Updated July 17, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

New Guidelines & Practices for Returning to Campus this Fall

CLICK HERE for more information about how Arkansas is responding to COVID-19.
Manuscript for the video above.
Greetings from the campus of Williams Baptist University. I pray this finds you and your family safe and well. I trust that you are having a summer of rest and spiritual reflection. I also hope you enjoy some meaningful family time, and some fun.
We are eagerly anticipating your return and the resumption of learning and campus activities. We miss each of you, and we look forward to the time soon when we will be together again on our campus.
Williams Baptist University continues to develop plans for resuming on-campus, in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester. As we develop our plans to advance our mission, the foremost concern shaping our plans is the safety and well-being of our students and employees. This our highest priority as we continue to navigate the ongoing, ever-evolving challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.  We will all have to adapt to changes this fall in order to ensure the well-being of our campus family, but we believe the practices and protocols that we are implementing will allow us to return to on-campus instruction while maintaining a safe environment.
In compliance with the recent mandate given by our Governor, all students and all employees will be required to wear masks in all public venues and public gatherings. This means that students must wear masks in all classrooms, university buildings, and outside places as defined by the Governor’s mandate. The Governor’s directive does allow for exceptions. Some of these exemptions apply to athletics and other campus life expressions. We will post a link to this information on our COVID website page.
We believe the return to on-campus instruction is essential to our mission of preparing students to engage local and global cultures from a Christ-centered worldview. As this pandemic situation continues to evolve, circumstances may change, requiring we adopt hybrid delivery methods, staggered class schedules, or other creative learning and teaching expressions. Due to strong feedback from both students and faculty, our collective campus community believes our students are best served through on-campus instruction. We continue to plan this way, with the prevailing concern and commitment that we will do so in ways that follow all safety protocols and guidelines given by the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health.
As of today, our plan is to follow our normal semester schedule for the upcoming fall semester.  We are working to do as much as we possibly can to avoid unnecessary disruptions to our normal educational processes. As we all have experienced, the COVID pandemic has a way of changing the best of plans.  As the situation evolves, we will respond accordingly.  WBU will be flexible and will make appropriate adjustments when changes are necessary.
With regard to move-in day – only a limited number of family members will be allowed to assist students in that effort.  It is imperative that we limit the number of people in the residence halls. Everyone in the residence halls will wear masks as in compliance with the Governor’s directive and follow all other safety and social distancing guidelines.  Dean Amber Grady and the Office of Student Affairs will keep you apprised of these protocols as move-in day draws closer.
For the foreseeable future, Personal Protective Equipment will be a part of daily campus life. Plexiglass shields and guards will be a common sight around campus. Professors will teach behind plexiglass shields, or they will wear plexiglass face shields. Many of our offices will also have configurations of plexiglass, especially in reception areas.  This is an important safety measure for faculty and staff.
Campus facilities will be subject to a thorough, deep cleaning before students return, and all buildings will be sanitized regularly throughout the semester.
COVID Kits are being prepared for all students and faculty.  These will include thermometers, masks and sanitizer.
In the event that a student tests positive for the coronavirus, we have allocated living spaces to isolate students until they can return home. Accommodations will be made as needed if the student is from an international locale or otherwise too distant to return home.
If students are diagnosed with the illness or otherwise require quarantine, arrangements will be made for them to continue their classes.
Students will be required to attend chapel services in person every other week, and to watch other chapel services online. This will allow a proper amount of social distancing in chapel. Resident students will be assigned their chapel weeks based on their respective residence halls, and commuter students will be assigned alphabetically.
These are just some of the major safety protocols that we will follow this fall semester. Other protocols for athletics, music, theater, and student activities are in final stages of development. Our commitment is to implement safety protocols in compliance with all directives and guidelines. All aspects of university-life will be impacted.
Information on these and other related matters will be communicated through our website, email, or text messages. Please monitor these for regular updates. And, please feel free to call us with any questions you might have.
This is the new reality for all institutions of higher education for the foreseeable future. As I stated in a previous video, these protocols are not what any of us would choose, but this is the world in which we currently live.
As I have studied and read the history of WBU, one of the things that has most impressed me, and one of the traits that I most admire, is the unwavering tenacity of the people who have been part of the Williams story. The students, the faculty, the staff, and the administrative leaders on occasion faced challenges that appeared to be overwhelming and insurmountable. In the face of these challenges, these men and women, bound by their shared faith in Christ, trusted God to guide them through the daunting challenges confronting them. They refused to quit – they stayed the course. And, they prevailed over the challenge.
That mantle, that legacy, is now entrusted to us. In the face of the daunting challenge before us, in the midst of living in a pandemic, we are the generation of WBU men and women who must persist, who must find a way to move forward in our mission. I believe we can. And, I believe we will.
Lord willing, we will see you here on campus this fall. Until then, God bless.

