TUESDAY (3/17): From President McPhee: COVID-19 Update
To the University community,
I’d like to begin today’s update with the hope that as this unprecedented worldwide event continues to unfold, each of you is taking time to focus on what’s most important: Taking care of yourself and those you love. These are chaotic and stressful times; please try to take moments when you can to breathe deeply and see the good being done, not only on our campus but throughout our nation and, indeed, the world. We are in this together and, together, we will take care of one another.
I continue to meet regularly with our Crisis Management Team and my Executive Leadership Team to address issues as they arise and develop contingency plans for the coming weeks. While I am pleased that our campus, to date, has not experienced a confirmed case of COVID-19, we must be prepared.
Due to actions at the state and federal levels, however, we have made several decisions that I need to let you know about, including:
Spring Commencement Exercises
The federal government is strongly discouraging large events or activities for a period extending out as long as eight weeks. Our MTSU Commencement Ceremonies scheduled for May 8 and 9 fall within that cautionary period, which means that it is very likely that we would not be able to hold our events as previously scheduled.
However, I know how important this milestone is to our students and their families. Commencement ceremonies are the most important events we hold on our campus. My executive staff and I have had multiple discussions and are exploring every possible option to preserve our May ceremonies. I want us to exhaust every possibility of finding a way to allow this most important MTSU tradition to continue without interruption. If there is any chance that federal guidance may change and open up the opportunity for us to proceed, we want to leave ourselves open to that chance.
Therefore, at this time I am not yet announcing a decision to cancel our May Commencement. Instead, we will continue to carefully monitor the evolving federal and state recommendations. If, by April 1, that guidance still recommends against large gatherings, we will at that time invite our May graduates to participate in either our regular August or December commencement ceremonies, whichever is most convenient for the students and their families. Any student who cannot wait until April 1 for a decision may elect to march in the August or December ceremonies regardless of our final decision regarding the May event.
If there is any chance that this most important MTSU tradition can continue, we want to give ourselves that leeway. We appreciate your patience.
Also important: If you complete the requirements for your degree at the conclusion of the Spring 2020 semester, your physical diploma will carry a May completion date.
Remote Delivery of Instruction
As previously announced, when classes resume next week we will be delivering instruction remotely. Faculty have been working during our extended Spring Break to convert our traditional on-ground courses to remote delivery and will be ready to resume the semester Monday (March 23). Students with questions are encouraged to reach out to their professors for information and are reminded to check their MTSU email frequently.
Given the previously mentioned federal guidance, I have decided that we will complete the spring semester remotely. No decision has been made at this time on our summer sessions, but we will keep you informed as these decisions are made.
On-campus housing and food service will continue to operate and be available to students who choose to continue to live on campus. Students who choose to move home should contact their Area Coordinator for further instructions regarding vacating their room/apartment and turning in their key. Students who need small items shipped to them should contact the MTSU Housing Office at 615-898-2971 or through the forms at this webpage.
Rolling Forward Unused Flex Bucks
MTSU and Aramark, which operates MT Dining, have agreed to partner together to provide for the rolling forward of unused Flex Bucks from this semester so that they may be used in the Fall 2020 semester. More details on this decision will be provided in the next few weeks.
Campus Events Cancelled until Further Notice
Again, in keeping with federal guidance, I have decided that all on-campus events will be prohibited until further notice.
Please check our website, www.mtsu.edu/coronavirus for frequent updates and other resources.
These are unprecedented times and no doubt create challenges for our Blue Raider community. However, as has been demonstrated many times before, our MTSU family is resilient and highly capable of finding solutions to problems like this. As we go about our daily business, I would ask that we be mindful of the stress and uncertainty that are inherent in times like this. A little extra patience, compassion and kindness will go a long way in helping us navigate this extraordinary event.
Sidney A. McPhee