Campus & Community

Academic Affairs

Move-Out FAQs

Q: I am staying in the residence halls over spring break, when do I have to move out?
A: Students who are currently on campus should vacate their rooms before noon on Sunday, March 22.


Q: When can I come back to campus to get my belongings?
A: Williamson County has issued a “stay-at-home” order for all residents. The order states that all residents should only leave home for essential activity, essential business, essential government functions, and critical care functions.  This order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, and will continue through 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2020. Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, all scheduled checkout times have been postponed due to the Williamson County Stay Home Stay Safe Order. After April 13, presuming the order is lifted, we will resume the checkouts and advise you of the revised process.


Q: What if I have no other option for housing?
A: If you have absolutely no other option for safe housing, you may apply for an exemption using this form. Limited exceptions will be made for only the most difficult of circumstances.


Q: Can I stay on campus for the remainder of the semester if I need to in order to prevent possible exposure to a family member? What if I live abroad or out of state?
A: If you have absolutely no other option for safe housing, you may apply for an exemption using this form. Limited exceptions will be made for only the most difficult of circumstances.


Q: If residence halls are closing, what happens to my room and board?
A: Room and board will be prorated for the semester. Details of this process will be communicated to both students and parents in a direct communication over the next few weeks.

Distance Learning FAQs

Q: When will distance learning begin?
A: Distance learning goes into effect March 30 and continues through the end of the spring semester.


Q: How was the decision made to close campus?
A: This decision was made in response to the March 18 news of the first diagnosed cases of Coronavirus in Williamson County.


Q: What changes should I expect with distance learning?
A: The changes you may experience with distance learning include, but are not necessarily limited to, more frequent communication via email, greater use of Moodle, and/or class discussions/lectures via Google Hangouts Meet. More information will be coming to you soon from your professors.


Q: Will seniors still be graduating this semester?
A: All seniors who have met previous requirements and complete any additional assignments via distance learning will graduate.


Q: Can I still make the Dean’s List or achieve other academic awards?
A: Your grades or academic standing will not be affected as long as you continue to meet the course requirements as defined by your professor. If you have questions about a specific class please discuss with your professor

Student Account Credits for Room and Board

Q: Due to the campus closing for students and classes moving to remote learning for the remainder of the semester, will a credit be issued for room and board charges? How will this credit be calculated?
A: A prorated reduction of room and board charges for the remainder of the spring semester was issued for students who have left campus. The specifics of these reductions are as follows:

  • Students who did not return to campus after March 22 will receive a credit of the semester room and board fee to reflect the portion of the semester from March 22 through semester’s end.
  • Students who were granted a short term extension of time to remain on campus after March 22 will receive a prorated reduction in room and board based upon the day they properly check out and leave campus.
  • Students who were granted exemptions to remain on campus through the end of the semester will not receive a credit for either room or board.


Q: What happened to any unused Dining Dollars? Will they carry to next year?
A: Since Dining Dollars do not carry over to the next year, a credit was issued for Dining Dollars based on the number of days that had expired in the semester. This amount was included in the total meal plan refund amount. The basis of this decision was to make everything as easy as possible during this difficult time. We realize that this decision is not perfect, but we felt it was the fairest given the balance between the urgent requests on room and board adjustments and the efficiency of processing these adjustments. Performing a student by student calculation and/or seeking a student by student decision on Dining Dollars would have significantly slowed down the processing of adjustments and would not have materially impacted the end result.


Q: What happened to any unused Pirate Bucks? Will they carry to next year?
Any remaining balance in pirate bucks remained on the student’s account. As always, pirate bucks will carry over to the next year. Pirate Bucks can continue to be used off campus. Any pirate bucks balances remaining for graduating seniors will automatically be refunded at the end of the semester.


Q: Will my financial aid be affected by the credit issued for room and board charges?
Southwestern University scholarships/grants specifically designated to offset room and board charges will be reduced on a prorated basis. Since most Southwestern University scholarships and grants are designated to offset tuition charges, there will be very few instances where reductions will occur.  Students who had their Southwestern University funds reduced were notified via email on Monday, March 30. Otherwise, financial aid will not be impacted and students will retain their aid.


