Indiana Daily Student

Provost Robel praises IU’s response to COVID-19 in State of the Campus address

Provost Lauren Robel thanked various groups and members of the IU community for their efforts in handling its response to the coronavirus in her State of the Campus speech Tuesday.

The address was planned to be broadcast on Broadcast IU, but due to technical difficulties the stream wasn’t available. IU said in a tweet the text of the speech will be available online.

“I am confident that when this ends, we will look back on these days in gratitude for the people on our campus who have gotten us this far,” Robel said.

Robel’s speech was full of thank-you's. She told stories about people at IU who are working to help alleviate the stress of the crisis in their fields. The commendations included instructors who moved their classes online and public safety officials who have tracked the virus since January. She also thanked Residential Programs and Services teams, first responders and other IU offices for their work. 

Helping students

IU announced March 15 classes would be online for the rest of the semester. Robel said more than 2,500 faculty and staff attended over 30 webinars to learn what tools are available for teaching online. The webinars were provided by Greg Siering, director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, and Siering’s team.

“Everyone on this campus with responsibility for students has gone above and beyond to ensure that our students are supported, know that we care about them, and are making progress towards their degrees,” Robel said.

After IU recommended students studying abroad return home as soon as possible, the Office of International Affairs has helped 1,300 students who were studying abroad in 36 countries return to the United States and continue their coursework for the semester, Robel said.

Robel commended Director of International Student Advising Jenny Bowen and her team for working to help more than 5,000 students from over 120 countries navigate federal visa and immigration status requirements. 

Robel also thanked everyone who has donated money to the Beverly Warren Emergency Fund for Students. The fund helps students stay enrolled at IU while struggling with unexpected financial crises. 

She thanked those working with RPS for handling moves, move-outs and students who are self-isolating. RPS has also been shipping essential items to students who could not return to their residence halls after spring break. 

Robel also gave her appreciation to essential personnel who watch over campus such as the IU Police Department, people caring for lab animals and those overseeing repairs on campus.

Battling the virus 

Robel said the IU School of Medicine and IU’s schools of public health in Bloomington and Indianapolis have been supporting IU Health through research. 

“The pandemic has provided a grim confirmation of the wisdom of founding these public health schools only a few years ago, and their value now is incalculable,” Robel said.

Professors from various schools including the School of Nursing, the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering were acknowledged for their research. She said their work has helped people understand and recover from the pandemic.

Faculty members in the Kelley School of Business have been coordinating with Purdue University to help IU Health Methodist and University hospitals build workflow models to adapt to the surge of patients. 

Departments across IU are using technology to create personal protective equipment and the School of Nursing is loaning hospital beds, IV pulls and pumps, along with other supplies to IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Briscoe Quad is also available as temporary housing for health care workers who do not want to risk exposing their families to COVID-19.

Rekindling campus life

Robel said IU’s cultural institutions and schools are providing access to films, previously recorded performances, podcasts and live events on social media. She said the resources are meant to keep the IU community connected while adhering to social distancing rules.

Robel addressed the graduating seniors, saluting them for their good humor, patience and persistence.

“You will always be our Bicentennial Class, special and cherished,” she said.

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