Provost's Update - March 25, 2020

Effective Operations

Institutional Priority #4

Institutional Effectiveness

Provost's Email to the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, March 25, 2020

Good afternoon, everyone:

The Provost’s Office has collected a listing of COVID-19 updates that focus on instructional and student support issues, advice from professional associations, links to resources, and current information here.  Be sure to check this page as you have time available.  It is updated regularly to reflect changes as they occur.  New additions today include articles discussing the stress of these fast-paced changes and how to find the joy again in teaching with unexpected disruption.  

Please feel welcome to share articles and resources for inclusion at [email protected].  Please also continue to check the EMU focused COVID-19 resource page here.  That page now contains a helpful FAQ summary that will be updated as information becomes available or guidance changes.

Today's update contains information about:

  • Comments and Thanks
  • COVID-19 Cases and Reports
  • NEW: Faculty Development Center (FDC) and Center for E-Learning (CFE) Resources & Strategies
  • Housing
  • Title IX Compliance at EMU
  • Summer/Fall Registration
  • Graduation/Commencement
  • PEGN Courses
  • Final Comments

Introductory Comments

As I sit finalizing today’s update, I am wondering how many times and in how many different ways I will say that our situation is highly fluid.  Each day seems to bring it with new announcements, Executive Orders, and changes in course.  This much change is unsettling to me and I’m sure that it is unsettling to us all in our own ways. 

And yet, I have also had moments of such appreciation for our EMU community.  Everyone’s intentions and actions have been constructive and productive.  I feel very grateful for that in despite the monumental public health challenge we face, the work that needs to be done and our always evolving global landscape.  I hope each of you has those moments as well, when you have felt proud to work with some of the people you do, to teach the students we do, to have the community we have.  We’ve moved nearly a thousand students to their permanent homes, gone to fully virtual instruction in only two weeks’ time, moved our offices into our homes, figured out how to share our new “offices” with our kids, pets, families.  I am certain we will emerge from this time as a stronger campus and community because we’ll know who we really are under such tremendous pressure.  We are guided by our care for our students, our care about each other, our care for our community.  And we’ll put up with change, disruption, anxiety, uncertainty, and whole lot more to make sure we are there for EMU and its mission on behalf of students.  If that doesn’t make you proud of our University, I’m not sure what would.  So thank you all for what you’re doing here.  Every day you all give me more reasons to feel fortunate to be a part of this University.  This work isn’t easy, but it is most certainly important.

COVID-19 Cases and Reports

If you receive a report from a student or other member of the community that they have COVID-19 or have been tested for COVID-19 please immediately contact Ellen Gold, Dean of Students, [email protected].   We have now had several reports from students and others where the information shared was incomplete or inaccurate about a positive diagnosis.  The County Health Department has a very clear protocol for reporting and researching positive test cases.  That process begins with direct communication and involvement with a campus liaison.  We have designated Ellen Gold, Dean of Students, as our University point of contact in this public health process.  WCHD reporting and tracking of COVID 19 cases is mandatory.  If a diagnosis or test result is shared with you, please do not share student health information any further without contacting the Dean of Students first in order to avoid/minimize unnecessary anxiety in others.  We must be careful to operate with confirmed facts around diagnoses only in these stressful and uncertain times.  Self-reports may not be fully reliable for many reasons so please use the process requested by the Health Department and State of Michigan to report and trace contacts around cases of COVID-19.

Faculty Development Center (FDC) and Center for E-Learning (CFE) Resources, Strategies and Webinars

The Faculty Development Center (FDC) and the Center for E-Learning (CFE) have collaborated to prepare an outstanding set of online resources, strategies, and webinars for teaching and learning in our new fully online environment.  Included are helpful topics on remote teaching strategies and communicating and supporting students remotely.

Be sure to visit the Faculty Development Center's  main webpage or the Center for E-Learning’s Moving Online webpage.

Continue to watch your email inbox for resources and tools from both the Faculty Development Center and the Center for E-Learning.  They continue to work with faculty and staff throughout the University to offer support, encouragement, and resources for instructors as we make these challenging transitions this semester.  Today for example, the FDC launched a new site that includes a webinar opportunity offered by the EMU Global Engagement Council, “Online Learning – Challenges and Opportunities.”

If you would like to offer support for colleagues with by sharing links, professional resources, or your own expertise for group or one on one sessions, please reach out to Peggy Liggit at [email protected]. I think we appreciate so much the work they are doing right now.  Please tap their resources as needed and offer assistance when you can!


As has been shared in past messages from President Smith, we are in the process of moving the majority of our residential students out of the residence halls and campus apartments.  A few students will remain because their EMU apartment or unit is their permanent home, they are international students who cannot currently return to their home country or some other similar need.  Please be mindful of how stressful this disruption may be to students you teach or offer support services to over the coming weeks.  EMU would not have made this decision if we thought there was any other option that would have been able to adequately protect students and the general public health from COVID-19.  Students must schedule move-out times so that numbers are spread throughout the days until the final move out date of March 31, 2020.  Housing and dining staff have dealt with more changes in policy than we can all truly appreciate over the past two weeks and they have done so with calm determination and creativity.  Please join me in thanking them for their professionalism, compassion and hard work on behalf of our students!  Great work!!

