12-3-20 Message to Community

Dear Colleagues, 

As we move through finals week, I wanted to thank each of you for the exceptional work that helped us get to this point in the semester. While we have received many complaints from students and parents about the experience this semester, we have received MANY compliments as well. Those who understand what we faced, given all the many constraints, have been deeply grateful for what we have done.

Prior to Thanksgiving week, we worked with various groups on all campuses to solicit notes of appreciation from our students to our faculty. In the space of about a week, we received over 270 expressions of appreciation, many of which were impressive and thoughtful. I saw phrases such as “the best class during my time at Miami” and “this professor changed my life” and “they always took time to check in with us to make sure we were ok.” This is what makes Miami such a special place. Each faculty member nominated will receive a letter of appreciation from our office containing the narrative(s) submitted by students, along with a certificate of appreciation. If you were not nominated, please know we appreciate everything you did and continue to do.

Here are a few additional updates and reminders:

  1. Reminder: Fall 2020 grade submission deadline is Tuesday, December 15 at noon

  2. Applications update from EMSS

  3. Spring 2021 planning

  4. Fall 2021 course modality and planning

Applications update for Fall 2021:

Our enrollment management team has been working nonstop to secure another strong class for fall 2021. Our first good look at the applications show that we are up around 9% over last year at the same point in first-year applications. This equates to about 2,100 more applications and we believe there may be more room for improvement given how chaotic this process has been for families, high school counselors, and students. 


  • All divisions are up at this time.

    • CAS - up 5.6%

    • CCA - up 3.5%

    • CEC - up 5.7%

    • Nursing - up 23.5%

    • EHS - up 14.1%

    • FSB - up 13.1%

  • Applications from underrepresented students of color are up 10.9%.

  • All academic markers are still indicative of the high academic quality Miami typically attracts year after year.

Now we need to focus on continuing to recruit for our new graduate programs, our developing online programs, and to convert these applicants into admissions and confirmations that will help us get back on track after COVID-19. I hope you all join me in expressing deep gratitude for all our dedicated colleagues who work to populate our incoming classes.

Spring 2021 return to campus:

Some of you have been asking about how we are planning for spring. Briefly, I can tell you that we have promising developments on the testing front. Recall that this fall, despite having limited testing and tracing support, and ever-changing guidance from the CDC and other agencies, we managed to contain outbreaks both in the general population and in the residence halls.

daily COVID case trends

There are several important developments that will give us even better management of transmission for spring. In addition to the testing we have access to through our health system partners, I have been told that our Abbott rapid-testing machines have finally received supplies for many thousands of tests. Rather than waiting days for test results, this should give us capacity to provide test results in minutes, which of course helps us limit spread.

Second, we will be able to implement mass testing through saliva tests. We will be able to have pooled testing, which will allow us to test many more individuals more frequently, again allowing us to identify and contain possible outbreaks even more quickly than this semester.

Third, our team is working on an expanded testing regimen for students returning to campus. We intend to have the capacity to test every student who will be on campus, regardless of whether they live in the residence halls or not. This will allow us to reduce transmission from people returning from winter break.

Other notable points about planning for spring:

  • We will continue to work with BCGHD to conduct contact tracing and provide quarantine and isolation care to those students who need it here on campus. Our contact tracing initiative is highly regarded and has taken on additional responsibilities outside of the University within Butler County.

  • Sanitation protocols will continue to be followed in all buildings and spaces.

  • Our policy on facial coverings will not change--they are required everywhere on campus.

  • The Return to Research committee will be meeting shortly to review procedures for those who will be returning to or staying in their labs and research spaces.

  • Miami University will be participating, along with many Ohio schools, in a state-wide Wastewater Monitoring Program. This program will give us another early outbreak detection tool.

  • Our scheduled start in late January should position us to resume as planned and avoid the need to begin the semester with a remote-only period.

  • Healthy Together and our COVID-19 dashboard will still be resources for our community and will be updated as needed.

Summer and Fall 2021 planning:

We are likely already planning course offerings for fall 2021. Here are some initial comments as we engage in that process:

  • Many public health officials believe vaccines will be widely available to the general population by June, possibly earlier. Therefore, we should be planning for a much more typical, on-campus, in-person fall semester.

  • Depending on availability of vaccines, summer opportunities for on-campus or study abroad may be viable. It is too early to know, but we will be providing more guidance as we get better information on availability and distribution of the vaccines. Remember that the first two likely candidates require two shots administered weeks apart, and then it will be some time after those shots that immunity is likely at its peak.

  • We are working with deans to approve leaves for the 2021-22 academic year. Faculty leaves that were promised in writing but deferred during this academic year are being honored for the 2021-22 year. Probationary faculty who were promised leaves for the 2021-22 academic year will also be eligible. Other cases are being evaluated on an individual basis.

  • We will likely continue to experience significant budgetary pressure as our classes with more net tuition graduate and we continue with the current first-year class which had substantially reduced tuition revenue. We see significant numbers of students reluctant to return for spring 2021 semester due to their experiences this fall and the predominance of online courses being offered for spring. It is also unlikely that our international students will be able to safely travel to campus this spring, although we very much hope that they will be able to join us for fall. These factors will continue to adversely impact our budget. Therefore, we will need to continue to ask departments to prioritize course offerings that are required, and those that are strategically important, minimizing low-enrolled or nonessential course offerings. Please continue to engage in shared governance at the departmental and college level to plan for the future.

Many Thanks,

Jason Osborne