• Messages to Lee community

    07-21-2020 ( Lee Mandates Masks, Shifts Fall Schedule)

    In a message to Lee University staff and faculty on Monday, July 20, Lee President Dr. Paul Conn announced several updates to the university’s reopening plan for its fall semester, scheduled to begin August 19.

    One of the changes announced in Monday’s email included upgrading the policy on use of face coverings (masks) on campus from “recommended” to “required.” Employees will now wear masks whenever they move about campus, in public places or gatherings, or in any multi-staff workplaces where social distancing cannot be guaranteed.

    Starting with the fall semester, students will also be required to wear masks when on campus. This does not apply to students when they are in their dorm rooms. The Task Force will discuss further ground rules for potential exceptions to the masking requirement while in the classroom, group meetings, or in other semi-public settings.

    “Given the rate of infection locally, which is roughly equivalent to state and national figures,” Murray said of the change, “it’s safer for everyone to start the semester with this requirement in place, and then as this crisis develops, adjustments can be made to the way it is practiced in individual classes and other campus locations.”

    Conn also announced a new fall schedule, which will allow students to complete their classes by Wednesday, Nov. 25. When students and faculty leave campus for the Thanksgiving weekend, they will not need to return until Jan. 12, 2021, for the spring semester. Many universities have switched to this schedule to lessen exposure following the holiday break.

    To accomplish this change in the fall semester calendar without loss of class days, the fall break, originally scheduled for mid-October, will be canceled. Winter Commencement is still scheduled to take place December 11-12.

    “The time leading up to Christmas has always been joyful and celebratory, with concerts and other observations of the holidays,” Murray said. “We will miss that with this schedule change, but we will hopefully be able to celebrate in some way as a campus, and we’ll certainly look forward to the time when we can resume so many of these beloved traditions.”

    Conn also announced the addition of new members to the Covid-19 Task Force, which has been meeting regularly since March to detail plans for a safe and effective return to campus next month.

    “With the fall semester looming, we are facing a cascade of specific issues which require lots of smart and experienced leaders around the table,” said Conn.

    Joining task force chair Dr. Debbie Murray, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and over a dozen other current members from Lee’s administrative team will be nine new members, representing Academics, Athletics, Financial Aid, Information Services, and Student Development.

    As announced earlier this summer, Lee plans to reopen with a full slate of in-person classes this fall, using a “hybrid” format for classroom instruction, which will include remote options where needed, utilizing a daily screening app for students and staff, and adhering to a strict social distance, cleaning, and sanitizing regimen for campus buildings, among other precautions.

    The university plans to conduct all general, departmental faculty, and other staff/faculty meetings in a way which will allow and encourage participation by Zoom, either for all the participants or for those who prefer it.

    The announcement was also communicated as an update to the COVID-19 Q and A for Fall 2020 in an email to students and parents. See the full Q and A here.

    07-16-2020 ( Lee University Cancels Commencement Ceremonies )

    Lee President Dr. Paul Conn announced the cancellation of commencement ceremonies, scheduled for August 1, in an email and video message to graduates on Wednesday. Seven hundred sixty graduates were planning to march and receive degrees in the ceremonies.

    “As painful as it is to reach this decision, I believe for us to bring such big crowds together on campus is just too risky,” said Conn in Wednesday’s video. “My first responsibility is to keep you and your families safe and well. We looked at dozens of scenarios, in many different combinations, with masks and distancing in all of them, but we just couldn’t find a way to make it work safely.”

    Conn said the decision to cancel was made following discussions with the officers of Lee’s Board of Directors, members of the university Cabinet, and faculty leaders. He explained that the recent surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations in the Cleveland and Chattanooga area forced the change in plans. “UT-Chattanooga had rescheduled its commencement for the same weekend as ours,” Conn said, “and after they announced their cancellation last week, I talked with Steve Angle (UTC Chancellor), and he was very helpful in discussing the pros and cons. All of us in higher education are in this crisis together, and it’s valuable to consult with one another.”

    Conn urged Lee’s graduating students to “take COVID seriously; this is not just a disease for older people.” He observed that some younger people have been considered to be careless about wearing masks, distancing, and other ways of staying virus-free, and cautioned Lee students to “do those things that will keep you and your families and friends safe and healthy.”

    The Lee president promised the graduates the university would “make it up” to them in any way possible. This included an open invitation to come back as “VIP marchers” in future commencements throughout 2020 and 2021. He also said the Class of 2020 will be invited back to campus for “the mother of all reunion parties,” once it can be done safely.

    Conn told the graduates a customized box with their regalia, diploma, the printed program for the event, and other items was being shipped to each of them. A Lee tradition is the presentation to every graduate of a Bible signed by Conn, and that will also be included.

