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July 21, 2020 | Campus Communication
We are now six weeks away from our first week of Fall Semester 2020 classes at Benedictine University. Whether you are an incoming freshman, transfer student or seasoned BenU student, this semester’s plan is shaping up to be memorable, if not historic. We are excited to meet those of you who are new and welcome back our rising Eagles and Redhawks to our Lisle, Mesa and virtual campuses.
About 10 days ago, I shared with you our 2020 Fall Academic Plan featuring an introduction to BenUFlex, a custom academic approach to the BenU learning experience. As we shared in our first email on July 10, our goal is to deliver a safe, comfortable and engaging environment for both faculty and students. This plan presents our students and faculty with a high level of adaptations and protocols to ensure everyone feels safe and supported by the BenU community during this pandemic; and provides the greatest degree of flexibility in the event of changes to statewide COVID-19 protocols.
In addition to BenUFlex Academic Plan, our COVID-19 Task Force Teams have been extremely busy preparing our campuses for your return. Please check out our Plan for a Safe Return to Campus, which will be updated frequently as we add new information or adjust to changing statewide protocols. While we have a smart plan vetted by medical and facilities experts, the ultimate success of our return to campus is incumbent on our commitment to our BenU Community and our Healthy Hallmarks (See the Plan, page 2)
As we watch engagement, enrollment and registration numbers continue to grow, we are encouraged by your enthusiasm to fuel your passion for learning and growing within the BenU community. By now, you all should have heard from our Registrar and you are scheduling your classes and discussing plans with your advisor.
Please make sure to continue to review your class schedule through MyBenU. When you look at the Class Notes section you will see details of how your Fall BenUFlex courses will be structured. If your course indicates there is a virtual section, you should make that selection if you intend to participate as an online-only student.
If you need help, please see the list of resources and contacts on the BenU Flex Academic Plan or call your advisor or the Registrar’s Office.
Beyond the Traditional Classroom Experience
Experiential learning is an important component of the BenU academic program and a critical element in your academic journey. At this time, we expect to offer music lessons, labs, practicums, pre-clinicals and other experiences. As you can see in our recent Instagram post, our Summer Session II chemistry class looks quite comfortable on their way to discovery!
For students who have received an internship, student teaching, practicum or clinical assignment off campus, please know that we will be in close communication with your advisors at these partner organizations. We will support you to ensure that these organizations are also adhering to our standards for health and safety while also providing you with the best professional experience possible.
While classes will shift to the online environment following Thanksgiving, those participating in off-campus experiences are expected to continue and complete these opportunities and assignments as designed.
Of course, there are still some information gaps to fill in on experiential courses, and we also know by now, things are changing daily. Please stay in close contact with your advisor and keep an eye on our website for frequent updates.
Online tutoring and other virtual Academic Support Services are available through the Academic & Career Enrichment (ACE) Center. Please visit the ACE Center website for the contact information for our learning specialists in the areas of writing, math and science and the online tutoring schedule. Peer tutoring generally begins during the third week of the semester.
The library will be open to students beginning August 31. In the meantime, our online library offering is robust, and the vast majority of the library’s resources can be accessed virtually through the library website. If physical items are needed, library staff will retrieve them during the library’s open hours. To help maintain social distancing practices, all research questions will be handled through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and chat. The librarians will also assist students through research consultations and instruction sessions via Zoom.
As part of the new “Six-Foot Campus” at BenU, the library has been reconfigured to accommodate single seating at tables, no group study spaces and socially distanced access to computers. While the library’s virtual hours will be similar to past semesters, in-person hours will be shortened to help keep students, faculty and staff safe. Please check the library website for up-to-date hours and protocols.
Students with a diagnosed disability who intend to apply for new accommodations, or have questions related to existing accommodations, can schedule a virtual appointment with an accommodations specialist. Contact the ACE Center by emailing email@example.com or call (630) 829-6041. Additional resources regarding accommodations can be found on the Accommodation Services web page.
Eagles and Redhawks are Adaptable!
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes to “Protect Our Flock” and safely deliver a high-quality learning experience amid this pandemic. We appreciate your ongoing patience as we work through both our operational plan to bring staff, faculty and students back to our physical campuses, along with our evolving academic plan to schedule classes across all BenUFlex modalities. Again, not unlike last-minute revisions to classroom assignments, expect some adjustments to your schedule and keep checking online for updates.
You will hear more from me this summer as we continue to deliver on our promise to provide a transformative education. You will soon be invited to our first BenU community-wide virtual Town Hall event being planned for mid-August. Stay safe and healthy.
Kenneth F. Newbold, Jr., Ph.D.
Provost and Chief Academic Officer