4-30-20 Message to Community


Happy Thursday, everyone! I am going to attempt to reduce the frequency of communications to once or twice a week unless more is needed. Let’s see how this goes.

Let me start off with an announcement that as part of our “Return to Campus” planning, University Senate will be hosting a remote Town Hall-style meeting similar to the budget symposium Dr. Creamer and I presented a couple weeks ago. On Friday, May 8, 2020 (3:30–5:00 pm), 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, Tuesday, May 5. Please understand that late submissions will not be accepted due to the substantial volume and work required to coordinate responses.


  1. Highest ever national fellowship count
  2. Undergraduate Research Forum
  3. Speech Pathology and Audiology coming through for our students
  4. Institute for Food update
  5. Return to Campus committees

1. Return to Campus committees
This Friday, we will celebrate a banner year for national fellowships
This is a year with much to celebrate as we had 29 current Miami students or recent alumni win national fellowships in 2019-20, which is the most ever fellowship recipients in a single academic year in Miami history. Thanks to each faculty member who mentored one of these students, nominated them, wrote a letter, or in any other way supported our students.

2. Undergraduate Research Forum
This was an impressive event AND they did all remotely. Some highlights! There were 329 student presentations, with more than 500 students participating. Over 25% were interdisciplinary, and this is all thanks to 154 faculty mentors and 73 graduate students who also mentored our budding scholars. You make Miami special.

Our students covered just about every topic I can think of, and represented every division. Congratulations to Joyce Fernandes and the team who put this all together, supported the technology, and most importantly, made this a special day for our students.

3. Speech Pathology and Audiology serving our students
In the midst of everything, we are helping our students continue progress toward professional licensure or certification. The Speech Pathology and Audiology department converted its clinical training program for graduate students from on-site delivery in the Miami Speech and Hearing Clinic to a new online clinical case simulation program. Small groups of students work through cases in a digital library and meet regularly with clinical faculty so they can continue to obtain hours towards licensure and certification. The clinic also is reaching out to outside clients and hopes to start tele-practice delivery later this spring.

4. Institute for Food
The farm has continued work on campus as an essential business throughout the current crisis. COVID-19 has drawn attention to the fragility of the global food supply chain and underscored the need to build resilience and capacity in local food systems. This has been the mission of the Institute for Food since its inception in 2016. Over the past eight weeks, three farm staff members with the help of a few remaining student volunteers enrolled in IES/ITL 231 Italian Food Cultures in Context have been practicing social distancing while sowing seeds, prepping beds, transplanting seedlings, and harvesting spring greens—all with the goal of learning about and promoting a healthy and sustainable local food system. The farm has supplied lettuce and spinach to Miami dining services for those students who have had to remain on campus. It has also donated 25 pounds of fresh produce per week to the Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services (TOPSS) in support of their mission to counteract food insecurity in the region. In addition, farm staff and student volunteers have been gearing up for the start of the 2020 season CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program), which begins on May 21. More information about the Institute for Food and the local food system in Oxford is available at Those interested in signing up for the summer or fall CSA or donating a CSA share to TOPSS can contact

5. Academic Affairs Return to Campus
This committee(s) had their first meetings this week. Throughout the university, areas are engaging the campus community broadly to think through how to safely return to campus for the fall semester. Within academic affairs, there are two processes we are engaging to collect questions, ideas, and recommendations for how we each respond to the expected range of situations we need to be prepared for.

Each dean is working with all areas of their college to ensure every faculty and staff member has a clear vision for how to prepare for the fall. The deans will continue meeting together to share ideas and concerns across divisions and with the provost office.

At the same time, University Senate Executive Committee Chair-Elect James Bielo and I are gathering leaders from around campus to discuss coordinate communications across the broader academic affairs community. We will ensure senators, faculty, and staff are well-informed of developments and concerns within divisions and other areas of academic affairs (global and international, libraries, student success, undergraduate and graduate student concerns, research, etc.) and the broader university operational areas, e.g., student life, budget, facilities, IT, public health and safety, equity and inclusion, etc.

We are also engaging other universities and state systems to ensure we remain aware of the up-to-date actions and recommendations of how this will be happening around the country. All of this is to say that there is a broad engagement with shared governance, and each faculty, staff, and student has at least two different paths for getting information and sharing questions: through the department and division, or through senators. We will continue meeting throughout the summer until we are confident we are prepared for fall return to campus and will keep you updated as best we can between now and then.

This fall semester may be one of the most challenging we will ever plan for. This year, 2020, will be looked back upon as one of the most challenging and tragic in modern history. This will end at some point, however. This is not our new normal. We will have a vaccine, and we will have treatments that are effective. We will go back to socializing, gathering, working, and playing together. We can and will get through this time, together, as a community.

Thanks to each of you,

Jason Osborne