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April 2020 Communications

April 28 - COVID-19 Update: Fall Preparations

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

We have started the process of planning for a return to campus for the fall semester. We will be ready for the full range of possible scenarios based upon the best and most up-to-date scientific advice and health guidance that puts the safety of our community members at the forefront. Accordingly, I have appointed a steering committee to drive this process, synthesize the efforts of a range of working groups and provide recommendations to our senior leadership team. Our Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Dr. Tom Nenon, will chair the committee. He will be joined on the committee by the following individuals:

Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal, Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation
Dr. James Gurney, Dean of the School of Public Health
Dr. Robert Jackson, Vice President for Institutional Technology
Mr. Raaj Kurapati, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Dr. Justin Lawhead, Dean of Students, Chief Health and Safety Officer
Dr. Jeffrey Marchetta, Faculty Senate President
Dr. Karen Weddle-West, Vice President for Academic Student Success

The steering committee will oversee and coordinate a range of working groups to include ones focused on curriculum delivery, health and safety, student life, athletics, facilities and technology infrastructure. The various working groups will include representation from faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students in an effort to harness the expertise and talent on our campus. The membership of the various working groups will be shared once fully populated. I will provide periodic updates as new information, recommendations and specific plans are finalized. 

I wish you the best as we conclude the spring semester and move into the summer months. Be safe, and stay healthy. 

-Dr. M. David Rudd, UofM President


April 24 - COVID-19 Update: Fall Preparations

Dear Campus Community:

Despite these uncertain times, the last several months have demonstrated the resolve, resilience, creativity, commitment and kindness of our community. As we move into the final weeks of an incredibly challenging semester, I want to let you know we are making preparations for the fall. At the heart of each and every decision we make are the safety and health of our campus community, and, accordingly, we are relying on the latest scientific data and health guidance.

We hope to reopen our campus for the fall semester, but recognize the need to prepare for a broad range of potential scenarios. Working with our leadership team, I am in the process of appointing a steering committee, along with a number of complimentary working groups to facilitate preparation for the fall semester. We will draw from our campus community to ensure there is broad representation on these workings groups. This will allow us to address all possible scenarios and to do so with a focus on the health and safety of all of our community members. We are also actively coordinating with critical state and national entities to make sure we have access to the latest data, available technology and health guidance.

I will keep you updated on a regular basis as we evaluate and answer a broad range of questions regarding plans for the fall semester. I will share more details about the steering committee and working groups in the coming weeks, but again, rest assured we will be accessing the broad range of expertise and talent we have available on our campus, including faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students. As a result, I am confident our preparations for the fall will position us for success regardless of the challenges that will emerge in the coming weeks and months.

Our University community is strong, talented and resilient. That has never been more evident. I look forward to working to prepare for a new academic year, and to seeing you again.

Be safe, and stay healthy.

Regards,

-Dr. M. David Rudd, UofM President


April 22 - Summer School Initiatives Recap

In our continued efforts to support our students’ progression to degree completion during these difficult times, the UofM is offering direct financial support to students through several initiatives for Summer 2020. Below is a summary of the various initiatives:

Direct grants to all students enrolled in summer online courses for the amount of the online fees they would have been charged. The $50 per student credit hour translates up to $150 per three credit hours, or up to $300 per six credit hours or two classes.
Expanding the 3+3 program for all Freshmen and Sophomores and will provide a direct grant to cover the tuition cost of the second 3 credit hour class taken by eligible students. The direct financial support will be calculated based on your residency status for the assessed tuition.
For our upper class student populations (juniors and seniors), we are offering a $500 grant to assist juniors and seniors with their costs when enrolled for two classes in the summer 2020 semester. The additional direct grant will be on top of the grant that students will receive to cover the online course fees. For a student taking two classes, or six credit hours, this will result in a total grant amount of $800.
 
We strongly encourage all students to take advantage of these aid programs to continue their academic careers and progression toward degree completion. Please contact the Scholarship Office should you have any questions atscholarships@memphis.edu or visit memphis.edu/scholarships/threeplusthree.php.


April 20 - COVID-19 Update

Dear Faculty and Staff:

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe, healthy and adjusting to our new normal. As we near the end of the spring semester, I wanted to provide an update given some of the national narrative regarding the impact of COVID-19 on higher education, budgets in particular. Our transition to remote and virtual learning has been relatively smooth thanks to your expertise, hard work and commitment to delivering a high-quality educational experience, even under the most challenging circumstances. Our campus remains safe and essential services are provided. We continue to rely on the most up-to-date scientific evidence and related health guidance, across the state and nation (including drawing on the expertise of our faculty), to help drive our decision making.

