3-16-20 Message to the Community


It was less than a week ago that we transitioned to remote delivery of instruction. Like everyone else has experienced, this already feels like it's been a very, very, very long week. Even so, I have found the time to brag to all my colleagues at how impressive you all been in pulling together so quickly in the face of so much change. I will continue to thank everyone again and again for accepting this challenge to continue serving our students and our shared mission during this hopefully once-in-a-lifetime crisis. Please communicate with your students often and try to be flexible as we ask them to to be with during this difficult time.

Topics for today:

  1. No instructional activities in person allowed; limit non-essential in-person activities
  2. Hiring freeze
  3. Mid Term grades
  4. Pass/Fail
  5. Spring Break goals for faculty
    • Take a breath and find time to think through the rest of the semester
    • Update syllabus to reflect new reality and how you will meet learning objectives through remainder of semester
    • Prepare for what-if scenarios like: "What if the US requires everyone to stay in-home for two weeks" like Italy and other countries have
    • Think through final exams/papers/products
    • Engage in self care
    • Breathe
  6. Tools for extended remote work

No face-to-face instructional activities are allowed
Just to continue communicating around this directive, we are prohibiting any face-to-face instructional activities on campus or in any other venue. This includes holding classes in-person but at an off-campus location. All instructional activities must be held via remote technology. In other words, on-campus, in-person activities should be suspended with limited exceptions. Essential research activities that require lab access by faculty or graduate students completing research should contact Dr. Oris ( for an exemption.

Immediate hiring freeze
This morning, the President's Executive Committee agreed for the need to implement an immediate hiring freeze in light of the substantial budgetary implications from the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, there can be no further hires without the express permission of Dr. Creamer or me. This also applies to graduate assistantships so you are are asked to please halt in any new offers of assistantships. Any faculty, staff, or assistantship formal offers loaded into the system by 12 p.m. today (3/16/2020) may proceed. No new offers are allowed. More guidance on Academic Personnel hires will be discussed with the deans in our meeting later this week on possible exceptions. I ask that you please wait for that guidance before asking for exceptions or clarifications. We will move as quickly as we can.

Midterm grades
Please be sensitive to the fact that many students are experiencing significant upheaval right now as they are moving out of dorms and to their permanent residences. If at all possible, please give them flexibility with assignments.

As we know, University policy requires the submission of midterm grades for students meeting the midterm grade criteria, and we strongly encourage midterm grade feedback for all other students. With the move to remote instruction it will be more important than ever to ensure that our students receive meaningful feedback on their academic performance thus far in the semester, and midterm grades are a valuable performance indicator.

To facilitate midterm grade submission, the deadline is being extended from Friday, March 20, to 12 p.m., Friday, April 3. On Friday, March 20 we will make all submitted midterm grades viewable to students, and we will continue to keep the midterm grade submission application open for faculty to continue to submit until 12 p.m., Friday, April 3.

Questions regarding midterm grade submission can be directed to the Office of the University Registrar at or 513/529-8703.

There have been petitions and requests from students and parents asking for a wholesale switch to pass/fail grading given the global crisis we are facing. I am officially communicating to you that this is NOT something we are currently contemplating. Faculty have the discretion to run their classes as they deem pedagogically appropriate. We have policies that guide us in this area, and there are federal and other implications for this sort of grading policy. What I would ask is that you attempt to over-communicate and reassure you students during this time as we continue to deal with this unfolding situation. Give your students grace, and ask them to give you some leniency also. We are all human, and everyone is doing their best.

Some Spring Break recommendations for faculty
Faculty should already communicating with their classes, holding remote classes, or assigning work. At this point, there should either be synchronous or asynchronous interactions at least as often as classes would have been held. If you would like support, now is the time to reach out to the Center for Teaching Excellence, eLearning, or eCampus experts.

Before the end of Spring Break, please update your syllabi to reflect your plan for the rest of the semester. While we often characterize a syllabus as a “contract” between a student and faculty member, in fact, syllabi can be modified particularly in exceptional circumstances such as what we are experiencing. Please be certain that revised syllabi are uploaded with clearly defined new expectations, assignments, how learning objectives will be met, and any other changes you need to make. Please share this with your department chair so they can be aware of what you have modified. We want to be in the best position to support you!

At some point, we will need to think about finals. As always, faculty have complete discretion to evaluate learning objectives as they see fit. Please consider how you can adapt your summative assessment to the remote delivery reality. Will you assign a paper, a project, a presentation, an asynchronous (“take-home”) test, or a synchronous test? How will you accomplish this via remote technology? How can we help you? (Please note that if you are holding a synchronous test, it must be during the standard finals time scheduled for your course.)

Engage in self-care. We are all stressed out and anxious. We have family and loved ones who we are worried about. Find time to exercise, relax, and to find moments of positivity in the midst of this chaos. Generations before us were able to find uplifting moments in the midst of unthinkable tragedy. We can rise to this moment.

Tools for remote work
IT services have provided a comprehensive list of software to make telecommuting a little bit easier.  Academic Personnel and Human Resources will also be putting together information to help us through some of the day-to-logistics of moving to remote work.

Love and Honor,
Jason Osborne