    He encouraged students to stay optimistic. “I know the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot from you, but it cannot take away your memories, your friendships, your experiences, your growth, and everything you have learned in your years here at Lee.”

    Conn had been scheduled to give the commencement address this year himself, since this would have been the last commencement of his 34-year presidency. He will become the university’s Chancellor on August 1, and Dr. Mark Walker will succeed him as president. The university has announced its plans to reopen with a full slate of in-person classes this fall semester, using a “hybrid” format which will include remote options when necessary.

    06-11-2020 ( Plans for July Summer Session Announced )

    Plans for July Summer Session Announced

    Lee University will continue its gradual reopening by offering a third session of summer school in a "hybrid format" in which all classes will be offered both in-person and via online Zoom teaching.

    Lee president Dr. Paul Conn has earlier announced that the university plans to welcome students back to campus in mid-August. He said that the “gameplan for our fall semester reopening” will be announced to the public the week of June 15-19.

    Lee's July session will begin July 6 and include four weeks of classes, according to an announcement by Dr. Debbie Murray, provost. Classes will be adapted to meet safety standards in accordance with newly revised Tennessee guidelines, Murray said.

    “Our first priority is the safety and health of our students and faculty,” Murray said. “As we plan for a full reopening in August, we will use the small enrollments and limited number of classes in the July session to move gradually toward the fall."

    “We believe we can make our classrooms into safe environments, but during the July session, we also will provide each class through Zoom for students who prefer not to come physically to the campus."

    Murray is chair of a Coronavirus Task Force which has been working since March to plan and execute Lee's institutional response to the virus crisis. Conn is a member of the task force, along with president-elect Dr. Mark Walker, all the school's vice presidents, and numerous other campus leaders.

    Murray said safety measures will be in place for the July session, including reduced class sizes to provide social distancing, the use of face coverings, a screening application for all students coming to class each day, and daily temperature checks. In addition, the school has implemented an enhanced program of extra cleaning, disinfectant, and sanitizing for each classroom.

    Graduate classes in education, nursing, and business are already being offered in this "hybrid format" for the June summer school session, according to Murray.

    In a related development, Dr. Mike Hayes, vice president for student development, announced that the school's Recreation Center reopened June 8 on a limited, reservation-only basis, in compliance with the latest Tennessee Governor's Order and CDC guidelines.

    Hayes said the facility has reopened with only the cardio fitness rooms available, using shortened hours and a limit of 15 persons in the workout facility. To make reservations and receive full details of new procedures, Lee students and staff should call the Recreation Center at 423-614-8450 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

    According to Murray, many Lee employees continue to work from home during June, and others are returning to campus, most on staggered shifts. The university's admissions staff has resumed in-person campus tours, on a reservation basis, and a few "day camps" will resume this month as well.

    The university's popular Summer Honors Semester, which is led by Hayes, was postponed from early June, but will operate with smaller numbers in late July. Hayes said the Summer Honors Semester will be Lee's first experience with reopening its dormitories and dining venues since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

    Murray encouraged anyone seeking more information about the July session to call her office directly at 423-614-8118.

    05-18-2020 (Update from President Conn)

    Lee COVID Task Force Staying Vigilant but Optimistic, Planning for Fall

    Lee University president Dr. Paul Conn issued a statement today emphasizing the school’s commitment to a full schedule of in-person classes and activities in the fall semester, beginning August 19. “We realize the course of this pandemic is fluid, and safety will be our highest priority, but we are optimistically preparing to do everything possible to welcome students in person for the fall semester.”

    The announcement followed Conn’s meetings with the Lee Board of Directors last Thursday and a general meeting of the faculty and staff via Zoom technology.

    Conn announced the appointment of a new Task Force to develop detailed plans for Lee’s re-opening in August. The task force is being chaired by Dr. Debbie Murray, provost and vice president for academics, and includes fifteen senior administrators. Summer school sessions are currently being taught through an online platform.

    “An earlier task force has done excellent work to get us to the end of the spring semester, and to make plans for summer school,” Conn said, “but that group is now being expanded and given a specific mandate to prepare the university to plan a return to normal operations, or as close to that as possible with the health and safety of our students, staff, and community foremost in mind.”

    “Dr. Murray has performed admirably in leading our faculty through a very difficult spring semester,” Conn added, “and I know she’ll be effective in leading this group to prepare the Lee family for the complex circumstances ahead.”

    According to Murray, the task force is currently planning a multi-phase opening of campus, culminating in a return to full, in-person classes for the fall semester.

    “Going from our current status of 100 percent virtual instruction and sharply reduced staff on the campus to full on-campus operation will require a series of small steps,” said Murray, “all while monitoring the state of this crisis across the country and in our region.”

    The university suspended in-person instruction following its spring break week, at which point faculty began using Zoom to provide instruction and advising. The spring semester was finished in this manner, in part so that would-be May graduates could complete their degrees on time. The graduation exercises normally held in early May were postponed and merged with the summer graduation for the weekend of August 1, although May graduates were officially declared on May 9 to have earned their degrees.

