Messages from the Executive VP and Provost

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  • A dedicated team to answer students’ questions (April 7, 2020)

    To Our Students,

    Over the past several weeks, as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed incredible change and the need for us to adapt to that change together, as ’Canes.

    We recognize that these are uncertain times, and we are here to help you navigate them. Yesterday, we provided you a survey to share your perspective on the past few weeks. And today, we are sharing a resource to help you plan for what’s ahead.

    As we prepare for the final weeks of the semester — and for the semesters beyond — your University has formed a team of dedicated staff members who are available to answer many of the questions you have said are most important to you — questions about registration and records, billing and payments, and financial aid.

    In addition to this dedicated team, we have created an online system to quickly and efficiently answer your questions. Please visit canescentral.miami.edu to submit your question. A ’Canes Central associate will then follow up with you directly, within one business day, to address your question or concern.

    We encourage you to continue to monitor the latest University updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response at coronavirus.miami.edu. And we encourage you to take advantage of the many virtual programs and resources available to you as a student at miami.edu/stayconnected.

    Thank you for your patience and perseverance as we weather this storm together as one Hurricane family.

    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

    Jacqueline Travisano, Ed.D
    Executive Vice President for Business and Finance and Chief Operating Officer

    Patricia A. Whitely. Ed.D.
    Vice President for Student Affairs

  • Provost Jeffrey Duerk and COO Jacqueline Travisano: Financial mitigation actions at the Coral Gables and Marine campuses related to COVID-19 (April 7, 2020)

    To Employees at the Coral Gables and Marine Campuses (non-UHealth),

    We would like to extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude for the way you have joined together, in the spirit of One U, to ensure the University continues to fulfill its mission during these unprecedented times. Just a few months ago, the prospect of moving the entire teaching and administrative functions of the University to an online/remote environment would have been thought impossible. Yet today, that is our reality, and everyone is continuing to do their part to achieve one of the most remarkable accomplishments in our University’s storied history.

    As we shared during a recent virtual town hall, today’s highly uncertain economic environment poses serious financial implications for our University, as well as for our health care system, UHealth. These are unprecedented times, which require significant measures. We are taking the following actions to reduce expenses, effective immediately, to preserve our mission of teaching, research, innovation, and service as we approach our centennial.

    1. Hiring Freeze: There will be a hiring freeze for faculty and staff positions until at least the end of the calendar year. This includes all new positions and all vacant positions but does not include student worker positions. HR will establish a process to establish any exceptions, which will be rare.

    This hiring freeze does not impact offers that have already been extended and each dean will review with the provost the status of authorized searches for faculty positions and jointly determine those that will proceed and those that will be paused.

    We may ask you to operate in vastly different ways, to assume new responsibilities, or to help across units where there are vacancies to ensure operational continuity in these extraordinary times.

    2. Postpone FY21 Merit Funding: Postponing FY21 merit funding will allow us time to quantify our fall enrollment and to further quantify the financial impact to the UHealth system from COVID-19.

    3. FY21 Non-Compensation Expense Reductions: All budget centers, including colleges, schools, and administrative/operational departments will significantly reduce or eliminate travel, entertainment, outside services, consulting, conferences, meetings, and other non-essential, non-salary expenses.

    4. Capital Projects Pause: Capital projects that are already under construction will continue (for example, Lakeside Village and the Student Services Building on the Coral Gables campus). However, we have postponed nearly every other capital expenditure until fiscal year 2022.

    5. Use of Donor Funds: In addition to being good for donor stewardship, units are asked to use operating gifts and spendable endowment income balances in advance of unrestricted funds.

    6. Expanding First-Year Class: Working with the Office of Enrollment Management, we hope to welcome 2,350 new ’Canes as first-year students in Fall 2020.

    As previously mentioned, the University’s telecommuting and temporary pay practices have been extended through April 30, 2020. We will reassess these policies and communicate any changes in advance of that date. In the short term, we have quickly adapted to physical distancing practices while providing support to our frontline health care workers who are preparing for an increase in COVID-19 cases. Our next phase will be to stand together to face the financial implications that lie ahead and make sacrifices to sustain our University.