Title IX Compliance at EMU

Now that classes and other academic programs are being provided online by the university, the Title IX Office reminds members of our community that maintaining an academic program free from sex/gender discrimination remains a high priority for the university.  Members of the community should be aware of the following important points:

  • The Title IX office at EMU remains operational and functioning remotely. Anyone impacted by sex/gender discrimination is encouraged to contact the Title IX office to make a report by emailing the Title IX Coordinator, Anika Awai-Williams at [email protected], or leaving a voice mail at the Title IX Office 734.487.2202 or making an online report.  You may also contact them to consult about whether and how an incident or situation should be reported and/or addressed.
  • The Title IX office also supports the educational process of individuals whose experience with sexual violence or discrimination may not have occurred at EMU but impacts their ability to obtain equal access to educational achievement.  If you have a student who may these type of accommodation, please refer them to the Title IX office.
  • Any Title IX investigation process will be conducted remotely and remedies provided to assure any sexual harassment, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, retaliation or other sexually discriminatory behaviors are addressed promptly.
  • EMU's Sexual Misconduct and Interpersonal Violence Policy on sexual misconduct applies to behaviors that occur in person between members of the university community, but also applies to online and virtual misconduct. Any behavior that is prohibited by policy is also likely prohibited in cyber-forms, including cyber-harassment, cyber-bullying that is sex-based and cyber-stalking. Members of the community are expected to maintain a tone of civility and respect in online classes just as they would if they were in class physically.
  • EMU faculty and staff members remain mandatory reporters alleged sexual misconduct.  They must contact the Title IX Office they become aware of incidents or allegations involving members of the campus community, regardless of how they learn of the potential misconduct, whether in person, in writing, or online.  These uncertain times may trigger individuals with past experiences so please contact Title IX for guidance as required and refer students to the office as well.
  • The Title IX office works to support students in their choices around reporting incidents of sexual violence to DPS.  Their services in support of student academic attendance and success are available regardless of the decision they make about reporting incidents to DPS.

Summer/Fall Registration

As referenced in the President’s messages to the campus community last week, the University made the difficult decision to extend online/virtual class program delivery through the end of the winter semester, April 27.  We also must now begin to plan for the contingency that we will not be back to regular fully in person operations until May.  As a result, I have delayed the start of Summer Registration until Monday, March 30 in order to allow for a review of the Summer A course schedule and to allow for the potential revision of offerings currently scheduled to alternate summer terms, online or hybrid format.  The Registrar has shared calendar term information with academic department to support this review process.  Please know that we will make every effort to return to in person delivery options as soon as is feasible and safe for public health, but we must plan for the real possibility that this cannot happen by the current Summer A start date of May 4.  If this situation has taught us all anything, it is the value of human interactions.  I speak only for myself in saying that I have enjoyed learning new technology, even if on the fly, and have been surprised at what is possible virtually.  But I also deeply miss the quality interactions that happen when I’m in the same room with colleagues.  Fall Registration began as previously announced on Monday, March 23rd.

This does present a few challenges with regard to pre-requisite sequencing in a small number of cases.  Toward that end, we will enter pre-requisite waivers upon request and support the follow up to check compliance with pre-requisite completion for summer centrally.  Until Summer Registration opens, please send pre-requisite waivers that you cannot process in your departments for some reason to [email protected].


President Smith announced last week that the April Commencement Ceremony has been postponed.  Current CDC and State of Michigan guidance is that we will not be able to schedule large gatherings of that size before at least mid-May.  Once we are cleared to schedule larger events, we will proceed in evaluating the available options.  Please reassure any graduating students that they will be provided the opportunity to walk in a commencement ceremony at a future point in time should they wish to do so.  Please also emphasize that they will graduate on time.  If you are aware of any student with particular issues related to timely graduation caused by the COVID-19 emergency please have them contact [email protected] and we will work to assist them in resolving those challenges.

PEGN Courses

We are in the process of reviewing every student currently enrolled in a PEGN course for the remainder of the semester in order to determine the best approach to deal with their issues of participation and attendance.  Beginning next week, we will work with Advising and Records and Registration to explore options for dealing with missed weekend PEGN courses, such as waiving requirements, teaching in a non-activity-based format, or other means for these students to complete or continue their participation.  More information will follow as available.

Final Comments

We continue to monitor and evaluate directives guidance provided from Governor Whitmer, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Washtenaw County Health Department and other local, state and federal agencies along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other professional organizations.  I want to thank faculty, staff and administrators who have provided (and continue to provide) advice, templates and other feedback as we move through this process.  The process of modifying courses, taking courses online and working remotely is by no means final or without unanswered questions still today.  Each of us is trying to improve at every turn.  We will provide ongoing updates to the campus on a variety of issues and answer questions as expeditiously as we can.  Please continue to direct student questions and concerns that you cannot address to the Dean of Students and other questions to the Provost’s Office.  Your patience, proactive, creative problem-solving and student focused thinking is greatly appreciated!  If you have topics these updates might address, please send suggestions to the Provost’s Office email.  We will make every effort to address issues as they arise.

Please continue to observe public health directives and advice around social distancing, regular hand washing and self-monitoring, and other issues.  Should you, any member of your staff, or any students you interact with experience Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (cough, fever greater than 100.4, shortness of breath), please contact your health professional immediately by phone for guidance and notify the Dean of Students as soon as possible thereafter.

Our most current, up to date information, and past campus updates are available at the Eastern Michigan University Health Services website. 

View prior Provost updates: Provost's Wednesday Briefing webpage