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Faculty Update: 

 

Dear Faculty,
As you work hard to finish the spring semester successfully with your current students, the good people in Enrollment/Admissions are recruiting the incoming class of 2024.  I want to believe we will welcome new students in August personally as they gather for the first day of orientation in the PNC theatre.  Until then, faculty and staff throughout the University have accomplished much and will continue to get our common work done.  Here are some updates:
  1. In just over two weeks, with the help of Student Affairs staff, 932 students moved off campus, most returning home where they are completing their semesters online with you.  Eleven students remain on campus.
  2. To do our part in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the University buildings remain closed except for essential personnel.  We all must have advance permission to enter for any reason.  Jordan Nofziger (jnofziger@pointpark.edu) in Human Resources will assist you if you must come on campus.
  3. Keith Paylo, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, is reaching out to 888 graduating students and department chairs, seeking input on how we might honor our graduating students virtually, at least for now, and to express our hope that we will have an opportunity to celebrate their graduation in person at some point in the future.
  4. Point Park Online and Online Support have been working with faculty during the first weeks of remote learning, and in particular, they are helping students and faculty navigate the instabilities of Schoology, our learning management system, that are caused by the incredible spike in demand during peak times of the day.  We believe that Schoology staff have stabilized the system, and hopefully, you will not experience the same problems you may have experienced this week.
  5. As you know, all courses offered during Summer Term 1 (courses beginning in May, regardless of duration), will be offered remotely.  Please visit our ThinkSummer webpage here: https://www.pointpark.edu/Admissions/ThinkSummerCoursesAtPointPark.  The Center for Student Success staff is reaching out to students who could benefit by taking classes this summer, and we are marketing our summer program to current students.  I'm hoping that our summer classes will have good enrollments and that having gained more practice, our students and faculty will be more comfortable in that learning environment.
  6. Faculty Assembly is meeting virtually on Monday.  If you haven't seen the invitation from Matt Pascal, please check your email and attend the meeting.  The first part of the Assembly will be a Q&A with me and other administrators regarding COVID-19's impact on our work.
  7. The last month has been difficult for everyone, and perhaps none so much as our students, many of whom moved mid-semester, transitioned to online learning (some for the first time), and they are coping with unexpected issues where they live, ranging from internet connections to illness.  If you suspect any of your students are in need of the University's assistance, please use Finishline to report your concerns.  Sarah Guidi will contact the students directly.
  8. Please make every effort to post grades by the deadline, April 29, 2020.  This is especially important this year because we are giving students a one-week window from May 1 through May 7 to review their earned grades and then opt for the Pass / No Credit option.  
As you've probably noticed, I am writing less frequently now that the President is sending a daily message to the University community.  If you have questions you'd like me to answer or concerns you'd like me to address in my communication or to ask others in the University to address, please send them to me.  
 
Finally and always, thank you for your extraordinary work in these difficult times.  Wishing you well,
John

John H. Pearson, Ph.D.

Provost and Senior Vice President 

March 25, 2020

Dear University Community:

Thank you for completing the University’s first week of total remote education.  We will continue to answer questions and share information that is important to you.  You are all doing remarkable work. Keep it up!

Here are today’s announcements:

ON AMENDED GRADE POLICY PASS/NO CREDIT OPTION FOR SPRING 2020

The Center for Student Success and Dr. Jonas Prida are hosting a webinar to answer questions about the University’s Pass/No Credit option. The webinar will be from 11 a.m. to noon Monday, April 6, 2020. Look for more information on the webinar and how to register in an email coming soon from the Center for Student Success. Please take advantage of this opportunity.

ON RENTAL TEXTBOOK RETURNS

If you have rented textbooks and are wondering how to return them, not to worry. Click here for information.

ON RESIDENCE HALLS

We appreciate the organized approach residence hall students and their families have used over the last week as move out continues.  We strongly encourage any student remaining in the residence halls to move out as soon as possible.  All students, with the exception of those with University approved waivers, must leave the University residence halls no later than Friday, March 27, 2020. More information can be found here 

ON STUDENT WORKERS

We know students with work arrangements including Federal Work Study, Apprentices, and General Student Workers have questions about their awards. Currently, there has been no disruption. The University is working on information for you and will have something in the coming days. Thank you for your patience as we work to get you accurate information. 

