The Student News Site of University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

Chancellor addresses UNK through second Zoom meeting

mitchell lierman


Chancellor Doug Kristensen held a Zoom webinar to discuss ongoing university responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference focused on relaying updated information to the university community about a number of issues.

Chancellor Kristensen focused on maintaining deliberacy in the face of the crisis.

“There’s lots of planning that’s going on, and it goes on by the hour,” Kristensen said. “We’re trying to be very deliberate in the decisions that we’re making. We’re not just reacting and watching the news and going ‘Oh my goodness somebody’s doing this! We better do it too!’”

The chancellor led with updates for the community regarding spring commencement. The spring commencement will be combined with the summer ceremony according to a decision made last week. The event will take place on July 31. 

The possibility of this date moving remains open.

“It is a ways away, but perhaps the way the virus has spread, maybe it has a second wave,” Kristensen. “That’s not set in stone.”

Chancellor Kristensen said that virtual commencement is “not our style.” If the date is moved again, there may be exercises during the fall semester. 

The discussion moved to new student enrollment.

“The bottom line is we are having new students,” Kristensen said. “And it’s never been more important for us to be able to make sure those students choose to attend.”

Nevertheless, the present situation makes traditional enrollment in May infeasible.

“Suffice it to say we are not going to have in person new student enrollment starting in May like we normally would,” Kristensen said. “It’s just not possible, and we probably wouldn’t have anyone right away show up anyway.”

The chancellor extended his thanks to the university’s essential workers.

“As you know the campus is operating,” Kristensen said. “We’ve got staff members who show up everyday to work, and quite frankly, they deserve our recognition and our appreciation for doing that. We couldn’t do it without you.” 

He also spoke on the building closures on campus.

“The buildings are not open in terms of if you need access there’s keys and locks. Part of that is we just need to protect the assets,” Kristensen said. “We were having random people walk through with our people who are in there. That’s not safe for our people who are in those buildings. At the same time we don’t need the traffic when we don’t know who it is and what they’re doing.” 

Despite the residence hall closures, the Union is still operating and so are food services. The remaining residents have been combined.

Kristensen praised outreach efforts from some faculty members and encouraged others to do the same to ensure students return in the fall.

“There’s never been a better or higher priority right now than recruiting,” said the chancellor. “We’ve got to get new students here. And we’ve got to get the students who are returning to come back. I love Paul Twigg sending an email out to his students saying ‘I miss you already.’”

The chancellor expressed UNK’s efforts to do their best with the current circumstances.

 “I suppose all of this goes back to what else can I do,” Kristensen said. “These are very unusual and strange times as you know, but obviously, they’re going to present us with some opportunities.”

This was a message the chancellor also shared with the faculty senate.

“There’s going to be some opportunities out here, and we need to keep our heads up, and not just look at ourselves and say ‘Poor me, poor us. We can’t do this. We can’t do that.’ When times are challenging there’s great opportunities.”

Financially, Chancellor Kristensen said much of the information will not be available until August. In the meantime, the university has paused new hires but will continue to process in-progress hires at this time.  

The university will continue to respond to concerns that come up in the next several months.

“I think the biggest danger is making long-term decisions for a short-term problem,” Kristensen said. “If we’re here in July, and this is the third one of these I’ve done, and we’re all still at home, that’s a much different environment than if we celebrate in June sometime in the nice weather and everyone comes back together. We just don’t know. We’re as intentional and as deliberate as we can be.”

Charlie Bicak addressed some of the questions most frequently asked of UNK Student and Academic Affairs. These included clarifications on the changes to the credit/no-credit deadline and how those programs impact transcripts. Bicak also encouraged advisors to reach out to their assigned students. 

Jon Watts estimated current immediate financial impact at $1.7 million. He also said that state aid institutional reserves will be “insufficient for a long-term struggle.” 

Watts pointed to past events with similar financial impacts.

“We know in ‘09 and ‘10 was probably the most recent, what we call the Great Recession,” Watts said. “We know that with [sic] anywhere between four, four and half percent, almost five percent reductions in state tax receipts. We also know 9/11 was kind of a similar national crisis in our country, and that was over four percent as well.”

Gilbert Hinga encouraged students seeking face-to-face assistance through the Learning Commons to schedule a meeting over Zoom an hour in advance. 

On housing, Hinga estimated there were 175 students left on campus and expected that number to fall to 150 by the end of April.

Hinga also spoke on consolidation efforts to move students to Antelope and Nester Halls.

“As the Chancellor said earlier about needing to close some buildings because of safety related to not having enough personnel in each of the offices, the same goes with the fact that we have a few students that are spread around the campus,” Hinga said. “And so for safety reasons we will be going to a consolidation so that we can have students in one area. We’ll be working with the students directly to help make that happen.”
Hinga also gave an update on the two potential cases identified prior to spring break, relaying that both were in good health. 

Chancellor Kristensen closed the meeting by pointing out where information will be available going forward.

“We’ll be doing this again,” Kristensen said. “We’re going to periodically keep you up to date. Again, the website is really important.” 

The website,, contains information about cancellations as well as links to remote learning resources. It also contains connections to UNK Student Health and Counseling, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Antelope

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Nebraska at Kearney . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Antelope

Comments (0)

All The Antelope Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *