From the President's Desk: Looking Forward to Fall

President Flanagan shares some thoughts in advance of the beginning of a very unique fall semester.

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Dear colleagues,

In two weeks, we will welcome thousands of students to the Fall 2020 semester. My thanks to all of you for your efforts this summer as you prepared for this unusual term. Some students and instructors will be back on campus for a selection of in-person courses, while for most, teaching and learning will be occuring online. Thanks to all of you, students logging in from around the world will experience a unique, but still exceptional, semester with the supports they need to thrive.

From CTL's supports for remote teaching to student resources from across the university for our Campus Life website, I am so impressed by your collaboration and commitment to providing a successful university experience despite the numerous challenges that we are all facing. Thank you for your hard work as well as your flexibility and adaptability as we navigate numerous changes. As instructors and front-line staff, we greatly value face-to-face engagement with our students and I know we will miss that. However, I also have confidence that while in-person experiences cannot fully be replaced, you have created meaningful experiences online that will uphold U of A's signature values and strengths.

Celebrating U of A pride and resilience with the entire community is especially meaningful this year. As I embark on my first fall at the U of A, I am excited to connect with new students joining the U of A during New Student Orientation. I am looking forward to participating in my first Green & Gold Day (a virtual Green & Gold DaysDays this year) and connecting with alumni around the world during Alumni Weekend.

Thanks to everyone making our spaces safe so that we can offer our students some in-person campus experiences. Campus & Community Recreation facilities have reopened with enhanced safety measures, and they will continue to offer virtual classes. Residences are open with a smaller capacity. Students will begin their residence life with a physically distanced Move-In Week and through virtual social and community activities via Expedition Connect. Residence Services' comprehensive Isolation Program will support those in our community who are able to join us from abroad. If you will be coming to one of our campuses to participate in any in-person activities, please review the new Campus Safety Video (English) or (Français) for information for before and during your visit.

New supports and resources for faculty and staff will also continue to be added throughout the semester on the IST website, Centre for Teaching and Learning website, and Human Resource Services website. New guides for safely teaching in-person are being developed and will be shared soon.

While we are all eager to get back to a "normal" campus life, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remains our top priority. This can be best achieved by limiting the number of people on our campuses. Most of us who are currently working remotely will continue to do so until at least December 31, 2020. We will continue to carefully monitor the evolving situation. As the fall term unfolds, we will have better information on which to base a decision about the winter term. You can expect a decision on that by November.

Thank you for all of the incredible work you have done to prepare for Fall 2020 and provide a welcoming virtual environment for our students while keeping our community safe. We're all in this together.

Bill Flanagan
President and Vice-chancellor