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Campus Update

October 13, 2021

Honoring those with 30+ years of service

Employees with 30 or more years of service to WCU and the state of North Carolina were honored at a luncheon today. Two of those being honored were Karen Woody and Brian Railsback, both of whom have 30 years of service.

Woody joined the Chancellor's Office in 1983 as an office assistant and has served as a business officer in the office for the last 11 years.

Railback has served as an instructor, department head, dean and professor in the English Department. During that time, he has published newspaper articles, scholarly essays, short stories, scholarly books and one novel. He has given lectures on John Steinback throughout the U.S. and in Japan, Mexico, Portugal and the Republic of Georgia. Railsback founded the Spring Literary Festival and the Honors College, and is the founding director of WCU's Office of National and International Awards.

Final vaccine incentive winners

The final vaccine incentive $500 cash award winners have been announced. Winners of the faculty/staff drawing held last week include: Kevin Stephens, Facilities Management; Michael Wheatley, Facilities Management; Tabatha Springer, IT; and Brenda Henkel, Residential Living.

Winners of the $500 student awards are: Grayson Hall, Madeline Heaton, Haley Veals, Alex Allen, Ian Waugh, Alexandra Bryan, Alyssa Collins, Brandon Childress.

Pfizer booster shots available from WCU Health Services

WCU Health Services has available Pfizer booster shots for individuals that meet the CDC’s eligibility requirements, which include: 

  • Individuals who have received an initial two doses of Pfizer, and it has been at least 6 months since the second dose

AND

  • Are 65 years or older
  • Are 18 years or older and are a resident of a long-term care facility
  • Are aged 50-64, and self-attest to having an underlying medical condition that puts them at high risk for severe COVID-19
  • Are aged 18-49, and self-attest to having an underlying medical condition that puts them at high risk for severe COVID-19 and have considered their individual risks and benefits
  • Are aged 18-64, and self-attest to having an occupational or institutional exposure to COVID-19 (for example, health care workers, correctional staff, frontline essential workers), and have considered their individual risks and benefits

Appointments are available through self-scheduling in the Health Services’ Patient Portal. Patients will be asked to self-attest that they meet CDC criteria. If you have questions regarding COVID vaccines, visit COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing and Resources for updates, or call Health Services at 828-227-7640.

Forums set for updating campus master plan

WCU is in the process of updating its 2014 Campus Master Plan and will hold two virtual forums to allow for public feedback.

Faculty, staff, students, neighbors and other interested parties are invited to learn more about this important revision to the university’s planning document that guides the physical development of its Cullowhee campus. 

Two forums will be held to share WCU’s need for an update to its campus master plan, and allow for public feedback.

The dates for the forums are:

The latest campus master plan can be seen by visiting info.wcu.edu/masterplan. Those who attend the forum will be able to access and provide feedback after the event via a link that will be provided at the forum.

October 7, 2021

Flu Clinic Available for Employees

Protect yourself. It is more important than ever that you get a flu shot this year. Health experts recommend getting the flu vaccine early. While the COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting the country, health experts are concerned about an unpredictable flu season. Flu cases have already been reported across North Carolina.

PLEASE REVIEW THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. The process for scheduling, paperwork completion and arrival has changed. WCU's Flu Clinic vendor this year is Walmart Pharmacy for the Cullowhee campus at the following times:

A.K. Hinds University Center, Room 309 - Illusions

  • Monday, Oct. 11, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 Unfortunately, we have not been successful in coordinating with a partner pharmacy for the Biltmore Park instructional site; however, CVS Pharmacy at the entrance to Biltmore Park is accepting patients for flu vaccinations now.

Walmart Pharmacy is a participating provider in most major health plans, including the N.C. State Employee's Insurance, Medicare and state employee's retiree coverage. Participants in the flu clinic must be age 10 or older, per Walmart corporate policy.

An appointment is required. Please adhere to the schedule and your appointment time. The flu clinic staff will adhere to physical distancing and facial covering requirements on campus. Visit the registration website at Walmart Flu Clinic Registration

Register for an account if you do not already use the Walmart Pharmacy app. Once your registration is complete, choose the option to schedule a service. Choose flu shot and the WCU location.

You can also complete your consent form online and have all the paperwork completed before your appointment time.

For more information regarding flu shots and flu activity, visit the CDC's website

For more information regarding the Flu Clinic, contact Pam Buchanan, director of health services, at 828.227.3475 or pmbuchanan@wcu.edu; or Katie Williams Lanning, business officer, at 828.227.3473 or kwilliams@wcu.edu.