    We know that these steps will not be easy, and there may be additional financial measures that we may need to consider. But ’Canes are resilient, and we will get through this challenge together and will emerge an even stronger U.

    Finally, ’Canes Care for ’Canes. We wish you and your families good health and safety. If there is anything we can do for you, or if you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

    Jacqueline Travisano, Ed.D
    Executive Vice President for Business and Finance and Chief Operating Officer

  • Tracking COVID-19 Research Expenses (Apr. 1, 2020)

    April 1, 2020


    Dear Research Community,

    As a result of the changes in operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Miami research community has been affected in many ways, including financially. While additional fiscal support is not yet available from most research sponsors, and the federal government has not settled on any research-related relief, it is important to document the expenses incurred by our basic research labs and our clinical and translational research activities in response to these changes, both for internal tracking purposes and in hopes of potential partial reimbursements for these expenses from external agencies.

    We are therefore asking that all investigators keep a running estimate of expenses incurred in responding to the pandemic that would not otherwise have occurred or been necessary. Examples of such expenses include cancellation fees, expiration of supplies or materials, expenses incurred to store materials or samples that would have otherwise been used during this time, research animals costing per diem while experiments are shut down, and loss of data (time and material estimates) from research activities that were stopped mid-stream as a result of our research drawdown. Relief to mitigate these issues may eventually be available from governmental sources. Please also keep track of how the extra expenses are being paid for (i.e., grants, operations, philanthropy, etc.).

    Reporting: If you belong to a school or unit on the CG or RSMAS campus, you should work with your Senior Business Officer on reporting; SBOs are currently providing reports of COVID-19 related expenses to Financial Planning & Analysis on a weekly basis. At the MSOM, we expect to request similar reports in the near future.

    As always, we thank you for your cooperation with the restrictions mandated to protect the safety of our research community, and the entire University and South Florida communities.

    With regards,
    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

    John L. Bixby
    Vice Provost for Research

    Erin Kobetz
    co-Vice Provost for Research

    Carl I. Schulman
    Executive Dean for Research, Miller School of Medicine

  • A Message to Tenure-Earning Faculty (Mar. 31, 2020)

    Dear Colleagues,

    I hope that this letter finds you safe and well. As I write this, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect communities around the world, including ours at the University of Miami.

    While life and safety are the paramount concerns, I also recognize the pandemic’s unique impact on tenure-earning faculty members. It has created numerous academic issues with the potential to delay one’s professional and scholarly achievement–delays that can be especially critical for faculty working within the limited timeframe of the probationary period.

    Because of this, after consultation with the Deans and the Faculty Senate, I am offering a one-year extension of the pre-tenure probationary period to tenure-track faculty who are, as of Spring 2020, in their probationary period. A limited number of faculty, described below1, are not eligible for this extension.

    Understanding that not all eligible faculty may wish to avail themselves of this extension, you will be asked to “opt-in” should you want your tenure clock to be extended by one year. Once an eligible faculty chooses to opt-in, they will automatically be granted a one-year extension to their probationary period.

    In order to receive the automatic extension, faculty will be expected to opt-in by August 15, 2020. However, a faculty member who does not request the automatic extension by that date may petition, as prescribed in the Faculty Manual, to have their tenure clock extended at any point until the start of their final probationary year, but prior to any department or school votes taken on their tenure case. If you opt-in but later decide you do not need the additional year, you may request an earlier review following the policy and procedures described in the Faculty Manual.

    How do faculty opt-in?
    Faculty who wish to opt-in for the one-year extension should send an email request with “Tenure Extension” in the subject line to the Office of Faculty Affairs: facultyaffairs.cg@miami.edu. Each request will be reviewed by the vice provost for faculty affairs who will contact the faculty member within seven days to officially notify them of their revised tenure review date.

    If you have any questions regarding your tenure clock or this program, please contact Bill Tallman, director of faculty affairs, at btall@miami.edu, or 305-284-3386.

    Our University community has weathered storms in the past, and each time we have come out stronger than before. With your help, we will do it again. Thank you for your continuing excellence, and stay safe.

    Sincerely,

    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

    1 Ineligible faculty:
     

    1. those currently in their terminal year following a negative decision last year;
    2. faculty who are currently on a one-year leave;
    3. faculty who are scheduled for review this fall for award of tenure in 2021;
    4. faculty who receive a non-reappointment notice in Spring 2020 following an unsuccessful review.

