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September 29, 2020
Good morning everyone,
We are already at the end of September and, notwithstanding unusual circumstances, our academic year is off to a good start. I want to thank everyone at Carleton – students, staff and faculty – for continuing to successfully adapt to these challenging times and for so admirably maintaining our academic mission throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario has entered a second wave of COVID-19, and I am certainly glad that our courses and most of our activities are online this fall. Cases are rising sharply, with a record 700 cases on Monday, and we need to be especially vigilant and continue to take all the necessary measures to limit the spread of the virus. Working from home or staying at home, maintaining physical distancing, wearing masks as required, and frequent hand washing remain the primary approaches to minimize the risk of virus transmission. We are not out of the woods yet, far from it.
Accordingly, last week the Carleton Senate officially confirmed the recommendation of the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) Working Group that the winter semester proceed online, with some leeway for selected optional instruction on campus (e.g. specific labs, capstone projects, recitals) if circumstances allow. In other words, we will essentially be following a similar approach for the winter term as we did for the fall term.
As we approach the first mid-terms and COVID-19 continues to put an additional strain on all of us, I take this opportunity to remind our community of the importance of flexibility and compassion in our interactions with each other, including of course with our students. As one possible additional measure to support students through this difficult time, Senate is considering the implementation of compassionate grading practices, for example having “F” grades converted to “UNS,” meaning unsatisfactory, to mitigate the negative impact on grade point averages. A final decision will be made later in the fall.
On a bright note, our first-ever virtual Throwback is underway, and tomorrow we will be officially launching our recently approved Strategic Integrated Plan (SIP). If you haven’t done so yet, there is still time to register for this important community event and join the 500+ members of our community who have already confirmed! Our new SIP ambitiously defines our aspirations and provides a roadmap to becoming the very best Carleton University we can be. Over time, plans become reality and, notwithstanding the current public health crisis, I am more than ever convinced that the future is bright for Carleton.
One of the most important documents emerging from our strategic plan is the draft Recommendations for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Institutional Action developed by the Equity and Inclusive Communities Advisory Group. The draft EDI recommendations have now been publicly posted and you can provide your written comments on our Carleton University EDI Action Plan website. Our first public town hall on September 22 was well attended and very engaging, and the discussion at Senate last week was also very positive. We look forward to more conversations, including a public town hall on October 14 – please consider taking part in this important process. You should also mark your calendar for our second annual Inclusion Week, October 19 to 23.
Have a wonderful day, and please join us to celebrate the exciting launch of our new Strategic Integrated Plan tomorrow, September 30, from 2 to 3 p.m. CU there!
President and Vice-Chancellor