Homecoming Week Activities

A host of activities and events are planned for Homecoming Week for students, alumni, faculty and staff, leading up to Saturday's 3:30 p.m. football game against Mercer at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field. Visit homecoming.wcu.edu to see a list of scheduled events and updates.

Vaccination Rates

To date, 62% of resident credit students (those living on and off campus) have submitted proof of being fully vaccinated. 

In addition, 95% of permanent faculty and 84% of permanent staff have attested to being fully vaccinated. Also, 86% of ALL employees (permanent, temporary, and part-time) have attested to being fully vaccinated. University staff are working to validate the attestations, and currently 78% of all employees have submitted proof of vaccination. 

Employees who have attested they are fully vaccinated, but have not yet uploaded proof of vaccination, are urged to do so as soon as possible. Those employees who do not submit proof of vaccination in addition to the attestation will be subject to regular testing. See information below on how to upload vaccination status.

Answers to Your Fall Open Forum Questions

The Staff and Faculty senates recently held a Fall Open Forum, giving faculty and staff across campus the opportunity to address their concerns with campus leadership. Read more about the responses to those questions.

Questions and Responses from the Leadership Panel at the Fall Open Forum

  1. Can you explain how the get vaccinated or get tested policy is effective and why only a random sample of 500 people are getting tested each week?
    • The approach of testing up to 500 people per week is a strategy that allows us to test a large sample without exhausting our resources/capacity.
    • For WCU, capacity primarily includes the availability of testing supplies, which are in short supply nation-wide, and staffing at University Health Services, who are carrying an enormous testing and vaccination load on top of regular health services offered to faculty and staff.
  1. Why would our campus not be more proactive and test everyone regardless of vaccination status? Some could be asymptomatic and still spreading this deadly virus on our campus.
    • Guidance from the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the UNC System has been consistent in promoting a ‘get vaccinated or get tested’ strategy.
    • Current CDC guidance recommends testing for fully vaccinated people in event of exposure or if they are symptomatic. There are no recommendations to surveillance test fully vaccinated persons who are not symptomatic or who have not had a close exposure to a positive individual.
    • We ask any faculty, staff, or student who has symptoms or who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive to COVID to seek testing.
  1. Why are we permitting indoor dining, despite having adopted a mask mandate for all public indoor spaces? How is this risk being mitigated?
    • WCU requires mask wearing indoors unless actively eating or drinking.
    • Signage is up in all dining locations to this effect.
  1. Can you speak to large on campus events, specifically those held inside with meals? Is this a responsible decision and why? Examples include: opening assembly and employee appreciation day.
    • The last 18 months have been challenging with tremendous impact on our campus community and our campus culture.
    • WCU is a successful institution because of the sense of community we provide. Community-building is essential to student success and to a thriving workplace.
    • In that spirit, campus leaders have evaluated large events on a case-by-case basis in the context of rebuilding community.
    • Most large events outdoors are still permitted, although we strongly encourage mask wearing in high-density areas.
    • Large indoor events are permitted on a limited basis and, again, we require masks indoors at those events unless actively eating or drinking. And no large event on campus has required mandatory attendance.
    • We have also, where possible, provided an alternative attendance experience for those who do not wish to attend large events in person. For example, we live-streamed Opening Assembly and are live-streaming this forum.
  1. I have coworkers who I love and respect that I work in the same room with who are unvaccinated, and because we are not a publicly accessible office our leadership has not required us to wear masks. On one hand I appreciate this because it's hard to wear a mask at all times all day. I have an infant at home who can't get vaccinated yet as well as other family members who rely on me. I'm vaccinated and wear my mask at all times on campus and everywhere else outside of my home. If I get sick, I don't want to play the blame game or hold it against my coworkers, so what else can I do to help ensure that I am personally being as safe as possible while I'm at work?
    • Masks are required in public indoor spaces, including in suites and departments.
    • Even in the situation you describe, all person should wear a mask in common areas in the office suite. Unless someone is alone in their private office (i.e., a fully enclosed place with a door), they should wear a mask.
    • If anyone is concerned about compliance among faculty or staff, please contact Human Resources.
  1. The CDC lists no- or low-cost interventions ranging from no cost (opening windows) to $100 (window fans; repositioning supply/exhaust diffusers) to $500 (adding portable HEPA fan/filter systems to existing HVAC systems). Has WCU used any pandemic relief-related funds to implement any of these measures?
    • The measures listed above are guidance for individuals in their homes. In May 2020, the CDC issued guidance for businesses and employers for responding to the Coronavirus disease.   It is guidance similar to the above, but on a large scale for institutional, high occupancy buildings.
    • As a result, the following measures were taken in accordance with the CDC guidance:
      • Flush buildings by running longer hours; Building controls to cause building occupied two (2) hours pre-and post-occupancy.
      • Adjust systems to maximize outside air intake while maintaining appropriate temperature and humidity levels.
      • Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) where applicable.
      • Through existing preventative maintenance program, continue to monitor and manage filter banks to ensure adequate filtration; Inspect for any air by-pass; Increase filter Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating where possible
  1. Is it possible for faculty to be alerted if we have a cluster of positive covid tests in one of our classes? For example, in classes of ten or more students (to preserve anonymity), could faculty receive an alert if five or more students in a single section have tested positive for covid within seven days?
    • These are two issues at play in this question: 1) defining/alerting campus about COVID clusters and 2) notifying faculty if a student(s) in their class tests positive.
    • Regarding the issue of clusters:
      • Clusters are defined by the NC DHHS as 5 or more cases of COVID with a plausible causal linkage between them.
      • WCU does not determine clusters, that is a public health department determination. If the public health department alerts us to a cluster, we will inform the campus.
      • For university planning purposes and COVID protocols, WCU assumes COVID is pervasive in the community.
  • Regarding the second issue of faculty notification:
      • Privacy interests do not allow us to notify faculty of a student’s health reasons for absence.
      • As requested by students, Student Affairs has continued facilitating the absence notification process during the pandemic. A link to info on this process is posted at scrt.wcu.edu
      • Students can, and sometimes do, share detailed information directly with faculty, but the university cannot disclose that private information directly.
  1. We were all worried about compensation, retention, and recruitment BEFORE the pandemic. In the last few months, it is unbelievable to how many people we have lost.  The system office has tied our hands on mission critical actions but we have also made internal decisions regarding benefits such as denying flexible work arrangements.  Can you please address the University’s response to these separations and how we are responding to not only the departures but also the subsequent downward pressure and increased workload on those who remain?  Are we taking any action?  Are we tracking the numbers of departures and open positions? 
    • Employee turnover is an issue of significant concern not just for WCU, but for all UNC System institutions and across the higher education landscape.
    • WCU does monitor turnover rates and the data do indicate that turnover is higher than we’ve seen since 2019 (the last full year prior to the pandemic). See below:
    • WCU does monitor turnover rates and the data do indicate that turnover is higher than we’ve seen since 2019 (the last full year prior to the pandemic). See below:
      • 1-1-2021 to 8-31-2021: 116 Voluntary Separations
      • 1-1-2020 to 8-31-2021: 59 Voluntary Separations
      • 1-1-2019 to 8-31-2019: 97 Voluntary Separations