    Summer school courses have been delivered over Zoom, with the intent to allow a few graduate courses to take place on-campus in the June session. The delivery mode for the third summer school session in July has not been determined yet, but the task force is reviewing what precautions would need to be in place for on-campus instruction to happen.

    Various summer camps offered by the university in July may also be a proving ground for safe in-person activities on campus. Camps and conferences originally scheduled for May and June have been postponed or cancelled.

    As information about the virus continues to evolve, the task force will make the necessary adjustments, and continue to update Lee constituents through the process. “We are hard at work on Plan A, which is to welcome all our students back to campus, with the hope that circumstances will allow for it and a commitment to consider everyone’s safety,” Murray added. “But we will do the work to thoroughly develop a Plan B, should the situation require it.”

    Lee University is located in Southeast Tennessee, one of several states considered most “open for business” as measured recently by the date of lifting of restrictions, the capacity businesses are currently operating with, and the ratio of tests administered per confirmed case (17).

    “While we are determined to vigilantly protect our students, faculty and staff according to prudent estimates of the level of risk in Tennessee, we realize that many of our students are coming to us from other states where the circumstances are very different. We are determined to make every decision carefully, with not only the Lee family in mind, but also others in our community,” Murray said.

    According to the most recent information from Tennessee.gov, Bradley County, with a population in excess of 100,000, has had 83 confirmed cases to date, with 67 considered “recovered” and 1 fatality.

    04-07-2020 (Lee University Postpones May Commencement)

    Lee University will combine its spring commencement ceremonies with the previously scheduled summer commencement, taking place August 1 on Lee’s campus. This announcement was made Monday, April 6, during two different meetings on Zoom, one with students and one with staff and faculty.

    “I regret that we have to wait that long to celebrate our graduating seniors, but in light of current circumstances and in the interest of everyone’s health and safety, we must wait until the summer,” said Conn. “But I promise you, we will get to celebrate with all the bells and whistles, Lord willing.”

    Conn had encouraged all graduating seniors to let him know directly if they would prefer a virtual graduation or a postponement if the May date could not happen, and with few exceptions, most all expressed the desire to postpone so they could cross the stage on site.

    Other announcements were made on Monday concerning refunds, closures, and cross-cultural trips.

    Conn confirmed that all students who had paid for housing and/or meal plans for the spring semester would receive partial refunds. The university plans to issue these refunds by mid-April, though students may leave the funds in their accounts, should they wish to apply the credit to their next semester.

    Conn stated to the faculty/staff that approximately 90 percent of Lee employees are staying at home, working remotely in most cases. “Colleges and universities are considered an ‘essential service’ by the state and the CDC,” he said. “So we need to keep our work going as well as we can while staying home and observing ‘social distancing’ guidelines.”

    The dining hall, which had been operating on a limited take-out service only, completely closed Monday until further notice.

    It was also announced that all cross-cultural trips scheduled to happen in May or June have been postponed or cancelled.

    Despite all of the schedule changes and disruptions to routine, Conn reminds students to “stay optimistic, stay healthy, and stay in touch.”

    “No matter what, whether we do it from our homes or on the web, we are still here for you, and we will keep doing what we do, caring for you and providing an opportunity for you to learn and grow,” Conn said.

    Lee University’s social media channels and website remain the best source of information about scheduling, updates, and other announcements.

    04-03-2020 (Free Textbook Rental Returns from Your Home)

    Important Message Regarding Free Textbook Rental Returns from Your Home!

    We are now offering free shipping labels for you to return your textbooks without ever having to come on campus! Follow the instructions below for two different ways to print your free shipping label:

    1. Approximately 2 weeks before final exams you will receive a reminder email from lee@bkstr.com. This email will contain a link to a free FedEx label you can print and use to ship your books back.
    2. You can also login to your account at www.leeuniversityshop.com to print anytime!
    • Click the login link at the right side of the page. Even if you purchased in-store, you would have created an account at the register (click the password reset link if you do not remember your login credentials).
    • Once logged in, click “Rentals” in the menu underneath this icon.
    • Your rental books will be listed with options to “Return All Rentals by Mail” or “Return by Mail” for each individual rental. 

      bookstore

    • Then, print the free shipping label, attach it to your package, and send back to the bookstore. Don’t forget to include your packing slip in your package too!
    Our on-campus location is still open if you would like to return your books on campus!

    Deadlines have also been extended!
    The deadline for books previously due May 8th has been extended to May 23rd with ZERO late fees.

