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Administrators try to ease students’ academic, financial concerns at town hall meeting

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Erica Rae Sanchez
Social Media Editor

Roughly 20 University of La Verne leaders gathered on April 16 for a virtual Associated Students of ULV Town Hall via WebEx to discuss topics pertaining to the global coronavirus pandemic and what the future of the University looks like.

The focus of the meeting was changes in curriculum, student financial issues and other protocols –  since all classes and activities went virtual in mid-March to comply with statewide shelter-in-place to slow the spread of COVID-19, as well as expectations for fall 2020.

University Provost Jonathan Reed, President Devorah Lieberman, Chief Student Affairs Officer Juan Regalado, Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management Mary Aguayo, Interfaith Chaplain Zandra Wagoner and Chief Financial Officer Avo Kechichian led the meeting, discussing new systems, tactics and workshops in place that are available to help students.

Lieberman began the meeting with praise for the University, citing how proud she is of the community that has been built virtually since moving online.

“I have never in my nine years at the University been prouder to be the president at the University of La Verne, with the students we have today. I am saying this because I want to thank the students in this time of uncertainty for your patience, generosity of spirit, for your dedication to your education and to the University of La Verne,” Lieberman said.

Reed addressed areas of concern from students, highlighting the points of financial stress and uncertainty, health and well-being of the community around students’ academic expectations of their professors, and the challenges of learning at home. He also discussed the various areas of assistance and support that the school is offering students.

Financially, the school is currently accepting financial aid appeals, Reed said. The emergency fund resource is available by application, and student accounts is working with students to help with their academic bills. Additional dollars-and-cents details will be shared in coming weeks, when the University learns more about the Federal Stimulus Aid that the school is receiving, Reed added.

To address the concern of health and well-being, there are resources available such as tele-counseling, tele-health, and other well-being programs, such as mental health workshops, self-care talks, support groups, instructed meditation and more opportunities.

To help evaluate the teachers, there is a midcourse student evaluation form available through the student portal. Additionally ULV administration have tried to minimize the stress on students by making a credit/no-credit option available for all classes, offering library technology, ASC tutoring and advisors reaching out.

Regalado stressed the importance of student engagement and maintaining a level of programming – even if it is happening virtually.

Wagoner emphasized the importance of being connected to one another through social media.

“There is an entire social media world out there that all of our offices, who are student-based, are contributing to,” Wagoner said. “And it is a very caring and active space with a lot of supportive programming, ideas and thoughts. We invite you to add all of these different offices because it’s not a chaotic space.”

Regalado also addressed student concerns about the fall semester, and campus life. The plan, he said, is to strategize a way students can live in single-occupancy dorm rooms for a cheaper price, lowering the application fee, adjusting cleaning protocols, ensuring that people are remaining distant, and adjusting programming accordingly.

If fall classes remain online, then housing fees will be refunded.

Reed said his email is open to students who may be struggling with classes or with particular faculty. He also encouraged students to fill out the mid-semester instructor evaluation forms.

“If you have any other specific concerns, you can email me and we will treat it as anonymous,’ Reed said. Email me at provost@lavenre.edu and let me know what class it is and we will take care of it to the best of our ability,” said Reed.

Reed said he understands the difficulty for an upperclassman trying to find internships and finish their senior projects. Faculty are finding ways to alter the curriculum in order for it to best serve the students, Reed said.

“We want to make sure nobody under any circumstances has to delay their graduation,” Reed said.

Kechichian encouraged students to reach out to the Financial Aid office if they are unable to pay tuition because the office is working hard at finding aid for students whose financial status has changed.

“We are taking steps to make sure that we do not punish students for them not paying their tuition on time,” Kechichian said.

A quarter million dollars will be returned to the Federal Work Study students, who were scheduled to work but could not complete their hours due to COVID-19, said Kechichian.

The University, additionally, is reviewing tuition rates and will have updates by July 1 if there are changes associated with continuing online classes.

The University novel coronavirus information and response is updated regularly at the University website.

Erica Rae Sanchez can be reached at erica.sanchez2@laverne.edu.

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