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Access & the Internet: Providers Giving Students a Break

On March 13th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its  Keep Americans Connected Pledge, calling on broadband and telephone service providers to maintain and improve connectivity as the US confronts COVID-19.  To date, more than 500 companies have signed on agreeing to waive late fees and to maintain service.

Students who find themselves working off-campus with limited internet access can take advantage of opportunities that range from lifted data restrictions, some number of free months of service for new customers, waived overages and/or broadly available hotspots. 

Charter Spectrum is offering 60 days of free broadband.

Xfinity will make WiFi hotspots across the country available to anyone who needs them at no cost. 

Comcast, owned by Xfinity, will make it easier for low-income families in a Comcast service area to sign up by offering new customers 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service.

AT&T will keep public WiFi hotspots open for anyone who needs them. It has also pledged to waive all wireless data overage fees and will not cancel service for non-payment over the next 60 days.

Check out this list to find your current provider, or another, get connected!

Better Together Thursdays

Have you seen the recent informational campaigns sponsored by UNYCC? Check out our most recently Better Together Thursday edition (3/19) Instructional Resources for Virtual Environments (rollover for link). (.pdf)

If you would like to contribute to the next issue, please let us know. We would love to feature your proven practices, innovative ideas, and collaborative spirit.

Tips for Teaching Virtually

I’m an instructional designer specializing in higher education and online instruction, and here is my offer of help. I have a little bandwidth to spare at the moment and I never imagined there would be such a thing as a “national instructional design emergency.” But here we are, and here I am.

 If you’re an instructor who has just found out that all of your teaching for the rest of the semester is moving online and you have no idea where to go or what to do, these are my tips.

Steve Weidner, Senior Instructional Technologist at UNYCC’s New York Chiropractic College

First off, look locally. Look and see what resources your institution has posted. If you’ve never sought out their help, find your campus’s support staff. We call them variations on the same theme: “Academy for Teaching Excellence”, “Center for Learning and Teaching”, “Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning”, “Office of Digital Learning”, “Innovative Learning”. They may or may not be the same folks that do your Blackboard/Canvas/D2L/other LMS support. They’ve likely sent you a bunch of emails about emergency seminars that they’ll be running about moving online that you’ve missed in the panic. Breathe. Take a moment. Go to one of their seminars.

Buy a USB microphone. Now. Seriously. If there is one easily identifiable potential failure point in live teaching or recording lectures, it’s your audio. I like the Blue Snowball (Amazon link). It’s been in production for 15 years or so. It’s a solid mic. But pretty much any USB lavalier, microphone, or headset is likely better than what’s on your laptop.

If your campus doesn’t have local resources up and running yet, check out this site from Indiana University.  I and a number of my colleagues are shamelessly cribbing from it while we create our own localized versions. It’s a good ‘un. Mad props to the IU team.

If you’re looking for broader tips about teaching online from people who actually do it, here are a couple of twitter threads and articles I recommend:

Dr. Ryan Straight’s advice; more on the technical side of things. The three links I pulled from his thread are:

AND THIS. READ THIS The title is a bit inflammatory, but the advice might be some of the most important you get.

If this isn’t doing it for you, or if your local resources are overwhelmed, or you have some weird academic need that you can’t imagine how in the world to migrate it online, there is the Instructional Design Emergency Response Network where you can request help and other IDs who have available time can offer their assistance. Their signup sheet is here. You can find them on Twitter at @id_erNet.

If we’ve ever met or worked together before, or you even recognize my name, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help. If you know people who could use this information, please share it. If you happen to be an ID who needs to burn off some caffeine after you’ve already covered your local needs, sign up with the IDERN. And to everyone dealing with this, I’ll close with the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB2yqeD0Nus

Business Continuity Support & COVID-19 Related Announcements

If you would like access to the link, please email us.

Central & Upstate NY Institutions Respond to COVID-19

See this updated list (3/12) of institutional responses (rollover for link) of several institutions in the UNYCC region and beyond.

EVENT POSTPONED: AAC&U’s Dr. Tia Brown McNair to speak at UNYCC Spring meeting.

