Changing with the Times
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to the services offered virtually and on campus. Throughout this time, the Provost’s Office corollary units have continued to support NC State’s world-class academics and provide resources for the development of students, faculty and staff. Various units submitted their changes to help us gain insight into how they’ve adjusted over the past six months.
The entire DELTA organization has changed and adapted to the needs of the NC State community during COVID-19 — specifically supporting faculty in the transition and continuing journey of remote teaching and learning through a variety of means. Beginning in March and continuing through the summer, DELTA ramped up its training offerings and worked closely with faculty to record course content.
We pivoted our usual workshop offerings and focused on providing training to help instructors get their courses online quickly which meant multiple Moodle and Zoom workshops, as well as individualized consultations. In preparation for the fall 2020 semester, DELTA worked with instructors to record course content to ensure all students would have equal access to class lectures in any environment whether face to face, hybrid or online.
DELTA’s teams also managed an increase in academic learning technologies across campus including Moodle, Mediasite and Zoom. We stepped up to create new resources, share best practices, and provide helpful tips to faculty through articles on the DELTA News website and the DELTA Connections newsletter.
DELTA will continue to offer online workshops for faculty, staff and teaching graduate students to explore NC State learning technologies and learn best practices for implementing them in their courses. Visit go.ncsu.edu/deltaworkshops for a list of current offerings.
Enrollment Management and Services
Enrollment Management and Services has made quite a few updates to its offerings for prospective and current students. Undergraduate Admissions has updated their admissions requirements for this coming year. The Campus Visits program is also continuing to offer virtual options for prospective students and families through a variety of programming including the regular information sessions for first-year, transfer, and international students, student chats, special topics (Career Development Center – internships and co-ops, Libraries, Arts NC State, etc.), and college-specific information sessions. The virtual tour site also launched in March and continues to garner virtual visitors to campus.
Additionally, University Open House will be virtual this year with the theme of 5 PACKed Days and more information will be posted including registration on the Open House website. The Community College Collaboration (C3) program has also recently signed an MOU with James Sprunt Community College making it the 11th community college to be partnered with NC State. C3 has awarded scholarships to several students.
Goodnight Scholars Program
With the closure of campus in March, the Goodnight Scholars Program, part of the Enrollment Management and Services unit, developed new virtual programs for community-building and stress relief. Programs included themed trivia nights, “Goodnight Grub” cooking shows featuring the professional staff, and live-streamed video games. Assistant Director Jill Zalewski created a weekly “Goodnight Gazette” e-newsletter to promote virtual activities, and set-up a nightly, virtual “Goodnight Lounge” for students to socialize and study together. With the continuing uncertainty of the fall semester, Jill and Program Coordinator Bailey Craddock developed a comprehensive fall program schedule that included a variety of virtual and outdoor, socially-distanced activities. Among the most popular new activities is the “Goodnight Explorers” program that encourages students to complete weekly challenges to visit local sites of interest, earning weekly badges and prizes. So far, over 25% of all scholars have participated in the weekly challenges. Additionally, in lieu of an in-person Real Leadership Series, Associate Director Jay Perry has created a new program podcast series,“Profound Advice”, featuring interviews with industry and education leaders. New episodes will be released each month.
In an effort to meet its students’ unexpected financial needs, and reduce demand on the university-wide Pack Essentials fund, the Goodnight Scholars Program began funding scholars’ emergency funding requests in March 2020. The most common reason for requesting funding was the loss of paid employment due to the pandemic, compounded by parents’ loss of employment, meaning that students could not rely on their families as a financial safety net. To date, more than 30 grants, totalling over $30,000, have been distributed, and the program will continue to support these requests going forward.
Office of Faculty Development
In addition to shifting to remote work, we had to shift the focus of our programming in order to support instructors as they made the transition to online learning. This included the creation of the Keep Teaching website and the formation of the Academic Continuity Team, composed of staff from Office of Faculty Affairs, Office of Faculty Development, DELTA, Libraries, and OIT, which has met weekly during the pandemic. We also have adjusted student course evaluations for COVID-affected courses and are offering COVID-related tenure clock extensions.