**Important NOTE: Comparing only to 2020 can be misleading as our turnover rates were the lowest they have been in 20 years (COVID related – limited hiring, limited movement by the workforce)

 

Total

Retirements/Other

Voluntary (Excluding Retirements)

 

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

2019

9.3%

11.6%

11.1%

2.7%

2.4%

3.1%

5.2%

6.9%

6.0%

EHRA Non-Faculty

13.1%

18.5%

17.2%

1.8%

2.0%

2.7%

9.3%

13.0%

10.9%

Faculty

6.9%

8.9%

6.0%

2.8%

3.7%

1.5%

2.3%

2.9%

2.2%

SHRA Staff

9.5%

10.8%

10.8%

3.1%

2.5%

4.3%

5.7%

6.7%

5.9%

  • There are several avenues to address retention including counter offers with department/division funds, requesting funding from the UNC Faculty Retention Funds, and arrangements around job flexibility or duties. Supervisors should work with their deans/division heads and Human Resources on the best approach for a given situation.
  • We do expect, however, that we will not retain everyone who wishes to leave WCU. The job market right now is highly competitive to an employee’s advantage and some individuals are availing themselves of opportunities that are good for them and their families.
  1. My perception is that morale across campus is incredibly low, and everyone seems like they're at a breaking point. What is being done to address these concerns? Giving us mental health resources is not enough when people feel like they can't take any time off to utilize them.
    • There is no doubt that the last 18 months have been challenging and that campus morale has been affected.
    • The Chancellor and campus leadership are proud of all the ways that various divisions and Human Resources have worked to alleviate stress and anxiety wherever possible.
    • Many supervisors have been flexible wherever possible with individual employee circumstances.
    • All faculty and staff have access to the Employee Assistance Program and are strongly encouraged to utilize that benefit
    • EAP Link: https://secure.my.wcu.edu/division/AdminFinance/HRandPayroll/Pages/EAP.aspx
    • Human Resources offer a range of support options that encourage mindfulness and relief of mental health issues. Free access to the Calm app is one example.
    • Faculty and staff are strongly urged to take advantage of the many benefits available to them and if any individual employee feels they are being prevented from utilizing these resources, please contact Human Resources.
    • And, finally, campus leaders strongly and urgently implore all members of our campus community to treat each other with grace, kindness, and patience in these turbulent times. You will be invited to participate in a week of kindness this fall, but we ask that you extend these sentiments to your colleagues and students each day.
  1. Our refreshed strategic plan calls for enhanced adaptability and flexibility with regard to flexible work arrangements as a means of recruiting and retaining employees.  It seems though that there is pressure from all corners of university leadership to not utilize this widely accepted and adopted practice.  Can you speak to the University’s official position?
    • WCU’s official position is that flexible work arrangements are available and possible in all areas of the University, when appropriate, and all divisions have allowed for flexible work arrangements under a variety of circumstances with employees.
    • Decisions about flexible work arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis within the context of the department/unit needs and the individual employee’s duties and responsibilities.
    • Employees interested in flexible work arrangements should begin that conversation with their supervisors.
    • Important additional considerations on flexible work arrangements at WCU:
      • Flexible work arrangements do not necessarily mean fully remote work options. Fully remote work is not appropriate for many positions or employees but will be considered in certain circumstances.
      • WCU is a public university with a primarily residential student population. As such, there is an expectation that University offices will be open and fully staffed in person.
      • Western has enjoyed tremendous success because of the strong sense of community on campus. Rebuilding that sense of community is essential as we begin to plan for post-pandemic operations, and this may be a consideration in evaluating fully remote work options.
