Dear Habib University Community,
First of all I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
In these uncertain and confusing times I wish to regularly communicate key decisions, announcements and information to our community.
Moreover I want to emphasize an important point. Coronavirus crisis is changing our structural relationship with time. Plans, announcements and decisions are no longer about months, weeks or even days. We are in an hourly shifting reality now. I urge all of us to build conscious insight and appreciation about this new and confusing situation.
Since last Monday, confirmed Coronavirus infections around the world have nearly doubled from about 180,000 on March 16th to 350,000 as of now. The death toll is also more than doubled in a span of a mere one week. Reminding us once again that we are required to navigate through denials, disbeliefs and panic to understand the grim scale of this exponentially growing threat. I hope all of us are observing the safety and hygiene protocols which are now very well known. Paradoxically there is a heavy onus of responsibility on young and seemingly healthy people. They may not exhibit symptoms or feel any illness. However they can still be infected and spread the virus to more vulnerable members of their family and community. The protocol of social distancing and frequent hand cleaning then becomes more crucial for those who are physically healthy and mobile.
First off, I am very elated to see the appreciation, support and acknowledgment of students for the faculty and staff who have worked heroically to shift in class instruction to online platforms in matter of days. Even courses and disciplines which are traditionally difficult to shift online have made the switch quite adequately. Thank you students for acknowledging the efforts of our wonderful faculty members. I have the following key announcements which I hope will further facilitate navigating through the limitations in which we are operating.
Financial adjustments and reliefs:
- We are extending the semester fee submission deadline by two months. Original deadline was March 13th, the new deadline is now May 15th without any late fee etc.
- Students who had lost their scholarships and financial aid for the Spring of 2020, their scholarship and financial aid will be restored, understanding that it may be an additional pressure point for them and their families.
- Performance in Spring 2020 semester will not be counted for scholarship and financial aid calculations.
Grades and completion of work:
- Faculty leadership are considering to allow students the option to take either a letter grade or pass/un-pass for courses being offered online right now (Spring 2020). This will give individual students the option to choose, considering that some students would want a letter grade on their transcript.
- We are optimistic to assemble on campus from June 1st till mid-July to complete on campus (lab, studio) work required for various courses. At this point we have plans to host a graceful commencement ceremony for class of 2020 on July 18th 2020.
Recognition & Gratitude:
- Reemphasizing the gratitude for our faculty members who have made rapid adjustments to adapt to teach online courses.
- Gratitude for our diligent and tireless staff members in all teams and departments, especially security teams, technology teams, health and wellness, cleaning staff, and administration and maintenance teams. Thank you for your hard and appropriate work in face of such confusion and demands to improvise in very short time windows.
I want to close by paraphrasing Mehmet Murad ildan (Turkish playwright). People who feel sad that they did not witness extraordinary times of history, now have their wish granted, reminding us once again, ordinary days are usually the best days!
Best wishes and duas,
Wasif A. Rizvi