    03-31-2020 (Service Learning Update from The Leonard Center)

    If you are a May 2020 graduating senior, this does not apply to you. Seniors were sent an email earlier. All other students needing service hours should read the document to be aware of service hour requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
     
    The following describes the Leonard Center’s amended service-learning requirements for undergraduate students at Lee University in response to COVID-19. These guidelines will remain in place for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester and will be revisited when the situation changes.
     
    While our commitment to the standards of what service-learning typically looks like at Lee remain firm, we understand that some service-learning requirements will need to be temporarily amended to enable our students to serve the community best during this particular season.
     
    Lee University encourages and values all types of service to others. Historically, only certain types of service have been counted toward the graduation requirement of service-learning. Some of the restrictions will remain in place, but most other restrictions are being lifted for the time being. Keep in mind that the program seeks to require appropriate service that challenges and stretches students beyond their routines. During this time, we encourage students to be creative and come up with their own service projects that embody the “spirit” of the service-learning requirement, rather than the “law.”
     
    The following types of service will still NOT be counted toward graduation requirements:

    • Work for which the student receives pay
    • Playing sports or exercising (including fundraising walks and runs) to raise money for a cause
    • Brief, inconsequential posts on social media
     
    The following types of service WILL be permitted toward graduation requirements:
    • Letter-writing/telephone call campaign to residents in nursing homes or other isolated individuals
    • Virtual forms of service including, but not limited to, virtual “visits” to the elderly/isolated, recording inspirational videos/poetry and then posting on appropriate platforms or sending to care facilities/isolated individuals, and other video recordings that demonstrate an appropriate expression of service during this time
    • Giving blood during this time of serious need
    • Projects in which the student's family members are the primary recipients of the service
    • Service which serves the university community
    • Singing, playing, or performance-based service that does not involve relational interaction
     
    Individually arranged projects must still be approved by the Leonard Center.

    How can I apply for individually arranged projects?
    Students should still consult the Leonard Center for approval of individually arranged projects. Students should e-mail service@leeuniversity.edu with a description of the activity to request approval before engaging in the project. Once approval has been granted, the Leonard Center will determine the amount of service hours students will receive for their projects on a case-by-case basis.
     
    Limitation on hours in one project:
    The limitation of 20 hours per academic year for one organization or project has been temporarily lifted.
     
    How do I turn in the service-learning hours that I have completed?
    The Leonard Center requests that, for the time being, students refrain from using the official service form in favor of simply emailing their service reflection essays to service@leeuniversity.edu with the following information in the body of the email: 
    1. Student’s name
    2. Student’s ID number
    3. Place/person/community served
    4. Date(s) served
    5. Number of hours served
     
    For 1-10 hours of service, a two-page paper is required; for 11-20 hours of service, a four-page paper is required. Multiple service projects can be combined in one service reflection essay. The reflection paper should have evidence of critical thought and address at least two of the following topics per paper:
    1. Analyze how you applied your faith through your service experiences.
    2. Discuss how your strengths and gifts were utilized in the service you performed.
    3. Discuss how your service impacted those you served (i.e., individuals, organizations and/or the environment). Consider both immediate and long-term impacts.
    4. Evaluate your responsibility in the larger community as the result of your service experiences. 
    5. Describe how your service experience connects with your intended vocation or career.
     
    Is there a deadline for submitting service-learning hours?
    Yes, the April 1, 2020, deadline has been eliminated for the spring 2020 semester. Therefore, service-learning hours completed between November 1, 2019, through October 1, 2020, are due by November 1, 2020. However, if you are graduating, please contact your academic dean’s office for information regarding graduation deadlines.
     
    For ideas on how you can still serve during this time of great need, visit www.leeuserves.com.

    03-26-2020 (Update from President Conn)


    Lee University to Stay with Virtual Instruction

    Following a Thursday morning online chapel service, Lee University President Paul Conn notified students that the school’s campus will not reopen for the remainder of the semester.

    “I am sorry to announce we are not going to be able come back on April 13, as we hoped might be possible. So until the end of the semester, we will stay in the mode we are in now.” said Conn. "We need you to stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected with us through social media."

    Conn told students and their parents it is in the interest of their safety and health, their families, and others in the Lee community, to make this decision. "Restarting campus activities and bringing students back to campus in mid-April is just too early. We're eager to see you again, but sadly, it won't be this semester."

    The university will continue to hold virtual classes, chapel services, Q & A panels, and other events through the video-conferencing platform, “Zoom.” Faculty are currently lecturing from home or from empty offices and classrooms, in what Conn called "real time,” to nearly four thousand students, scattered throughout the country.

    It was the Lee president's fifth video message in the past two weeks to Lee students, who left campus on March 6 for spring break and have not returned. He repeated his familiar message to students to “stay in touch, stay healthy, stay flexible, and stay optimistic.”

    Conn addressed other aspects of Lee life, such as May Commencement and summer classes. “We will have a spring commencement and summer classes, without a doubt, but whether those activities will be in person or on the web, and what the schedule will look like, remains to be seen as we continue to consult with government, public health, and higher education authorities.”

