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John Downey
Dean of Student's Message

Student Satisfaction Survey Yields Excellent Results

Dear Widener Families,
 
As we prepare for the arrival of students, I wanted to share some excellent results from a survey we use to track student satisfaction at Widener. Students took this nationally administered survey in the spring, and it allows us to track their satisfaction and compare ourselves with hundreds of similar institutions. We experienced the highest survey participation rate in Widener’s history this year, making the results even more meaningful!  
 
In almost every category, student satisfaction at Widener has increased dramatically since 2018. Widener students have also demonstrated a higher level of overall satisfaction when compared to students at similar institutions in the eastern region. 

I was personally excited to see dramatic improvements in the Campus Life category. As we all know, 2021-22 was a challenging year as the pandemic persisted. Despite that, student satisfaction has improved in every category since 2018, including Campus Support Services, Academic Advising, Service Excellence, Student Centeredness, Campus Climate, Registration Effectiveness, Campus Life, Instructional Effectiveness, Recruitment and Financial Aid, Safety and Security, and Concern for the Individual Student.  We had the highest satisfaction rates since 2014 in nine of 11 categories.

Below are some examples of findings, particularly as they pertain to Campus Life and the out-of-class experience:
 
1.    83 percent of our students said their Widener experience so far has met or exceeded their expectations, as compared to 76 percent for students at similar institutions.

2.    Among 90 items measured, the area that improved most dramatically from 2018 was in Student Health Services (“The staff in the health services area are competent”), which is notable given the pandemic circumstances!

3.    These additional items pertaining to students’ out-of-class experiences either demonstrated significant improvement from our 2018 results, achieved higher scores when compared to other private institutions, or both:

a)    The staff in health services area are competent (both)
b)    New student orientation services help students adjust to college (both)
c)    Residence hall regulations are reasonable (both)
d)    The student center is a comfortable place for students to spend their leisure time (both)
e)    I seldom get the run-around when seeking information on this campus (both)
f)    The intercollegiate athletic programs contribute to a strong sense of school spirit (both)
g)    There are a sufficient number of weekend activities for students (both)
h)    There is a strong commitment to racial harmony on this campus (*results are lower for students from under-represented groups) (both)
i)    Students are made to feel welcome on this campus (vs. other institutions)
j)    Most students feel a sense of belonging here (vs. other institutions) 
k)    I can easily get involved in campus organizations (vs. other institutions) 
l)    A variety of intramural programs are offered (vs. other institutions) 
m)    The student handbook provides helpful information about campus life (vs. 2018)
n)    Counseling staff care about students as individuals (vs. 2018)
o)    There is an adequate selection of food available in the cafeteria (vs. 2018)
p)    Males and females have equal opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics (vs. 2018)
 
As you can see, Widener student satisfaction is moving in a terrific direction. We look forward to students arriving for classes this month as we continue to build on our excellent results.  As always, we are committed to exceeding student expectations.

With pride,

John P. Downey, Ph.D.
Dean of Students

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/26391/

Head shot of Delaware Law Dean Rod Smolla with plain dark background
Provost's Message

Delaware Law School dean to step down

Dear Widener Community,

After seven years of dedicated service to Widener University Delaware Law School, Rod Smolla will step down from his role as dean effective June 30, 2022 to become president of Vermont Law School. 

Rod assumed the role of dean in 2015 when the school debuted in its current form as Delaware Law School, after a change in accreditation that resulted in Widener having two separate law schools. He led the effort to develop the school’s identity and raise its profile.

During his time as dean, through the superb efforts of the Delaware Law Admissions Office, the school experienced a significant rebound in admissions that has been among the strongest in the country. The school’s financial position has dramatically improved to reach a position of long-term stability. 

In its ABA re-accreditation process, the school successfully presented its long-standing tradition of pride as a school of opportunity that offers upward mobility to many first-generation law students, and first-generation college students. The school’s Graduate International Compliance and Legal Studies office launched many new programs – international and domestic – often in partnership with other institutions.

