Kentucky Wesleyan College President Thomas Mitzel addressed the Owensboro Rotary Club Wednesday during its weekly luncheon, saying school officials are doing as much as they can to protect students and faculty and staff from COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

Miztel, KWC’s 35th president, was hired into the position in the fall of 2019. He officially began at the beginning of this year, formerly meeting students and community members Jan. 8 on the first day of classes. He addressed his views on education to the Rotary Club, as well as his goals for the future, while also updated the 28 members present how the school is handling the global crisis that is the coronavirus.

Mitzel said he thinks he and the other presidents of higher education institutions in Owensboro are in agreement that it’s important to be vigilant and prepared.

“We are not going to close,” Miztel said, echoing Brescia University President Fr. Larry Hostetter’s same sentiments. “We are preparing students and faculty to move to online courses should we have to. We are going to be as prepared as possible.”

He also said KWC has set aside space on campus to quarantine students, should they have to, and that the school is at an advantage because classes are smaller than larger university classes.

“We are staying on top of it as best we can,” he said.

KWC and Brescia’s discussions about preparedness in regards to the virus come at the heels of Berea College announcing premature semester closure Tuesday.

Also on Wednesday, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville announced they will go to online instruction for two weeks following spring break, which is next week, according to the Herald-Leader.

In an email, UK President Eli Capilouto also said the school will remain open and that staff operations will continue, the Herald-Leader reported, and that dorms would remain open in the two weeks of online instruction.

Western Kentucky University announced Wednesday afternoon that the school would extend its spring break through March 22. The school has been on spring break since Monday. Residence halls will still remain open through that time to accommodate students in need of housing. Beginning March 24, the school will then transition to an alternate delivery format for instruction, the WKU website said.

Mitzel also discussed during the Rotary luncheon:

• KWC plans to announce a new event coordinator position in the coming weeks;

• KWC hasn’t had a capital campaign in more 20 years. Mitzel is interested in having conversations with KWC stakeholders about what goals they have for the school, and he hopes to develop three or four pillars “so we can start building into our future, and start building a capital campaign in the future.”

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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