UW-Green Bay Provost Kate Burns stresses empathy, appreciates ‘herculean effort’

Provost Kate Burns address the University Community during 2020 Faculty and Staff Virtual Convocation. Video transcript follows:

Hi everyone.

I was so impressed by this weekend’s drive through graduation. Megan DuFrane-Groose, Gail Sims-Aubert, and the entire Office of Student Life should be commended for all of their hard work and creativity in making this event a success. It was really touching to hear the graduates share their stories, see students’ families crammed together in a vehicle (and sometimes several vehicles) to celebrate this important milestone, and feel the pride exuded by our faculty and staff who cheered them on.

It made me think a lot about how we get students to this goal. I know we oftentimes think of graduation as simply a classroom accomplishment. At drive through graduation, it was clear that students were excited to see the familiar faces of people who had supported them both inside *and* outside the classroom. Faculty. Academic and University Staff. We are *all* making an impact on students during their time here.

Last spring we all worked together to somehow accomplish the impossible. We reached out to students. We called them when they hadn’t registered. We checked in on them when they weren’t turning in their work or missing class. We were focused on caring for the whole student inside AND outside the classroom. Academic Affairs and Student Affairs partnering together. These efforts paid off. Our enrollment is up, especially at a time when others across the country are seeing enrollment declines. Our enrollment is up, partly because of recruitment, but largely because of retention.

Retention is everyone’s job. Let me say that again. Retention is EVERYONE’s job. I want all of us (regardless of our roles) to be thinking about how we can better support and better retain our students. This may take a variety of forms:

  • Creating an inclusive campus climate. When students come to our campuses, we want them to feel welcome and that they belong. I am so glad that we will be engaged in inclusivity and equity training this year. Our times call for this emphasis on social justice, but it is also the right thing to do. Cultural competence is a journey, not a destination. As an institution of higher education, we need to model this dedication to learning, reflection, and growth.
  • We have proudly announced ourselves to be an access institution. This means we need to support the students we have. I know many of you attended the SpeakOut Institute this summer. One quote that really stuck with me is “Access without support is not opportunity.” We should all consider in our own areas what that support may look like. We are rolling out Navigate this fall semester. This is a great time to take a look at the Canvas training and learn more about this tool if you haven’t already. Our early alert system with grades and feedback is only as effective as we make it. Research has shown that early alert systems are especially important for students of color and first generation students who may not know how they are performing in their classes. We need to build early feedback into our courses so that students can better understand how they are doing and take steps accordingly.

It’s a new academic year. I appreciate the herculean effort it took to get us here. Countless staff and faculty working together to get us ready. I know many of you are feeling excited, optimistic. But also nervous. Overwhelmed. Worried about work/life balance/childcare and school arrangements. This is not business as usual—we are very much outside our comfort zone. This is how our students are feeling too. Here’s the thing though. Our students have always felt this way, excited about the promise of higher education while simultaneously navigating the headwinds in their lives. I want us to harness these new positive and negative emotions we’re feeling as we go into the fall to better understand and support our students. This is a massive empathy boost. If last spring taught us anything, we can accomplish so much when we were all working together toward a singular purpose: student success.

Photo of a student employee wearing a mask at working at the University Ticketing and Information Center (UTIC) in the University Union.

Video: Student Mask Information & Distribution

Greetings Phoenix family. Safety is our top priority this fall and that is why all individuals must wear a face covering once inside any UW-Green Bay campus building, which includes the concourse system. The University provides two free cloth facemasks for every student. On the Green Bay Campus, students can pick up their free masks at the University Ticketing and Information Center (UTIC) in the University Union. At the Marinette, Manitowoc, and Sheboygan Campuses, pick up your masks at or near Student Services. Also, on the Green Bay Campus inside the Community Center at Residence Life, students have the option for the mask laundry exchange service, where you pick up a clean mask, return it to be laundered, and immediately receive a new clean mask. Students unable to wear a face covering, should contact Disability Services at dis@uwgb.edu or 920-465-2841 before classes begin regarding accommodations. For more information related to COVID-19 and the University’s plan for returning to campus safely https://www.uwgb.edu/phoenix-forward

Video Transcript:  Greetings Phoenix family, I’m here to talk to you about staying safe. Safety is our number one priority here on-campus for the fall. Students we have two options for masks for you. In the University Union we have the University and Ticketing and Information Center, which is where if you are looking for a mask for the fall, we have you covered. You can go ahead and pick up two reusable masks that we’ll issue to you all students. You can also pick up those masks in Residence Life at the Community Center. An additional option is if you want a mask that will launder for you, you go ahead and pick that up in the Community Center and then when you’re done and like a clean one you drop it off and we’ll reissue you a new clean one. We have two types of masks that I’ll explain what they are: This is the first type that if you pick up in the Res Life Community Center will be launderable. So, you pick this mask up we’ll issue you one and then when you want it cleaned you just drop it off and we’ll reissue a second one. This mask here is one of the up to two that will go ahead and issue the students who are looking for a reusable mask that’s theirs to keep. If you’re looking for something a little more fancy or looking for some of your share your GB spirit we do have masks available for sale in the Phoenix Bookstore. They have this version and they also have a similar one that says Green Bay and across the front. Those are available for purchase if you want to pick something else up that’s different and show your school spirit. If you are unable to wear a mask for any medical reason, we do ask that you reach out to the Disability Services Office to make sure that you have an accommodation put on file and they can help you through the process to find a suitable alternative to make sure we keep you and us safe on campus.

