. We’ve had to fortify our communities in ways that reduce fear, increase faith, and reorient all of us from self-protection to serving others—and I’ve seen you do this as well.

We’ve been asked to change the norms of social interaction, literally overnight, to minimize the transmission of COVID-19. These steps feel so drastic. Still, implementing them early enough requires tremendous leadership—because the actions will not initially seem necessary to many people. When dealing with pandemics, the measures that will actually make a difference always need to be taken sooner than we think. You’ve led in this way here, too.

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Additional updates and notices

Faculty Affairs to hold open office hours via Zoom. The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs will host online Open Office Hours beginning March 27. Faculty of all classifications are welcome to join the discussion via Zoom and share questions, comments, successes and challenges they are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. Information gathered through these online sessions will help to inform future communications with our faculty community and a set of FAQs that will be posted soon on the Faculty Affairs webpage.

Public Health Emergency Leave guidelines for Virginia Tech employees. Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL), which is a benefit activated by Gov. Ralph Northam for state employees as a result of the impact of COVID-19, is available to Virginia Tech full- and part-time faculty and staff, and many wage employees who are impacted by the virus. Read teh article for additional information on employees who are eligible for this benefit.