Under Rod’s leadership, the school has engaged in the most comprehensive curricular reform in decades, which placed emphasis on increasing experiential learning opportunities and improving bar passage rates. The school adopted an institution-wide approach to improving diversity, equity and inclusion, including adopting an ambitious strategic plan and hiring an assistant dean for DEI. 

In addition to serving as dean, Rod taught constitutional law courses, bar passage courses, and judicial internship seminars. He took and passed the Delaware bar exam after arriving at the school and was active in service with the state’s bench and bar, frequently presenting at continuing legal education programs. He served on multiple committees, including the high-profile Steering Committee of the Strategic Plan for Improving Diversity in the Delaware Bench and Bar initiated by the Supreme Court of Delaware.

Please join me in thanking Rod for his years of distinguished service to Delaware Law School. We wish him well in Vermont.

Sincerely,
Andy

Andrew A. Workman, PhD
Provost
 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/25096/

Dr. Julie E Wollman
President's Message

In-Person Classes Resume Jan. 24, 2022 as Planned

Dear Widener Community,

As we look forward to returning to Widener’s campuses for the start of in-person classes next week, I want to thank you for your cooperation with our efforts to bring everyone together safely.

Compliance with our updated vaccination policy, including Widener’s booster requirement, is making it possible to resume in-person classes Monday, January 24 as planned. We will be welcoming back to campus:

  • All students and employees who are in compliance with our vaccination policy, including boosters, and have uploaded their updated vaccination card.
  • Fully vaccinated students and employees who are not yet eligible for a booster, but will be receiving the booster and uploading their updated vaccination card within one week of their eligibility.
  • Students and employees who have been granted an approved exemption from the policy.

For your convenience, Campus Safety will move all Main Campus identification card operations to the lobby of University Center from Monday, January 24 through Wednesday, January 26 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. They will help anyone who needs assistance uploading vaccination cards, addressing building access issues with their Widener identification card, or obtaining new identification cards. These operations will return to Lipka Hall under normal operating hours on Thursday, January 27.

Masks continue to be required indoors and we strongly recommend wearing an N95, KN95 or KF94 mask. We are purchasing a supply of these masks that will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis on all three campuses, for those who may have been unable to obtain them. Watch for a message about their availability. You may also choose to double mask, using both a cloth mask and a surgical mask for extra protection.

It is extremely encouraging to see decreasing infection statistics in Pennsylvania and Delaware this week, and while it is possible Widener may see an uptick in case numbers as we resume in-person classes, that should be temporary. It is important to remain vigilant by wearing your mask properly, washing your hands frequently, and staying home when you are ill.

If you haven’t already uploaded your updated vaccination card, please do so by today’s deadline at https://widener.medicatconnect.com/home.aspx. Sign in with your Widener credentials and follow the prompts.

Thank you for your patience with our remote start this spring. Now it’s time to come together for a productive semester!

I look forward to seeing you on campus,

Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/leadership/person-classes-resume-jan-24-2022-planned

 

President's Message

Widener's Vaccine & Booster Requirement

Dear Widener Community,

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate that called for large employers to either require the COVID-19 vaccine, or test workers for the virus. Under the decision, workplaces like Widener may still choose to require their employees be vaccinated or test regularly. This action does not change Widener’s policy requiring vaccinations and boosters for our employees and students.

We adopted our vaccination and subsequent booster policy to help protect the health and well-being of our community. Vaccines and boosters have proven to reduce severity of illness and hospitalizations. And based on the CDC’s updated guidelines, anyone fully vaccinated and boosted is no longer required to quarantine after an exposure to someone with COVID if they continue to wear a mask for 10 days.

With every member of the university community compliant with our vaccination policy, we can minimize time lost and more effectively keep everyone learning, working, and engaging with one another in person on our vibrant campuses. If you have not received your booster and uploaded your updated card, please do so as soon as possible. The deadline is Friday, January 21st.

Although it has peaked in our region, as the omicron variant continues to spread, we anticipate that cases may increase with our return to in-person classes on January 24. We expect this increase to be temporary and not to disrupt our plan for in-person classes.

Masks are another important layer of protection and will continue to be required indoors on our campuses. We strongly recommend wearing an N95, KN95, or KF94 mask, or double masking with a cloth mask and a surgical mask. These options provide the best defense for you, and for everyone in our university community.

