5-4-20 Message to CommunityArticle


Happy unofficial “Star Wars” day - “May the Fourth be with you….” First a reminder that our remote Town Hall-style meeting will be held on Friday, May 8, 2020 (3:30–5:00 pm), when Dr. Jayne Brownell (VP for Student Life) and I will give an overview of the key issues at the intersection of student life and academic affairs, how we are serving our students during COVID-19 currently, and how we are working collaboratively in planning for return to campus. As we did for the budget symposium, all are welcome to submit questions on these topics through their senators by Noon, tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5. Please understand that late submissions will not be accepted due to the substantial volume and work required to coordinate responses.

Here is a brief communication from the provost office to get your week started.


  1. Student emergency fund update
  2. Budget corner- review of a basic principle
  3. Reporting Remote Meeting and/or Class Disruptions
  4. Some examples of how we have met the COVID-19 challenge

Student Emergency Fund

Our student emergency needs fund is closing in on $450,000.00 in donations. All this money will be distributed to students in need. This is a great example of how the Miami community supports its students. Thanks to our advancement team for leading this effort and to all who have given!

2. Budget Corner

Since many questions and concerns revolve around budget, I thought it would be good to keep talking about general budget issues and principles. A common question remains: Why can’t we “tap into reserve funds” to offset budget issues?

We don’t know how serious or how long the financial fallout from the pandemic will last. We have already refunded $27.2m in student room and board and other fees. Having these reserves on hand has allowed us to make refunds to students; and allows us to pay bills and employees between student billing cycles. Continuing to maintain reserves will prepare us for future developments such as reduced tuition revenue, a potential reduction in state support, another unplanned campus closure, a different type of natural disaster, etc.

Further, not all reserves are the same. Some reserves are designated, some reserves are restricted, and some reserves are unrestricted net assets. Miami’s reserves includes funds yet unspent but already designated for faculty professional development, other departmental needs like equipment maintenance or accreditation, unspent course fee monies, monie related to grants, unspent faculty start-up funds, money set aside for building projects, etc. If these funds are used for operating deficits, the purpose previously identified for the funds must be foregone, the recurring problem isn't fixed, and the University must spend more of these funds in each subsequent year until they are exhausted and the University is forced to make the cuts or not survive. As Dr. Creamer has cautioned on multiple occasions, both Wright State and Miami had about the same amount of unrestricted net assets back in 2010 -2011. Wright State chose the course of spending down these funds rather than immediately dealing with the budget crisis and Miami chose to create the strategic priorities committee. The results of these two different approaches to fiscal management are clear and will become moreseo as the two universities move into the next fiscal year.

3. Reporting Remote Meeting and/or Class Disruptions
As we head into the last two weeks of remote delivery, it is important to keep in mind that if you experience a remote meeting or classroom disruption to report it. To make a report, use the Community Standards Incident Reporting Form. All reports will be investigated and pursued through proper accountability channels. Disruptors can be found, and disruptive actions within Webex are traceable back to the student or disrupter. For more information about securing your classroom, see Webex Security Options.

4. More Stories of how Miamians met the COVID-19 Challenge

  • Mark Morris, associate clinical professor of political science, has helped the department support students and faculty with a weekly "Monday Message" that includes updates and informational videos. The email updates existed previously but engagement has increased significantly since Miami transitioned to online instruction. Morris, who has taught several online classes previously, also has served as a resource for faculty trying to optimize the offerings in Canvas for the first time. "They're learning what Canvas can do and the things to avoid," Morris said. "For example, 75 minute lectures online probably are not the way to go."
  • One of our students shares her experience this semester as we transitioned to remote delivery of instruction.

  • Western Program during remote delivery: Since Miami transitioned to online classes in March, Miami’s Western Program has continued to support students through online options including “Tea and Conversation” sessions, plus a video for seniors to fill the void of some of its senior traditions. The entire Western team of faculty and staff has collaborated to maintain contact with students. Coordinator and advisor Zack Hill said he has conducted about 100 academic advising sessions during the past month, often dealing with issues students might be having working from home or with family. “I love in-person appointments,” he said. “This has been much better than I expected it to be. Some students are more comfortable with this. They’re a little more relaxed.” After the announcement in March, Hill also helped develop a six-week sprint course in Biology and Society to replace sprint courses that could not be offered remotely.

  • CCA’s #thrivingartist series presents students adapting to our current COVID situation while completing their projects. Here is Cello Performance major and Arts Management co-major Nicole Holman, '21. She was scheduled to give her junior recital this weekend in Souers Recital Hall. Since that was no longer possible, she gave her performance in her cul-de-sac for her family and neighbors who watched from a safe social distance. The performance was live streamed on Facebook and is available on her YouTube page.

  • Congratulations to the art history students of ART420D- Art and Its Markets, whose hard work paid off yesterday when the Miami University Art Museum decided to acquire four of the prints they researched over the semester. The Museum staff found the acquisition proposals of students Faith Walker, Abby Solon, and Maria DeSantiago most convincing. Walker argued that John Sloan's “Art of Salesmanship" (1930) will help the Museum to represent the Ashcan School of American realism and that it also tells the story of the early 20th century passion for African art among modernist artists and collectors. Solon's presentation of Max Klinger's "Self-Portrait" (1918) was grounded in the fact that the Museum already owns a famous portfolio of the artist's symbolist prints, to which the addition of a self-portrait adds biographical context. Lastly, DeSantiago's pair of prints, “Entry to the German Jails” and “Release from the German Jails" (1915) by Theophile Steinlen, built on the Museum's past exhibitions of World War One prints, the frequent use of the Museum's German collection by faculty in History and Art History, and the potential of this print for the theme of "Migrations," the topic of the upcoming 2020-2021 John W. Altman Program in the Humanities. Pictures of the prints acquired are attached.

    Love and Honor,
    Jason Osborne