    "Virtual Lee Day," an opportunity for prospective students and their families to find out more about Lee, has been cancelled as an on-campus event and will now take place via the web on April 17-18. All other campus events have been cancelled until at least May.

    Lee has closed all its dining venues, providing food only on a take-away basis from its main dining room. Campus facilities such as the library, recreation center, childcare center, and academic buildings have been closed except for essential services by the staff and faculty who remain. Professors and staff have been encouraged to work from home, and the school's technology staff is scrambling to set up equipment at the homes of employees who need it.

    Conn also announced that Lee's 73 senior nursing majors, who had been serving in clinical rotations in area hospitals, have been recalled from that service to return home. "We're proud of these students who have been part of healthcare teams in hospitals in our region, but we felt it is time to get them back home with their families."

    Lee has called on alums in the local area to help provide canned goods and other items to help restock its Food Bank on Parker Street, which serves off-campus students who need help, as well as residents of the East Cleveland area.

    Lee University’s social media channels and homepage www.leeuniversity.edu remain the best source of information about scheduling, updates, and the impact of the coronavirus on Lee’s campus.

    03-25-2020 (Update from President Conn)


    Dear Lee family:

    I am writing to tell you that today we learned that a Lee University female student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

    This individual is not experiencing severe symptoms, has not required hospitalization, and is quarantinedoff campus in accordance with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the local Health Department. Please join me in praying for a full and quick recovery for this student.

    Since receiving the news, the Bradley County Health Department has been in communication with this student, and our Health Clinic has continued to stay in touch with her. The Health Department will now make every effort to trace contact this student may have had with others in our community.

    We can confirm that this student was on a personal trip with friends within the U.S. and returned to campus after the trip. She stayed in one of our residence halls and was screened by our Health Clinic on Tuesday, March 17. Our Health Clinic staff immediately referred her for testing and placed her in an off-campus quarantine site alone. The other residents who were on her hall and others with whom she interacted during that time were notified promptly.

    I wanted to let you know of this development as soon as we became aware, so you could be informed, whether you are far away or in Bradley County. The campus has taken significant steps to prevent the spread of the illness. Remember that all your efforts are critical to slowing the spread of this virus wherever you are.

    Respect patient privacy: Ensuring the anonymity of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 is paramount. If you are aware of their identities, please respect their privacy so they can focus completely on their health. Please abide by all rules related to personal health information (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). We will do everything we can to support any affected individuals through what is undoubtedly a difficult time.

    Updates: Lee University’s social media channels and homepage remain the best source of information about the impact of the virus on our campus community.

    Social distancing is critical to our community response. Please continue to take these steps to keep yourself and those around you safe.

    It can’t be stated enough: Wash hands frequently, avoid touching the face, cover coughs or sneezes, and stay home if you are sick.

    Let me again thank you for partnering with us to help prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and protect the community at large.

    Sincerely,

    Paul Conn

    03-19-2020 (Update from President Conn - Press Release)

    Lee University Extends Virtual Instruction Period to April 13

    In a Thursday morning announcement, Lee University President Paul Conn extended to April 13 the school’s virtual classes in place of face-to-face instruction.

    The Cleveland-based university rolled out the first such virtual classes the morning of March 19. Instead of pivoting all courses to an online environment, the university has chosen to use “Zoom,” a video-conferencing platform, as its format for the new virtual courses. University officials explained Wednesday that Zoom presents a better opportunity for campus professors to quickly convert their courses into a quality virtual classroom experience.

    In this morning’s statement, Conn said the time to appropriately return students to campus and resume face-to-face instruction is a moving target, and based on all guidance from government, public health, and higher education authorities, the need to extend beyond the original goal of March 30 became certain.

    The university calendar will change with this new plan, resuming classes on April 13. Conn said that this change will cause additional adjustments to the final exam schedule after three weeks of on-campus classes, but with this plan, the commencement exercises scheduled will not be changed and could go on as originally intended.

    “There’s two ways to approach this,” said Conn. “When this crisis began some schools just closed it all down, emptied out the dorms, shuttered campus, and cancelled commencement. That’s one approach. It works best in terms of the institution. It’s more efficient, and it saves money for the school. But many schools like Lee have adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach and tried to make decisions as things change.

    “This creates tension of not knowing what is going to happen, but we believe this gives us the best chance to salvage the semester for our students, and to make the best decisions as we go forward,” Conn said. “If we see that the April 13 date doesn’t provide a safe environment for our students and staff, we will announce that decision at the earliest possible time. We want to give ourselves time to make the best decisions, based on the rapidly evolving situation, as we go along.”