Updated June 23, 2020

COVID-19 Update: WBU Making Preparations for Fall Semester

Williams Baptist University administration and staff are very active this summer making preparations for the fall semester in light of the coronavirus pandemic.  Planning remains fluid as the COVID-19 situation unfolds, but here are some important plans and developments related to the launch of the new school year:

WBU plans to operate on its standard calendar for the fall semester.  Classes will begin on August 18, as originally planned, and we will observe the Labor Day holiday, fall break, and Thanksgiving break as scheduled.  We will return to campus following Thanksgiving, and finals are scheduled to be taken in-person starting Dec. 4.

Williams is planning on in-person instruction this fall.  We will make adjustments as necessary to keep our campus community safe, but having students and faculty in the classroom is the baseline of our planning.

Safety will be paramount.  All students and faculty will be given “COVID kits” containing thermometers, masks, and disinfectant.  Plexiglas shields will be in classrooms, placed between faculty and students. Common areas will be subject to frequent sanitizing.  All classrooms and residence hall rooms are being thoroughly sanitized before students arrive this fall.

There will be changes from the norm.  We are developing specific protocols to guide safety in public spaces and classrooms, and these will require all of us to make some temporary adjustments.  Social distancing guidelines are likely to impact how we function in class and around campus, although we are awaiting further guidance from the state on these matters.

International students will arrive early.  The CDC recommends 14 days of isolation following international travel, so students coming to WBU from international locales have been asked to arrive on campus from July 25 to 31.  This will allow for the requisite two weeks in isolation before the start of the fall semester.

The NAIA has given its approval for fall sports to proceed.  Athletic contests will be delayed by a couple of weeks, but most games and meets will take place as scheduled.  Spectator guidelines will be announced as we receive further guidance.

We are awaiting a report from the governor on June 30.  Gov. Hutchinson’s task force will make its recommendations for schools known at the end of the month.  We expect this to give us clarity on several important matters as we continue with our planning.

Many more details remain to be worked out as we await important guidance, but the points listed above are meant to help our campus family sense the direction in which we are heading.  

In spite of the disruptions this pandemic has brought to our society and to WBU, we are anticipating a great fall semester.  Enrollment indicators at this point remain very encouraging, and there is a palpable sense of excitement about having everyone back on campus.  God is good!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:4-6

Updated May 5, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

Updated April 3, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

Updated April 2, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

Updated April 1, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

Updated March 25, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

Updated March 20, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

I want to update you on our plans for dealing with COVID19 from this point forward. You likely are aware of the latest directive from Governor Hutchinson to keep K-12 schools closed through April 17. Additional restrictions were issued for restaurants, retail establishments, and other types of public spaces.  The Centers for Disease Control and Arkansas Department of Health daily issue updated guidelines and recommendations that restrict community and relational activities. Truly, these are challenging times!

With these realities in mind and in light of the recommendations from government and health-care leaders, we have determined to transition to online instruction to finish the current semester, starting April 1.

In addition to this major transition, the following initiatives and decisions will shape how we will advance our mission for the remainder of this semester:

  • To give our office staffs a chance to enjoy their traditional “Spring Break Day,” offices will be closed Monday, March 23. 
  • Offices will reopen Tuesday, March 24.  We will be implementing necessary protocols to keep our workplace safe while also meeting the needs of our constituency.
  • Faculty will continue to contact and work with their advisees to register them for fall classes.
  • Commencement is postponed until further notice.  We plan to have further information on this in the days ahead, but rest assured we will find a suitable time and means to celebrate with our graduates!
  • Graduates will have their official status and transcripts updated as soon as final grades are posted at the end of this semester.
  • Dean of Students Amber Grady will contact students who live in on-campus housing on March 25 with instructions for checking out of residence halls.
  • The university will continue to provide room and board to students who are unable to return to their home or unable to make travel arrangements at this time.  These students will need to communicate and coordinate their needs with Dean Grady.

We will do our best to communicate updates and info via campus email. I strongly encourage you to regularly monitor the university’s COVID19 web page for new information and updates.

These are uncertain times.  None of us knows what the future holds.  But finding direction in Hebrews 12:2, we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”  There may well be difficult days ahead for all of us. There probably will be greater tests ahead, but Jesus is still sovereign over His creation.  We trust our future to Him, and He will get us through this. I am convinced that, with God’s providence and protection, we will emerge from this time even stronger than we were before. 

For those students needing additional assistance and guidance with online coursework:

1.  Contact your professor directly via VCAMP or by using their campus e-mail address.
2. Contact the appropriate Department Chair with questions or concerns.
(Department Chair information can be found on the WBU webpage).
3.  For further assistance, contact the Office of Academic Affairs at: kbennett@williamsbu.edu.

FAQs

Registar’s Office/Office of Academic Affairs

How do we register for classes?

If you have not been contacted by your advisor regarding registration, please feel free to contact him/her by calling or emailing.  You can contact the Registrar’s Office if you are unable to reach your advisor.

What about graduation?

If for any reason our May 2 commencement ceremony is affected by COVID19, be assured that alternate plans will be made in a timely manner to honor our WBU graduates.  At this point, we do not anticipate delays in posting degrees to transcripts.