  1. We’ve built 2 buildings (Apodaca and Allen), are finishing a 3rd (parking deck), are well underway with the Steam Plant, have a lego village going up by the admin building, and made it impossible to navigate campus easily, while also continuing to nickel and dime faculty and staff with required parking permits and optional wellness center fees, but we haven’t cracked the code on how to give raises without a state legislature requirement. Why?
    • The trend of compensation considerations for university employees by the State has been and continues to be a source of great concern among campus leaders, particularly in a time of robust state revenues.
    • Campus leadership in conjunction with UNC System leadership continues to strongly advocate for meaningful compensation increases for faculty and staff. It is WCU’s top legislative priority, and we have much work to do in this area.
    • In lieu of legislative appropriations for compensation increases University leadership has (and continues to) identified other institutional funding sources to address market gaps and pay equity considerations among faculty and staff.
    • Since 2014, WCU has allocated $5.5 million to compensation increases. The last allocation of $1.3 million to address compensation was completed in March of 2020.
    • It is true that WCU has benefitted from ample allocations of non-recurring funds for things like construction, but we are still mired in a stalemate over recurring appropriations to compensate our people.
  1. Is there still a hiring freeze within the UNC system? Can you please tell us a bit more about the freeze and when you hope it will be lifted?
    • While there are some temporary prohibitions on salary and other personnel actions, there is no hiring freeze in effect in the UNC System.
  1. I'm concerned that there is just one way out of campus from the Killian/Coulter/UC/Village/Commuter lots. Isn't this dangerous? Sitting in traffic to get from Killian to the Book Store stop sign can take up to 15 minutes, and then there's another 15 minutes or so to get to the light at 107. What if there was a need for emergency vehicles? Is there a plan to open or re-open an alternate exit for this part of campus, such as the road behind the new science building? Instead of being able to drive around to exit in front of Noble, there is now a traffic circle with no access to that exit.
    • This is a topic that is being considered as part of the revised Master Planning process.
    • For those wishing to provide feedback, please attend one of the public forums. The dates for the forums are:
  1. WCU has expressed a commitment to environmental sustainability. How do you reconcile this with the exponential growth of off campus housing and it's proven effects on the local environment, namely the Tuckasegee watershed? Has our partner, the builder of the complex on the millennial campus paid their fines to the state after repeated environmental violations?
    • Development of private, off-campus housing is governed by Jackson County and not by Western Carolina University.
    • Campus leaders do meet regularly with off-campus developers and encourage responsible building consistent with WCU’s enrollment projections.
    • The Husk project was a public private partnership utilizing land on the Millennial Campus leased to a private developer.
    • WCU worked with the State to ensure that the fines for all infractions were paid in full by the developer.
  1. Can you address the current situation with campus dining? Who is responsible for opening the dining venues?  Are our students, and those with a meal plan eligible for a refund since seemingly ½ of our published options are not available?
    • WCU’s Catamount Dining operations are contracted with Aramark. The partnership with Aramark is administered by Student Affairs’ Department of Auxiliary Enterprises.
    • Currently 16 out of 19 campus dining venues are open albeit on a rotating, dynamic schedule. There are 3 venues that remain closed (the Lodge at Brown Hall, Steak and Shake, and Which Wich) but Catamount Dining hopes to rotate the Lodge at Brown Hall and Which Wich into the schedule after Fall Break.
    • Catamount Dining, like food venues and restaurants locally, regionally, and nationally, is struggling to hire adequate staffing to service all the campus venues. In addition, supply chain issues continue to arise as we work to open more venues and more hours.
    • Staff from Auxiliary Enterprises regularly meet with the Dining Service Advisory Board to discuss current operations and options to deliver the most value to students possible under these challenging conditions.

