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August 18, 2020   |  Campus Communication

A Message from the Provost and Chief Engagement Officer:
Town Hall Announcement & BenU Learning Center Email


Dear BenU Students,

On August 13, President Gregory announced BenU’s plan to flex to a Fall 2020 schedule in which the majority of courses will be presented in a virtual environment to safeguard our students, staff, faculty and greater BenU community during this global pandemic.

Virtual coursework is only where higher education begins at BenU. Our campus will continue to be open and serve as the BenU Learning Center to support and ignite the learning experience. The campus is open and equipped to support critical hands-on labs and experiential learning opportunities in a face-to-face format. Our community will provide an enriched learning environment by offering individual study space, mentoring, athletic opportunities and support services in a safe, more controlled environment.

Join our Town Hall on August 20th

We invite you to join us for a BenU Town Hall on Thursday, August 20 (6:30 p.m. CST) to learn more about the Fall 2020 BenU experience and plan for engagement. Students will have the opportunity to also pose questions about the fall semester. Please register for this Zoom Town Hall and you will receive a link in your email.

Ready to Engage: The BenU Learning Center

Our BenU campus is ready for the community to explore and engage—please join us! The campus has extensive signage and barriers to support safe gathering and in-person engagement. Here’s how we plan to safely bring our student community together:

  • Study Areas: We will provide campus learning spaces with access to the internet and computer labs. You may use these facilities for private or socially distanced study (room capacity will be capped) or even to log on and take your virtual courses (while still on campus). A variety of classroom campus spaces will be available through an online booking system to reserve blocks of time. Information on the online booking system will be posted on the website by Saturday, August 29.
  • Experiential: In-person experiential instruction in labs, music and art studies will continue following established safety guidelines including six-foot social distancing, wearing masks and utilizing plexiglass barriers. Class schedules are being updated within MyBenU to reflect these final changes, noting which experiential learning courses will be in-person. Students will receive an updated schedule with class modality on Monday, August 24 from the Registrar’s Office.
  • Student Activities & Organizations: The Office of Student Activities will maintain a regular schedule of events throughout the semester including Thrilling Thursdays. The community will continue to receive a weekly email (“This Week at BenU”), which will include the schedule of weekly activities and events. At this time, student club and organization meetings and events will be held virtually. Our desire is to move to in-person meetings and events in accordance local guidelines soon. Student organizations are encouraged to recruit new students, meet regularly on a virtual platform and plan events. A virtual Eagle Stop will be hosted by the University to introduce new students to student clubs and organizations.
  • BenTalks: The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will continue to host our BenTalks throughout the semester for students to participate in important discussions, share their opinions and let their voices be heard.
  • Athletics: Student-Athletes will be having team activities, strength and conditioning workouts and practices throughout the fall semester. All of these will be conducted in accordance with the NCAA guidelines for Resocialization of Collegiate Sport. We are currently awaiting further clarification from the NCAA on scheduling dates. At this time, we believe we will be starting team activities within the first two weeks of our fall semester.
  • Tutoring: Access tutoring and virtual academic services through the ACE Center website. The ACE Center learning specialists and peer tutors are available to talk to you virtually about any tutoring needs. To view a current list of tutoring hours and how to contact the learning specialists please visit the ACE website.

Please remember that in any on-campus or in-person scenario, we require masks to be worn at all times and everyone must follow social distance protocols.

Delivering a transformative education, while ensuring the safety and welfare of our entire BenU community, is our most important mission. In considering all student activities and learning experiences, we have only transitioned those courses to virtual formats which will be successfully delivered and received online. By choosing to limit student exposure as much as possible, we will reduce the spread of the virus and protect your health and well-being.

We are confident this is the right decision and that we are the right institution to deliver the BenU Learning Center model in a way that inspires curiosity, supports higher learning and engages student development. While we were ready for this pivot to come later in the semester, we realize it is the best approach to make the change now in order to provide a consistent and high-impact BenU experience. Your emotional, intellectual and physical health and safety is always our priority.


Kenneth Newhold, Jr., Ph.D.
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Mark McHorney
Chief Engagement Officer