Q: How will my student account balance and payment plan be affected by the credits issued for room and board?
All student account credits will automatically decrease any outstanding balance on your student account, including automatically adjusting any remaining payments for active payment plans. If the room and board credit causes your account to reflect an overall credit balance, you can request that the balance be refunded (preferably through direct deposit) or you can choose to leave the credit on your student account to be used for future charges. Specific instructions about the refund request process can be found at https://www.southwestern.edu/business-office/student-accounts/.


Q: Will students who are off campus now, but were not able to move their belongings out due to the Stay Home Stay Safe order, still receive the prorated credit?
A: Students that are not on campus and have contacted Residence Life about their belongings in their rooms to schedule a move out date, will receive the same credit for room and board to reflect the portion of the semester from March 22 through semester’s end. If you have not contacted Residence Life to make arrangements to move out your personal belongings please send an email to reslife@southwestern.edu. Personal items left in rooms after May 11th may result in a daily storage fee of $10 per day, unless a specific exception is approved by Residence Life.


Q: Will there be late fees on the payments that are due April 1?
A: No. There will be no late fee assessed for payments not made on April 1. We understand that you may be waiting on anticipated credits for room and board.


Q: How do I cancel my automatic payment set up for April 1?
A: If you want to cancel your automatic payment on your payment plan, please follow the instructions noted at this link - Instructions to cancel your automatic payments on your payment plan.


Q: How will I know when the revised ebills are released?
When the Spring 2020 adjusted ebills are released, you will receive an email to your SU email account notifying you that you have a new ebill to be viewed. Text notifications will also be sent to those that have enabled them.


Q: What are my options for the credit balance on my account?
A: Credit balances on student accounts can remain on the student account to be used to pay future semester charges with no further action necessary. If you want to request a refund of all or part of your credit balance, you will need to complete the google refund request form found at this link -Student Account Refund Request.  Only students can complete this form. Students please be sure to complete this google form using your SU email so that we will receive your validated request and remember to include the specific dollar amount that you are requesting. Upon proper completion of the form, you will receive an email confirmation of your request. 


Q: If I request a refund, how will I receive my payment?
A: There is a place on the google form to indicate your payment preference. However, in order to expedite any refunds requested we are strongly encouraging payment via direct deposit. Please make sure you are set up for direct deposit by following the instructions at this link - Direct deposit set-up instructions for student account refunds  . Since COVID-19 has resulted in limited resources available on campus at this time, although you may request a paper check be mail please be aware that refund requests to mail a paper check may be delayed longer than usual.

Commencement & Campus Events FAQs

Q: Why is commencement being postponed?
A: Williamson County has ordered a ban on all public events, as well as dining in common areas of restaurants and bars. This ban has been mandated through May 11, 2020. Unfortunately, this necessitates that we postpone Commencement, which was scheduled for May 9.


Q: Since commencement is postponed, not canceled, when do you plan on hosting a ceremony?
A: It is heartbreaking to have this long-held and meaningful tradition interrupted in this way; however, we are excited to announce that commencement for the Class of 2020 will be held during Homecoming this year on Sunday, October 25, 2020. 


Q: Are any events happening on campus?
A: All campus events are cancelled, starting March 19.

Travel Reporting FAQs

Q: How will the Travel Registry information be used?
Those who register their professional and personal travel will receive updates if the country they are visiting moves to a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 travel health advisory. It is likely that international travelers may face further restrictions while they are traveling or upon returning to the United States. Presently, the CDC recommends avoiding travel to several countries in Asia and Europe, including China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. Because this list may expand, we encourage international travelers to consult the CDC’s website.

If any student, faculty, staff, or campus visitor has traveled to a country that is subject to the CDC’s Level 3 or greater Travel Health Notice, they will be subject to a mandatory 14-day off-campus quarantine period.

If you are planning any international travel over spring break—on behalf of the University or personally—we also strongly urge you to register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This will help us coordinate with you if your travel plans unexpectedly change. Understand and routinely check any travel and border government-imposed restrictions in transit, at your proposed destination, and upon your return. These restrictions could include denial of entry or a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival.


Q: Will the information provided in the Travel Registry be kept confidential?
The University will strive to keep any personal information you provide private. We have purposively segmented communications and Travel Registry information by student, faculty and staff categories. This means that the office who normally handles your personal information – Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty or Human Resources – will apply the same rigor to your Travel Registry information that they use to manage all of your other personal information on a day-to-day basis.