September 1, 2021

Apodaca Science Building Grand Opening - Parking and Traffic Impact

The official grand opening of the new Apodaca Science Building will take place this week on Friday, Sept. 3, at 2 p.m. The ceremony will be held near the main west entrance to the building on Memorial Drive. We expect many external visitors and guests to attend this event. A number of parking spots behind Killian Building and the University Center along Memorial Drive will be reserved for campus guests, so please be aware of parking and traffic congestion in that area of campus on Friday afternoon. 

New deadline for "Get Vaccinated or Get Tested" – Sept. 15

Campus leadership has revised the deadline for faculty, staff, and students to get vaccinated or be subject to regular testing. Initially, a deadline of Oct. 1 was established to accommodate testing capacity and provide individuals time to become fully vaccinated. Updates to testing availability and staffing will now allow the campus to move that deadline up to Sept 15. Any faculty, staff or student who has not submitted proof of full vaccination by Sept. 15 will be subject to regular testing, which will begin the week of Sept. 20. Additional details on testing protocols will be forthcoming next week. 

WCU Health Services continues to offer free COVID-19 vaccines. Please call 828-227-7640 to make your appointment.

Vaccination Rates

To date, 50% of resident credit students (those living on and off campus) have submitted proof of being fully vaccinated. 

In addition, 90% of permanent faculty and 80% of permanent staff have attested to being fully vaccinated. Also, 81% of ALL employees (permanent, temporary, and part-time) have attested to being fully vaccinated. University staff are working to validate the attestations, and currently 57% of all employees have submitted proof of vaccination. 

Employees who have attested they are fully vaccinated, but have not yet uploaded proof of vaccination, are urged to do so as soon as possible. Those employees who do not submit proof of vaccination in addition to the attestation will be subject to regular testing. See information below on how to upload vaccination status.

Upload Vaccination Status

All faculty, staff and students should update their vaccination status as soon as possible on the Fall 2021 Operations and Procedures web page. Select the appropriate link under Vaccine Status Submission.

Vaccine Incentives

The first vaccine incentive cash awards to employees and students will begin this week. As a reminder, you can submit proof of vaccination through Sept. 30 to be eligible to win. 

To encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated and to express our appreciation to those who have already taken this important step to protect our community, WCU will hold random drawings for 16 $500 awards to employees and 32 $500 awards to students. 

COVID-19 and Catamounts Care

All faculty, staff, students and visitors should continue to follow the Catamounts Care protocols against the delta variant of COVID-19. 

Face coverings remain a requirement in all public indoor spaces and on the CatTran. Face coverings are required in campus dining facilities when not actively eating or drinking. In addition, face coverings are strongly encouraged in high-density outdoor settings, such as sporting events or other campus events where social distancing is difficult.

FAQs about COVID-19 testing at Health Services, student absence notification and student quarantine protocols.

Please visit FAQs for more information about COVID-19 this fall, including contact information. 