    Conn also said the school’s popular “Lee Day” weekend will be redesigned as a virtual event. Lee Day is the university’s largest recruitment event of the year, scheduled for April 3-4. The weekend typically sees hundreds of high school students and their families and friends visit the Cleveland campus. School officials are designing a plan to present Lee Day through Zoom and other digital platforms this year and will announce those plans as they develop.

    03-19-2020 (Update from President Conn)

    Hello students –

    I hope you are following us on Facebook, Instagram, or some other means. We are working hard to stay in touch with you and keep you up to date on this changing situation.

    Today I made the announcement that it will be impossible for us to resume in-person classes, or other student activities on campus, on March 30 as we had hoped. Instead, we have set April 13 as the date we hope to resume. If we can do that, it will give us three weeks of classes, then time for final exams, before Commencement on the schedule dates. This is an ambitious goal, but we are trying.

    If you haven’t already seen my announcement, will you please click on this link and watch it?

    Remember: stay optimistic, stay flexible, and stay in touch! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CxY6GSzHfc

    I’m praying for all of you, and I appreciate your prayers coming back to us here on campus.

    God bless!
    Paul Conn

    03-18-2020 (Update from Jayson VanHook)

    Good morning students,

    We have heard from a number of you who have conflicts with the scheduled 2pm ET Zoom trial run. As a result, we are adding additional time slots for your convenience at 1pm, 3pm and 4pm. Feel free to choose a time that works best with your schedule. We want each of you to have the opportunity to join a session in preparation for tomorrow’s transition to virtual classes.

    Each time slot for Zoom will have a different link. Simply click the link below beside the time that works best for you. Zoom sessions will open 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled time, and remember, these sessions are on the Eastern time zone.

    • 1pm Zoom Trial Run – https://leeuniversity.zoom.us/j/714799844
    • 2pm Zoom Trial Run – https://leeuniversity.zoom.us/j/589163243
    • 3pm Zoom Trial Run – https://leeuniversity.zoom.us/j/283071512
    • 4pm Zoom Trial Run – https://leeuniversity.zoom.us/j/262301077

    If you have any issues, please contact the Help Desk at helpdesk@leeuniversity.edu or by phone at 423-614-8027.
    Thanks,

    Jayson VanHook, PhD
    Vice President for Information and Marketing
    Lee University
    423.614.8695
    jvanhook@leeuniversity.edu

    03-17-2020 (Update from Jayson VanHook)

     Dear students,

    This is a reminder of our Zoom trial run tomorrow, Wednesday March 18 at 2pm ET for all on-campus students. The room will be open 15 minutes prior to the scheduled session. In order to access the Zoom session, just click this link: https://leeuniversity.zoom.us/j/589163243.

    When classes begin on Thursday, you will access your Zoom class through Moodle at the regularly scheduled time. Remember, all classes are operating on Eastern time zone. If you have any issues, please contact the Help Desk at helpdesk@leeuniversity.edu or by phone at 423-614-8027.

    Jayson

    Jayson VanHook, PhD
    Vice President for Information and Marketing
    Lee University
    423.614.8695
    jvanhook@leeuniversity.edu
      

    03-17-2020 (Update for Encore Students)

    Due to the CDC’s community event guidelines, Lee University’s Encore program will suspend all mini-courses for the remainder of the semester.

    Once on-campus courses resume, each Encore professor- excluding Tennessee in Tennis Shoes- will have the option to continue their scheduled course. The decision to continue a course will be made on a case by case basis, and the office of Community Relations will communicate to each individual student via email and telephone. Communication will only occur should the professor choose to resume the previously scheduled mini-course.

    Otherwise, it should be assumed Encore mini-courses will not meet for the remainder of the semester.

    These courses include:
    Tennessee in Tennis Shoes*
    Back to the Sixties
    Scotland Then and Now
    The Age of Napoleon
    Choral Union
    Grief & Loss
    Joint Conditioning
    Fitness for the Encore Years

    *Tennessee in Tennis Shoes will resume in Fall 2020 due to the travel component associated with the course.   

    03-16-2020 (Update from Jayson VanHook)

    Dear students,

    I hope you have had a restful break! As you know, we have been busy over the last week preparing to hold classes virtually using Zoom and Moodle. Over the next few days, the faculty will be in training and preparing to meet you in Zoom on Thursday, March 19. You may be wondering what you need to do to prepare as well. Here are just a few things we would like for you to do to ensure you are ready for Thursday:

    1. Download Zoom onto your computer(s) and mobile devices. You don’t have to have an account to join a Zoom meeting, but if you want to sign up, its free and easy to create a Basic account. Just go to www.zoom.us and click “SIGN-UP, IT’S FREE” at the top right hand corner of the webpage. Follow the steps and you’ll have a Basic account in minutes.
    2. Join us for a trial run on Wednesday, March 18 at 2pm. I will host a Zoom session with Provost Debbie Murray and a few faculty where we will explain what you can expect when classes resume on Thursday. Although this is not required, we highly encourage you to join us.
    3. Make sure that you can log in to Moodle. We understand that many classes already utilize Moodle as a part of the instructional process, but this is optional and some classes may not be visible to you. By Thursday, all of your classes will be visible, and this is how you will join your Zoom session for each class at the regularly scheduled times.


