SMU’s new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Loboa said a few changes will be made to the delivery of classes in the fall to support student success amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are working with the University’s Facilities staff and in some instances move classes to non-traditional spaces to make sure that students can maintain proper distance in settings that meet government-mandated occupancy limits,” Loboa said.
The Office of the Provost will be responsible for managing the delivery of classes in the fall. Loboa said it’s taking a lot of creativity to equip classrooms for social distancing.
“In some cases we will mark seating that should be used, and in other cases we will move furniture completely out of the classroom to accomplish this,” Loboa said.
Loboa began her role as Provost on July 6, but has been working with teams for weeks to plan the fall semester.
“COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while, and as the pandemic ebbs and flows in the Dallas area, you can expect to see the University change and adapt as needed to meet new challenges,” Loboa said.
The university’s “big picture” plan for the fall includes staggering students’ schedules, using facilities temporarily fitted for classroom instruction, and limiting in-class capacity to every other seat.
“While the ongoing pandemic has prompted us to revise fall plans, SMU will work to ensure that students have the opportunity to receive face-to-face instruction from our excellent faculty as well as experience all the campus has to offer,” SMU officials said in a statement.
SMU will offer both virtual and in-person courses, and is giving students the option to request a fully remote semester. Loboa said she is using this time as a learning opportunity on how best to deliver academic quality to students both virtually and in-person.
“The first thing I want to think about from the academic quality is, are we doing anything and everything we can to make sure our students are safe and healthy, while still preparing them for success?’” Loboa said.
Loboa has previously led in times of crises as vice chancellor for strategic partnerships, dean and professor at the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri. She says she is looking forward to using her experience to help SMU students, faculty, and staff during the era of COVID-19.
“I really look forward to working with our students and my new colleagues to make this challenging time about much more than endurance – I think SMU students who come through our doors in 2020 are going to be some of the most adaptable, creative people in generations,” Loboa said.
As SMU’s chief academic officer, Loboa will be responsible for the university’s quality of teaching, research, and scholarship. She will also oversee academic life and supervise SMU’s individual colleges, library system, and international programs.
“My background seems to have perfectly aligned me for this next step as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs,” Loboa said. “I feel like my idealism, drive, and personal passion have really aligned. It’s not just professional, it’s also personal, and it’s set me up very well for the role.”