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TCU 360

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TCU 360

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Vice chancellor for student affairs adapts to COVID-19

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kathy Cavins-Tull. (Photo courtesy of TCU’s YouTube)

By 7:15 every morning, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kathy Cavins-Tull is in her office, reading about higher education trends in publications such as Inside Higher Education.

By 8 a.m., she’s moved onto emails from students, parents and colleagues — in that order. 

After 9 a.m., her schedule is filled with a variety of appointments: meetings, lunches with students or colleagues, campus events and on Monday evenings, a class in the College of Education. 

By 11 p.m., she’s “tired and heading to bed.” 

Now in her 10th year as TCU’s vice chancellor for student affairs, Cavins-Tull is used to long days. 

But now, things are far from typical; COVID-19 has changed everything.

“The meetings, emails and phone conversations that are packed into the days are often centered on COVID right now,” Cavins-Tull said.

Her morning meetings with Tarrant County Health Department officials, campus leaders and TCU’s operational team include discussions about the number of on-campus cases, spread trends and other virus-related matters. She then briefs the chancellor on any important updates.  

Cavins-Tull chairs the Chancellor’s Fall 2020 Campus Readiness Task Force, where she coordinates the work being done by various campus departments. 

“Most of the hard work in executing things is done by lots of other people,” said Cavins-Tull. “We work hard to make sure our efforts are coordinated.” 

Chancellor Victor Boschini said he is impressed with Cavins-Tull’s “A-plus” leadership amid the pandemic.

“You really find a lot out about people during a crisis,” Boschini said. “Some run away from you, some turn against you, and then some really rise to the occasion and become exemplary leaders. Cavins-Tull is the exemplary leader type for sure.”

The task force’s overarching goal this summer was to ready campus for the return of students. Cavins-Tull said the task force is now focused on creating a system to respond to outbreaks, maintaining a daily process of situational reporting and communicating regularly with the campus community. 

Cavins-Tull said she has learned a lot from her experience as a campus leader during the pandemic.

“We have learned that we are not in control of everything, but that we can always manage to be kind and provide care to those who need us,” she said. “Most of all, we have learned a lot about the resilience of our community and the commitment from every member of our community to take care of each other and our campus.”

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