#POINTPARKTOGETHERAPART

As we support one another and adjust to the changes, Point Park University has created a virtual home for sharing student, faculty and staff experiences and virtual engagements at the hashtag  #PointParkTogetherApart

Videos, photos and online messages are welcome from students, faculty and staff as we adjust to this new, temporary norm.

Let us see what your work-at-home environment looks like and the pets helping you adjust; pass along some tips on how to stay efficient and focused, and seek advice from the Point Park community. 

Stay calm.  Stay home.  Stay safe.

Thank you

Paul Hennigan

 

Dear University Community,

We are into week two of Point Park University remote educational delivery and University operations -- THANK YOU!

I know it has not always been easy and we will continue to face challenges. We have made some difficult decisions to mitigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic risks.  With each decision, the University continues to follow the directives set forth by the CDC, federal, state and local Governments and is fully complying with all government regulations and guidance. 

Here are today’s important reminders and updates:

On Amended Grade Policy: Pass/No Credit Option for Spring 2020

As a temporary measure that reflects the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives, work and education, Point Park University will offer all students the option of converting letter grades earned in current spring 2020 courses to Pass/No Credit at the conclusion of the semester. Once faculty post letter grades for the spring 2020 courses, students may choose to convert grades of A, B, C, or D to Pass; students may choose to convert a grade of F to N, which means No Credit (see the Student Handbook, page 60, for the University grading policy). Neither the Pass nor the No Credit grade will affect overall grade point average. Students should consider this option carefully by consulting the guide located here.

 To be clear, the process will work like this:

  • Students and faculty complete the spring semester.
  • Faculty post letter grades through the University Registrar's office.
  • Students will have seven days beginning May 1, 2020, and ending May 7, 2020, to select the Pass/No Credit option for one or more grades.
  • Students who do not wish to convert any grades to Pass/No Credit do nothing and the earned grades will stand.
On Residence Halls

Students must leave the University residence halls no later than Friday, March 27, 2020. More information can be found here.

On Changes to Daily Operation of the University

Only those positions essential to the health and safety of the University will be permitted on campus. This move ensures the safety of the workforce and complies with government mandates.  The University continues our uninterrupted business operations remotely. Please review the details of the plan and what you should do to comply with this important change. This plan goes into full effect no later than Monday, March 23, 2020. Click here to review the plan.

On Graduate Hooding and Commencement

The University announced on Thursday, March 19, 2020, the postponement of Spring Graduate Hooding and Commencement ceremonies scheduled for April 25, 2020. Graduating students will be contacted soon by their schools and respective programs regarding ideas and suggestions for a virtual commencement for each school or program. The University will also continue to explore options for a University-wide, in-person, Commencement ceremony for the entire class of 2020 when conditions allow. 

If You Purchased Regalia for Commencement

If you purchased regalia for commencement on line via Oak Hall website or in person from the Campus Barnes & Nobel Bookstore, click here for information on returns. 

On #POINTPARKTOGEHERAPART

As we support one another and adjust to the changes, Point Park University has created a virtual home for sharing student, faculty and staff experiences and virtual engagements at the hashtag #PointParkTogetherApart

Videos, photos and online messages are welcome from students, faculty and staff as we adjust to this new, temporary norm.

Let us see what your work-at-home environment looks like and the pets helping you adjust; pass along some tips on how to stay efficient and focused, and seek advice from the Point Park community.

Point Park will continue to follow our plan to keep the University functioning for our students. Please continue reading these official communications, which will be sent via email and posted to the University website – that is the official source for anything related to the University.

Thank you

Paul Hennigan
President

Dear Faculty,

As you may be aware, Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close as of 12:01 am Saturday, March 21, 2020.  Colleges and universities are not exempt.  However, as the order allows, we will continue to house students temporarily and continue operations onsite to maintain the facilities.  All other personnel who are not required for the safety and welfare of students should not come to campus for any reason after that time--12:01 am Saturday.  If you need anything from your office, please make the trip there today.  After midnight, faculty and staff will not be allowed into the facilities.  

After midnight tonight, if you need something from your office, please contact Jordan Nofziger by email at jnofziger@pointpark.edu at least a day in advance, and he will make arrangements for you to visit your office.  This procedure will remain in effect until further notice.

