To: NKU Faculty, Staff, and Students
From: President Ashish Vaidya
Date: May 20, 2021
Subject: Details on Back to the Future… Reimagined U
Dear Campus Community,
As we prepare to go “Back to the Future” to a vibrant campus that we all love, I am excited to share the video below and details about our return this fall.
Earlier this week, I shared the wonderful news that the CDC relaxed its masking guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated, and the university is busy updating our fall plan to reflect the new recommendations. What I can tell you is that with the easing of social distancing guidelines– we will be able to reinvigorate some of our favorite Norse traditions and events.
All through the pandemic, faculty and staff went above and beyond to serve our students. For Fall 2021, we are ready to offer students an enhanced experience, from fun events that renew our sense of NKU pride to in-person learning that engages and inspires.
But we will not return to the way things were in Fall 2019. There are many lessons that emerged from the pandemic. We found new ways to communicate with each other and had to rely on technology for more of our interactions. We learned to reevaluate our policies and be flexible in our ways. We prioritized students’ needs with a tech-enhanced, coordinated academic and social support network.
These lessons formed the basis of our “Back to the Future… to a Reimagined U” plan for fall 2021. So what will a Reimagined NKU look like?
To serve our diverse learners, NKU will offer classes in a variety of formats, including in-person, hybrid and online (both asynchronous and synchronous). The Class of 2025 will have a first-year experience designed around a shared, academic conversation. As these new students enter NKU, our goal is to build a common experience that reflects what makes NKU special and different. There will be more university-wide events to foster community and facilitate meaningful discussions among students, faculty and staff. To view the complete academic calendar, visit the University Registrar’s website.
Student are also encouraged to check out NKU’s new Virtual OneStop for Student Success. This central platform for student services can be accessed easily through Canvas, the NKU app, and the Quick Links menu on the NKU website . The Virtual OneStop provides quick access to almost every conceivable resource: from Adult Learner Program and Services (ALPS) and Advising to Student Employment & Career Services, and Veteran Certification services. Appointments are available both in-person and online/remotely.
The Center for Student Inclusiveness (CSI) provides support, co-curricular experiences and advocacy for minoritized student populations. CSI includes African American Student Initiatives, Latino Student Initiatives, and LGBTQA+ Student Initiatives. The Center will welcome new staff members to provide additional support and help expand services for all our students and the entire NKU community. Students interested in mentoring opportunities such as NKU ROCKS through African American Student Initiatives, LAMP through Latino Student Initiatives, and supportive assistance through LGBTQA+ Student Initiatives can visit the Center for Student Inclusiveness website for more information and opportunities.
With the return of all court spaces for drop-in and informal recreation, Campus Recreation is excited to welcome back the NKU community with a full range of activities, events and intramural programs. Campus Recreation will be once again be available to host events for registered student organizations, departmental special events and celebratory events for the community. Students will be happy to know that they will be able to gather in the Campus Recreation again, whether lounging between classes, participating in fitness activities, or meeting with friends. Please reference the Campus Recreation website for facility hours and updates to facility operations.
For the first time since 2003, NKU will have a new residence hall that will open this fall. University Housing staff is gearing up for the academic year with new co-curricular programs and experiences that will create lifelong memories and friendships. From ensuring a stress-free move-in and fun “ice-breakers,” to serving you a “feast for finals." More details will be shared on the University Housing website this summer.
Several new restaurants will open this fall, including Qdoba Mexican Eats! Chartwells will also introduce new internal brands Create Chop’d and Wrap’d and Smoked BBQ as well as unveiling menu upgrades at Smash’d Baked Potato Bar. And, all your favorite restaurants will still be available.
On the first day of the fall semester, University Food and Beverage Facilities will return to normal operating hours. Residential dining will reopen in August to serve students living on-campus. The East Village Bistro will introduce a new set of services and hours. The full listing of operating hours and services for the fall will be available on the University Dining website.
NKU Athletics is confident that athletic competition will continue in the fall while adhering to NCAA and Horizon League guidelines. The Horizon League and NCAA will be working over the next few months to revise and update guidelines for competition including COVID testing protocols, vaccination implications and spectator attendance. Thanks to the new CDC and Kentucky guidelines, our fully vaccinated fans will be able to cheer on the Norse without wearing a mask. For more details, visit the NKU Athletics website.
