Ally Morrison, Correspondent
Jacksonville State University President Don Killingsworth and other administrators discussed future plans for the university’s upcoming semester and recapped last week’s Board of Trustees meeting in a hybrid town hall meeting in the Leone Cole Auditorium on Wednesday.
In a series of questions asked by Jacksonville State students and staff, university administrators address a multitude of topics ranging from COVID-19 plans to other topics such as changes in campus parking.
COVID-19 logistics update
Jeff Ryan, the JSU’s COVID-19 task force head and chief of program operations, touched on a few questions relating to the university’s ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19.
One question asked was, “Will JSU still be having a spring break?”
“Yes, leadership at JSU has decided we will have a spring break,” said Ryan.
Ryan explained that, considering the campus population and JSU’s ability to monitor surrounding counties, the administration trusts that travel will be “fair limited over this time period.”
Additionally, Ryan said, “A good sum of students who are from out-of-state are athletes, who are tested regularly.”
“Did the re-entry testing provide accurate results?” one attendee asked.
“This testing administered by UAB through the GuideSafe Program provided accurate results,” said Ryan. “Only a handful, maybe four tests out of 6,000 came back as indeterminate.”
Ryan clarified that this may have resulted in an error collecting the sample or a laboratory error.
Secondly, students asked, “Will students need to continue filling out the Healthcheck in the upcoming Spring semester?”
“Yes,” Ryan answered. “This is definitely worth your time. It takes about 30 seconds, I do this every morning. If a person answers questions in a way that seems to indicate someone is at risk, one will get helpful advice as to what next steps one needs to take.”
Ryan sat down with The Chanticleer for an interview in September, where he detailed the university’s pandemic planning and contact tracing process.
Killingsworth update, report from trustees
During last week’s trustee meeting, Killingsworth said, a new budget was adopted and installed for the institution. Because of the changes made to the budget itself, Killingsworth explained, the results concluded there will be a 2% pay raise across the board for faculty and staff.
“This is important,” said Killingsworth. “Our staff has worked very hard over the last year and this is the place that we want to recognize them and their hard work.”
Killingsworth also reported that the trustees “accepted” the resolution from both the SGA Student Senate and Faculty Senate to rename Bibb Graves Hall and that a committee would “take that into consideration.”
“We hope to have some type of update from them at their January quarterly board meeting,” said Killingsworth.
Killingsworth first addressed the question, “What is your favorite part of serving in this [presidential] role?”
In response, Killingsworth acknowledged the joy he finds in seeing the “success of students” and sharing irreplaceable moments such as graduation and commencement ceremonies.
Asked about the possibility of an increase in tuition, he said that the Board of Trustees are “entertaining different ideas,” one of which being a “block rate” which would essentially be a flat rate for a range of specific credit hours.
The Board of Trustees are set to make a decision in their quarterly April meeting.
Commencement, academic questions
Christie Shelton, JSU’s provost, explained that there will be in-person fall commencement in Pete Mathews Coliseum, but that the university is unsure of how many ceremonies it will have.
“The number of ceremonies we will have will dictate the number of guests who can attend,” said Shelton.
Shelton said that there will be a meeting Thursday where final decisions on commencement will be made.
“It’s really important that we keep you safe and family members that attend safe,” she said.
Another question asked by students, “Will we have to pay for an online class in the spring if we were to have to switch to 100% virtual again?”
Shelton responded by clarifying that if the decision was made to switch 100% online, students will not incur the additional online course fees if the class was originally traditional, just as in the spring 2020 semester. The same applies to a student whose traditional course is forced online due to a professor teaching fully online because of their health risk.
“We feel like that is the fairest approach for our students,” she said.
The registration dates are as follows for the spring 2021 semester:
— Nov. 9: Graduate Student Registration
— Nov. 10: Senior Registration
— Nov. 11: Junior Registration
— Nov. 12: Sophomore Registration
— Nov. 13: Freshman Registration
Find more information about registration at: http://www.jsu.edu/registrar/registration
Thanksgiving break and returning to campus
Terry Casey, JSU’s vice president of student affairs, answered the most asked question, “Is it true students will be returning to class after Thanksgiving?”
Casey confirmed that it is true, however it will be up to the student themselves if they want to come back to campus.
“Residence halls, dining facilities, human services, etc. will be open and available for students after Thanksgiving break,” said Casey.
Additionally, all final exams will continue to be administered online, Casey said.