CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano and CU Regent John “Jack” Kroll, as well as CUSG Tri-Executive Ryan Passas and Legislative President Sara Altshuler addressed COVID-19 and higher education impacts at a Boulder County virtual town hall on April 13.
Also on the panel were Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and Andrew Dorsey, president of Front Range Community College. The virtual event was co-hosted by Democratic state Reps. Jonathan Singer and Sonya Jaquez Lewis.
Each panelist gave an introduction, describing steps their institutions are taking to help protect and inform their respective communities and more.
DiStefano addressed topics including:
- Campus residence hall housing: Students who have moved out are receiving prorated refunds, including their $300 housing deposit.
- Academics and grading: As of March 16, all courses are occurring remotely. CU Boulder is providing technological support; allowing make-up exams and quizzes, as well as deadline extensions; and providing a pass/fail credit option for most spring courses.
- Commencement: The commencement ceremony will be held on May 16 via livestream. Also, the 2020 graduates are invited to return to campus in May of 2021 for in-person events, including the commencement ceremony, and recognition.
- Communications: The campus has created a new COVID-19 webpage and regularly sends messaging to the campus community, including students and families, via numerous digital channels.
- Community engagement and contributions: CU Boulder recently launched the Buffs Together fundraising campaign, which includes two emergency funds for students, faculty and staff. CU Boulder will match $1.6 million in donations, paid for by insurance rebates for canceled events and vending machine proceeds. There are also various relief and volunteer efforts on which the university is advising interested parties.
Altshuler and Passas talked about the vast support resources available to the CU Boulder community, encouraging students in particular to seek help and tend to their mental health.
Kroll focused on student loan implications in the current situation and gave a brief state funding comparison among CU Boulder and peer public universities.
The audience asked a number of questions on the topics of Eco passes; student loan implications in the event of unemployment; potential pay cuts by university administrators and coaches; the total amount of reimbursements the CU system has incurred; CU Boulder’s Senior Auditors program; the quality of online learning versus in-person learning; and more.
In closing, Passas commented on how faculty are working very diligently to accommodate students and address student needs. Also, professors have been extremely innovative, from her perspective.
“It’s been really heartening,” she said.