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September 9, 2020
Good morning everyone,
Today is a big day as our fall term gets underway. Fall Orientation is in full swing and, after months of preparation, instructors and students will be connecting online on a large scale. To all our new and returning Ravens: Have a great first day of class!
Among the many strategies we have adopted to enhance our courses and make sure that we create a student-centred learning environment, I want to highlight the fantastic Students as Partners program that led to the complete redesign of 120 courses across all five faculties, with more on the way. Many thanks to the course instructors and students who have spearheaded these important efforts and who are breaking new ground in online pedagogy.
Our student support services – for example academic advising, counselling, career services and student life – have shown remarkable innovation and creativity in moving to an online environment and I encourage all students to take full advantage of these important resources. In addition, some in-person services and activities have also partially resumed on campus, notably in our residences, MacOdrum Library and Athletics facilities, as well as in the University Centre (the Bookstore, Campus Card Office, Rooster’s Coffeehouse and Starbucks).
If you are coming onto our beautiful campus, it is essential that you follow all safety guidelines and procedures. Our communications team has worked hard to make this information easily available to our community and I invite everyone to review our most recent COVID-19 update, as well as a fully redesigned COVID-19 website and useful one-pager that succinctly summarizes all the key information. It goes without saying that working from or staying at home, maintaining physical distancing, and frequent hand washing remain the primary approaches to minimize the risk of virus transmission.
On September 26, we will be launching our first-ever virtual Throwback. One highlight of the week will be the official launch of our recently approved Strategic Integrated Plan – stay tuned for an official invitation shortly!
One of the 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. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their thoughts, ideas and suggestions – they are much appreciated. The draft EDI recommendations have now been publicly posted in anticipation of a number of community consultations, including open townhall meetings on September 22 and October 14. You should also mark your calendar for our 2nd annual Inclusion Week, October 19-23, which will include a speaker series that will further enrich our conversations about the draft EDI recommendations.
To support the consultation process, we have launched the Carleton University EDI Action Plan website where everyone can provide feedback on the draft plan and register to participate in the townhalls. As we move to finalize this important strategy, we are trying to balance the need for full consultation with the sense of urgency that has seized our community, and indeed the world, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. I encourage everyone in our community to contribute to these efforts, and to endeavour to model the world we want to live in by being respectful and inclusive in all our interactions, especially on social media.
And as we start our fall term, we are already in preparation for the winter. In case you missed it in my message of last week, the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) Working Group has finalized its recommendation 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 follow a similar approach to the winter term as we did for the fall term.
Let me end with a warm welcome to all our new Ravens – students, faculty and staff – who are starting their very first academic year at Carleton. You have joined a strong, welcoming and united community that has shown tremendous resilience, flexibility and compassion in the face of COVID-19. We are thrilled that you are joining us and that you are bringing additional skills, experiences, ideas and energy to our community. Welcome!
Have a great fall term everyone!
President and Vice-Chancellor