Updated March 16, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

In light of new guidance from Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, WBU will dismiss classes for spring break at the end of the day Monday, March 16.  Monday classes will continue to meet as planned.  Residence halls and dining services will remain open through Friday, March 20, at 5:00 p.m.

Classes are scheduled to resume on campus April 1.  However, given the rapidly shifting nature of COVID-19 control measures,  students are instructed to take their iPads with them when they depart for spring break, in the event that online learning becomes necessary after the break.

Gov. Hutchinson has ordered the closure of all K-12 public schools, starting Tuesday.  While WBU does not fit that classification, we plan to operate in a commensurate manner.  Also, the CDC has issued new guidance, requesting that groups of 50 or more people suspend their meetings.

Posted March 13, 2020

Message from Dr. Stan Norman, President of WBU

I am writing to update you on the plans and strategies we are adopting to address the challenges presented to us by the COVID19 virus.  Our administration has met extensively over the past few days and weeks to review the issues posed by this disease, and we believe we have formulated viable plans and strategies to address these issues as we currently know them to be.  As you know, the landscape presented to us by this disease and the ensuing issues changes daily, if not hourly.

All this to say – what follows is our plan to move us forward.  In all our deliberations and considerations, we have sought to be prayerful, faithful, measured, and redemptive.  Our prevailing concern has always been the well-being of our students and the fidelity of our mission. I pray that the following reflects these commitments:

  • We are extending our Spring Break by a week (now two weeks total).  Spring Break will now begin March 18 (next Wednesday), and we will return to campus from the break on Wednesday, April 1.
  • In consideration of this change in schedule, students will have until 5:00 on Friday, March 20, to move out of student residences.  We will ensure that the cafeteria is open during this time to provide food service for all students. 
  • Offices will remain open, and employees will report to work as normal.
  • The extended spring break allows time for a more holistic assessment of the scope and magnitude of the spread of the virus, as our ultimate concern is the wellbeing of our students and campus community.
  • During this time, if we determine we need to complete the semester via online instruction as opposed to classroom instruction, the extended spring break will afford us additional time to prepare for such a contingency, if needed.
  • We have canceled all university-sponsored travel on and off campus for the remainder of the semester.  Our goal is to try to limit our exposure to outside sources.
  • We are cancelling large gatherings on our campus.  Again, this measure is intended to limit exposure.
  • The Council of Presidents of the American Midwest Conference (our athletic conference) voted today to cancel the remainder of all spring athletic events.  This decision is reflective of national trends for all levels of athletic competition, both professional and collegiate. Student-athletes will be allowed to practice this spring while on campus.
  • Earlier this week, the Office of Baptist Collegiate Ministries for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention announced the cancellation of all BCM-sponsored spring break mission trips.  We concur with their guidance on this matter. To assure the health of our students as well as those with whom they come in contact, we have cancelled our planned spring break mission trip to Columbus, Ohio.
  • We are developing plans to address the special needs and concerns of our international students.  Some of these students may choose to travel to their home country over spring break; others may not be able to go to their home because they reside in a country that is the on the travel-restricted list.  Our plans account for these realities – we are committed to caring for these students, ensuring they are housed and fed. We also are making plans to provide meaningful student life activities for these students during the break.

These bullet points are representative of the primary issues we are attempting to navigate in this complex, rapidly-changing environment.  Assessment of the conditions of our situation is constant and fluid, and these plans are subject to revision as and when needed.

The challenges before us may appear overwhelmingly and daunting.  The COVID 19 virus has impacted our world, our nation, and our state in unexpected and unforeseen ways.  In the midst of these challenges, we are grateful for the provision of our Lord and His protection of the WBU community.  The good news is that our God is a mighty fortress, and in Him alone we find ultimate refuge and strength. It is in these unsettled times that our faith turns our hearts to our God, and in Him we find protection, comfort and assurance.  Our prayer is that God would be glorified and that faith would be strengthened here and around the world.

At these times, prayer is more needed than ever.  Let us pray for one another, our students, and the many affected by the novel coronavirus.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” — Psalms 18:2

Here are some tips for you to keep in mind.

Best Practices to Prevent Sickness

1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds.

2. Cough/Sneeze into your elbow and away from others.

3. Be cautious around other people sneezing/coughing.

4. Stay home when you get sick.

Steps WBU is Taking

1. Housekeeping is cleaning more frequently and thoroughly to prevent spreading.

2. Campus Health is open Tuesday – Thursday from 10am – 3pm.

3. Campus Health provides flu testing and strep testing.

4. RAs are available 24/7 and are equipped to help you take precautionary measures and to help you get the necessary care if you become sick.

5. Housing staff can provide full assistance to anyone needing to recover.

Steps to Take if You Get Sick

1. Stay in your room if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, aches, sore throat, etc.

2. Notify your RA immediately. Texting them is preferred.

3. Email your professors to give them a heads up if possible.

4. Your RA will check in with you and can arrange for the nurse to visit you in your dorm.

Further Information

More helpful information on COVID-19 can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and the Arkansas Department of Health.  For quick facts on coronavirus, check out this Share Facts page from the CDC.

The image below is easy to screenshot or download and share.