Thanks, 

John H. Pearson, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President
Office of the Provost
Point Park University
201 Wood Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1984
Office: 412.392.3942
Fax: 412.392.4720

Dear University Community:

As we continue to see new governmental directives during this COVID-19 pandemic, I want to assure you that Point Park University is fully complying with all government regulations and guidance.

We have successfully transferred to remote education delivery and University operations are being done remotely as much as possible. For the students who live in our residence halls, I want to thank you and your families for the way you are handling the move-out procedure in what I know is a very stressful time.

For anyone who is approved to be physically on campus in any form, I would ask that you continue to be careful and practice social distancing measures at all times. Hand sanitizers are full and located at all key entry points to our campus.

UNIVERSITY GRADING POLICY

The University's academic leaders have been in discussion about amending the academic grading policy temporarily to address concerns and issues provoked by the pandemic and the resulting move to remote delivery of Point Park courses.  A decision will be made over the weekend and announced Monday morning. The current academic grading policy can be found on page 60 of the Student Handbook, here.

Point Park will continue to follow through on our plan to keep the University functioning for our students. Please continue reading our official communication, which will be sent via email and posted on our website – that is the official source for anything related to the University.

Thank you.

Paul Hennigan

Hello faculty -

We've almost made it through the "first" week of all online courses and to the weekend. 

We hope everyone who is new to online education is starting to get their sea legs.

Point Park Online has a couple of quick updates:

  • Trainings for next week.  We need your input. Please let us know what you need help on for next week - CLICK HERE TO CHOOSE
  • Virtual drop-in office hours will start next week.  We will start Monday through Wednesday with office hours from 9-11 am and 1-3 pm.  You can find the "office" by clicking into Big Blue Button - http://bit.ly/b3ppo and entering the password - ppoguest
  • ECB-100 – Building Your Temporary Online Course materials – CLICK HERE (Great weekend reading with most recording trainings, etc.)
  • Remember, help is only an email away - onlinesupport@pointpark.edu (Please note that we will monitor the email over the weekend but response times may take a little longer)

Hopefully, we all can take a little breather and enjoy part of the weekend.

Best-

Nelson Chipman
AVP, Point Park University Online
online.pointpark.edu
412-392-4306

Dear Faculty,

Tomorrow, students return to class, and we join a nationwide experiment hoping to slow the spread of COVID-19.  With most colleges and universities in the country, Point Park will take all classes into a virtual environment, and although I know it doesn't help, I want to again commend your efforts, patience, and commitment.  This is hard work.  

Earlier, Paul Hennigan sent out a number of University updates.  My correspondence is aimed more specifically to you and your work as faculty.  The next few days will be critical as we engage students remotely and do our best to meet the learning outcomes for each course we're offering.  Please do not hesitate to call on the good people at Online Learning and the Center for Inclusive Excellence if you would like help with your course as you take it online.  Write onlinesupport@pointpark.edu.

Student Engagement in the Online Classes.  Please, if you believe one or more of your students are not showing up to the online class, not completing assignments, not acting engaged, contact Sarah Guidi through Finishline or, if you don't access to Finishline, email her at sguidi@pointpark.edu and she will contact the student.  I hope you contact the student, too. 

Synchronous class sessions – If you choose to hold synchronous, live virtual sessions with your classes, please note that you must hold these sessions during the same day and time as your corresponding on ground classes.  This will be important for students who may have other synchronous classes to attend.

Online student attendance – It is important to know that students are in their online courses and proceeding in their coursework.  If you are holding synchronous sessions, you can just take regular attendance as you do in your face-to-face classes.  If you handle your courses in an asynchronous manner (in asynchronous courses, students do not meet together online), you can check attendance of students by their participation in discussion boards, submission of assignments, etc.  If you would data about student participation, you can check on this through the analytics function in Schoology.  If you need help using analytics, please email onlinesupport@pointpark.edu.  Lastly, active work in online classes is an important measure for the Department of Education, which stipulates that students in online courses must participate actively in their courses with multiple log-ins per day or per week, depending on how you structure the course.

Change Management.  Every day, the guidance from local, state, and federal health and other government agencies changes in response to the developing pandemic.  The University must adapt and change accordingly.  Sometimes we will make a decision on Monday and then change it on Tuesday.  This has already occurred, and I'm sure it will occur again.  Every day, President Hennigan's task force on COVID-19 meets twice a day to understand the news and guidance and then act accordingly.  Please rely on University messaging for up-to-date changes in policies and procedures.  