Employee COVID-19 Reporting

Any faculty or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, or who must quarantine due to a close contact exposure, should not report to work (or if at work, go home immediately) and should contact their supervisor as soon as possible. Once notified, supervisors are required to complete the COVID-19 EXPOSURE SUPERVISOR REPORTING FORM, which can be found on the Employee Resources page, and inform the employee that a University Return to Work Coordinator will be contacting them.

 

August 25, 2021

Vaccination Rate

To date, 88% of permanent, full-time faculty and 76% of permanent, full-time staff have attested they are fully vaccinated. Additionally, 44% of resident credit students (which includes those who live on campus and off campus) have attested they are fully vaccinated. Staff continue to validate the attestations and we continue to urge students to report their vaccination status and, if not yet vaccinated, to do so as soon as possible.

Coach Peacock Memorial Service

Catamount Athletics will host a memorial service for offensive line coach John Peacock Friday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field. 

Haywood County Flood Impact

The severe flooding last week that resulted from the remnants of tropical storm Fred has devastated many of our surrounding communities. You have seen and, I am sure, heard that some have lost their homes, property, and lives as a result. If you are aware of any employees that have been impacted, please let Human Resources know as soon as possible. WCU is exploring what possible leave options, if any, may be available to these individuals.    

In addition, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning is organizing a drive for donations through Monday, Aug. 30. Please see this link for more information for items needed, suggested monetary donations and drop off locations. For more information contact Lane Perry (laneperry@wcu.edu).

Parking Update

The following parking spaces have been added for faculty/staff.

  • Baptist 4 Tier Lot #37 - 40+ spaces on the second tier identified by signs.
  • Killian East Metered Lot #34 - 10 metered spaces identified by signs. The 10 metered spaces identified here are temporary until notified.

In addition, 360 spaces (of the roughly 1,000 total) in the new Parking Garage are now open and we expect the remainder to open up later this week. 

COVID-19 and Catamounts Care

The following includes updates and reminders as faculty, staff and students are urged to continue to follow the Catamounts Care protocols against the delta variant of COVID-19.

FAQs for COVID-19, Fall 2021

Please visit FAQs for for more information about COVID-19 this fall, including contact information. 

Employee COVID-19 Reporting

Any faculty or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, or who must quarantine due to a close contact exposure, should not report to work (or if at work, go home immediately) and should contact their supervisor as soon as possible. Once notified, supervisors are required to complete the COVID-19 EXPOSURE SUPERVISOR REPORTING FORM, which can be found on the Employee Resources page, and inform the employee that a University Return to Work Coordinator will be contacting them.

Get Vaccinated or Get Tested Regularly

All faculty, staff and students are strongly urged to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Those who do not upload valid proof of vaccination by Oct. 1 will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing. Details on testing protocols will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. WCU Health Services continues to offer free COVID-19 vaccines. Please call 828-227-7640 to make your appointment.

Upload Vaccination Status

All faculty, staff and students should update their vaccination status as soon as possible. 

Vaccine Incentives

To encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated and to express our appreciation to those who have already taken this important step to protect our community, WCU will hold random drawings for $500 awards from the list of those who are fully vaccinated.

  • Two $500 awards for each vaccination month will be awarded to employees (faculty and staff) who get vaccinated before Oct. 1. A total of sixteen cash awards (two each in February, March, April, May, June, July, August and September) will be awarded to employees. The eligibility pool is based on the month(s) in which you received your vaccinations.
  • Four $500 awards for each vaccination month will be made to students who get vaccinated before Oct. 1. A total of 32 awards (four each in February, March, April, May, June, July, August and September) will be made to students. The eligibility pool is based on the month(s) in which you received your vaccinations.

August 21, 2021

Hello Catamounts!

I am thrilled to welcome you to the 2021-2022 academic year! We have a robust, in-person experience planned for this fall. Our campus in Cullowhee and our instructional site in Asheville are open and our faculty and staff are ready to welcome students back for face-to-face instruction. The WCU community is here to support you every step of the way in your academic journey and career development. 

This fall, we are excited to offer in-person classes for residential students, fall sports with fans in the stands, campus events and activities, community engagement, and a return to full occupancy residential living. Campus buildings and facilities, including dining operations, the library and the recreation center have returned to normal hours and increased capacity.

We are all in this together as we continue to navigate through a global pandemic. As a reminder, any changes to campus operations, including modality of instruction, will be communicated via our website, an official email from me, and on our official WCU social media accounts.