On Friday, April 3rd, Dr. Tia Brown McNair, will deliver a keynote address titled, “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education.” Dr. McNair is Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Centers at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington. This is even will be held at Monroe Community College.

Director’s Message, Spring 2020


The start of a new semester, a new year, and a new decade coincides with my first-year anniversary at UNYCC. It’s been a time of reflection as I look at the year behind and at the one ahead.

For me, 2019 was a “year of connections.”  Although I moved to Rochester in the winter of 2018, it took me almost a year to learn my way around.  UNYCC campus visits across the region helped me understand institutional connections as well as the network of roads that link us.  Eventually, I even managed to find my way home in the dark. 

At the same time, these seemingly new connections had ties to my past.  The daughter of one of our Prime Representatives had been roommates with our daughter.  A new colleague lives around the corner.  And I was reintroduced to acquaintances I made in previous positions that are now developing in a UNYCC context.

As the new year is still fresh, I’m thinking about how to move from connection to community both personally and professionally. How can I proactively enhance my sense of personal community?  How can UNYCC expand and deepen connections to continually develop a shared vision?

In short, each of you is a UNYCC community-builder.  When you pass along a UNYCC email to a co-worker, when you participate in a UNYCC discussion, or when you reach out to get more information, you are helping UNYCC build deeper meaning that fuels action.  I invite you to keep doing it. Pass along an email about an important event.  Suggest a community of practice to address an issue that would be undoable if you were working on your own but achievable when addressed collectively. Plan on participating in the UNYCC Spring meeting on Friday, April 3, 2020.

And, thanks to all of you who have made me feel at home this past year.  I learned so much from listening to your discussions about your work, your challenges, and your goals.  In 2020, I’m looking forward to supporting our strategic priority areas (student success, resource optimization, and leadership development) with a clear focus on serving UNYCC’s many and diverse communities.

–Suronda Gonzalez, Executive Director, UNYCC

What does it mean to become an “empowered university?”

Freeman Hrabowski III, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has built reputation rooted in shared governance and collective leadership.

“The time to build the relationships and community is not in the heat of the moment. Leaders must continually build consensus and understanding as a key practice.”

Read more

Fall Meeting: ERM & Crisis Communication


Please join your colleagues from other UNYCC member institutions in October as we come together for discussion regarding our shared challenges and the ways collaboration can aid us in confronting them effectively. 

The focus of the fall meeting is to enhance awareness of risk areas that fall beyond the traditional categories of discussion and to think about collaborative proactive strategies.  We will explore the broad landscape facing higher education including private institutions, state-operated schools, and community colleges.  


Full Details & Registration


Keynote Speaker: Michael J. Cooney, Esq. of Nixon Peabody, LLC

Panel Discussion:Crisis Management featuring: 

Kelly Gagan, VP for Advancement, Nazareth College (Chair)

Gail Glover, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer, SUNY-Geneseo

Tony Perez, Chief of Public Safety, Monroe Community College



Full Agenda & Registration

UNYCC Plan of Work

UNYCC held its annual spring meeting on April 3, 2019 at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Joseph M. Lobozzo Alumni House. More than forty institutional leaders representing fourteen different institutions from across the region (including public, private and community colleges) were in attendance.

Opening remarks from UNYCC President Patrick Richey and Executive Director Suronda Gonzalez provided an overview of the work and success of existing communities of practice (CoPs) including IT, HR, Facilities, Environmental Health and Safety, Financial Matters and Auxiliary Services.  Newly formed CoPs from academic and student affairs are also beginning to meet.

The afternoon program focused heavily on identifying and prioritizing the Collaboration’s long-term work.  Attendees formed cross-functional teams around UNYCC’s strategic areas (student success, resource optimization, and leadership development) as they ranked specific initiatives.  These multi-year initiatives engage stakeholders across the higher education landscape and can be pursued along multiple paths. Diverse working teams will work to move priorities into projects with tangible positive results by January 2020.

If you are interested in joining our work, please email info@unycc.org asking for details about how to become involved.