We have built upon our existing online faculty development programming, like our RED Certifications and Reading Circles, by shifting all of our programming to virtual, including our Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institute, New Faculty Orientation, and our programs for Department Heads. We have supported the wellness and mental health of our faculty with our new program Mindful Mondays, and we have partnered with DELTA and the Libraries to offer additional new programming aimed at helping faculty become more proficient online instructors. Various other signature events that we work on, including the Teaching Awards Ceremony and Celebration of Faculty Excellence, have been transitioned into virtual celebrations.
We are continuing to explore ways that NC State can provide faculty, within our evaluative processes like annual review, RPT, and post-tenure review, opportunities to describe how the pandemic has impacted their work – both the challenges and the opportunities for innovation. We are also currently at work on transitioning our annual Teaching and Learning Symposium to a virtual event.
Office of Global Engagement
COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the Study Abroad Office as it led to all travel through the office being suspended. We estimate that approximately 1,700 students were affected by COVID-19-related travel restrictions/program cancellations from spring and summer 2020. Study Abroad programs and all university-affiliated international travel is suspended for fall, including the inbound international exchange program.
In order to best meet the needs of the university community during this time, we have altered our services in several ways. Study Abroad has been working remotely since March. We continue to advise students through scheduled appointments and “Zoom-in” walk-in advising. The office has held Live Instagram Q&A sessions for students, and has implemented text-based advising to be even more accessible to students. Also, our advising team created a virtual front office to allow students to explore our resources and support easily while our office is working remotely.
We’ve been keeping students engaged with Study Abroad via social media interaction, our photo contest, and workshops. We just launched our Virtual ReEntry Fair for students to explore how to continue to connect globally upon their return from their international experiences, and go abroad again. Our Funding 101 sessions have shifted online, and are scheduled regularly as the September 15 scholarship deadline is approaching rapidly.
In upcoming news, the Office of Global Engagement has established a number of new opportunities to allow students to continue engaging in global learning. Students can now pursue remote internships with international organizations. Additionally, we are offering single-course virtual exchanges and remote research opportunities through a pilot with our strategic partner, Universidad de San Francisco.
We are hopeful to resume traditional study abroad programs in the spring and summer of 2021. We have established specific changes to address and mitigate risks on our group summer programs, and are working with faculty and program directors to implement the changes. Additionally, we are encouraging all faculty to integrate global learning outcomes into the courses, and work with the Office of Global Engagement to be connected with strategic partners around the world who may be interested in developing collaborative online learning projects and modules for students at both institutions. These projects and modules can serve as a way to engage our students in global learning when travel remains restricted and serve as a launching pad for future in-person study/research opportunities when we have an opportunity to travel abroad again!
Like most university units, the Graduate School staff began operating remotely back in March and quickly adapted. Since receiving mail is an important part of graduate admissions, several staff members came to the office throughout the summer to pick up mail, to collect packages from a newly installed, secure drop box outside our Centennial Campus office, and to deal directly with students, especially those needing to provide various documents.
Several significant Graduate School events had to be canceled in the spring, including the Graduate Student Research Symposium, the inaugural faculty Three-Minute Research Talks (in partnership with the Provost’s Office) and the student-led Graduate Mental Health Symposium (largely organized by the Graduate Alliance for Mental Health in Academia). However, Envisioning Research, the university’s image contest, continued into June, when a record number of research images were entered.
Our Professional Development Team was able to quickly pivot to serving graduate students and postdocs virtually. The Job Search Strategies workshop scheduled for late May-early June reached 800 students virtually, while the in-person workshop would have only reached 50-60 students. The team also offered support to student teaching assistants who had to switch from in-person to remote teaching.
Currently, the Graduate School’s leadership team is taking turns staffing the office Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., mainly to provide face-to-face services to students where online approaches are insufficient. Our staff meets virtually once a month, and every two weeks, we host virtual updates for graduate program directors and graduate services coordinators, which have been very popular. This fall, we will celebrate a favorite tradition, the Three Minute Thesis competition, virtually. Since classes and exams end early this semester, we decided to hold the event on December 2, after the semester has concluded. Watch for details at this website.
Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Beginning in mid-March, the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity has worked quickly to adjust from in-person programs and events to virtual ones. In particular, our four campus community centers — the African American Cultural Center, the GLBT Center, Multicultural Student Affairs and the Women’s Center — offered many spring programs online, including the annual Gender and Equity Research Symposium, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Lavender Graduation, Multicultural Graduation and the What’s On The Table discussion group. However, some of the key services that the centers provide, such as in-person mentoring and community activities, have been greatly limited, and we know our students have missed out on some of the opportunities we usually provide to support their educational experience and ensure their well-being and success. With this in mind, we continue to seek ways to connect with students and carry out our mission in different ways.
Despite the limitations, our office has continued to provide critical services. The Equal Opportunity and Equity unit continued to provide uninterrupted complaint investigation and other compliance activities remotely and with some in-person availability of equal opportunity officers. The Women’s Center has continued to provide critical advocacy and support for survivors of interpersonal violence. The Bias Impact Response Team has continued to respond to complaints of bias efficiently and with our operating principles of restorative justice and community care. Ongoing diversity and equity training efforts have continued, although in different formats, with an inspiring amount of engagement; we had our highest attendance ever at a virtual presentation of the Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards, which annually recognize contributions within the university community in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion and offered two series of virtual Collegial Conversations workshops on topics relating to the pandemic and social justice.
Most significantly, due to the racial unrest experienced nationwide after the unjust killing of George Floyd and many other Black Americans, our office has responded to the call, both from our own community and nationally, to use the full extent of our capabilities to defeat this “second pandemic” of racism. As our mission, we’ve always worked to seek equity and eliminate injustice, and with these events, our daily call to action has entered the consciousness of many who are new to the cause. As such, we have had extraordinary opportunities to begin working on many new initiatives that will have a profound positive impact on our community in the years to come.
You can read about several of these new initiatives on NC State’s diversity portal. They include responses to student petitions and details about the university’s commitments and activities pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, such as NC State’s charter membership in the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) SEA Change initiative; the new diversity training requirement for faculty, staff and students; our new Inclusive Excellence Certificate program; the university’s ongoing commitment to inclusion and well-being within its new strategic plan; the Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative; and NC State’s participation in the UNC System’s Racial Equity task force activities.
Most importantly, we seek to gain from partnership and collaboration with the entire NC State community in transforming one of the most difficult periods in our university’s history into a time of reflection, resilience and growth. You can keep up with diversity, equity and inclusion activities at NC State by subscribing to our newsletter, the Diversity Digest, at go.ncsu.edu/digest.
McKimmon Center for Extension & Continuing Education
As is the case for virtually every aspect of campus and society in general, MCE&CE has been dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, much of our division — the Office of Professional Development (OPD), OPD Technology Training, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), our two units in Rocky Mount, and the McKimmon Conference and Training Center (MCTC) — primarily serves its constituent audiences through the planning and implementation of face-to-face programming. Since the middle of March, our ability to run face-to-face programming has come to a virtual standstill due to size restrictions on gatherings and abiding by prudent public health and community standards.
In addition to our units that are public-facing, all of our units have felt the impact of largely working remotely. While we have gradually allowed some additional employees to spend more time on campus to accomplish tasks they can’t perform as well remotely, much of our staff are still spending the majority of their time on Zoom and working from home.
With every crisis there is opportunity, and while this pandemic has had an adverse impact on our ability to run face-to-face programs, it has also provided us with an opportunity to branch out in new directions. Recently, we have run two fairly large virtual conferences — with the State Board of Elections and the State Construction Conference. These virtual offerings attracted several hundred participants to over 1,000 participants, and allowed these audiences to still have an important professional development opportunity in lieu of a face-to-face conference. We are planning other virtual conferences and analyzing whether this might be an area of programming growth for us even post-pandemic. In addition, OLLI pivoted to a completely online fall 2020 semester and is planning a similar virtual experience for the spring 2021 semester. OLLI participants are very passionate about coming together as a community, and while there isn’t a true substitute for face-to-face programming for this constituency, both OLLI staff and members have risen to the challenge and are running a lot of very engaging programming via Zoom.
In addition to shifting much of our programming from face-to-face to online formats, we also prepared MCTC to host face-to-face for-credit classes for fall 2020. While the university had to transition to a fully online environment after two weeks, our staff did a great job working closely with campus partners to have our classrooms, faculty and students prepared for as positive a learning experience as possible. Should the university need to use our facility again in the future for for-credit classes, the preparations we made to implement classes in fall 2020 will serve our campus well.