Video: What are the True Colors of UW-Green Bay?

True colors show in times of darkness… when we’re on the edge of the unknown.

What are the true colors of UW-Green Bay—and what do they look like now?

If colors have character, we would describe ourselves as




It’s time to show the world who we are, what we’re made of and where we’re going.
We know that education prepares us, but it also heals and helps rebuild our community.

Become comfortable being uncomfortable, and ask the hard questions.

Will you teach everyone who wants to learn not just with words and ideas—but with action?

Will you fight with, and for, the student who has had to struggle? To see us and our potential?

Will you help students stay the course, and make sure investing in ourselves is the very best investment we can make?

Even if the path to get there is unknown, allow your true colors to shine through.

Together as Phoenix. Let’s light a fire.

And Rise.

Photo of the coronavirus that is green and round with spikes.

Video: COVID-19 Why it Matters, Part 3 – Why is this virus so serious?

This video series features UW-Green Bay’s Immunologist Brian Merkel on COVID-19 and Why it Matters. This series empowers viewers with knowledge to help them navigate through the pandemic. Merkel has a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the Medical College of Virginia. He is an associate professor in UW-Green Bay’s Human Biology & Biology programs and has an appointment at the Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He will be responding to a number of questions related to COVID19 and try to get behind the “why” it’s important to be educated in your decision-making as we navigate the pandemic together.


Video Transcript – COVID-19 Why it Matters, Part 3: Why is this virus serious?

Brian Merkel, Microbiology and Immunology, talking about why COVID-19 matters to you.

COVID-19 is a very serious disease. It carries a high fatal case fatality rate much higher than seasonal influenza. It is highly transmissible, which means it spreads around very quickly and efficiently. And for people like me who study public health there are really two things that become important when we think about what makes something very serious and a threat. And the two things that are particularly are important, number one is what the case fatality rate and for this one it’s high and how transmissible or how contagious it is.

This particular disease is serious in terms of those two things. The other thing to become serious too is that as a consideration is that we don’t have drugs to treat the infection and we don’t have a vaccine to prevent the population from becoming infected. And so, what that means is for those individuals that are particularly at high risk, there’s a high risk for those individuals suffering severe disease and or death. And so, as we continue with these video clips we’re going to talk about what you can do to try to help and what our collective responsibility is.

Other videos from the series you may have missed:

COVID-19 Why it Matters: Video Series Introduction with Brian Merkel https://youtu.be/M-yYPSPk30Q

Part 1: What are viruses and where did this one come from https://youtu.be/DYbiIv8ICgs

Part 2: Two main types of viruses https://youtu.be/O-OVk3rx96s

Graphic showing the UW-Green Bay phoenix and the words, "Commencement Aug 22, 2020."

Video: Sights and sounds of Drive-Thru Commencement 2020

UW-Green Bay’s unique Drive-Thru Commencement Experience was Saturday, August 22, 2020. About 200 seniors and hundreds of family members participated in the vehicle parade, where each new graduate received a gift, their diploma cover, had an opportunity for a photo with Chancellor Michael Alexander, and took advantage of professional photo opportunities with family and friends in front of the Phoenix Rising statue. Most said they were grateful for a chance to celebrate this major milestone.

Video by Sue Pischke, University Marketing & Communication

Jada Davis Commencement Speech: ‘You are revolutionary!’

Hello graduates. I would like to start by thanking those who trusted me to speak to my colleagues at such a turning point in our lives and in the history of the world as we know it. Giving honor to God, my parents, family, friends, mentors and all those who have supported me throughout my college career.

What a time to be alive. We are experiencing challenges personally, locally, nationally, globally, the likes of which only history has experienced for us. Just a few months ago we didn’t even know if we’d have the opportunity to share this moment together as everything seemed to fall through the cracks all at once. Fast forward to today, it looks as though our moment of glory has once again been snatched away.

I remember coming back from Indiana in march and getting an email shorty thereafter saying to pack my things and plan on not returning to campus after spring break. You can imagine the many emotions and questions that I’m sure we all had at the time. Sports cancelled, plays cancelled, trips cancelled, school, work, stores, all closed. The streets near my home rang with an eerie harmony. I’d never heard Milwaukee so quiet.

While it may seem as though everything began burning down to the ground just as we were about to make our conquest out into the big world, and although you may feel as though your accomplishments over the past four years are being minimized, I stand here to encourage and remind you that you are a champion.

Who can say they switched to complete online learning in a matter of days and still managed to stay on track? You can.

Who can say they graduated college in the middle of a growing pandemic, while fighting for the continuing injustices against the black community, with honors? You can.

Who can say that they are still alive and healthy during a time when people are dying daily from something we can’t even see? You can.

And for at least those three things, we should all be proud and feel accomplished. In the words of Doe Zantamata “it is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”

The time to rise from the ashes has never been more at hand! The many challenges we’ve faced during these unprecedented times are some which we will be able to reflect on. They have made us stronger and more adept to change. They have made us smarter and more creative. Whenever we face adversity in the future, we will be able to draw strength and knowledge from this time to get through, and for that, I am grateful.

We will be among the most resilient people in the world. We are revolutionary. We are the class of the year 2020.

See Jada Davis’s Commencement Speaker Biography.

Video: What to Expect in Residence Life

Hi, I’m Julianne Crayton. I’m the Assistant Director of Operations in Residence Life. Our staff has been preparing procedures and our buildings for your arrival in the fall. We have implemented new processes to make it a safe place for you to live.

We have stretched out our move-in process to multiple days to create time slots so that fewer people will be on campus at a time. It is important that you complete your pre-check-in process prior to arrival so that you can complete your check-in on time. You also need to have your ID card for check-in, so if you have not already picked it up please do so prior to arrival.

There are other things that you’ll want to be aware of. Everyone will need to be in face coverings during the move-in process. This is for the safety of everyone involved, both staff and yourself. Please have those with you when you arrive.

Something that will also be new as part of our check-in process is a temperature screening while you are waiting in line for your check-in. A staff member will come through the line to make sure that you have completed your online health assessment and also to screen your temperature.

Once you have settled into campus there are also some things that we have implemented to keep you safe throughout your semester with us. There have been capacities assigned to each common area within the buildings. This will include the kitchen, lounges and any other common area that you enter such as a laundry room. The elevators will also have capacities. These are to limit your exposure to others and also so that you can maintain social distance in these locations. Once again masks will need to be worn for the protection of everyone in these areas.

There have also been changes made to our visitor policy. Visitors will only be allowed during the day so there will not be an opportunity for overnight guests. There’s also a limit to how many guests can be in each space and more information will be provided on this to you.

When you enter the buildings, you will also notice that we have installed hand sanitizing stations, one per building. This is for your convenience and can be used whenever you would like. Our staff is also implementing enhanced cleaning procedures so that you can feel safe while you are out and about in your buildings. Our community center which houses our front desk will still remain open 24 hours, seven days a week.

We will also still continue to offer a robust array of activities and engagements so that you can continue to make lifelong friendships and connections while here at UW-Green Bay.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at housing@uwgb.edu at any time.

Thank you.


Video: Provost Burns describes lab classes for the fall

I’m Kate Burns, the interim provost and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs here at UW-Green Bay, and we are thinking about fall safety today.

In thinking about this, and how labs are going to work this fall, we are including a lot of safety measures. First everyone’s going to be wearing a mask. We are going to be using six-foot social distancing, so we have revised all of the capacities for our classroom and for our lab spaces to be able to account for that social distancing.

We are also including extra precautions in terms of the cleaning procedures. For a lab specifically there’s lots of specialized equipment, so both instructors and students will have the cleaning materials that they need to be able to clean those materials throughout the lab period so that they’ll be able to make sure that multiple people will be able to use those.

We’re also doing things a little bit more creatively, so for some things like microscopes we will be able to use videos of what is on the screen for that microscope, so that way we can ensure safety.

Some of the labs have to become hybrid so that they are in having some students in the lab on some days and then online, and then switching that out throughout the semester so that we can better account for that spacing within the lab environment.

Some labs are going to be asynchronous online, while some of them are going to be synchronous online. For synchronous courses, you would meet at the same time, but online with the instructor, so you’re having that lab from a distance. For asynchronous labs, you will just view at whatever time works best for your schedule for that online experience.

In both the sciences and the arts all the instructors are really looking at what are those cleaning protocols needed to be able to make sure that everyone can stay safe.

Photo of a stack of hundred dollar bills and a black graduation cap.

Video: Financial Aid and Emergency Grant information

Attention UW-Green Bay students. Talking about finances is difficult! GBOSS is here to help! GBOSS or the “Green Bay One Stop Shop” specializes in helping students with Financial Aid and Emergency Grant information. The office is open remotely 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by phone, 920-465-2111, email, gboss@uwgb.edu, or virtual appointment. Find more at https://www.uwgb.edu/gboss/.

Video Transcript: Hi, I’m Jennifer Jones, your Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services at UW-Green Bay. Today I’d like to talk to you about something many people find uncomfortable to talk about and that is money. Many of us are nervous about how we’re going to afford college this fall, how we’re going to pay for our classes. If you’re one of those people and you’re unsure or your family situation your income has changed this year, please reach out to Financial Aid. You can do this by contacting GBOSS. GBOSS is the best place to start. GBOSS has connections to all the resources both financial aid emergency grants and anything else that you need to be successful in your career at UW-Green Bay. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and have that conversation. You can schedule an appointment, you can email, you can call. You can have a video chat with a financial aid advisor to talk about your specific situation. Please reach out. GBOSS is easy to connect with 920-465-2111 or GBOSS gboss@uwgb.edu. I hope to hear from you soon. We are all in this together and we can’t wait to support you to see your success at UW-Green Bay.