As always, you must stay home when you are sick or have any symptoms.

Health care is a personal responsibility and amid a public health crisis like COVID-19, it also becomes a community responsibility. We appreciate all you do to keep our community healthy and to allow us to return to the in-person experience we value so highly.

With pride,
Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President

Share Link: https://www.widener.edu/news/leadership/wideners-vaccine-booster-requirement

American flag half mast in front of Old Main
President's Message

Reflections on the 20th anniversary of 9/11

Dear Members of the Widener Community,
 
Today we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11. A reverberating shock etched in our memories; a day that changed our communities and our country; a harrowing tragedy that caused terrible, painful loss for so many families. For those families who lost loved ones and friends, and for any of you who may have been directly impacted by the aftermath of the horrific attacks, we continue to grieve. The shock and pain remain raw two decades later. As always, campus counseling services are available to support students, faculty, and staff.
 
At Widener, we stand together as a community, ever resilient and eager to serve, honoring the heroism and courage of our first responders, our veterans, and those of us who simply reach out with care and an open heart seeking to help fellow community members, to understand the stranger, to find common ground, to heal pain, and to seek peace. 
 
Widener is a university dedicated to creating better futures. We are reminded on 9/11 of our individual responsibility and power to make a positive difference in our communities and our world. It is my sincere hope that we collectively embrace this responsibility and respectfully care for one another today and every day.
 
With deep sadness for the lives lost and the ongoing wounds of 9/11, and also gratitude for the opportunity to shape a brighter, safer future,
 
Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/leadership/reflections-20th-anniversary-911

Dr. Julie E Wollman
President's Message

Update on Widener's Fall Semester and Pandemic Response

Dear Widener Community,

We’ve crossed the two-week mark of the fall semester and I want to thank everyone for contributing to a very positive start. It is great to be back together! Widener is a highly vaccinated community.  More than 97% of our entire campus community is vaccinated, and others either have approved exemptions or are on leave. Our entire on-campus student vaccination rate is 98.2 percent and our entire on-campus employee vaccination rate is 94.4 percent.  With the addition of our masking policy, we are one of the few institutions that are providing this strong combination of safety measures to protect students, faculty, and staff against COVID-19 and its variants.

While national infection rates are at concerning levels, it is important to remember public health information has shown the majority of those testing positive and experiencing serious illness are unvaccinated. 

Throughout the pandemic, Widener has experienced zero cases of classroom transmission of the virus.  In the first two weeks of this semester, we have posted just six positive cases in total from our three campuses; none involved classroom transmission. We attribute this low number to our careful planning and our commitment to the health and well-being of our community.

We recognize positive and breakthrough cases are an unsettling reality, and we are prepared to handle them. Anyone who tests positive must contact Student Health Services immediately. Student Health Services will conduct contact tracing and reach out to close contacts of those who test positive, while keeping health status confidential for all involved. Close contacts will also be offered testing and provided more instruction. The university is prepared with space dedicated for student isolation and quarantine if needed.  

Widener develops its COVID-19-related plans by carefully monitoring information coming from the Centers for Disease Control and health departments in Pennsylvania and Delaware, where our campuses are located.  We rely on input from our Health Advisory Group, comprised by public health experts and our Crisis Management Team, Provost’s Council, President’s Leadership Team, Education and Enforcement Group, and multiple task forces that have included faculty and staff, an industrial hygienist, and students. Our efforts are tireless, and ongoing.

As this work continues, we encourage on-campus events and activities to be held outdoors whenever possible. And we’re asking that everyone in the Widener community also does their part. Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Follow our masking policy, which is explained in detail on our Coronavirus Information webpage and will be updated there if changes are made. Seek testing if you feel ill, or if you are identified as a close contact of someone who is. 

Our goal is to provide the most robust in-person learning experience possible under challenging circumstances that are constantly evolving. I am grateful for your cooperation and your commitment to keeping our Widener community safe.

With Pride,
Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President

Share Link: https://www.widener.edu/news/leadership/update-wideners-fall-semester-and-pandemic-response