We have been aggressive in our efforts regarding summer sessions, which also will be delivered via remote and virtual infrastructure. As evidence of how well our faculty and staff have done during this transition, undergraduate enrollment for the summer is up 3.6% in headcount and 10.7% in credit hours as of today, despite registration starting a week later this year. Our summer enrollment is usually a good indicator for the subsequent fall enrollment, but the current context is unprecedented. Available data indicates we are in a good financial position through the end of the fiscal year, despite significant impact from COVID-19. With respect to the next fiscal year budget cycle which begins July 1, we are still awaiting direction from the state. We are working under interim budget guidance as previously shared. The interim budget included increases in annual operating funds and a 1.5% salary pool. Legislators are scheduled to return to Nashville in June. We anticipate there will be budget reductions when a final budget is approved, but to what magnitude is still unclear. 

I will keep you updated as budget information for the coming fiscal year becomes available, along with subsequent plans for the fall semester. Be safe and stay healthy.

Regards, 

-Dr. M. David Rudd, UofM President


April 17 - Additional Information on Credit/No Credit Grade Options

Dear Students:

We have recently updated the alternative grading options website at https://www.memphis.edu/aa/aaunits/gradeoptions.php. We highlight important changes to the alternative grade options below.

You will note that we have added a grade of CR* that will replace a letter grade of D for undergraduate students who choose the CR/NC option. This grade will fulfill GenEd and elective credit options, but not fulfill requirements in the major that requires a grade of C- or better. Just like the CR and NC grades, it will not count in GPA calculations.

As the semester draws close to an end, please stay engaged, and let your instructors, advisors and support professionals know if we can assist you in being successful this semester.

-Dr. Tom Nenon, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost


April 17 - Grants to Juniors and Seniors

Dear Juniors and Seniors:

In our continued efforts to support our upper class student populations, we are offering a $500 grant to assist juniors and seniors with their costs when enrolled for two classes in the summer 2020 semester. The additional direct grant will be on top of the grant that students will receive to cover the online course fees. For a student taking two classes, or six credit hours, this will result in a total grant amount of $800.

We strongly encourage all students to take advantage of these aid programs to continue their academic careers and progression toward degree completion. Please contact the Scholarship Office should you have any questions at scholarships@memphis.edu or visit memphis.edu/scholarships/threeplusthree.php.


April 16 - Academic Financial Support for Summer 2020

In an effort to continue to support our students’ progression to degree completion during these difficult times, the UofM is offering direct financial support to students for Summer 2020:

  • We will provide a direct grant to all students enrolled in summer online courses for the amount of the online fees they would have been charged. The $50 per student credit hour translates up to $150 per three credit hours, or up to $300 per six credit hours or two classes.
  • We are expanding the 3+3 program for all Freshmen and Sophomores and will be provide a direct grant to cover the cost of the second 3 credit hour class taken by eligible students. The direct financial support will be calculated based on your residency status for the assessed tuition.

 We strongly encourage all students to take advantage of these aid programs to continue their academic careers and progression toward degree completion. Please contact the Scholarship Office should you have any questions atscholarships@memphis.edu or visit memphis.edu/scholarships/threeplusthree.php


April 14 - Student Academic Success Services and Support

Dear Campus Community,

We know that the transition to remote learning may present some new challenges, but we are here to support you through them. The departments in Student Academic Success remain available to support students’ educational goals through various programs and services that are available via web conference (using Zoom), texts, phone and email.

-Dr. Karen Weddle-West, Vice President, Division of Student Academic Success; Director of Diversity Initiatives
-Dr. Tom Nenon, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost


April 9 - Credit/No Credit Grade Option Updates

Dear Students:

We have posted information about this semester’s credit/no credit grading option that we hope will answer many of your questions here: memphis.edu/aa/aaunits/gradeoptions.php. Grades will be posted on or before May 13, and students may opt into the CR/NC process at that time. An email with the electronic form will be sent in May.

Thank you for your dedication and patience as you continue to work to stay on track with your academic goals in spite of the unprecedented and severe challenges you are facing this semester. It is important to you, and to us, that you earn the grades you need to receive credit for your courses -- whether you choose the letter grade or the credit/no credit option. Regardless of which option ultimately proves best for you, it is crucial that you stay engaged in your classes and continue to do your best to succeed in each of them.

