Dear AU Community,
We are returning to our weekly communications through September as the semester gets underway. I hope that these messages provide the latest developments and information about COVID-19 and contribute to building and strengthening the community that has carried us through these challenging times.
When I think about all that has happened since the outset of the pandemic, it is easy focus only on the changes and the challenges. The public health crisis and economic uncertainty expose ongoing disparities and vulnerabilities across our society that affect us every day. So many people are hurting from recent natural disasters and the ongoing scourge of racism. Our hearts go out to members of the AU community and all those affected by the California wildfires and the devastation from Hurricane Laura. The latest act of unacceptable violence against the Black community—this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin—is another manifestation of the systemic racism that must end. We also saw in last Friday’s Commitment March the hope of what is possible when we raise our voices in the cause of justice. There is much work to be done.
In these moments, it is important to remember what has been achieved, and I’m energized by everything you—the AU community—have done. Thanks to you, we are here at the start of the semester, working together in pursuit of our many passions as changemakers. It is not exactly the format we hoped and there are still hurdles ahead, both the ones we know and the unexpected ones that are sure to arise. But this diverse family of AU Eagles lets nothing stand in our way. We are working every day on the connections that sustain our community and advance our mission.
Supporting our students is at the top of the list. We have many tools available for students and community members, and I encourage everyone to explore them. The Office of Campus Life website has a wide range of information and resources available to meet students’ needs. These include the Academic Support and Access Center, the Career Center, Bender Library, and the Counseling Center, among many others. The Help Desk (202-885-2550 or email@example.com) is available for questions about AU-based technology (such as the portal), while the Student Technology Taskforce (firstname.lastname@example.org) can provide support for students who may not have the equipment needed for online learning (e.g. personal computer or multimedia equipment), do not have internet access, need specific software for a course, or have other technology-related concerns. The Office of the Provost and the teams in Undergraduate Education and Graduate Studies are providing tools to help our faculty and individual support to our students. There are many other resources, and all our teams and services are dedicated to making this online semester a success for our students.
I’m often asked how the move to online classes is going. Thanks to the innovation and creativity of our faculty and staff, we are delivering our high-quality education in unique and effective ways. Just watch some of these videos of faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of International Service, and the School of Public Affairs talking about preparing for the fall and conducting effective online classes. This inspiring work is not surprising, because online learning isn’t new to American University. We typically offer more than 500 online courses each year. Our Kogod School of Business online MBA program is ranked 12th best for management and seventh best for marketing by US News & World Report. This strong foundation of online excellence—built by our deans, faculty, and staff—is producing results for our community.
As we turn to COVID-19, please complete the AU Forward health and safety training and the acknowledgment by September 11 if you have not already done so. This is an important part of our efforts to protect the health and safety of our AU community and beyond. It is a university-wide requirement for all students, faculty and staff, whether you are in the Washington, DC area or elsewhere in the country or world. I also want to strongly encourage you to get your flu shot this fall; it is more important than ever.
To help keep our community informed of the COVID-19 caseload in and around our campus, we are relaunching the confirmed cases tracker on the COVID-19 Resources webpage. The page will provide weekly updates of confirmed cases among AU community members (students, faculty, staff, and contractors) who are in the Washington, DC area and who may have been to campus within the last 30 days. We are also internally tracking reported cases of community members currently residing outside of the region so that we can provide individual support. You can safely and confidentially report information about a confirmed COVID-19 test on the AU Forward portal.
While it will be a semester of many firsts and numerous turns, I’m excited about all the possibilities. We will have to stay connected as we stay safe and stay on mission. I know we can do it. Our community of Eagles works together and lifts each other up, and that is an update I’m always excited to share.
Be safe and be well.