  • Important Updates for Graduate Students (Mar. 31, 2020)

    Dear Graduate Students,

    For many of you, this is your second week of online courses at the University of Miami. Similarly, it is the first time that many of your professors have taught in this virtual environment. We hope that everyone has been able to settle in to their new routines and support each other during this time.

    Life is anything but normal right now, and it is too soon to know how the next few months will unfold. Our recent decisions to cancel ongoing study abroad programs, move classes online, and partially close campus housing and facilities are all necessary for the health and safety of the University community. By limiting social interaction, we will help to slow the spread of COVID-19 and support our health systems nationwide. Particularly at this time, we want to stress the continued importance of preventative measures including physical distancing and proper handwashing.

    Support Services
    In addition to moving courses online, our support services, including the Counseling Center, still have resources available to our students. Please visit their website to learn about their current offerings available to you. Additionally, Student Health Service remains open to serve students in the area.

    Grading
    The deans, graduate associate deans, and Faculty Senate leadership have been discussing the issue of grades, both within UM and among our national colleagues. There are many students, both undergraduate and graduate, law and medicine, some with financial aid that may be dependent on progression, or others who must maintain a specific GPA to continue enrollment in special programs. These factors, and others, were considered carefully in formulating a decision that required a great deal of thought and planning.

    For the Spring 2020 semester only, schools and colleges will allow graduate students to opt-in to taking some or all of their courses for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) or to continue with letter grades. For any course in which a student wants to retain their letter grades, no action is necessary.

    • This will allow graduate students to take any or all courses under this grading basis. Courses taken for (S/U) grades during Spring 2020 will count towards their degree requirements (subject to final Faculty Senate approval).
    • (S/U) grades are not calculated into a student's GPA, so some students may not have a semester GPA for Spring 2020.
    • If a student elects to take a course for S/U, they will receive a “S” if they earn a B or higher. If they earn a letter grade of B- or lower, they will receive a “U.”
    • The University of Miami will add a notation to the transcript key indicating the reason for the grade options for Spring 2020.
    • Students must submit an online request to receive (S/U) instead of a letter grade for each course they choose; the online form will be available shortly on the Registrar’s website. Students will have until 11:59 p.m. EST on May 8, to make this selection for each course they choose to take S/U. Grades, transcripts, and other semester academic records will be posted by May 21, as opposed to the originally planned date of May 13.


    Graduation
    We share in your disappointment at the way that your time on campus this semester was cut short. For those graduating, we intentionally rescheduled our May ceremonies to December to allow you and your families the opportunity to participate in this important recognition of your academic achievements. We hope that you can join us, and we look forward to welcoming you and your loved ones back to campus once it is safe to do so.

    Caring for Yourself and One Another
    It is especially important to remember that ’Canes Care for ’Canes. By supporting one another during this unprecedented time, we will persevere and emerge as a stronger community, equipped with new skills and approaches to collaborating, meeting, and learning.

    And caring for your fellow ’Canes also means caring for yourself. Many of you are back at home working through new dynamics and changes, in addition to shifting to online learning and continuing to be active in your co-curricular activities.

    We want to thank all of you for your resiliency, patience, and flexibility. We are in uncharted waters, and there will still be challenges ahead. Your health and safety are our priority, and your ability to learn and complete your education is at the forefront of our efforts.

    If you have any feedback, please feel free to reach out to us at graduateschool@miami.edu, VPSA@miami.edu, or provost.office@miami.edu. If you or someone you know is facing extreme challenges, we want to hear from you.

    We are united as part of your Miami Hurricane family.

    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

    Patricia A. Whitely. Ed.D.
    Vice President for Student Affairs

  • Enhancing our communications efforts (Mar. 31, 2020)

    Dear Colleagues:

    We continue to work in a rapidly evolving environment that requires close coordination between myriad University departments. In such an environment, maintaining clear, consistent, balanced communication regarding the University's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is essential.

    To ensure that all University-related communication is accurate and timely, and to safeguard our audiences from receiving excessive or competing messages, all broad messaging (to 50 or more recipients) to students, employees, parents, alumni, and friends must now be coordinated through the Office of University Communications.

