Friday Campus Update

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

With the birds chirping, sun shining, and the daffodils in bloom, it is hard to process that this is an unprecedented time of global crisis where 160 million people in the United States have been ordered to stay at home. We are seeing all around us heroism and bravery in protecting peoples’ lives, limiting the spread of this terrible disease. Our expert and caring faculty have been extraordinarily innovative in immediately transferring to online technology for course delivery, and our students have been generous and adaptable. Members of the UB staff have worked tirelessly to keep support systems available, IT networks robust, and the facilities clean and protected.

The College of Health Sciences is conducting an inventory of supplies in the UB Clinics that can be donated to Bridgeport Hospital. Like most healthcare facilities, Bridgeport Hospital has diminishing supplies. It is UB’s civic responsibility to support the hospital’s important and life-saving work on behalf of the greater Bridgeport community. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you, all members of the UB community—both near and far—for doing so much, above and beyond, on behalf of this beloved University.

Before moving into updates and news, I have some very troubling information to relay to you. Today, an anonymous email was sent primarily to first-semester, first-year UB students, on their private email accounts. It was also addressed to prospective students. The email denigrates the University by labeling our faculty, staff, facilities, services, and alumni as “inferior” and encourages students to transfer. The sheer callousness that the email displays towards students, who are already under incredible stress and anxiety, is appalling. I have heard from students that they have friends and family who have tested positive for the virus and who are ill. The author(s) display nothing but cowardice. It is no surprise that this message, and any others, are anonymous. Gandhi had an applicable description that could be applied to the individual(s) responsible, “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” We are brave. Delete and carry on.

During this difficult time, it is critical that all of our students have access to the resources that they may need. The Hope Center at Temple University created a comprehensive resource listing to address the many concerns and issues facing students. We strongly encourage that you share these resources widely and with anyone who might need them.

I was relieved that the stimulus package passed the House of Representatives this afternoon. This is encouraging news for all colleges and universities in the United States that are facing unprecedented challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. As I learn more about how the stimulus package and its appropriations for higher education will effect UB, I will share it with you. As I have communicated in prior talks and messages, the University carried a deficit that I inherited. To that end, we have reduced our operating expenses, dramatically increased fundraising, and are seeing very positive trends from our ongoing admission efforts. The pandemic has not just made our operations more complicated, but also the operations of colleges and universities in Connecticut and around the world.

The number of registrants for Sunday’s Admitted Students Day continues to grow, exceeding all expectations and shattering UB’s records! As of this afternoon, there are 671 prospective students registered to participate. Congratulations to Vice President of Enrollment Management & Athletics Lou Izzi and the admissions team for their efforts. As a part of the virtual format experience, students will have the opportunity to hold meetings with members of the Offices of Financial Aid and Academic Advising to receive personalized advice, submit their deposit, and register for the summer or fall semester. 

The Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC) is pleased to continue offering tutoring services in a virtual environment for all UB students. Students can access tutoring on two platforms:

  • e-Tutoring is an online platform offering tutoring in several subjects and writing support across all disciplines. Students can go to http://etutoringonline.org/ or log-in through the TLC’s website or portal page.
  • Students can also access tutoring and writing support through the online scheduling platform, ConexED. Tutors and writing specialists will now see students in a virtual meeting space. Students can view tutors’ availability and make appointments by going to the TLC website, the TLC portal page, or by clicking on the help button in any Canvas shell. As always, all tutoring services are free to UB students.

Other important campus updates include:

  • The option of a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading policy is under consideration and being considered by the deans and faculty. A solution will be shared with the community as soon as possible.
  • Faculty, please take advantage of the opportunity to engage with our students on social media! The Office of Marketing & Communications sent an email to you earlier this afternoon with additional information about filming videos and sharing messages.
  • Marketing for UB’s summer session is well underway and was included as a wrap on yesterday’s CTPost paper edition. The Office of Marketing & Communications has my appreciation for their continued work to brand and promote the institution. Advertisement image link is available for your review.

Like you, my thoughts and prayers this week have turned to our brave healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic, as well as with the families of those affected by COVID-19.

With the weekend now upon us, my not-so-little-anymore puppy, Twinkles, looks longingly out the front window of my home, Waldemere, at the squirrels that she might be chasing and sticks she might be chewing. Twinkles and I wish you all a restful weekend. Stay safe, stay indoors.

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley