Klamath Falls, Ore. – Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) faculty and staff members were welcomed back to campus Wednesday with virtual convocation events. Convocation marks the traditional beginning of the academic year and this year, it covered the many new procedures in place to work toward a safe and healthy academic year.

The ceremony also serves as a proud reminder of the tremendous depth of knowledge of the faculty and staff, and their commitment to the Oregon Tech community. Honored for their exceptional contributions to the university and students, personnel were presented awards.

Faculty Staff Convocation Awards

Awards presented this year include:

  • Classified Staff Award: Keith Hill, Facilities Services; and Woody Blackman, Information Technology Services
  • Oregon Tech Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award: Dr. Tonya McVay, College of Health, Arts and Sciences; and Brian Moravec, College of Engineering, Technology and Management
  • Oregon Tech Foundation Faculty Achievement Award: Dr. Christopher Syrnyk, Communication; and Dr. Eklas Hossain, Electrical Engineering and Renewable Energy
  • Oregon Tech Foundation Rising Faculty Scholar Award: Dr. Kyle Chapman, Population Health Management
  • President’s Staff Awards: Karen Blevins, Payroll; Christine Ward, Online Education; and Mandi Clark, Housing & Residence Life
  • Student Affairs Most Valuable Partner Award: Maureen De Armond, Human Resources

Presiding over the awards, Oregon Tech president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan, congratulated the individuals and thanked all faculty and staff for their commitment and efforts, especially in the uncertain and changing environment of COVID-19. “I’m so impressed with the caliber of commitment to Oregon Tech’s mission that I witness every day,” shared President Naganathan. “I sincerely thank all of these award winners and each of our faculty and staff for their dedication and service to Oregon Tech and the community.”

Each awardee was selected through nomination letters which outlined their commitment to the university and their dedication to making a difference in the lives of students and co-workers, which adds significantly to the vitality of Oregon Tech.


The University has been preparing for a modification to operations since the resumption plan was approved by the Board of Trustees at the end of July. While Oregon Tech is keen to welcome all students back to-campus this fall, the changing nature of the pandemic and the status of each community where campuses and teaching sites are located require continuing review of plans, staying aligned with the framework provided by Oregon’s governor and the Oregon Health Authority.

One of many changes, the fall term start date was moved up by a week with the first day of classes beginning September 21. This allows students at the Klamath Falls campus to remain until Thanksgiving and then finish the term, with two class days and finals completed remotely. Students will not have to return to the campus to finish the academic term, with limited exceptions for some of allied health programs.

Campus-Specific Course Plans

Klamath Falls: Since Klamath County is in Phase 2 of reopening, the modality of course offerings for the Klamath Falls campus is as follows:

  • Lower division level (100 and 200 level courses) lectures and all labs will continue to be offered in in-person format with few exceptions, while upper division level (300 and 400 level courses) lectures will be primarily remote.
  • If conditions change, in- person teaching will progressively be reduced, first to only labs and then to only allied health labs.

Portland-Metro: With the Portland area experiencing higher infection rates and the Phase 1 reopening status in Clackamas County, the modality of course offerings for the Portland-Metro campus is as follows:

  • Lectures will be taught through remote delivery. Labs will still be offered in in-person format at Portland-Metro. Conditions will be monitored and if necessary, all labs, except for allied health programs, will be moved to remote.

Various changes are being implemented for labs including reduced number of students, staggered times, etc. When it comes to what to expect in the classroom, desks and chairs will be spaced to allow physical distancing and lectures have been rescheduled into larger classrooms. Cleaning supplies will be provided in each room. If conditions or guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, the Governor’s Office, or county health dictate, as the last option, courses and labs will be offered in remote format, as was done for the spring term. Other Oregon Tech sites, including Chemeketa, Seattle and Scappoose will be guided by operation plans of the host location.

Student and Hootie Fall Term 2020

In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, Oregon Tech is requiring the use of face coverings, by all faculty, staff, students, and visitors who are physically present at an Oregon Tech location, in enclosed public or common areas and outside if six feet physical distancing cannot be maintained. Cloth face coverings, face shields, or alternative, are to be used in combination with other preventative measures, such as physical distancing and proper hand washing.

“As we identify avenues through which we can provide our students the best educational experiences possible, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff remains our top priority,” said President Naganathan. “The pandemic has shown the strength and dedication of members of our university and the communities that we reside in, and I genuinely thank everyone who continues to work as Oregon Tech Together to make this a safe and positive academic year.”

Oregon Tech’s coronavirus site will continue to provide up-to-date information.