    In addition to the prep work above, we want to stay connected to you through a full slate of virtual events and activities. You can join us on Lee’s Facebook and Instagram pages, or through Livestream for most of these. Links to our social channels are always available on the Lee University website, and any special livestream events can be found under “Upcoming Events.” Please consider joining us for these activities next week:
     

    • Conversation with President Conn – Tuesday, March 17 at 10:40am. Phil Cook and Dr. Conn will be providing some updates and answering your questions at our regularly scheduled Chapel time. If you have any questions about Lee’s response to COVID-19, send them to me at jvanhook@leeuniversity.edu, and we’ll try to answer them on Tuesday. (Facebook Live, IGTV, and Livestream)
    • What to Expect in Zoom – Wednesday, March 18 at 2pm. As described above, this event will take place in Zoom and will give you a heads up on what to expect when classes resume on Thursday. We will send out a reminder with a link to the meeting on Wednesday morning.
    • Chapel – Thursday, March 19 at 10:40am. While we unfortunately can’t gather together in Conn Center, we hope you can join us for a time of worship and reflection virtually. (Facebook Live, IGTV, and Livestream)
    • Small Group – Thursday, March 19 at 10pm. Every Thursday night at 10pm, more than 600 students gather in their residence hall and on their floor to participate in Small Group. If this is a part of your regular experience, please consider joining us virtually for a short reflection and time to connect. If you haven’t experienced Small Group, now is your chance! (Facebook Live, IGTV, Livestream and Zoom)
    • Lee Live! – Friday, March 20 at 2:00pm. We will be providing opportunities to connect with the Lee community through panel discussions, presentations and interviews while we are away. We’ll also use this time to provide updates as needed. Join us for the first of these on Friday. (Facebook Live, IGTV, and Livestream)


    As always, if you have any issues, please contact the Help Desk by email at helpdesk@leeuniversity.edu or by calling 423-614-8027. You are in our prayers and in our hearts, and we look forward to connecting with you soon!

    Sincerely,

    Jayson VanHook, PhD
    Vice President for Information and Marketing
    Lee University
    (423) 614-8695
    jvanhook@leeuniversity.edu

    03-12-2020 (Update from President Conn)

    Hello Lee students –

    As you know, the nature and scope of the Coronavirus emergency is changing, almost hourly. As it does, we here at Lee are constantly re-evaluating our path forward, and I have a new announcement to share with you:

    We feel it is best not to resume classes on campus until March 30. During the next two weeks, we will be delivering instruction via “Zoom”, using the internet and your smartphones. Dr. Debbie Murray and I are calling the faculty together for an all-day training session next Monday, and we will be ready to roll out these “virtual classes” by Thursday, March 19. Instruction will continue by this method until we are able to come back together, God willing, on March 30.

    Our offices, dorms, and dining services will be open throughout this two-week period for those who depend on them. But there will be no group meetings, classes, chapels, or other gatherings.

    You will be getting full details on all of this soon, so please check your email and our website frequently. If you have immediate questions, email us at pconn@leeuniversity.edu or Dr. Murray at debmurray@leeuniversity.edu, and we will direct you to someone who can answer you. But please be patient with us; we are obviously improvising as the situation unfolds, and our best people are working on it around the clock.

    This plan, like all others, is subject to change as circumstances change. So stay in touch! And stay flexible! I will keep communicating with you, as we work our way through this situation. Remember: “The Lord knows those who are His.” That means all of us!

    Paul Conn

    03-11-2020 (Update from President Conn)

    I’m writing with an update about the COVID-19 situation and how we are responding on our campus. Please forgive me for being simple and just sticking with these few points of information: 

    1. The Coronavirus level in our area is still very low.
      This is a fluid and rapidly evolving situation, but as of today, there are no reports of this virus in our community (Bradley County) or the larger region of Southeast Tennessee. That includes our campus, of course. Although our students are scattered for the spring break week, we know of no cases of the virus among our Lee students or employees.  

    2. We will screen and/or test students and staff returning from international trips before they return to their dorms or classrooms.
      This applies to everyone who has spent the spring break on a school-sponsored trip, as well as all other students who self-identify as being in an at-risk category. That includes international travel, known contact with a person who has tested as positive for COVID-19, or the presence of symptoms such as fever, persistent cough. This screening will be done by our health services staff in our clinic on-campus, and in cooperation with local hospitals. Directions for this process are on our website coronavirus pages.