Your lives are about to change in a positive way as we help to grow your minds here at one of the preeminent regional comprehensive universities in the Southeast. We are totally committed to engaging you so that you have the best educational experience while you are here.

Let’s have a wonderful fall semester!

 

August, 18, 2021

The following includes updates and reminders as faculty, staff and students are urged to continue to follow safe protocols against the delta variant of COVID-19.

Employee COVID-19 Reporting

Any faculty or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19 OR who must quarantine due to a close contact exposure should not report to work (or if at work go home immediately) and should contact their supervisor as soon as possible. Once notified, supervisors are required to complete the COVID-19 EXPOSURE SUPERVISOR REPORTING FORM, which can be found on the Employee Resources page, and inform the employee that a University Return to Work Coordinator will be contacting them.

Get Vaccinated or Get Tested Regularly

All faculty, staff, and students are strongly urged to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Those who do not upload valid proof of vaccination by October 1 will be subject to regular COVID testing. Details on testing protocols will be forthcoming. WCU Health Services continues to offer free COVID-19 vaccines. Please call 828-227-7640 to make your appointment.

Upload Vaccination Status

All faculty, staff and students should update their vaccination status as soon as possible. Links to report your vaccination status can be found on the Fall 2021 Operations and Procedures page.

Vaccine Incentives

To encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated and to express our appreciation to those who have already taken this important step to protect our community, WCU will hold random drawings for $500 awards from the list of those who are fully vaccinated.

  • Two $500 awards for each vaccination month will be awarded to employees (faculty and staff) who get vaccinated before Oct. 1. A total of sixteen cash awards (two each in February, March, April, May, June, July, August and September) will be awarded to employees. The eligibility pool is based on the month(s) in which you received your vaccinations.
  • Four $500 awards for each vaccination month will be made to students who get vaccinated before Oct. 1. A total of 32 awards (four each in February, March, April, May, June, July, August and September) will be made to students. The eligibility pool is based on the month(s) in which you received your vaccinations.

 

August 10, 2021

Dear WCU Campus Community,

As senior campus leaders, we continue to refine the University’s plans around the “get vaccinated or get tested regularly” UNC System guidance. Following are several updates on our preparations. Further information on the testing and follow-up protocols, procedures and frequency will be forthcoming as our plans mature.

By what date will I need to be fully vaccinated before I will be subject to regular testing?

Any faculty, staff or student not fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 should expect to be subject to regular testing protocols after that date. Individuals may report their vaccination status by going to the Fall Operations and Procedures site and selecting the appropriate link under Vaccine Status Submission.  

Who will be included in “get vaccinated or get tested regularly”?

All full and part-time students who will attend any portion of their coursework or other university activity in person in Cullowhee or at Biltmore Park will be expected to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or be part of a regular testing regimen. 

All full and part-time faculty and staff who will conduct any portion of their work in person and on campus in Cullowhee or at Biltmore Park will be expected to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or be part of a regular testing regimen.

We realize that most, if not all of you, would like to have firm guarantees and immediate answers to what the future holds with respect to this pandemic and the University’s response to it. We want that, too. Unfortunately, the facts of the pandemic evolve quickly, resulting in the development and redevelopment of the answers that support our University.

We have accomplished so much over the past 18 months and will continue to do so in the months ahead. The journey has not been easy and your efforts have not gone unnoticed. We see the work, the preparation and the grace and kindness you continue to show each other. We’ve also seen (and experienced) the impatience, the frustration and the exhaustion that has come to us in these uncertain times. The way ahead may appear a little less smooth than we hoped just a few short months ago, but the resilience that we know each of you possess will see us through the challenges ahead.

We remain excited and committed to a robust campus experience this fall. We can, and will, deliver on our promise to provide the best education to our students both in and out of the classroom. Thanks to each of you for your efforts to get us there. We are grateful.

Sincerely,

Kelli R. Brown
Chancellor

Mike Byers

Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance

Shea Browning

General Counsel

Richard Starnes
Provost

Jamie Raynor

Vice Chancellor, Advancement

Craig Fowler

Chief Information Officer

Jessica Woods

Assistant to the Chancellor

Sam Miller
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs

Melissa Canady Wargo

Chief of Staff

Alex Gary

Director of Athletics

August 5, 2021

UNC System Establishes "Get Vaccinated or Get Tested" Policy

Dear WCU Campus Community,
 
I have received new guidance from the UNC System to establish a “get vaccinated or get tested” expectation for all faculty, staff and students at UNC System institutions. Campus leadership is reviewing the guidance and will be developing plans for ensuring all eligible faculty, staff and students are vaccinated or subject to a regular testing regimen.   
 