Q: If I’m traveling to an area in the United States with confirmed COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS cases am I subject to a quarantine period?
The University will follow the CDC recommendations if you have been in an affected area or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS in the last 14 days. As such you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing safety of our campus and public health response to try to slow spread of this virus.


Q: What should I do if I come into contact with someone who has traveled to high risk areas?
A: The University recommends seeing your personal healthcare provider or visiting the Health Center as soon as possible if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS. Please refer to the CDC guidelines for prevention and concerns about exposure.


Q: What constitutes travel for the purposes of the Travel Registry?
All personal and professional travel by students, faculty and staff to any domestic or international destination through the end of May 2020.


Q: If I am going to attend a large festival or gathering in the local area, should I report that?
A:The University urges all students, faculty and staff to take precautions when in large group settings. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

General Coronavirus COVID-19 FAQs

Q: Has anyone on campus been diagnosed with this disease?
A: No. There are no known or suspected cases at Southwestern University at this time.

Q: What is Southwestern doing to stay informed?
A: The University’s Emergency Management team is staying in close contact and coordinates routinely with Williamson County & Cities Health District , which receives updates several times per day that help our county and campus plan for the potential spread of the virus.
The Emergency Management Team has scheduled regular meetings to assess the situation, work through potential issues, and create plans to address all scenarios regarding the spread of the disease on campus.


Q: What will SU do if COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS is confirmed on campus?
A: SU will follow the protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the direction of health authorities. Those who have had close contact with the patient will be contacted and monitored by the Williamson County & Cities Health District . The University Health Center will fully support those efforts.


Q: What is the basis for the University’s decision making regarding COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS response and planning?
A: Southwestern’s Emergency Management Team places the highest priority on the health, safety and protection of our students, faculty and staff. We are closely monitoring the Center for Disease Control website and public information announcements about outbreak news and containment recommendations. The Emergency Management Team and University leadership are now meeting daily to review the situation and make recommendations. Our goal is to keep the campus community updated and provide appropriate guidance for preventing the spread of the virus to our campus.


Q: Where can I find more information about this disease?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus to the public, public health officials, schools, universities, and news outlets.
For planning and informational purposes, the University’s Emergency Management team is communicating daily with other organizations, including the Williamson County and Cities Health Department, to stay abreast of the latest information for our local area and any pertinent international developments.


Q: Am I required to use a Moodle page for my course?
Yes, we are asking that all faculty use their courses’ Moodle page site to provide basic course information for students, including your syllabus, and basic course materials or links to another place where they can access them.  Even if you are using a different course delivery tool, Moodle needs to be the place where students can find the information they need for all courses, to minimize confusion. 


Q: Am I required to use my SU email to communicate with my students?
Yes - all faculty should only use their SU email to communicate with students due to FERPA requirements.


Q: What if I need one-on-one support as I prepare for remote teaching?
Faculty who have attended a workshop, checked the “Keep Teaching” guide , and still need help are invited to complete the Faculty Support Request form.


Q: Will the drop date for courses change?
The drop date has been extended to Wednesday, April 29.  Sean Smith will be in touch soon with further details.


Q: Will we change our P/D/F grading policy?
COVID-19 has presented extraordinary challenges for faculty, staff, and students. In response to these many challenges, students will have the opportunity to elect to take their courses on a Credit/No Credit basis for the Spring 2020 semester by the last day of classes, Wednesday, April 29. Additional information, including about the drop and grade change process, will be made available in the coming days and weeks through the Academic Success Office, the Registrar’s Office and the Advising and Retention Office via emails and other communications.


Q: Will senior grades need to be submitted early?
No, senior grades will be due at the same time that grades for all other students are due.


Q: Is the Academic Warning System still available?
Yes and faculty are encouraged to continue to use the system as needed, keeping in mind the unusual circumstances in which we are operating.


Q: Will student course evaluations be administered this semester, and if so, how will they count in faculty evaluations?
We are exploring the process of administering course evaluations online through Qualtrics. If we are able to do this, all faculty will be able to review completed course evaluations to determine whether or not they want to retain them as part of their teaching record.