    3. To provide time for this process and other precautions, we are extending Spring Break for one extra day, so classes won’t begin until Tuesday, March 17.
      This gives students one extra day of Spring Break, and we hope you will spend the day at home with your families or elsewhere. Dorms, offices and food services will operate on Monday, as originally scheduled, but there will be no classes.

    4. We are engaging in numerous other measures to prevent COVID-19 from reaching our campus.
      These measures include a high level of deep cleaning and disinfecting common buildings and areas of the campus, various changes to our procedures in the dining hall and food services by Sodexo, a self-assessment early-warning instrument to be administered by our Health Clinic staff, and additional training for appropriate personnel in Student Development.

    5. Global Perspectives trips for the summer are being evaluated on a case-by-by basis.
      If you plan to take a Lee international trip this summer, please talk with your faculty director after you return to campus. We will be making the call on each trip as soon as it is possible to do so intelligently. Some of the trips are in jeopardy, and others seem not to be, but we are working very hard to make those decisions with all information available to us, and that process takes time.

    6. Should the situation change, we are developing further contingency plans.
      We all know how rapidly these circumstances can change, and our Provost and Vice President for Academics, Dr. Debbie Murray, and I are meeting with a Task Force to stay on top of the situation as it develops. So please go to our website (www.leeuniversity.edu) and refer to it often, in case there are further changes.

    This is a serious problem, and it is sobering to consider how best to deal with it. All we can do is stay as well-informed as possible, respond intelligently to the facts we have without a spirit of fear or panic, and remember that we are all in God’s hands, and He is with us – with Lee University and with you individually.

    I love you all very much, and I’m so eager to see you again!

    Paul Conn
    President

    03-05-2020 (Update from President Conn)

    The following letter was sent by President Conn to all students on March 5, 2020. More information will be released on Wednesday, March 11.

    As you prepare for the long-awaited Spring Break week, I want to write to talk about the Coronavirus threat, and how we are approaching it here on campus.

    Our first priority is your safety and good health. We want to stay alert to the implications for Lee students and staff as this situation evolves. At this point, we have no reason to believe there is an immediate threat to our campus, but we are determined to be proactive in being ready to respond, should it be necessary. There have been no cases reported on our campus, and only one (so far) in the state of Tennessee. Nevertheless, we are preparing contingency plans to respond, should it become necessary. We are taking a “better safe than sorry” approach, hoping and praying that such contingency plans prove to be unnecessary. Here are a few things I would like you to know:

    1. I have assembled a Task Force including some of our top administrators and staff to monitor the COVID-19 crisis. This team is reporting to me daily with updates and direction on whatever steps we need to take as the situation unfolds.
    2. During the spring break, our physical plant personnel are evaluating any campus buildings for potential plans for “deep cleaning and disinfectant” before students return on March 16.
    3. We are particularly mindful of the students involved in our Global Perspectives trips. Three Spring Break trips begin this week, with approximately 50 students scheduled to travel to Italy, Ireland, and Honduras. We believe there is no reason to cancel the trips to Ireland or Honduras, and these trips are going forward as planned. The trip to Italy, however, would take students into a country which has had a significant Coronavirus outbreak, so we have cancelled plans to take students to Italy this week. Alternate travel plans have been developed, and the group will be touring the UK instead, and although they are disappointed not to be going to Italy, these students are cheerfully accepted a rerouted itinerary to London, Cambridge, Oxford, and other areas of England.

      We are continuing to plan our summer trips to various parts of the world, and will be monitoring all available information to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, depending on the destination of the trip, the time of departure, and available advice from the State Department, the World Health Organization, and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). Fortunately, we have a few weeks to make final decisions about each of these trips, and we think the best approach is to defer decisions until we have more information. Generally, we will not take trips into countries where there is a CDC Level 3 warning (avoid nonessential travel), a State Department Level 4 travel advisory (do not travel), or where the host country itself is restricting or banning travel. If you are planning to travel on a Lee University summer trip, you will hear from our Global Perspectives Office during the next few weeks about the status of your trip.

       
    4. Our Lee University Health Clinic is monitoring all available information from the CDC, the Tennessee Department of Health, and other agencies to train and prepare to respond immediately to any eventual case of COVID-19 which might occur on our campus.


    I want to assure you that we are vigorously engaged in this issue here at Lee. We don’t want our decisions to be driven by fear or social media, but we do want to be prudent and make decisions that, if necessary, err on the side of your health and safety. If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to our Provost, Dr. Debbie Murray, who is leading the Task Force and communicating with me about it at each step. You may email her at debmurray@leeuniversity.edu.

    Right now, my prayer for you is that you will travel safely over this Spring Break, enjoy a restful time with the people you love, and return on March 16 ready to have a wonderful final six weeks of the semester.

    May God hold you close. I love each one of you.

    Paul Conn