UPDATE Friday, April 24 Looking forward with COVID-19 (Message to Students)
You’ve made it through your last full week of classes! Only four more class days next week before exam week begins. I posted a short video message that can be found here. But, there’s a little more I would like to share with you.
I know the past month hasn’t all been easy, and it certainly wasn’t what any of us had planned. Though this semester may not have been ideal, as it comes to a close, I find myself feeling entirely more positive than I expected. Seeing your strength and resiliency to respond to change has not only made me proud but eager to see what you’ll achieve in life with the character you’ve shown through this challenging time.
While we wish we undoubtedly knew what the next several months would hold, the truth is, none of us can know. Let me assure you that we fully expect, and it is our present intention to be back in our classrooms, labs and on-campus spaces this fall and welcome you back to your college home. An important part of the uniquely UNCP experience is being on our vibrant campus, engaging with faculty and peers in the classroom, and having access to the many services and programs that enrich your education in a meaningful way. The magic that occurs when you come together in a quality learning environment is what makes this university exceptional.
But we’re not naïve to the fact that COVID-19 may continue to cause some alterations to the ways we are accustomed to learning and operating. Our goal is to be prepared for all scenarios and able to make the best decisions and preparations for everyone to have ample time to make adjustments should any additional changes be necessary. Eventually, things will return to normal, but until then, keep communicating and let us know what you need so we can help.
We will make all plans in consultation with the UNC System and leadership from all other UNC campuses. It is important to remember that this is a very fluid and unprecedented situation. There is no roadmap or rule book, and we are making decisions for campus operations based on the best data available at the time. Our priority has been and will remain to keep you, your families, and our faculty and staff safe and healthy. We are doing everything possible to provide the true UNC Pembroke experience to each of you until we can return to routine and normalcy.
Let’s finish the semester strong. Stay positive, stay focused, start preparing for exams, and keep working toward your goals and dreams. I look forward to seeing you back on campus in the fall, and seniors I can’t wait to shake your hand as you cross the stage in August.
Stay well and GO BRAVES!
Robin Gary Cummings, MD
UPDATE Thursday, April 23 Looking forward with COVID-19 (Message to Faculty & Staff)
Faculty and Staff:
I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. As we draw to a close a quite unusual and unanticipated spring semester, I want to thank each of you again for your tremendous efforts to shift and keep our university moving forward while significantly helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.
While we continue to limit faculty, staff, and students on campus, we have begun looking toward what lies ahead beyond the summer plans we’ve already announced. In constant communication with the UNC System, in the last week, we have focused our attention on what the coming Fall semester will look like, and if we will be able to welcome our students back for an on-campus semester.
Today, Governor Cooper extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 8. He also laid out a phased plan that will begin slowly and intentionally reopening our state once specific benchmarks have been achieved. While we are mindful that, as Secretary Cohen indicated, North Carolina needs to continue seeing a sustained leveling or decreased trajectory of COVID-19 to begin the phased plan, we are hopeful these plans are a big step in the right direction to bring us back to normal operations.
Let me assure you that we fully expect and it is our present intention to be back in our classrooms, labs, and offices this fall and welcome our new and returning Braves back to their college home. An important part of the uniquely UNCP experience is being on our vibrant campus, engaging with faculty and peers in the classroom, and having access to the many services and programs that enrich education in a meaningful way. The magic that occurs when people come together in a quality learning environment is what makes this university exceptional.
That said, we’re not naïve to the fact that COVID-19 may continue to cause some alterations to the ways we are accustomed to instructing and operating. But we remain committed to developing solutions that enable us to offer the best learning opportunities for our students while keeping our campus community safe and healthy. We also recognize conditions may change throughout our state over the summer, and we will be prepared to appropriately respond, if necessary.
Over the next several months, our top priority will be to make well-informed decisions based on reliable data in consultation with the UNC System. My cabinet and many campus leaders are already looking at a variety of contingency plans, mitigation strategies, and opportunities to allow for maximum flexibility and responsiveness. All decisions will always have in common the best interests and safety of you, our students, and this community.
Throughout this experience, once again we have demonstrated how resilient and agile UNCP can be in the face of adversity. I continue to hear stories daily of innovation and service and of your commitment to meeting our students where they are to get them where they want to be. What has defined us in these times is our ability to remain positive in spite of all that is going on around us—because we know there are 7,700 students whose future success depends on our ability to deliver a high-quality education.
Thank you for keeping our students at the forefront. I deeply appreciate all that you continue to do, and all that you will do, as we bring this eventful semester to a close. I am looking forward to seeing you all on campus this fall!
Robin Gary Cummings, MD