Q: Will the Research and Creative Works Symposium (RCWS) be held?
Due to distance learning, this year’s RCWS will look different from how we have done it in the past. However, we are guided by the principles developed by the first RCWS in 2000: To showcase student learning and celebrate the university’s commitment to student inquiry and signature work.  Instead of hosting RCWS on one day, we will be extending the virtual conference asynchronously for an entire week. During that time, SU community members can visit the site, view posters or videos, and share feedback with the authors. More information will be forthcoming. If you have any questions, please reach out to Sarah Brackmann (Brackmas@southwestern.edu) or Ben Belz (Belzb@southwestern.edu).


Q: Will tutoring services continue to be available?
In many cases, yes, although this is up to the department.  Tutors may work remotely by coordinating with department faculty.  Jennifer Leach will be reaching out soon to all faculty who coordinate department tutoring services. The writing consultants in the Debby Ellis Writing Center will also be available for consultations; look for information from Jennifer Marciniak in the near future.

Q: Will faculty and staff have access to the library?
Faculty and staff no longer have card access to the library due to the stay-at-home order.  Research and Instruction librarians can provide customized Research Guides or handouts in support of your assignments. The guides can be added to your Moodle class site. Submit a request here . While the library cannot secure physical items at this time, Get It! Interlibrary Loan service is available for borrowing electronic articles. 


Q: Will students be allowed on campus to work in the library? 
Students no longer have physical access to the library. Many of the library’s resources can be accessed online. Research librarians are available to help students via Research Appointment Requests . If you need other assistance from the library to support a course, please contact Carol Fonken.


Q: Can I come to my office to retrieve critical teaching materials?
Yes, faculty still have building access.  You can retrieve materials during the stay-at-home order.  If for some reason you are stopped by law enforcement, you can show them your SU ID and explain that you are providing remote teaching at this time.  (See Williamson County “Stay Home Stay Safe order ” for details.)  


Q: What do I do if students indicate they have technology needs for remote learning?
Refer your students to the SU Emergency Fund .  The emergency needs during the COVID-19 crisis include, but are not limited to: (1) Food, toiletries, and funding for necessary medications; (2) Any educational-related expenses as SU moves to distance learning; (3) Money for travel for students who may need to go home; (4) Unexpected housing cost due to having to move out of the residence halls.


Q: Do I still need to collect assessment data for my courses?
Yes, as you are able, we ask that you continue to collect assessment data through course rubrics, exam questions, field examinations and surveys.  If your data present outlier results, you can make note of the extenuating circumstances of remote teaching in the comments section of the assessment report.


Q: Will we still be using the new assessment software, Weave, for our assessment reports this year?
The Dean is working with Natasha Williams on plans for assessment reports this year.  We are not certain whether we will provide remote training on Weave at this time.  We will communicate directly with department chairs once this decision has been made.


Q: What if I need a document scanned?
You may send your scanning requests to your building administrative assistant.  Mood-Bridwell faculty should send their requests to Barbara Jean as Kelly is working remotely for the next week.  


Q: Are student workers still working on campus?
With rare exceptions, student workers are not working on campus.  The building administrative assistants stand ready to support you.


Q: Will the University be able to cover some expenses to support faculty as they prepare for remote teaching?
Department budget lines for teaching support and student engagement may be tapped for modest expenses related to remote learning such as low-cost apps.  All faculty should work through their respective department chair.  We are encouraging faculty to use G Suite, Google Hangouts Meet and Moodle as the main course delivery mechanisms as these tools are supported by IT. 


Q: Will students be allowed on campus to conduct research related to a class?
No, students will not be allowed on campus to conduct research related to a class.  Faculty will need to re-imagine some assignments in light of this constraint.

Advising and Retention

Q: When will academic advising begin and how will it be conducted?
Academic advising will begin the week of April 6th.  Refer to Jennifer Leach’s March 24th email to advisors for information about remote advising (which includes this link on Remote Advising) .


Q: What if I need to consult with someone in the Registrar’s Office, the Office of Advising & Retention, the Center for Integrative Learning, or the Center for Academic Success?
Staff in each of these offices are available throughout the day by email.  Please reach out to them as needed.


Q: How much support can students receive from the Emergency Fund?
Encourage your students to ask for the support they need from the SU Emergency Fund .  The university may need to put limits on the amount awarded so that all students can benefit from the fund; however, it will help the university to understand the overall need even if it is not able to address all the needs with the Emergency Fund. The university can then explore other avenues of support. 


