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Deans answer questions about returning to campus for the fall semester

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In the second in a series of four virtual forums, Dean Dennis Clark of the University Libraries, Lynda Coon of Honors College and Todd Shields of Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences answered questions Friday about the campus reopening in the fall.

More than 300 students, teachers and staff registered for the forum. To some extent, each of these deans represents the broader academic units on campus: each faculty member and student uses the resources of the university libraries; Honors College serves students from across the spectrum of academic fields; and Fulbright College provides most of the university's academic core to all students.

Acting Chancellor Charles Robinson moderated the conversation, and Terry Martin, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, also provided information on plans being developed to maximize safety on campus. After brief introductory comments, the deans answered questions from viewers.


University libraries have been operating virtually since March, still providing online services but physically closed. A week ago, they started providing delivery materials at the door to pay. University libraries will reopen to the campus community on August 10.

Dennis Clark, dean of the University Libraries, said the reopening comes at a difficult time because the third and fourth floors of the Mullins Library are in the midst of a renovation. The closure has helped speed up that renovation process, but it won't be finished until the summer of 2021. This year, space will be limited.

When the university libraries reopen on August 10, visitors will see fewer chairs and tables to allow for greater social distancing, but the renovation will have a much larger effect on the space available for study. Users will not be able to reserve spaces as they have in the past, with the exception of Special Collections, which will have reserved spaces available for researchers who call to make a reservation in advance.

While the university libraries were physically closed, staff were able to purchase more digital materials, and Clark said they are also looking to purchase e-book packages.

"If your research depends on published materials, please contact us," said Clark. "We have librarians waiting to help … We have a complete set of services available even if the modality has to change."


Dean Lynda Coon of Honors College said that Honors College recognizes that the changes in most high schools to remote teaching have created new challenges for students. So, Honors College has temporarily changed the college admission standards:

  • Students who have a 28 on the ACT and reach the grade point average required by their academic university will still be automatically admitted to Honors College.

  • Students who have a 26 on the ACT but maintained a GPA of 3.9 will also be automatically admitted next year.

  • Students who have a 3.9 grade point average but do not have the ACT score required for automatic admission will be invited to apply in the spring of 2021. The honors application for these students, which will include an academic resume and essay, will be subject to review. for admission.

For incoming freshmen, he said, the college faculty realizes that many of them missed some of the traditional high school rites of passage, such as prom and in-person graduation. She said that Honors College is developing events and a curriculum to ensure that these students have an extraordinary and memorable start to their college career.

Similarly, the university continues to develop international internships and new curriculum ideas that incorporate the best of online teaching, such as a course on Arctic climate change that will bring together teachers and students from around the world.

Honors College is also working with faculty and seniors to facilitate the original research culminating in defended honors theses.


Many programs do not work as easily in online environments as they do in person. Several people asked about such programs, including the various bands, orchestras, and choral groups on campus.

Todd Shields, dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, said the university is prioritizing which courses can be moved to remote teaching and which, ideally, need to be delivered in person.

Music courses, art courses, science labs – all involve a fair amount of in-person supervision. Other courses, large general conferences, for example, generally do not need to be in person.

So far, approximately 28 percent of courses that had been delivered in person will go to remote-only offering. The remainder will be offered through in-person courses or through a hybrid method, as in a situation where one third of the class attends the course in person one day and each of the other thirds rotates on alternate days. On non-contact days, students attend remotely.

Among the questions Shields raised was one about dealing with a student who does not follow campus health protocols.

On the first occasion, the faculty will ask the student to observe the protocols established by the U of A or to leave the classroom. On a second occasion, the faculty member will have the ability to report the student to a conduct board, which will continue with a conversation with the student.

Shields also emphasized the importance of spreading kindness, flexibility, and understanding with each other as we adjust to the changes this fall.

"We are in this together and we will make changes as necessary until we find what works best," he said.


Senior Deputy Provider Terry Martin said that one of the challenges planners have faced is how to help a student who has an in-person class followed by a remote class, but cannot get there home or return to residence in time to join the remote class.

He said the university is working on spaces for such students to join a course remotely without having to leave campus, possibly spaces in the Arkansas Union or unused classrooms or even tented spaces.

Martin said the university plans to record all the courses, so even if a student is unable to join during the live version of the remote course, they will be able to watch the lecture and hear what was discussed in class.

The university also plans to increase WiFi signals in green areas of the campus and discuss how to increase the number of laptops that can be withdrawn.

To increase security, the university is also developing a comprehensive testing and follow-up system for contacts with a plan to provide rapid response on tests. The Pat Walker Health Center will run this program.


Each forum will be held in Zoom and will last approximately 75 minutes. Provost Robinson will continue to moderate. Space is limited. Registration requires a email address. The deans' remaining forums include:

July 30, 2: 30-3: 45 p.m. – Register here

  • John English, dean of the School of Engineering
  • Margaret McCabe, dean of the School of Law
  • Brian Primack, dean of the College of Health Education and Professions
  • Matt Waller, dean of the Walton College of Business

August (Date / time to be determined)

  • Chancellor Joe Steinmetz
  • Yvette Murphy-Erby, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Members of the COVID-19 Response Team

faculty, staff, and students who have questions for forum participants can send them in advance to Questions can also be asked during the forums as time permits.

The university's Coronavirus update site and the Back to Campus guide will continue to provide the latest updates and resources.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas offers an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity, while providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the University of Arkansas among less than 3% of the colleges and universities in the United States that have the highest level of research activity. United States. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close tutoring.

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