Archive: Hurricane Irma Update #15

Friday, September 22, at 10:00 a.m.

Students and families,

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I hope you are safe, well, and returning to some state of normalcy in your daily lives. We lament the significant challenges that the storm imposed on many of our students, faculty, and staff.

For the University, assessment of campus damage has been completed, cleanup is well underway, and classroom and office spaces are usable. Repairs both minor and major will take some time to complete.

Academically, the major concern now at hand is to devise a plan that will allow for the make-up of classes which were cancelled as a result of the storm. Our accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), has no strict policy regarding classes missed as a result of events as unusual as hurricanes; however, we have two important responsibilities to keep in mind as we consider how to move forward:

First, we have an obligation to SACS to maintain the integrity of the credit hours awarded to students. We also have an obligation to students and parents to deliver the education they are paying for.

Over the past week, I have had multiple meetings and consulted with Associate Provosts, Deans, Institute Directors, several Division and Department Chairs, the Registrar, and our Faculty Chair and Executive Committee to discuss possible options for making up those classes that were missed due to Hurricane Irma. We discussed and evaluated many options, and we collectively decided on the following.

  • Cancelled classes may be made up on weekday evenings, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday as appropriate.
    The date(s) and time(s) of these additional class meetings are up to the discretion of the instructor.
  • Instructors may assign extra material, assignments, or course content as appropriate.
    This additional material may be delivered online, through Blackboard, or through a variety of platforms. Our Academic Technology Center and our Center for Teaching and Learning are holding seminars for professors called “Making up for Lost Time: A Professor’s Guide to Surviving Hurricane Irma.” These seminars focus on providing faculty with valuable tools to successfully deliver course content in new and innovative ways, including online lessons, virtual classes, hybrid environments, and face-to-face meetings.
  • Instructors may choose to schedule class meetings on Friday, November 10.
    No classes are currently scheduled for Friday, November 10, which is the federal holiday observance of Veterans Day, but that day may prove to be a convenient make-up day for both faculty and students. Faculty have been encouraged to consult with students regarding the use of this day as a make-up day in light of the number of student veterans affected.

Professors may use any or all of these options to plan the rest of the semester in a way that fulfills our promise to deliver academic excellence. We understand that no single solution will work for everyone. We also understand that Hurricane Irma had devastating impacts on many of our students and their families, and on many of our instructors and their families. This semester demands flexibility and consideration of all of us.

Students, your professors will communicate with you about their plans to make up for the time we lost to Hurricane Irma. With all of these measures, faculty have been encouraged to give special consideration to students who cannot meet at rescheduled times due to work obligations, religious reasons, athletic competitions, or extracurricular demands. If you have a conflict with the measures your professor has chosen to implement to deliver makeup material, please communicate with your professor.

This plan represents our best efforts to keep our students at the center of what we do. Thank you all for your flexibility and perseverance as we adapt to the unique circumstances of this fall semester.

Donald H. Horner, Jr., Ph.D.
Provost, Senior Vice President of University & Academic Affairs
Professor of Leadership, Davis College of Business
Jacksonville University