Furthermore, MCTC’s parking lot has been the host for Wake County COVID-19 testing, both earlier this summer as well as August 31 – September 6. Our building also was utilized by health care workers during their days conducting testing as a place to get out of the sun while performing their important public health work.
We continue to focus most of our attention on successfully transitioning programs into an online format and having them run successfully. Much of our new program development is focused on online programming, so it is clear that post-pandemic our programming mix will include a much broader mix of learning modalities compared to our historically large reliance on face-to-face programming. That being said, we are closely monitoring our ability to run events of any size in our building or elsewhere in the near-to-mid-term future, and will take our guidance from university leadership now and in the future. We stand ready to partner with faculty, staff and external groups to provide important continuing education experiences that benefit the lives of individuals, organizations and communities, and that can be run online, face-to-face, or in a hybrid format.
NC State University Libraries
The NC State University Libraries has modified our services and hours for the fall 2020 semester to ensure both academic continuity and public health safety. While most courses have moved online, the Libraries is well-positioned to support both on-campus and remote teaching, learning, and research.
Over the past three decades, the Libraries has been a pioneer in digital resources, so many of our databases, journals, and books were already accessible online, as was our Ask Us Chat reference resource. In addition to our robust online collections, we’ve also compiled some publishers’ expanded short-term access to videos, ebooks, and more.
Having these models in place allowed us to pivot our other services as classes moved online in March and again this fall. We quickly adapted our orientation materials, consultations (technology, data and visualization, research), workshops, and programming and outreach so that they could be easily accessed remotely.
We also moved to new models for requesting, queuing, reserving, and shipping materials.
Mail delivery is available to any NC State student, faculty, or staff member. You can still get books in person, but we can mail them to you as well. We deliver items from NC State’s collections and interlibrary loan materials at no cost to you through Tripsaver. You can request an article or book chapter PDF to be emailed to you through Tripsaver, too.
- We have received 1,457 scanning requests;
- Scanned 2012 unique chapters and distributed 3078 total chapters; and
- Scanned 56,226 unique pages and distributed 82539 total pages.
In addition to expanding our scanning services, we also rapidly expanded our technology lending pool to meet remote teaching and learning needs and to be able to provide long-term loans to ensure students’ academic continuity. For example, the number of laptops we have made available to the campus community has increased 261% in response to COVID-19.
Our technology lending services are only available from the Hill Library and the branch libraries. You can borrow laptops, chargers, calculators, and connectors/adapters at the Ask Us service desks. We are also giving away free disposable earbuds. Most other technology is available by mail via an online request in advance.
To help instructors move their classes online, we offer support with copyright concerns, technology lending, short-term vendor access, and ensuring your students have the course materials they need. We also offer faculty training and support for open education and open pedagogy.
In order to Protect the Pack, we have altered our spaces in accordance with campus and state guidelines. Access is limited to NC State students, faculty, and staff, and university affiliates with a Wolfpack One Card, including Centennial Campus partners. During the fall 2020 semester, as throughout all of NC State’s campus, students, faculty, staff and university affiliates are required to wear face coverings in all Libraries buildings and in outdoor spaces where appropriate physical distancing cannot be guaranteed. Individuals who do not comply with this requirement will not be allowed to remain in the building.
Two core services that contribute to academic continuity and student success are powerful desktop computing and private spaces to access remote class meetings. To that end, socially distanced desktop computers are available for use in library buildings, and we’ve compiled information helpful for completing computing tasks from home, including how to use the Virtual Computing Laboratory. We’ve also converted our group study rooms into individual study rooms that users can reserve online.
Our COVID-19 response team also implemented the following changes:
- Food is allowed only on the outdoor terraces at Hill and Hunt and in adjacent spaces (such as outside of the library security gates at Hunt). Covered drinks are permitted. The Hill of Beans Cafe (Hill) and Common Grounds Cafe (Hunt) are closed until further notice.
- The Makerspace, Digital Media Lab, and other specialized library spaces are not open, but users can still get help from specialists over email or a Zoom appointment (see consultations above).
- The Ask Us center at the Hunt Library is not staffed, but users can still get help by email, chat, and phone.
All Libraries locations have updated hours as well.
This post was originally published in Provost's Office News.