I understand there will be many questions related to the details and logistics around the expectation of “get vaccinated or get tested." Campus leadership and I are working diligently to prepare an implementation plan in a manner appropriate to the needs and resources of Western Carolina University. More information will be forthcoming soon. 
 
Faculty and staff will be asked to report their vaccination status beginning tomorrow, Aug. 6, when they log into myWCU. Students received communication earlier this week on how to report their status. 
 
Catamounts, it is clear that we are not yet out of the woods with respect to COVID-19. It is equally clear that vaccination remains our best path forward in defeating this virus and ensuring a robust campus experience for all. I continue to strongly urge that all faculty, staff and students who have not yet done so, get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Our WCU Clinic is offering free COVID-19 vaccines. Please call 828-227-7640 to make your appointment.
Sincerely,

Kelli R. Brown
Chancellor

 

July, 28, 2021

A Message from Chancellor Brown Regarding Fall 2021

Dear Campus Community,

We are moving forward with plans to resume as close to normal operations as possible this fall, while continuing to monitor the relevant scientific recommendations on COVID protocols. The resumption of normal operations will include in-person classes, fall sports, campus events and activities, community engagement and a return to full occupancy residential living. All buildings and facilities, including dining operations, the library and the campus recreation center will return to normal hours and increased capacity.

If you have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, I strongly and urgently encourage you to do so at your earliest opportunity. See the FAQ below for more information on the WCU Vaccine Clinic. We are closely evaluating the recent CDC recommendations and the uptick in positive tests and COVID-19 case numbers due to the delta variant spreading primarily among the unvaccinated throughout North Carolina and the nation. Vaccination of all eligible faculty, staff and students is the MOST effective strategy to ensure that our on-going processes to resume normal operations remain on track. 

Below, I’ve provided responses to several frequently asked questions received over the last several days. You can also find this information on the website at fall 2021 operations and procedures, also available at info.wcu.edu/fall2021

Face coverings will be required during instructional activities (during classes, labs, etc.); in health services, clinics, and isolation and quarantine facilities (Bird, Madison, etc.); and in the university’s public transportation vehicles.

WCU will continue to emphasize its Catamounts Care community standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the academic year. We also encourage faculty, staff, and students to follow current CDC guidance with respect to recommendations on face coverings in other circumstances and locations. Current CDC guidance recommends face coverings in indoor locations for ALL individuals in areas with high or substantial transmission of COVID-19. CDC guidance is subject to change based on current conditions and the University may alter its face covering requirements as needed.  

Students, faculty and staff will be asked to report their vaccination status to the University. This information will be used to inform WCU’s on-going preparations and planning. 

Centralized collection of vaccination status data will be handled via an online reporting tool. Information on when and how to submit vaccine status will be communicated directly to faculty, staff and students beginning early next week. Subunits (Residential Living, Health Services, Athletics, etc.) may also collect student vaccination status on an as-needed basis.

We do not plan to share individual vaccine status information. We plan to share only aggregate group percentages of vaccine status for faculty, staff and students.

YES. The WCU Vaccine Clinic will continue to operate regular hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for free vaccination appointments. The clinic will serve faculty/staff/students and will continue to offer Pfizer and J&J vaccines. Please call 828-227-7640 for an appointment.

Surveillance testing will be handled on-demand. Athletics will offer surveillance testing per NCAA guidelines. Residential Living may utilize targeted testing in the residence halls.

We will use PCR and rapid antigen testing. We do not plan to use saliva testing or waste water sampling.

Contact tracing will be handled by the Jackson County Public Health Department. 

We will follow CDC protocols to determine isolation/quarantine recommendations for students based on vaccination status. 

Currently, we have 125 beds for isolation and quarantine (residence hall spaces at Madison and spaces at the Village). 

Individual PPE kits are available in the University Center for all faculty, staff and students. Departments may also request PPE kits for faculty and staff through Facilities Management. 

As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, I extend my most sincere thank you to our dedicated faculty, staff and students for your hard work, dedication and patience as we prepare for an exciting fall semester. 

Sincerely,

Kelli R. Brown
Chancellor

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