Dear Hampton University Students:
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation and the world is ever-present. Daily we are inundated with reports of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and, unfortunately, increases in the number of deaths. While there is no clear understanding as to when Americans may be able to resume many of the activities that were once a part of our daily lives, I pray that you and your family members remain healthy and safe.
When it became public knowledge that the coronavirus would have a devastating impact on our country and our institution, I activated three working groups to not only assist us in dealing with what we were presently facing but also to assist with the planning for Hampton University’s future. The first group was the Infectious Disease and Prevention Working Group, chaired by Dr. Barbara Inman, Vice President for Administrative Services. This group has the responsibility to evaluate, assess, plan and recommend policies and procedures to reduce the impact of the coronavirus. The second group was the Financial Stabilization Task Force, chaired by Mrs. Doretha Spells, Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer. This group was formed to analyze on a daily basis Hampton’s current financial situation and recommend actions resulting from increased expenses and reduced revenues without lowering standards. The third group I call the Transformational Revitalization Task Force, chaired by Dr. JoAnn Haysbert, Chancellor and Provost. Members are charged with developing a transformational academic and administrative strategy for Hampton University to not only survive, but thrive when the pandemic is over. These committees are working hard on your behalf and that of other constituent groups at the University. I am very proud of them.
I want you to know that Our “Home by the Sea” is not the same without you. The entire Hampton University community misses your presence as well as the smiles, conversations and comradery shared among us when you are here. Despite your absence from campus, the University is committed to remaining actively engaged with you. Described below are some of the things we are doing.
- The Student Government Association (SGA) and class officer elections were held using video platforms (Zoom and Blackboard) to host the Information Session and Candidate Speeches Session. Twitter and Facebook were used for campaigning and elections.
- Virtual 12 p.m.-2 p.m. social activities and Holland Hall events are being hosted via Instagram Live and Facebook Live. These activities help students maintain their social connection.
- The Health Center is offering consultation and guidance to students telephonically on Monday- Friday from 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. and afterhours and weekends by paging the nurse on call. Nurses can access student medical records remotely via NueMD, our electronic medical record platform.
- Virtual Yoga is hosted every Wednesday through May 31st. Access to classes is available through the website: INFIN8TELOTUS.COM. Students may join the classes by using their HAMPTONU password.
- The Student Counseling Center has implemented Therapy Assistance Online (TAO). This online self-paced platform offers interactive videos, emotion logs, and therapeutic modules that students can utilize to deal with common challenges such as stress, building resilience, developing healthy relationships, and problem solving skills. In addition, the content is designed to address clinical mental health issues such as depression, substance misuse, and generalized anxiety.
- The Student Success Center is providing Online Tutoring via Blackboard Collaborate and Virtual Advisement via Blackboard Collaborate or telephone. Students are able to utilize Sign-Up Genius (online appointment platform) to schedule advisement and tutoring appointments. Supplemental Instruction for Math 117 is also being conducted via Blackboard Collaborate.
- The Career Center is hosting virtual events that allow students to interact with prospective employers. Some of the corporations that have and will participate are Goldman Sachs, Prudential, Deloitte, Amazon, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), etc.
- Virtual Professional Development and Academic Workshops have been held to facilitate students’ transition to a virtual environment. These workshops included Bouncing Back: Strategies, Tips and Tools to Successfully Complete the Semester; Drafting Resumes and Personal Statements & Surviving Your First Year in Graduate School and on the Job; Financial Literacy Part II: Understanding Taxes, and others.
- During the second week in April, we deployed Therapy Assistance Online’s suite of evidence-based modules on Time Management, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and Positive Psychology videos and animations. Proven to keep students engaged through videos and animations, TAO’s tools will offer access to online resources that facilitate effective behavioral health treatment and life skills education. The Mindfulness Library helps to develop healthy coping skills for relaxation and anxiety, which will boost academic achievement.
It is our hope that some of the above-mentioned activities and more not mentioned will keep you engaged and add some level of normalcy and consistency to your lives during this sudden shift in the way in which we now must interact because of the physical distance between us.
In my March 25, 2020 communication to you, I indicated that the tentative dates that had been set aside for students to retrieve their belongings were May 7 - 10, 2020. Your return to campus on those dates is now problematic. A number of governors of states, including Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia, have issued stay-at-home orders that prevent citizens from leaving home except for specific purposes, such as obtaining food, seeking medical attention and engaging in outdoor activity. In many states, including Virginia, violating the order is a criminal offense. Therefore, the Infectious Disease and Prevention Working Group has recommended that the best solution is to have your items packed, stored and retrieved later. Dr. Barbara Inman, Vice President for Administrative Services, will provide the details in another communication. Whatever date is finally decided upon, the University will assist you financially in your efforts to return and retrieve your belongings.
As an act of good will, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has selected Hampton to receive a gift of $100,000 to provide financial relief to individual students who have needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to personally be of help to our students by assisting them financially, Mrs. Harvey and I are going to match the Mellon gift with a $100,000 donation to Hampton. We will use the $200,000 to provide each on-campus student $100 to assist with travel costs to retrieve their belongings or return to school in the fall.
Please be reminded that the University will provide a prorated room and board credit to those students who have external financial support for housing and meals. The room and board credit will be applied against your unpaid balance from the Spring 2020 semester. If there is not an outstanding balance, the room and board credit will be applied to the 2020-2021 academic year. Graduating seniors will also receive a prorated room and board credit on their student account. The credit will be applied to any outstanding balance owed to the University. If the account balance is paid in full, the University will issue a refund to the student by June 30, 2020.
The University will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and provide updates on our plans moving forward. We encourage everyone to be diligent in following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to help decrease the spread of the virus. We miss you and look forward to your return to our “Home by the Sea.”
With all good wishes,
William R. Harvey