Please know that we are dedicated to your success and want to support you in any way we can. Our tutoring, advising and writing center resources are now available remotely. View information about these resources and more on the Student Academic Success site. Our Office of the Dean of Students can help you connect with support services for emotional and physical wellness, provide additional support for students faced with food or housing shortages, or access to technical resources you may need. Learn more about campus and community resources on the Dean of Students site.

Together, we will persevere through these difficult times and prepare ourselves for the challenges that we as individuals, as an institution, and as a society, will face even after the immediate threat of the pandemic is behind us. Go Tigers!

-Dr. Tom Nenon, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost


April 9 - Campus Updates

Dear Faculty and Staff:

We are several weeks into our transition to remote and virtual instruction for the remainder of our spring semester. Our faculty and staff have responded in remarkable fashion, with a commitment to innovation, creativity and effectiveness in an effort to meet the educational needs of our students and our research mission. As you are aware, many of our facilities have been closed, and access to campus is limited to only those identified as essential across University divisions. A limited number of students with no other housing alternatives remain in campus facilities. If you are on campus, it is critical that you follow all CDC health guidance.

Some time ago, we implemented modified shifts for those working on campus in order to accommodate CDC guidelines, along with providing appropriate protective gear. As a reminder, all faculty and staff have full access to benefits including health insurance, accrued annual and sick leave to use as they choose. Additionally, all faculty and staff also have access to two weeks of paid sick leave and expanded FMLA coverage if needed, in accordance with the recently implemented CARES Act. If you need additional information, please contact Human Resources at hr@memphis.edu or visit memphis.edu/hr.

We continue to plan for a range of budget scenarios; however, until a final state budget is approved and available we are unable to finalize budget plans. We are currently working with the interim budget measures previously shared by Governor Lee. We will share details as soon as they become available. We did move forward with, and implement, the first of two planned increases in our hourly wage. Also, as previously shared, our summer sessions will be fully online. Spring Commencement will be an online ceremony, although graduates will be invited to our next traditional graduation. As soon as we have more definitive information about the fall semester, I will provide an update with related details.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our campus community, our students and Memphis. Our response in difficult times has been nothing short of exceptional. 

-Dr. M. David Rudd, UofM President


April 8 - Commencement Updates

Due to the COVID-19 virus, we are postponing commencement ceremonies for the safety of our students and their families and friends. If circumstances change for the better, we are planning for a traditional commencement ceremony in late summer or early fall. Our spring graduates will be invited to participate in a future traditional ceremony as soon as we can safely schedule one. Although we will not be able to celebrate our seniors and others in the traditional manner, we will honor spring graduates with an Online Commencement.

Although it is not the traditional ceremony, Online Commencement is a way to remember you on the original graduation date and share that moment with family and friends. The online ceremony will include your picture if you choose to send one in, the pronouncement of your name and messages from administrators and alumni. Your mortar board (graduation cap) and 2020 tassel will be mailed to your home the week of May 9.

We will have more details concerning the Online Commencement sent to you later today.


April 3 - Workplace Guidelines

As we address the spread of COVID-19 in Greater Memphis and on our campus, available City of Memphis data indicates that when cases do occur the most significant risk of transmission is in the workplace. Please review the guidelines located here from the Shelby County Health Department that were distributed by Mayor Strickland yesterday.

Although we have decreased our faculty and staff density to essential personnel only, we must remember to maintain the recommended social distance of six feet at all times and follow health and safety guidelines.

Thank you for your continued dedication and cooperation during this challenging time.


April 1 - Credit/No Credit Grade Option

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

In response to our changing circumstances, the University of Memphis will be offering all students a credit/no credit grading system for this semester. Academic work with graded tests and other assignments will proceed within the parameters of remote instruction and flexibility. Grades will be submitted in the same way and on the same dates as originally planned (see schedule for grades); however, students will have a choice between taking grades in all of their classes or opting for the credit/no credit system.

This system is intended as a unique response to the unprecedented and unforeseeable events causing our transition to online classes. Students will have the option of leaving their semester grades as posted. However, students will also have the option of notifying the Registrar that they would prefer to have all grades for this semester converted to credit/no credit grades. The grade of credit will earn the same credit hours as letter grades, but will not be factored in the student’s GPA. Grades of “no credit” will not earn credit hours, but will also not be factored into a student’s GPA (i.e. be the equivalent of a W grade). Students should consult with their academic advisors to understand how any grade conversions may affect their academic progress.

Additional details will be posted on this site as they become available.

We will be returning to our regular grading scale for all classes this summer and fall.

-Dr. Tom Nenon, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost