Chancellor’s Corner – November 2020
November 4, 2020
Hello, I’m Tom Keon and serve as chancellor for Purdue University Northwest. PNW is now just a bit beyond halfway through the semester, so I thought I would spend a minute or two to brief you on where we are as a university. Fortunately, we’ve been very lucky that we’ve had very few positive COVID cases. Many, many of those are individuals who actually have never been on campus. There are a few that have been, and that has forced us to put some people in quarantine, but the numbers are very, very small.
Despite the fact that our numbers are small, we want to make sure that all of you stay vigilant with the COVID concern. Wear your masks, wash your hands, keep spaces clean. Of most importance, I know a lot of people are starting to have COVID fatigue. That is: I’m sick of wearing my mask. I’m sick of being in my room, alone. I’m sick of not being able to party with friends, but we want to make sure that we keep this under control. We all want to have a life, and we all want to enjoy life, but we also want to make sure that we’re allowing others to enjoy life as well.
Nothing can be more disheartening than to have a student go home and infect a grandparent, and have some very sincerely awful consequences as a result. Despite all of this, like most change, this has brought along some great innovation, and so as part of our innovations, we know we have faculty teaching online, we have faculty doing hybrid classes, we’ve seen labs where they’re collecting the lab in the space that they would normally have it via video and allowing students to see all of the additional activities that would be going on in the lab if they could be there.
Our Student Government Association has been holding town halls and giving students an opportunity to talk to one another, ask questions, and then participate in discussions like how do they want to do graduation in December. Our Office of Student Life is doing drive-in movies at Gabis Arboretum, so despite the disadvantages that we’re seeing, because of COVID, we also are seeing a spur in innovation and creativity. One of the downsides of COVID is that it has effected the economy. It’s effected the economy locally and in the state and in the nation. To us, the biggest impact is from state funding. State funding will be reduced a small amount, but that small amount still is money that we need to find. Additionally, we had a minor decrease in enrollment, because of COVID.
Fortunately, there are some areas that still grow. Nursing has grown significantly and the Honors College has grown significantly, so we will need to be keeping a tight line on our budget. We’ve been able to get through this year without layoffs, without pay cuts and without reduced benefits, so we’re excited about the fact that we’ve been fiscally strong and ready for this unusual change in our environment.
That said, we’re going strong. Strong as ever, and I urge you again all to stay vigilant, try to stay away from being overly fatigued due to COVID and take this time to be innovative, creative and a strong PNW family.
Power Onward, PNW. Power Onward.