Lunch’n with your Dean brings conversation to online class transition

Cole Elledge, Reporter

Alan Rasmussen, interim dean of students, hosted the first “Lunch’n with your Dean” meeting via Zoom March 27.

Rasmussen said his goal for Lunch’n with your Dean is to hear and address questions students have during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting focused on grading and the transition to online education. Mark Ginn, vice provost of undergraduate education; Greg Lester, executive director of academic advising and student success; and Lee Kope, LEAD tutoring director, hosted the meeting with Rasmussen.

Ginn said App State is considering giving students the option to use a pass/fail grading system.

“This is one of those things where I feel like it is more important to be correct than to be quick. Nobody is getting graded for another couple of months,” Ginn said.

Lester said the class drop date is extended to May but recommended consulting one’s advisers. Pre-registration for summer and fall sessions begins April 8.

Kope said Student Learning Center has a resource called Keep Learning, which can be accessed through Services offered by Keep Learning included Peer Academic Coaching, where other students give academic advice via appointment schedules, and different types of tutoring, which include course/instructor-specific small group tutoring sessions, LEAD tutoring for chemistry courses, and drop-in learning labs. Available tutoring appointments can be checked via TutorTrac. Keep Learning also offers an open course that teaches time management and study skills to help prepare students for online education.

Korbin Cummings, a member of the App State Student Government Association, attended the meeting. Cummings said two student town halls were held March 17 and 20. Student wages, meal plan refunds and internet access for online courses were the three main concerns discussed at the town halls. Korbin said she approved of the meetings.

“I’d definitely like to see more calls like that happen in the future, but I got the overall sense that there’s just a lot happening in the UNC system that the university does not know.” Korbin said.

Korbin asked about how the main concerns of the town halls, as well as food security and the mental health of students, are addressed by App State during the Q/A session of the meeting. Rasmussen said updates on refunds and wages are still needed from the UNC system and Student Health Services remains open and is transitioning to “fully telehealth.” Students have access to free wi-fi membership via their student accounts and Student Offices is working with Academic Affairs and advising to offer help for the various needs of students.

Korbin said future Lunch’n meetings can be improved through greater communication with students, faculty, and staff and that issues brought up in the town halls should be addressed by decision makers at App State. “Like I said in the meeting, you’re asking students to take a survey online to say ‘What are the best options for you in order to take this class?’ and, you know, those students at home don’t have internet access.” Korbin said.

“There’s still a lot of questions out there. There was no way the administration could have prepared or planned for this. Who would have thought in 2020 that a virus like this would keep all of us inside?” said Kim Morton, associate director of the Office of Transfer Services. 

Morton, who attended the meeting, said that the Lunch’n event provides the opportunity for students and administration to discuss information on how App State will function. “I know students still have questions about pass/fail or summer  or when we might return to normal so this might be a good opportunity for students to get a little bit more direction on when those answers might be coming.”

Morton said that the Office of Transfer Services and most other university offices will continue to operate as normally with meetings online.

Ginn said the library’s atrium will remain open, and the library will mail books to students.

Rasmussen said meetings will continue to take place every Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Future themes include mental and physical health and specific communities like transfer students and graduating seniors.