Nicholls Faculty Senate meeting regarding spring semester


Graphic by Addie Wetzel

The Nicholls State University Faculty Senate held its first-ever online meeting on Wednesday to discuss items of immediate concern moving forward in the spring semester.

Nicholls President Jay Clune opened with remarks of concern for the community’s well-being and appreciation for the faculty and students. 

“Thanks to faculty, we have stayed one step ahead of staying in federal restrictions, and that has not been easy, as fast as this is changing,” Clune said. 

Clune then went into updates regarding the near future. 

The majority of faculty voted against the pass or fail option for grading procedures for spring 2020. The grading system will remain the same, although some guideline changes include extending the class withdrawal date to April 20, extending a generous policy for awarding incompletes and waving academic suspension procedures.  

In declining the pass or fail option, Clune said, “I think it is the right thing to do, and I applaud the faculty for that.”

Clune said although TOPS is taking a dim view of the pass or fail option, Jim Henderson, University of Louisiana System president, is working toward getting this semester waived for TOPS eligibility requirements.  

Computer and Internet access will continue to be available to students in need. The available computer lab has moved to Ellender Hall, with hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday.

Spring break is remaining as scheduled and will begin on April 10. Classes will resume on April 20. Clune said it is a much-needed break for faculty, as well as students.

Housing and dining services are refunding roughly a million dollars to students, with $850,000 in housing and $55,000 in dining. Sodexo, the university’s dining partner, is assuming a greater majority of the dining refund, which is over $300,000.

Seventy students reported they were staying in on-campus housing, due to reasons such as not feeling safe enough to leave, not having a way to get home or not having adequate Wi-Fi or technology to continue online classes.

Two students tested positive for COVID-19. These students have been off-campus and not a danger to their fellow classmates.

Clune said although the university is engaging in social distancing and self-isolation, everyone still stands together as one Nicholls State University, and he offers thoughts and well wishes to these students.  

Sue Westbrook, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the graduation commencement ceremony is still postponed to a later date. Plans are to also do a virtual ceremony of sorts for conferring degrees. More information on that will come later in the month. 

Clune said summer school is scheduled to return to on-campus instruction with hopes of the pandemic easing up. With the rapidly changing updates, more information about summer school will come in the upcoming weeks.  

Clune said the current goal is not to substitute the physical campus with a virtual one but to create a virtual campus that will be available to online students. Everything done for the virtual campus is taking into consideration preparations for the worst-case scenario.

While Nicholls has moved forward with the Zoom program for online classes, the senate called into question the legal issues of privacy with which Zoom has been associated. As the concerns have been forwarded to I.T., the faculty is looking for the best solution.