The University's Council of Trustees met in person June 2 for the first time since March 2020.
Cal U relaxing pandemic protocols, trustees are told
Interim University President Robert Thorn highlighted adjustments to Cal U’s coronavirus protocols in his report to the Council of Trustees June 2 in the Kara Alumni House.
The council’s regular quarterly meeting was held in person for the first time since March 4, 2020. Some participants attended via Zoom.
Moving from “Level 3” to “Level 2,” as outlined in the University’s Guide to Operations, “brings us one step closer to pre-pandemic operations for the University’s summer term,” President Thorn said.
The move also “gives our employees and guests a chance to transition gradually as we prepare to resume normal operations and welcome back students to in-person classes this fall.”
In keeping with CDC guidance, masks are no longer required outdoors on campus. Individuals who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks inside University buildings, although social distancing is still recommended. Employees, students and guests who are not yet fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask indoors.
President Thorn also updated trustees on progress toward reaffirmation of the University’s reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At the commission’s request, Cal U will submit a supplemental information report with updates on standards addressed in the University’s self-study. The report will be submitted by Sept. 1, 2021.
Before turning to committee reports, trustees voted to hold a special meeting to prepare a resolution regarding the plan to integrate Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro universities. That meeting later was postponed.
In other business at the quarterly meeting:
- Dr. Daniel Engstrom, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, introduced Dr. Yugo Ikach, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Ikach described the Graduate School Speaker Series, a virtual event that featured successful alumni during the spring semester. He also praised the public work of art professors James Bové and Todd Pinkham. Bové’s trip to the Arctic Circle inspired an installation at Pittsburgh International Airport, and Pinkham’s talents are on display in a mural in Fredericktown, Pa.
- Dr. Tracey Sheetz, dean of admissions, provided ta report on behalf of T. David Garcia, vice president for Enrollment Management.
Sheetz identified the elimination of SAT and ACT testing during the pandemic as one factor influencing Cal U’s Fall 2021 enrollment efforts. Without the need to submit test scores, more prospective students are applying to selective “stretch” schools and delaying their decision about Cal U when they are added to wait lists.
Cal U’s Educational Alliance is part of the strategy for enrollment growth, Sheetz said. Through the alliance, verified employees of UPMC, St. Clair Health, Washington Health System, Wesley Family Services and Technogym receive a 20% tuition discount when they attend Cal U.
Students who earn selected associate degrees at Westmoreland County Community College also receive a tuition discount when they enroll at Cal U.
- Fawn Petrosky, interim vice president for Administration and Finance, reported a projected surplus in the University’s education and general (E&G) budget of about $2 million. Repairs to the Vulcan Garage are expected to be completed in the coming weeks, as are designs for Manderino Library that include a relocation of the print center currently housed in Azorsky Hall.
- Larry Sebek, interim vice president for Student Affairs, introduced Melissa Dunn, director of Student Engagement. She shared new about three Cal U Appreciation Days held for students, and described the University’s contribution to #Redesigned4PA, the State System’s advocacy campaign, which was held in April.
- Christine Kindl, vice president for Communications and Marketing, presented a video produced by the creative services team to promote University housing. The video illustrates a variety of campus housing options, introduces Resident Life staff and includes testimonials from Cal U students.
- Anthony Mauro, vice president for University Development and Alumni Relations, reported that his team raised more than $3.6 million in cash and pledges, including more than $3.1 million in cash donations, which exceeds the division’s nine-year average by $1.2 million.
The next quarterly meeting for the Council of Trustees is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2021, at a location to be determined.