Meetings.  The CDC recommends no meetings with more than 50 people.  The White House recommends no meetings with more than 10 people.  The fact is that meeting with one other person can lead to transmission of COVID-19.  While most people prefer in-person meetings, at this time they aren't safe and I strongly encourage you to work with all students and colleagues by phone or online.  This is for your own health as well as the students'.  Many of us fall into the higher-risk categories as defined by the CDC, and it is incumbent upon us especially to follow the guidelines of social distancing strictly.   I will work remotely whenever I can, and I recommend that you do the same.  Committee and Department meetings can be conducted remotely through the Office 365 Teams conference call function.  

University Business & Operations.  The University continues to function, and much like the temporary transition to remote learning, some if not most offices will be functioning remotely.   Please call and/or email any office you wish to contact rather than showing up without checking first to see if the staff are on site.

Library Update to Previous Announcement:   Given the very recent updates about the public health crisis nationally and in the city, all requests for Library items must be submitted online.  If you need a book, play, etc. please log into your Library account (https://pointpark.bywatersolutions.com/cgi-bin/koha/opac-user.pl) and place a hold on the needed item. Email notifications will be sent when items can be picked up from the Library.  All reference transactions will be conducted online.  

Those are the announcements for today.  I will stay in touch in the coming days.  Until then, I wish everyone luck tomorrow, and please stay safe and healthy.

 John H. Pearson, Provost

Hello faculty

As all classes are back in session today, we just wanted to send a quick note to say good luck, have some fun, and that Point Park Online is still here to support you.

Here is a list of support options for you:

  • Schoology tutorial videos – A sweet playlist of short videos to help you and students if needed – CLICK HERE
  • Recordings of the virtual training sessions from the past week – CLICK HERE 
  • ECB-100 – Building Your Temporary Online Course materials – CLICK HERE
  • Online Instructor Resource Center (when you’re ready for the next level) – CLICK HERE
  • Email support for questions on online instruction, Schoology and delivery tools – onlinesupport@pointpark.edu
  • Request a virtual one-on-one session appointment to work through questions or issues on instruction, Schoology, Big Blue Button, Teams, etc. - SET UP YOUR ONE-ON-ONE APPOINTMENT

Annie, Todd, Anthony, Naomi, Chase, Alison (now in IR) and myself have been impressed with your work, attendance in the sessions, and support of each other as well as your patience as we all figure this out.  We all wish you the best for today and tomorrow and the next day. ☺

Keep on the lookout for some follow ups on future trainings sessions and virtual drop in office hours.

Take care-

Nelson

Dear Faculty,

Today we announced the suspension of face-to-face classes on Friday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  All classes will resume through remote learning on Wednesday, March 18; we will not hold face-to-face classes through the remainder of the semester.  During these next few days when we have no classes, please work with the staff in Point Park Online to convert your classes to an appropriate platform. 

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone at Point Park, in Pittsburgh, in the US, in the world.  Relatively speaking, here we are fortunate, and I hope our good fortune continues.  The pandemic may instigate decisions every day, and we will keep you informed of these developments, so please check your email and the University’s website regularly. 

The University will remain open, and we will complete the semester so that students earn course grades and the academic credits for which they registered.  Please continue to rely on our great Center for Student Success if you have student concerns, and report those concerns through Finish Line.  The Center for Student Success will communicate with students regarding their virtual contact information, and they will continue to work with students and faculty.  Student Affairs staff will also be in regular contact with students. 

Thank you for remaining level-headed as we all try to address a situation that is continually changing.  I expect many of you have questions that are specific to your discipline.  Faculty in the Conservatory, please work with your chairs and Dean Breese if you have questions about how you’ll manage your classes.  Everyone, please watch for a message from Nelson Chipman regarding faculty support services available to you.   More soon.

Thank you,

John

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Dear faculty -  

Now that the University will be delivering the remainder of on-ground classes in an online modality, the Online Learning Division is here to help.   

Our group has compiled a series of resources that will help all faculty either new or experienced with online teaching get situated in delivering their courses for the rest of the semester in an effective and seamless way.    

