This story was updated at 6:39 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 2020, with more information.
As colleges and universities grapple with the impact the coronavirus pandemic has and will have on higher education, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellor Steve Angle announced Thursday the formation of a task force charged with finding a strategy to reopen campus this fall.
Angle has established a task force "to plan a return to normal operations," according to a news release.
Robert Dooley, dean of UTC's Gary W. Rollins College of Business, and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Brown are charged with leading the task force and developing "creative solutions that can lead to safe and effective scenarios this fall."
"The success of this endeavor will take the commitment and work of the entire UTC community," reads a written statement from Angle. "Our university has risen to the challenge of the Coronavirus crisis over the past six weeks, and I am certain we will develop a plan that ensures the quality of the educational experience for our students, while at the same time keeps the health and safety of our entire campus community at the forefront."
The task force will evaluate if UTC can reopen as usual — with the campus open for activities and students back in the classrooms — this fall.
"I want to thank Dr. Brown and Dr. Dooley for agreeing to lead this important task force that will coordinate campus efforts to safely resume campus operations this fall," Angle's statement reads.
UTC's announcement comes the same day the University of Tennessee System proposed no tuition increases for any of its campuses for the 2020-21 academic year.
If approved, there would be no increase for undergraduate and graduate students next fall. It would be the first time in the university's history that all four campuses — Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and the Health Science Center in Memphis — did not increase tuition, according to a news release.
"Our students and their families are struggling right now, many financially," reads a statement by UT System President Randy Boyd. "Our chancellors and I strongly believe that we need to do everything we can to provide them the support they need to continue their education at UT, and to make our University as affordable as possible for our incoming students."
Boyd was recently named system president, just as the coronavirus began to spread across the country in March.
The individual advisory boards from each campus will meet in early May to review and discuss the proposal, and their recommendations will be submitted to Boyd and presented to the UT Board of Trustees in June for a final decision, according to the release.
Thousands of students across UT campuses have seen their learning moved online since the system first announced that campuses would close on March 11.
In Chattanooga, many University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students are wrapping up final courses and exams this week, after the spring semester was extended several days due to the impact of Easter Sunday's deadly tornado.
Final appointments to Angle's task force will be forthcoming, according to the news release. UTC has also announced a schedule for spring and summer commencement ceremonies that were rescheduled for August.
Contact Meghan Mangrum at email@example.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.
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