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A Letter from the President
The leaves are just starting to turn on campus. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been together again for a month. All of us are pleased to be face-to-face after the sudden evacuation in 2020 and an entire year of being largely remote. We continue to be grateful for our low COVID-19 case numbers and are dedicated to ensuring that all of our students are able to complete the fall semester with strong academic records.
As promised, we want to ensure that you are aware of what is happening on campus. Please read the short articles below carefully to learn about our academic alert system and our new telehealth program. You also will enjoy learning more about Dr. Andrew Prall, our new chief academic officer. We are so happy to have him with us at Aurora University and look forward to the strong positive academic leadership he will provide.
Now let me turn to an important challenge we are facing and to seek your help. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a sweeping COVID-related executive order several weeks ago. All colleges and universities incorporated in the state must comply and so must our students. This is serious. At AU we cannot spend any more time trying to persuade students to follow the Governor’s direction. We now must insist on compliance.
The Governor’s order is simple:
- All students and employees in higher education are required to be vaccinated.
- Those who are not vaccinated must secure and submit weekly COVID-19 test results.
AU is offering COVID-19 testing free of charge five days a week (Monday–Friday) from 7 a.m.–4 p.m. At George Williams College, surveillance testing takes place one day a week.
It is possible that colleges and universities will have to take stringent steps to force compliance — such as holding grades from the fall semester or denying registration for the spring semester. Others are contemplating stiff fines or disciplinary actions for those who do not comply. Regardless of our personal perspectives, we have an obligation as citizens to honor the Governor’s executive order.
I want to ensure that you are aware of the potential consequences of non-compliance. Please help by encouraging your student to take responsibility now. I appreciate your help.
Rebecca L. Sherrick, PhD
Early Academic Alerts
Throughout the semester, Aurora University faculty send academic alerts to students who are at risk for being in academic danger. This could include a variety of performance measures, including a low exam grade, excessive absences, low grade(s) on an assignment(s), failure to submit assignment(s), written work needing improvement, lack of class participation, failure to access Moodle and/or AU email, failure to purchase the course text(s) and materials, and/or any other behavior that qualifies the student as one in need of help to be successful in the course.
Faculty pay particular attention to first-year students who are experiencing academic struggles within the first four weeks of the semester. Notices to all at-risk first-year students will be sent out no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21.
An electronic copy of the early academic alert is automatically forwarded to the student, as well as to the student’s academic advisor, the athletic coach (for our student-athletes), and/or staff in the Academic Support Center for early intervention. These individuals will work in collaboration with students to get them back on track toward academic success.
TimelyCare Telehealth Program
TimelyCare is a new telehealth program available to all AU students. This service provides access to medical and mental virtual healthcare from anywhere in the United States 24 hours a day, seven days a week — with no cost for a visit. Whether students are feeling under the weather, anxious, or overwhelmed, they will be able to talk to a licensed provider from their smartphone or any web-enabled device. Students can access TimelyCare by visiting timelycare.com/AU and registering with their preferred name and AU email address.
AU has been conducting surveillance testing on the Aurora and GWC campuses since the beginning of the fall semester. We are pleased to report that this surveillance testing has identified very few cases on the Aurora University campuses. AU updates results every two weeks on its COVID-19 Tracker dashboard, which is available here.
As mentioned in Dr. Sherrick’s letter above, surveillance testing is ramping up on all campuses to comply with Governor Pritzker's executive order. Students are asked to cooperate and promptly schedule testing when they receive their surveillance testing "invitation." If you or a student has questions about testing, please email COVID19questions@aurora.edu for assistance.
Leadership Profile: Andrew J. Prall, PhD
Dr. Prall is AU’s vice president for academic affairs, which is also known as the chief academic officer of the university. In his role, he works with deans, department chairs, and faculty on curricular and academic policy issues in support of student success. Dr. Prall joined AU in August 2021.
What attracted you to Aurora University?
The more that I learned about Aurora University, the more evident it was to me that AU is a place where people authentically live the mission of creating an inclusive community dedicated to the transformative power of learning. There is tremendous power in inclusion, which is not mere acceptance but total involvement and engagement in the pursuit of purpose. This engagement and focus on the whole person are life-affirming and life-changing, lifting each student up to new heights. Students can start at AU and go anywhere, confident in who they are and what they have to offer the world.
What are your initial impressions of AU?
We are a dynamic campus that offers high quality and valuable academic experiences in many different forms, whether it is our traditional undergraduate education on the main campus, our outstanding online programs, our tremendously supportive learning community at George Williams College, our convenient access to classes at Orchard Center, or our programs that meet the needs of our community at the Woodstock Center. Although expressed in many forms and modalities, outstanding academic quality and student engagement are at the heart of all that we do.
Do you have advice on how family members can help their college student succeed at AU?
Encourage resilience and foster persistence. Every student will experience challenges along the way, as that is also an important part of the collegiate experience. We learn from setbacks and challenges, but sometimes students will need encouragement to keep going. A little extra encouragement in those moments, whether it is a phone call or a text message or a care package, can make all of the difference and help students to keep their focus on their larger purpose. Just as a runner must run through that tape at the finish line, we want to see every student walk across that stage at graduation and earn the degree that will open doors of opportunity.