Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns announces plans to reopen campus

<p>In this Jan. 31, 2020, photo, President Geoffrey Mearns signs the documentation to extend his presidency at Ball State's Board of Trustees meeting. Ball State will begin to reopen campus and campus activities in three phases. <strong>Bailey Cline, DN&nbsp;</strong></p>

In this Jan. 31, 2020, photo, President Geoffrey Mearns signs the documentation to extend his presidency at Ball State's Board of Trustees meeting. Ball State will begin to reopen campus and campus activities in three phases. Bailey Cline, DN 

In an email sent to Ball State staff and faculty around noon on Wednesday, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns announced that Ball State will begin to reopen throughout the summer. 

Following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announcement to begin reopening Indiana on Friday, Ball State will reopen in three phases, Mearns said in the email. 

Reopening campus

Between now to May 31, there will not be any changes to faculty working remotely unless “they are expressly authorized and directed to report to campus by their vice presidents to perform a critical task.”

On June 1, he said, small amounts of employees will be allowed to return to working on campus. This will be decided on by the vice presidents at Ball State while following guidelines from Mearns, local officials and the Taskforce on Recovery and the University’s Strategic Transition (TRUST), a taskforce who will provide guidance in the planning process moving forward.

“TRUST is charged with providing recommendations regarding three major aspects of our planning processes: the safe transition of faculty and staff back to campus over the next few months; the safe return of our students back to campus in August; and maintaining a safe campus environment during the next academic year,” Mearns said.

Starting on July 1, faculty and staff will receive more specific instructions on when and how they can return to campus, and several more campus activities and operations will start again, he said.

Orientation

While in-person orientation has been closed this year, there will be a virtual orientation instead, Mearns said. Using a “new social media product,” freshmen will be able to connect with their future classmates by creating personal profiles and connecting with students of similar interests.

“Incoming freshmen will have “virtual” course registration appointments with our advisors, and the Office of Orientation will connect our new students with other staff who can assist them with becoming more familiar with campus life,” he said. “We will also offer a variety of online engagement opportunities for the families of new freshmen.”

Academic Planning Group

The Academic Planning Group at Ball State has been examining ways to hold in person classes in the Fall semester, Mearns said, with adjustments and modifications.

He said that next week, Ball State Provost Susana Rivera-Mills will give specific guidance, based on recommendations from the Academic Planning Group, to faculty and staff in Academic Affairs over:

  • Faculty designing courses so that they can easily transition from one modality to another;
  • Administrators developing contingency plans to ensure that all courses can continue to be delivered effectively, irrespective of the potential adjustments that may be needed in the middle of the semester if the COVID-19 threat escalates next Fall;
  • Academic advisors establishing effective alternative methods of communicating with our students and providing continuous support and guidance during these difficult times; and
  • Academic support units developing alternative ways to provide effective tutoring, supplemental instruction, and success coaching.

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