N.C. A&T On Point Newsletter

VOL. 3 / NO. 3/ MARCH 2020  

Chancellor's Message
Chancellor's Message

Meeting the Challenge of COVID-19
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N.C. A&T Chancellor Martin Sr.Those of us who have spent our careers in higher education have been preparing for years for infectious disease outbreaks that, thankfully, never materialized in the magnitude we feared they would. The threats of Avian Flu, SARS and MRSA prompted us to put plans in place and think carefully about the threats to campus health and the abilities of our institutions to withstand scourges that might cost lives and close our doors for weeks or even months.

The arrival of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), then, was something we had long anticipated in theory. But there is a wide gulf between planning for something as disruptive and deadly as this pandemic and actually experiencing it.

Universities and colleges in general are among our most vulnerable institutions in the face of an infectious disease outbreak, both to communicable pathogens being brought into our midst and the spread of those pathogens once they’re among us. Students live, study and eat in close quarters and regularly gather in large groups. The human interactions on our campuses profoundly enrich the academic experience but can also leave us open to a rapid spread of disease.

In the face of that, it is no small feat to put in place real and effective protection measures to safeguard students and employees – roughly 15,000 at North Carolina A&T – as well as campus visitors. We house approximately 5,000 in student housing, dining facilities that serve thousands of meals each day and routinely bring together large crowds for athletic events, performances, lectures and more.

Like many of our counterparts across the country, A&T brought all of that to an abrupt halt earlier this month, and transitioned all classes and class-related labs to an online environment. Nearly all of our residential students were sent home, and we began the challenging work of determining how to resolve matters such as refunds for unused housing and dining services, keeping research projects intact and moving forward, determining when it might be safe to hold commencement and so much more.

As we all know, we’re not out of the woods. We likely have months to go before the pandemic fully plays out and life returns to normal. Yet witnessing the nimble and inspiring response from colleagues and students to this unprecedented challenge gives me great faith that we will not only endure our current circumstances, but emerge wiser and more resilient on the other side. I wish the same for you and yours.

- Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.

Two students sharing information.The richness of in-person human interaction brings a valuable dimension to higher education. It can also be a vulnerability in an event such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Aggies Advocate: Making a Mark in D.C.
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Chancellor Martin and officials from NASA and A&T get together for a photo to mark the day following a productive meeting at the space agency.

In support of North Carolina A&T’s growing federal agenda, Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. led a group of university leaders to Washington in early March for a day of meetings with a wide range of representatives from governmental agencies, higher ed associations and elected officials.

The first “Aggie Advocacy Day” was a success by any measure, but perhaps in image building more so than any other: The university drove a consistent message that as a high-research activity land grant institution and the nation’s largest historically black university, as well as its top-rated public HBCU, A&T is eager to deepen its relationships at the federal level in a variety of subject areas and initiatives.

The day began with a breakfast at which leaders from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Arts shared, respectively, reports on A&T’s leadership in Engineering education and opportunities for collaboration. Among many others in the room, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams and Dept. of Education official Leonard Haynes underscored A&T’s value in meeting national workforce priorities and potential to extend its influence through DOE collaboration.

Stops at NASA, the Department of Labor and the National Science Foundation followed, giving participants and opportunity to exchange agency/university information and establish individual relationships necessary to moving future initiatives forward.

“The importance of having a leadership team in Washington to engage with each representative, agency and association can’t be overestimated,” said Ray Trapp. “The feedback from our partners in Washington has been strong. We look forward not only to repeating this event, but expanding its scope and making it more impactful in weeks ahead.”


Supporting Aggies In Need During the Pandemic
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Supporters of the new A&T Student Emergency Fund have already given more than $60,000 to support Aggies in need from changes required by the pandemic.

For public universities, particularly those that serve high percentages of students who are the first in their families to attend college, challenges like the COVID-19 outbreak can hit families hard and leave students vulnerable.

Recognizing this, North Carolina A&T established a Student Emergency Fund recently to make modest emergency funds available to students in need. Within the first two days, nearly 2,400 students applied for funds to help cover food and toiletry costs, storage fees, travel money to return home and education-related expenses, including technology needs.

The first grants from the fund have already been awarded, even as A&T and UNC System development leaders continue to raise money for the A&T fund and similar accounts created on campuses across the state. A&T leaders have already raised more than $60,000 through appeals to donors and alumni, funds that are being partially matched by the system. A&T University Advancement has also committed some unrestricted donations to the fund.

“These awards are going to students in real need. Part of being an A&T student is knowing that you have an Aggie Family that is here to support you in good times and bad,” said Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Melody Pierce. “Coming through for them in this challenging and sometimes scary environment is something they will never forget. And that will make our family stronger than ever before.”

To donate to the Student Emergency Fund, click here.

Data Points
Data Points

COVID-19 and A&T: Before, After
The coronavirus outbreak has required many changes of us at A&T, these among the most prominent:
Employees Teleworking  Before >1% After 47%
Online Course Sections Before  331 After 2,763
Student Housing Residents Before 5,000 After 176
Spring Sports Seasons in Process Before 11 After 0

o Housing/Dining Prorated Refunds
o Instituted Pass/Fail Grading Option
o Extended Academic Calendar Deadlines
o Extended Tuition Payment Plan Deadline
o Created Student Emergency Fund

Dr. Harold L. Martin Sr.

Erin Hill Hart
Todd Hurst Simmons

Kimberly "Nikki" Pressley

Yvonne L. Halley

Tonya D. Dixon
Jordan M. Howse
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a land-grant university that is ranked by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a Doctoral University: High Research Activity.

N.C. A&T does not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. For inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies, contact the Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator@ncat.edu.

N.C. A&T is an AA/EEO employer, and it is an ADA compliant institution; thus, facilities are designed to provide accessibility to individuals with physical disabilities.