Healthy@NKU remains an important part of our fall plan even with the easing of certain restrictions. Over the past year, we have all learned much about COVID-19. We know that the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and wear masks if you have not received the vaccine. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to wear masks indoors.
Health, Counseling and Student Wellness has plenty of doses available free of charge. Faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, and Kentucky residency is not required. Call 859-572-5650 or email email@example.com for an appointment. Additional locations for getting a vaccination are listed on the Northern Kentucky Health Department’s COVID vaccination website. More information about vaccines can be found in NKU’s vaccination FAQs, and the university also has created a COVID-19 vaccination dashboard to track vaccination rates in the region. Once again – if you are not vaccinated, you are not safe – which is why NKU strongly encourages all faculty, staff, and students to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Employees should also self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus. The Healthy@NKU app is a tool to help self-screen but is not required.
Through August 8, 2021, offices will be staffed at least from Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Staff will still be working full-time, and meetings can be scheduled for Fridays. Division Leaders will determine the specifics in order to best serve students.
On August 9, 2021, NKU will be fully open to serve students for the Fall 2021 Semester, and most faculty and staff who were working remotely will return to campus full-time. However, we will make adjustments to campus density as necessary to align with the latest guidelines.
Departments will determine their on-campus staffing levels to be able to serve students, staff and faculty on campus. Some offices may offer extended hours to meet the needs of those they serve. Human Resources will work with division leaders on Flexible Work Arrangements for some employees to continue with a hybrid or remote-only schedule, based on the requirements of individual roles and the populations they serve.
Faculty and staff with health conditions that may impact their ability to return to campus-based work should contact Human Resources (HRCOVID@nku.edu) to determine if accommodations are appropriate. As always, individuals’ health information will be protected as required by law. For more information about returning to work, view the Employee & Supervisor COVID-19 Information and Resources.
In-person meetings may resume on August 9. There will be no requirements to create an online option for meeting attendance, although meeting organizers may choose to do so.
Officially sponsored NKU events and activities occurring prior to August 8 will continue to be subject to approval by the University Events Committee. In addition to the normal room request, those requesting space with external attendees will need to submit a specific form at least 10 days prior to their event.
At this time, events taking place August 9, 2021 or later do not require committee approval, although they must follow all university and state guidelines that are in place at the time of the event.
NKU will once again offer several professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. In June, the Center for Innovation and Technology in Education and the Center for Teaching and Learning will again offer the Summer Online Faculty Institute (SOFI) to assist in strengthening course design and delivery. To kick off the academic year, the Norse Educators Summit will again be held in person in August. This year’s focus will be on interconnecting our efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion with high impact practices to improve the educational experience for all NKU students. More details on the summer professional development opportunities will be shared in the coming weeks.
University-sponsored travel can resume as of July 1, 2021, albeit with restrictions. All travel plans must be authorized through the regular approval process. All travelers must abide by the CDC’s guidelines and advisories, the U.S. Department of State and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Rules, requirements and restrictions may apply differently based on each individual’s vaccination status and destination(s). For more on the university’s COVID travel policy, click here.
As I opened this message, I mentioned flexibility as one of our lessons learned, and it is perhaps the most important takeaway we can embrace in a post-COVID world. We know the one constant in our world is change. We hope guidelines and recommendations will continue to ease as the pandemic abates. The COVID-19 Preparedness Team will be monitoring vaccination rates and the level of viral spread in our community, and we may have to revisit some aspects of this plan. However, I am confident that our “Back to the Future… to a Reimagined U” plan sets the university on a path to becoming a more student-ready, regionally engaged institution. NKU’s agility and propensity for innovation can accelerate the change our university needs to achieve this vision.
It has been a long journey to reach this point, and we are ready to be back. The future looks bright, and I cannot wait to welcome our new students this fall. They will see our campus full of energy and enjoy our time-honored traditions, like Victorfest. Our returning students will play an essential role in helping foster the sense of belonging and spirit that makes NKU so special. As a student-centered institution, we are proud to be part of a reimagined university that meets our students where they are and provides a pathway to a meaningful career and a fulfilling life.
Thank you for all that you do for the university and its campus community. Please stay safe and well this summer. I look forward to seeing our Norse Nation back this fall!