5-28-20 Message to Community


As we move into summer, I hope all of you are taking a moment to recharge and attend to self-care. The last few months have been trying for most of us. I continue to be optimistic about the future while grieving the tragedy of the present. My goal here is to continue to provide updates as we move through summer and plan for a safe return to campus this fall.

Groups throughout the University are meeting regularly to plan for a safe return to campus. These include University Senate; the Council of Academic Deans who are continuing the work of the University and staying updated on developments and planning within each academic division; the campus-wide Safe Return to Campus committee co-chaired by Dana Cox and Gwen Fears; and the AAO Return to Campus committee that James Bielo and I are co-chairing. There are too many others to list; e.g., Return to Research, multiple student life committees, global and international affairs, IT, graduate and undergraduate students, each academic division, athletics, etc. Many thanks to all the leaders from across the university who are supporting shared governance by participating in these working groups. Your efforts greatly increase our chances to achieve our goal of a safe and engaging fall semester.

We are currently seeing positive indicators regarding enrollment for the fall. Our summer enrollment on Oxford campus is higher than last year, and our regional campus summer enrollment is significantly above last year. Our retention numbers and our graduate enrollments continue to be strong and our incoming class is shaping up well. Next week, on June 5th, University Senate is hosting a virtual Town Hall that will focus on the work of Enrollment Management and Student Success (EMSS). Brent Shock will join us to discuss all the myriad ways in which supported our students through the spring semester, continued working to recruit a strong class, and how they are preparing for an unpredictable fall semester.

Event: Town Hall Meeting - Enrollment Management
Date:  Friday, June 5, 2020, from 3:30-5:00 p.m
Event number (access code): 798 721 717
Audio conference: +1-415-655-0002 United States Toll
Join from a video system or application: Dial (You can also dial and enter your meeting number.)

Also as a reminder, June 19th will be our online Board of Trustees meeting. At this meeting we will update Board members with what we know about the incoming class, our budget models, consult about the fall academic calendar, and discuss other topics related to our safe return to campus. All will be welcome to join the public sessions. Some of our guidance to the university community needs to wait until the trustees have provided guidance and approval, and so we may have more information to share with you on some matters after that meeting.

Finally, on a positive note, our alumni continue to make the world a better place:

As the entire world plans for an uncertain future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Miami alumni continue to lead the way in charting that future, showing the value of a Miami degree in creating solutions to society's largest challenges. Carrie Graham, who earned a master's degree at the Scripps Gerontology Center in 1995, wrote with the following update:

I have been working as a policy consultant to the California Department of Aging. Originally I was consulting on Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Aging. But when COVID-19 hit California, we pivoted to full time COVID Response. I have been advising the state on policies around LTC facilities, analyzing and summarizing data on vulnerable groups of seniors in California, and moderating weekly “Caregiver Check in Calls” on topics ranging from caregiving for someone in your home, caring for someone in senior living during COVID, advanced care planning, and Grief and Loss during COVID-19. We hope to be pivoting back to the Master Plan for Aging very soon.


  1. Guidance for faculty and staff released
  2. Guidance for return to research released
  3. Guidance for fall class planning released
  4. Resources for faculty contemplating future teaching options
  5. AAO return to campus agenda items
  6. Bulk ordering of PPE and other supplies for fall

Guidance for faculty and staff released
This week, Dr. Creamer and I released the guidance we have for both faculty and staff on returning to campus. These documents summarize what we know at the moment, and also include processes for requesting accommodations or leave if you are unable to perform your job duties and balance health concerns. (See May 27 announcement.)

Return to research guidance released
Jim Oris and Michael Crowder co-chaired this team, which rapidly worked through multiple sub-groups to adapt guidance from national organizations like the APLU to meet our specific needs. This research guidance is now available.

Guidance for fall course offerings released
Wednesday evening, deans and other academic leaders received guidance on how to begin planning for fall semester course offerings. We ask departments to prepare a proposal for delivering a portfolio of courses utilizing a range of delivery mechanisms this fall which meet our goals of providing an exceptional, healthy, on-campus experience for students, provides support and accommodation for students not able to be on campus, meets learning goals, follows public health guidance, and protects the health and well-being of faculty. We must ensure that students do not end up with a majority of their courses online, especially for our incoming students. We ask our deans to work across departments to balance these different needs while we work on communicating with parents and students about how we are making decisions to maximize the quality of their experience while also maximizing public health and safety of our community members. Your deans and department chairs will have more guidance.

Faculty support
This will continue throughout the summer. If you are anticipating needing to modify your class for online or hybrid delivery, or you want to continue developing your strengths in teaching and pedagogy, we have a strong set of offerings from Oxford eLearning, our Center for Teaching Excellence, the Howe Center, and our Regionals eCampus to support you.

Our AAO return to campus committee
This committee continues to energetically discuss various issues around fall semester. Below is an incomplete set of highlights that I am aware of. There are extensive discussions over a tremendous number of issues happening continually.

  • IT is working across campus to ensure our classrooms are appropriately equipped for what we anticipate;
  • Student Life is planning a campaign of communications to students around shared responsibility and social contracts to keep each other safe through routine public health measures we are all becoming familiar with;
  • The campus Safe Return to Campus committee has developed some feedback on various scenarios for the fall academic calendar and will engage the AAO committee for further deliberation;
  • The Return to Research Committee continues to move us forward in scholarship and creative work;
  • Our HR and Academic Personnel offices are working across campus to ensure we are taking appropriate measures to support those who need support of various kinds;
  • Our international and global engagement folks are providing extensive support to our international students and continue to plan for study abroad and study away for fall semester;
  • Athletics is working to allow student athletes to return to campus safely and in small numbers; and
  • Our facilities experts continue to refine their plans to enhance safety and cleaning.

Bulk ordering of supplies for return to campus
We are working to coordinate large purchases of supplies we expect to need for fall. Please communicate with your supervisor or dean to collect your anticipated needs. Your supervisor or dean will know which office to share this information with. Note that our understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve daily. For example, recent reporting suggests that surface contamination may not be the most serious concern as we return to campus if everyone washes their hands and wears masks to avoid touching their face.

Many thanks,