Our initial guidance includes the following: 

  1. In order to stay organized, Online Learning has a dedicated support email to handle your questions and requests – onlinesupport@pointpark.edu. We ask that you please utilize this point of contact, as this account is connected to the entire team and will be constantly monitored. 
  2. All faculty are enrolled in our Schoology LMS course - ECB-100 - Building a Temporary Online Course (link here).  This mini-course will take you step-by-step through the things you need to do to develop and deliver course materials, including tutorials on using the Schoology platform.  
  3. The included below infographic serves as a quick reminder on initial things you can do to transition your course to the online modality. 
  4. Online Learning has a variety of University supported tools available for virtual class sessions.  If you would like to continue to hold your class sessions on the same day and time in a synchronous session, the University offers Big Blue Button within Schoology, which serves as a web-based conferencing system. 
  5. Online Learning will provide live webinar training sessions starting Friday on using Schoology, building courses and using Big Blue Button.  Please be on the lookout for the email with the date and time information.

We know that moving your on-ground classes to the online modality may be initially challenging, so please reach out with any concerns.   

Additionally, during this time, we will continue to provide outreach and will add further trainings and webinars, such as on grading and providing feedback, as we move further into this new territory. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding at this time and look forward to getting back to the business of instructing students. 

Best- 

Nelson 

COVID-19 Updates

To the University Community:

From the onset of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Point Park University has followed the guidance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect the safety and well-being of the Point Park University community, which remains the University’s highest priority.

At this time there are no confirmed cases on the Point Park University campus or in Allegheny County; however, the virus continues to spread globally.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a pandemic, a term the WHO warns not to take lightly or carelessly because, “if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over”. (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen)

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the virus and its transmission, the University will take further action to protect our campus community. 

To continue to respond to this unprecedented, rapidly changing situation and provide a safe campus environment, while ensuring uninterrupted delivery of educational instruction, effective March 12, 2020 Point Park University will implement the following measurers: 

The University will cancel in-person classes on Friday, March 13, Saturday, March 14, Monday, March 16, and Tuesday March 17. Classes will resume on Wednesday, March 18 with instruction delivered online or in alternative forms for the remainder of the spring semester. Faculty will receive further instructions and guidance from Provost John Pearson and his team later today.  Students will receive information from their faculty.  For those students involved in internship, cooperative education, and student teaching, please adhere to schedules provided at your placement sites.  A decision on commencement activities will be determined at a later date.

  • The residence halls will remain open to students.  Students will also have access to dining services, libraries and campus facilities.  The University will continue evaluating this situation as it develops as it relates to University operations and facilities.  Students should continue practicing all recommended social distancing and public health and hygiene measures the University and the CDC have recommended in all campus facilities.
  • Staff should adhere to the guidelines from the CDC on social distancing measures as well as hygiene steps to limit or prevent exposure and transmission of the virus.  Further information will be provided to staff by Lisa Stefanko, Vice President Human Resources today.
  • Athletic events will follow the guidelines in accordance with the NAIA and the River States Conference. Student athletes will receive further guidance from Keith Paylo, Vice President of Student Affairs.
  • Decisions regarding outside events throughout the University and all scheduled performances at the Pittsburgh Playhouse will be reviewed daily and on a case-by-case basis.  The University has been in communication with local arts organizations and will continue to follow best practices.  The production of Pippin will continue as scheduled.  Dean Breese will meet with the cast and company of Pippin prior to the Thursday, March 12 performance to discuss future contingencies.  All University and Playhouse events and performance schedules are subject to change.

We instruct our campus community to continue to follow the CDC guidelines on best hygiene steps to prevent exposure and transmission of the virus (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fprevention-treatment.html).  

We will continue to provide enhanced cleaning services in high impact areas of the campus with the greatest degree of foot traffic as well as provide increased hand sanitization stations in these areas with instructions for proper hand sanitization techniques.

We instruct all faculty and staff continue to alert the University Human Resources Office if you have recently returned from travel to affected areas and to take necessary precautions defined by the CDC. 

While the course of events surrounding the virus and its transmission remains uncertain, I am confident that the Point Park community will work together during this period of uncertainty to support the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

All members of the Point Park University community should check the University website homepage and Point Park University email accounts regularly for updated information and instructions.

 

Thank you.

Paul Hennigan