Administration and Operations Committee Recommendations

  1. Protocols for bringing employees back to work will be clear and widely disseminated.

    • The University will develop a Return to Work Plan to provide clear guidance on employee responsibilities. Additionally, policies and/or procedures will be developed to assist supervisors in answering employee questions related to COVID-19 and the University’s efforts to minimize health risks to the campus community. The plan will outline a phased approach for the University to return to full levels of service based on guidance from public health experts.

  1. Establish protective measures for the health and safety of returning employees.

    • The University will develop health and safety protocols for each office or unit consistent with the Return to Work Plan. Minimum PPE provided will include cloth face coverings for all employees and desktop shields for high traffic areas. Employees will be required to wear face coverings on campus when social distancing is not possible or their work environment involves frequent traffic. Specific units or facilities may require additional PPE, including free standing or mounted hand sanitizing stations and disposable masks for visitors/guests. Facilities Services will identify high-touch areas, determine the appropriate cleaning/disinfecting protocols, and communicate these practices to the appropriate departments. The installation of no-touch fixtures where appropriate will be considered. 

  1. The University will develop communication protocols that address employee concerns about returning to the campus.

    • General information on MTSU’s coronavirus response will be emailed once a week, if needed, on the same day so employees know when to look for the weekly update. Communication will focus on non-critical issues, anticipated safety protocols, and employee questions/concerns. Time-sensitive communications will be clearly identified and not included in general informational emails.

  1. Capital projects and infrastructure improvements across the campus will continue.

    • Capital outlay and maintenance projects funded by the state, as well as locally funded projects, will maintain their original design and construction schedules, as funding permits. Potential budget cuts, however, could reduce or eliminate funding for the capital maintenance projects currently in the 2020-21 Governor’s Budget. Preparation of 2021-22 Capital Outlay and Capital Maintenance project requests will continue for submission to the Board of Trustees and THEC for approval. All construction contractors will be required to maintain a set of COVID-19 protocols that adhere to the current State of Tennessee guidelines.

  1. Current energy protocols will be evaluated to look for potential savings. 

    • Facilities Services will consider indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental health issues. In addition, Facilities Services will explore opportunities for an electrical rate credit through the TVA Back to Business Credit Program, which provides financial credits to large customers who have reduced or shutdown their operations due to COVID-19. 

  1. Academic space planning will include anticipated downtime and additional signage.

    • Specific classrooms and other non-academic spaces will be identified as surge spaces to replace classrooms that need to be temporarily closed for deep cleaning in cases of suspected infection. Signage specifying occupancy limits, spacing details, etc. for each space will be installed. 

  1. Parking and Transportation will implement appropriate protocols. 

    • Bus routes and staffing will be adjusted at each phase of the Return to Work Plan in conjunction with student needs. Revised capacity limits, social distancing standards, safety protocols, and cleaning/disinfecting activities will be implemented. Online procedures for no contact delivery of student parking decals will be established. 

  1. Non-academic campus events will be evaluated for compliance with social distancing and safety guidelines.

    • The expected costs and benefits must be weighed for permitting use of campus facilities by non-University groups.

  1. Administrative processes will be adjusted to foster employees’ work from home. 

    • Given the need for continuing employee telework, all remaining paper processes will, to the extent possible, be updated to use electronic routing and approval. Until such alternatives exist, email approvals are officially an acceptable substitute. Current hiring processes will also be reviewed and modified to support alternative evaluations and interviews of prospective hires.

  1. The University will review current budgets and explore new revenue opportunities.

    • The University will plan for anticipated reduced state appropriations and enrollment fluctuations that my extend beyond the end of the pandemic. We recommend that the University explore the following actions: 

      • Promote the University’s efforts in providing a safe environment for new and returning students and our commitment to quality instruction.

      • Aggressively increase and refocus marketing resources in the Nashville MSA for local high school graduates. Current data suggests that many students will be looking to stay closer to home when selecting a higher education institution this coming year.

      • Review and revise payment plan options allowing students and families affected by the pandemic more time to pay their bills.

      • Evaluate opportunities to provide continuing education and training. If necessary, develop new policies and procedures to expedite the admissions process and provide easy access to institutional programs.

      • Evaluate eliminating or suspending ancillary student fees, remembering that several of these fees are tied to auxiliary units that receive no direct state support and must be self-sufficient.

      • If allowed, consider using stimulus funding to award additional grants to students to cover specific ancillary student fees.

      • Seek to increase research productivity and the funding coming into the University from external sources.

      • Implement a hiring freeze on all unfilled positions.

      • Restrict University-funded travel and consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

      • Implement a voluntary buyout program for faculty and staff.

      • Evaluate the implementation of furloughs, either universally across the campus or within specific programs.

      • Evaluate reorganizing both academic and non-academic units.

  1. Evaluate the landscape of athletics both operationally and financially.

    • Understanding the importance of athletics to the University and community, the University will:

      • Develop protocols for the health and safety of student athletes and the support staff. In conjunction with team doctors and medical training staff, develop protocols for student athletes or staff who test positive for COVID-19 to include contact tracing, quarantines, and facility review and cleaning.

      • Regularly update student athletes and their families on safety concerns.

      • Monitor both Conference USA and NCAA guidance/recommendations regularly and pivot operations as needed.

      • Monitor revenue sources including Conference USA, NCAA, and locally produced revenue and be prepared to adjust for shortened seasons, cancelled seasons, etc. Work in conjunction with the NCAA and Conference USA to develop efficiencies to reduce expenses.

      • Evaluate amenities for the upcoming season, including fun zones and large group activities, using current University protocols.

      • As will be done for the overall University, analyze all athletic expenses for possible reductions, including hiring freezes, travel restrictions, buyouts, and furloughs. 

  1. Assess institutional priorities for philanthropic support.

    • The University must prioritize its short-term philanthropic needs to focus on student success, including increased scholarship support and other funding to support individual health and wellness and technology needs.