3-26-20 Message to Community


I remain very optimistic that Miami will emerge strong from the financial challenge we are facing and that we will be open and thriving for fall 2020, with a strong freshman class, a bumper crop of graduate students, great new faculty colleagues, new leaders, and a bright future. Getting there, however, does mean that we will have to tighten our belts now. To that end, we are asking faculty to prioritize their teaching responsibilities, in particular, for the coming year.

I have heard that some faculty are displeased with this, and some are questioning whether we continue to be committed to being a research university. Let me reassure you that we remain committed to our mission as an elite R2 institution and we greatly value our scholarship, but at this moment, for the coming year, we must prioritize the teacher in "teacher-scholar". If we do this right and continue investing in important new programs, we will be on a sustainable, positive trajectory. We can't do this without you.

Topics for today:

  1. Maintaining privacy in COVID-19 times
  2. Donate to the Emergency Needs Fund
  3. Big Blue Button access ends 3/30
  4. re we continuing with Boldly Creative while we face budget challenges?
  5. What the daily Provost staff daily check-in looks like

Privacy guidance from our General Counsel 
As the coronavirus continues to spread, we most certainly will learn of students and employees, both on and off-campus, who become infected and ill. As we move into this period where students and employees are testing positive for the coronavirus, it is important that we all recognize and respect the medical privacy of our faculty, staff and students. You may NOT disclose the identity of any student or employee who has tested positive for the virus. You may disclose the fact that a person in your division/department (if greater than 10 people) has tested positive, but you may not share any additional information without the employee’s or student’s written consent and authorization. The Centers for Disease Control in its guidance to employers states:

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fellow employees should then self-monitor for symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath).

Failure to adhere to these standards could violate any number of federal privacy laws including but not limited to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and /or Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

If a student or employee under your supervision has tested positive or if you have questions, please contact the Office of General Counsel at 529-6734.

These are enormously challenging times but responding with respect, care, and compassion to those who become ill and their family members is the very foundation of our humanity. Please take care of yourselves and your families and stay well.

Donating to support Miami students in need
University Advancement has started a campaign to raise funds for students most in need during this COVID-19 time. You can donate to the effort here. Please share the link with others who might be interested in contributing.

Big Blue Button will go away
On Monday, March 30, 2020, Canvas Conferences using BigBlueButton will no longer be available for video conferencing due to factors including accessibility, platform stability, and substantial budget implications. Existing BigBlueButton recordings will remain available for 14 days after the recording date. Cisco Webex is the University’s recommended and supported technical solution for video conferencing. We apologize for the inconvenience this will undoubtedly cause. As always, eLearning and CTE can help you utilize WebEx and/or Google for your video conferencing needs. Read details regarding changes affecting Canvas Conferences.

Boldly Creative in the time of COVID-19?
I have been asked how we can continue considering investing in Boldly Creative when we are asking all divisions to streamline expenditures. It’s a fair question. Let me say that Boldly Creative is, much like your retirement fund, an investment in our future. We can either spend it now, for an immediate and short-lived benefit, or we can invest it and reap long term benefits that will help us thrive in an ever-more-competitive higher education world. Boldly Creative is helping us position Miami as an ever-stronger Public Ivy.

Provost Meetings in the age of WebEx
Every morning we have a senior staff check-in meeting to get ahead of what is coming at us and to ensure we are on the same page in this fast-moving environment. I am grateful to each of these colleagues doing everything that they can to keep us aimed in the right direction. Do you have a picture of what your work looks like while we are dealing with COVID-19? Share it with us!

Love and Honor,
Jason Osborne