5-7-20 Message to Community


Miami faculty have a reputation as master teachers and scholars. This reputation will continue to sustain us through tough times and help us thrive in better times. As we look toward the future, there are many unknowns. One thing we do know is that we will need to innovate to continue serving our mission. Until there is an effective vaccine, we expect to continue public health measures such as social distancing and wearing masks as much as possible. Some of our faculty, staff, or students may be unable to return safely to campus, or may need to self-isolate. We will be challenged like never before in thinking through how we teach, use our spaces, collaborate, continue our scholarship, participate in service and shared governance, and engage in self-care.

One size will not fit all courses or disciplines. I am empowering deans, chairs, and faculty members to make decisions within their departments for how they will meet the needs of their classes for fall. I believe it is likely we will need at least two different approaches to meet the complex needs we anticipate: (a) fully realized online courses, and (b) a hybrid approach that provides flexibility for the various permutations of remote/on campus presences possible. I would expect that our largest courses will need to be delivered online until social distancing mandates ease. In other courses, social distancing might be accomplished through having different subgroups of students rotating between in-person and online might work. For smaller courses, space might permit all students on campus to be present yet may need to be prepared to be hybrid to serve students not able to be on campus.

We are aware that some faculty and staff have concerns about being on campus during the fall before we have a vaccine. We are working on specific guidance around this to accommodate the large variety of needs. For faculty, if you anticipate needing to teach online, please speak with your department chair to develop a plan to prepare and teach your assigned courses effectively in an online format. For faculty unable to teach your assigned courses online, we will have further guidance for requesting a leave of absence.

We are going to provide support for the new learning environment we will all face in the fall. The CTE, ELearning and Howe Center for Writing Excellence will be sharing a plan for coordinated summer support soon. In the meanwhile, there are already many resources available to help you think about your courses.


  1. Senate proclamation of gratitude to the campus and community
  2. Tech Fees
  3. Excellence in Academic Advising Award
  4. Appreciation for Support Services
  5. Summer Reading Program Update
  6. Undergraduates should not be returning to campus for research
  7. Return to campus student “town hall

Proclamation of Senate

On May 4th, your senators voted to acknowledge with gratitude the sacrifice, dedication, and engagement of all our colleagues. Within that proclamation, we renewed our commitment to enhancing shared governance throughout the university. We encourage you to stay involved, updated, and engaged as we all work together to move forward in uncertain times.

Tech Fees call for proposals

As the semester winds down and the days seem to melt together during our remote work and instruction, it is never too early to look ahead to the fall and the next round of the Student Technology Fee Competitive Proposal Process (Tech Fee). The complete schedule for FY21 is available online, but we wanted to highlight a few items early. Committee members are looking for innovative or significant ideas that clearly benefit students. The guidelines define significance in two ways: impacting a large number of students or having a deep impact on a smaller number. Your project may directly relate to academics or may be part of the broader Miami experience, making students’ lives better or more productive. Both graduate- and undergraduate-focused proposals are encouraged. Proposals for the 2020-2021 academic year need to be submitted by midnight on Sunday, September 20. The link to the online application form will be available from the Tech Fee website on August 17. An open informational meeting and Q&A session will also be held the week of August 31. For more information, see Student Technology Fee or send questions to

Excellence in Academic Advising Award

This year’s two recipients of the award for Excellence in Academic Advising - Miami’s highest advising honor:

  • Heeyoung Tai, Teaching Professor and Chief Departmental Advisor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

  • Greg Phillips, Associate Professor and Chief Departmental Advisor in the Department of Music

Appreciation for our Support Services Staff

Lots of what we do relies upon our support services. Last week, Miami’s IT Services, with support from e-learning, was instrumental in the successful online Undergraduate Research Forum April 29. Joyce Fernandes, director of undergraduate research, says the IT team recruited colleagues to sit in on training sessions, helped train moderators and students, and connected organizers with student disability services to address accessibility issues. The 26th annual event was the first online forum; 220 primary presenters and 162 co-presenters delivered their project outcomes. The online forum made it possible to invite accepted students from the incoming class and alumni to participate. Fernandes called the forum “a phenomenal experience in collaborations across the university and a testament to the talent and expertise on campus.” Thanks to all our great support teams that help us deliver our mission effectively!

Summer Reading Program update

For almost four decades, Miami University has featured a Summer Reading Program (SRP) for its incoming students. While this program has served us well for many years, the format has remained largely unchanged with the author giving a speech at Convocation along with small discussion groups with students prior to the beginning of the fall semester. Assessment has indicated that many students do not read the book, thus making the impact less than optimal. A task force has developed a proposal to significantly revise the Summer Reading Program. This group, which included members of the Summer Reading Program Committee and an associate provost, has developed a plan for a new program with the broader aim of advancing common learning experiences around a particular annual interdisciplinary and pioneering theme. The new program called "One Year/One Theme," will begin in fall 2021. As we work to prepare for this new program and also deal with the pressures of the COVID 19 pandemic, we have decided not to offer a summer reading program for fall 2020. More information on the new program which will begin in fall 2021 will be forthcoming during the upcoming academic year.

Undergraduates and research

We agree with and adhere to the principles of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Council on Research (APLU-CoR). One of APLU-CoR’s guiding principles is that undergraduates are students first and researchers second. All APLU schools, including Miami, have cancelled summer research programming for undergraduates. In our case, our three NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduate programs and the University Summer Scholars program have been cancelled. We have, however, encouraged research with undergraduates to continue if they can conduct it remotely. Undergraduates should not be on campus conducting research, scholarship, or creative activities until we return to campus for the fall semester.

Return to campus update

Join me and Dr. Jayne Brownell Friday afternoon for our “town hall on students,” where we will discuss how we have been serving students through the transition to remote instruction, and how we are preparing for returning to campus for Fall.

As part of the question submissions for the town hall, we received many questions about faculty and staff issues. While we will not be addressing issues specific to faculty and staff in the town hall, I will remind you that we have multiple committees working on safe return to campus- in research, academic personnel/HR, academic affairs, facilities, student life, and within each academic unit. James Bielo and I are planning to focus some of our upcoming return to campus committee meetings on these topics and we will continue to share updates as we have them.

Love and Honor,
Jason Osborne