Q: What can I do as a faculty member to assist the University as it navigates the uncertain enrollment and retention environment?
As a faculty member, you can contribute by providing accurate information to students about the current situation and reassuring students that faculty, staff, and the administration are working hard to adjust to the changing landscape and that we are hoping to return to the normal face-to-face learning experience as soon as possible.  If you get questions about financial aid, please refer the student to James Gaeta in the Financial Aid Office. If you are asked to participate in new enrollment initiatives directed at prospective students, try to find the time.  If you haven’t already joined the student letter writing campaign, you are invited to do so by contacting Christine Bowman (bowmanc@southwestern.edu). If students are not engaging with your classes, reach out to Dave Seiler and let him know as soon as possible.  

Department and Faculty Policies 

Q: Do I need a letter from HR to come to campus during the Williamson County stay- at-home order?
If you expect to be on campus consistently to provide remote teaching, you need to send the Dean an email requesting permission to be added to the official list of employees allowed on campus during the stay-at-home order.  HR will follow up with a letter to this effect as explained in Craig Erwin’s email communication about the Williamson County stay-at-home order distributed to su-fac-off on March 24, 2020.   The letter will be sent to your SU email as a scanned document.


Q: Can Southwestern supplies be donated to support COVID-19 efforts?
If you have excess university supplies you would like to have the university consider donating, you need to contact the Dean of the Faculty prior to making a donation.


Q: When are faculty annual reports due?
The deadline for brief annual reports has been extended to Tuesday, April 14, 2020.   See the original email about annual reports dated February 19, 2020 for the appropriate form to be used for submission.


Q: Will the current hiring freeze impact tenure-track line hires approved for hiring in 2020-2021 for positions to begin in 2021-22?
Yes, the hiring freeze could potentially impact the hiring process for tenure-track lines in 2020-2021 for positions to begin in 2021-22.  We will discuss budget constraints with the Board of Trustees at its April meeting.  Much depends on the size of our entering class as well as the retention of current students.


Q: What impact will the hiring freeze have on current searches?
Most of the searches for tenure-track lines were complete at the time the hiring freeze was announced.  We have paused the searches that were ongoing but had not yet reached the offer stage. 


Q: What impact will the hiring freeze have on adjunct hires for the fall?
If the paperwork has been processed, we will move forward with those classes.  Each appointment letter reserves the right to cancel classes due to enrollment constraints.  We will reassess the need for certain classes at each stage in the registration process.


Q: When will faculty have the opportunity to sign up for committee service for 2020-21?
The Committee Preference Inventory Form for appointed committees will be distributed to tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty, and Academic Affairs staff with rank next week.  


Q: Will summer school be held?
This decision has not been made yet. Ideally, we hope to announce a decision prior to the beginning of advising on April 6.


Q: Will we have SCOPE?
This decision has not been made yet.  We plan to make decisions about both summer school and SCOPE at the same time around April 6. 


Q: Can student research assistants continue their work?
If you are able to continue to provide work for your research assistants remotely, you can continue to log their hours.


Q: Will we extend the tenure clock for pre-tenure faculty?
Given the disruption to teaching and research this semester, pre-tenure faculty will have the option to extend the tenure clock by one year.  Pre-tenure faculty will have until August 17, 2020 to request a one year extension to the review clock.  Pre-tenure faculty who choose to void teaching evaluations for spring 2020 should discuss whether to extend the tenure clock with the Dean.


Q: What do I do about conference travel?
The University has suspended all non-essential travel, including travel related to teaching, research and creative works.  If you have made travel arrangements, the University will cover cancellation fees when reimbursements are not an option.  If you receive a credit for plane tickets purchased with your corporate card, the University expects the credit to be used on your next university-related trip.


Q: Can conference travel funds roll over to the next budget year?
No, we are not able to roll over funds for conference travel.  Rolling over funds from the operating budget causes many accounting difficulties and produces additional work for our business office colleagues.  It is not part of our normal budget structure. 


Q: Will governance committees meet for the rest of the spring 2020 semester?
In general, committees will not meet for the rest of the semester unless there is urgent business.  Curriculum Committee, Faculty Steering, and Strategic Planning have decided to suspend meetings.  The Awards and Honors Committee and Faculty Status and Review will meet remotely through Google Hangouts Meet.  If you are a committee chair, please communicate with your members if future meetings are necessary.  We ask that committees try not to meet so that faculty can focus on transitioning their courses to remote learning.

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