Senate News, March 9, 2020

Senators approved several consent calendar items, including curriculum, and received a report from Terri Barr, Process Coordinator for the Department of Classics consolidation. Provost Osborne presented two Sense of the Senate resolutions regarding coronavirus. Stacey Lowery Bretz presented the proposed process for Evaluating, Improving, and Prioritizing Academic Programs.

Minutes of the University Senate meeting for February 24, 2020, were approved.

Abbreviated minutes for the meeting were approved, and with the approval of these minutes, the following Sense of the Senate Resolutions were passed:

SR 20-11

Sense of the Senate:  Ensuring class attendance policy conforms to Miami University values

March 9, 2020

Whereas, the United States is experiencing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with 500 confirmed cases in 33 states and the virus, which causes respiratory illness transmitted by human contact, continues to spread, and

Whereas, Miami University’s Class Attendance Policy provides that it is the prerogative of every faculty member to set attendance for each individual course and some faculty impose academic grade and other penalties for missing class, and,

Whereas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance to help stop the spread of the virus and in the section titled “Guidance for IHE that do NOT have COVID-19   identified in their community” states: “Students, Staff and faculty should not attend class or work when sick.” and  recommends that  institutions of higher education establish “procedure to ensure that students, staff and faculty who become sick (with any illness) on campus or arrive on campus sick are sent to their place of residence as soon as possible,”

Therefore, in order to promote the health and safety of the campus, the University’s Class Attendance Policy shall be modified for the balance of the Spring Semester to add the following statements to the Policy:

  1. No student, faculty, staff member should attend class or come to campus when ill.
  2. Instructors should send students who are ill back to their residence halls or off-campus housing and notify Dr. Kimberly Moore, Dean of Students at
  3. Instructors will, without prejudice, provide students with reasonable opportunities for completing missed work. However, students are ultimately responsible for material covered in class, regardless of whether the student is absent or present.
  4. If the student’s absence is of significant duration or severity, faculty and staff will work with the student to invoke appropriate policy defined options (e.g., be assigned an incomplete or request a medical withdrawal).

Nothing in this Resolution shall be read as modifying the University’s Policy on Voluntary Medical Withdrawals.

SR 20-11 was unanimously approved.

SR 20-12

Sense of the Senate:  Enhancing Academic Continuity

March 9, 2020

Whereas, the United States is experiencing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with over 500 confirmed cases in 33 states and the virus, which causes respiratory illness transmitted by human contact, continues to spread, and

Whereas, any community can experience unpredictable disruptions to operations from factors such as communicable disease, natural disasters, cybersecurity breaches, and other uncontrollable factors, and

Whereas, it is a primary responsibility of each member of the instructional staff to be prepared to serve the academic mission of the University and be able to meet their assigned instructional responsibilities under a range of conditions, and

Whereas, the Office of Postsecondary Education has issued guidance for interruptions of study due to Coronavirus ( That guidance allows universities to deliver distance education on a temporary basis if the institution must close for coronavirus related reason and provides “instructors must initiate substantive communication with students, either individually or collectively, on a regular basis.  In other words, an instructor could use email to provide instructional materials to students enrolled in his or her class, use chat features to communicate with students, set up conference calls to facilitate group conversations, engage in email exchanges or require students to submit work electronically that the instructor will evaluate.”

In order to ensure Miami University is well-prepared to meet its mission and complete all Spring Semester 2020 classes, the University Senate urges all faculty to immediately begin developing course materials for the balance of the Spring Semester in a manner that will enable them to deliver lessons and materials electronically, thus maintaining continuity of teaching and learning.

Minimally, all instructional staff must ensure they are prepared to deliver their classes remotely through Canvas, by accomplishing the following steps:

  1. Ensuring each class section they are responsible for has a Canvas section that includes;
    1. the course syllabus,
    2. grades earned for each student on each assignment for the current semester
    3. Announcements to students enrolled in each section, including the attendance policy as amended by the Sense of the Senate Resolution
    4. Assignments, quizzes, and other types of activities for the balance of the semester
  2. Providing students with the information to access the Canvas site for the course

All departments, divisions, and other support centers will provide reasonable support for instructional staff in order to accomplish these goals and all faculty are expected to have met the minimum requirements no later than March 20, 2020.

 SR 20-12 was unanimously approved.