    We recognize that many University departments have a need to provide mission-critical information during these uncertain times, and University Communications will work with you to achieve that goal. By working together, we can align messages, combine or consolidate messages when appropriate, prioritize time-sensitive messages and information, and achieve other efficiencies to better serve our many audiences.

    To streamline this process, University Communications has launched an online form where you should submit your communications requests: www.miami.edu/CommRequestForm. Once a request is submitted, a member of the University Communications team will follow up regarding next steps.

    And as a reminder, please direct all media inquiries to Peter Howard (phoward@miami.edu) in University Communications.

    We appreciate your help in keeping our community updated with the information they will need in the upcoming days and weeks.

  • Week two of online learning: tips and reminders (Mar. 31, 2020)

    Dear Colleagues,

    As we begin our second full week of digital learning, I want to provide some reminders and information that may help you with online instruction.

    • IT created a comprehensive list of video conferencing tips and best practices for conducting a successful video conference. Tips include guidance on platform settings, course recording options, video conferencing etiquette, setting expectations for students, and more. I encourage you to refer to this guide often when using video conferencing tools.
    • The academic continuity guide also provides details and support for translating your in-person curriculum to digital platforms. There are teams standing by available to help you throughout this process.
    • We are hosting three town halls this week to address questions from our University of Miami community. I encourage you to attend and submit questions beforehand.

    Thank you again for all that you are doing to support our students and their families during this challenging time.

    Sincerely,

    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

  • Provost Jeffrey Duerk and Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Whitely: Important updates for all undergraduate students (Mar. 26, 2020)

    Dear Students,

    For many of you, this was your first week of online courses at the University of Miami. Similarly, it was the first time that many of your professors have taught in this virtual environment. We hope that everyone has been able to settle in to their new routines and support each other during this time.

    Life is anything but normal right now, and it is too soon to know how the next few months will unfold. Our recent decisions to cancel ongoing study abroad programs, move classes online, and partially close campus housing are all necessary for the health and safety of the University community.  By limiting social interaction, we will help to slow the spread of COVID-19 and support our health systems nationwide. Particularly at this time, we want to stress the continued importance of preventative measures including physical distancing and proper handwashing, and we urge you to continue to check the University’s COVID-19 response website for the latest information.

    Support Services
    In addition to moving courses online, our support services, including the Counseling Center, still have resources available to our students. Please visit their website to learn about their current offerings available to you. Additionally, Student Health Service remains open to serve students in the area.

    The Camner Center for Academic Resources continues to host virtual tutoring sessions and is adding a range of workshops to assist you with the shift to online learning. Additionally, your academic advisors will be reaching out to help you with course selection and to provide support as we look ahead to the Fall semester.

    Resident Students
    For resident students who have not returned to campus housing since the start of spring break, we are working on a plan to allow you to retrieve your belongings in a way that is safe for all members of the University community. You will receive more information at a later date.

    Grading
    The deans and Faculty Senate leadership have been discussing the issue of grades, both within UM and amongst our national colleagues.  There are many students, both undergraduate and graduate, law and medicine, some with financial aid that may be dependent on progression, or others who must maintain a specific GPA to continue enrollment in special programs. These factors, and others, were considered carefully in formulating a decision that required a great deal of thought and planning.

    For the Spring 2020 semester only, undergraduate schools and colleges will allow students to opt-in to taking some or all of their courses for Credit/No Credit or they can continue with letter grades. Credit/No-credit is the University of Miami’s version of Pass/Fail; a grade of C or better is required to receive credit.  For any course in which a student wants to retain their letter grades, no action is necessary.

    • This will allow undergraduate students to take any or all courses under this grading basis. Courses taken for CR/NC grades during Spring 2020 will count towards major, minors, cognates/general education, and degree requirements (subject to final Faculty Senate approval).
    • CR/NC grades are not calculated into a student's GPA, so some students may not have a semester GPA for Spring 2020. Given this, honor rolls will not be in effect for Spring 2020. 
    • If a student elects to take a course CR/NC, they will receive a CR if they earn a letter grade of A+ through C.  If they earn a letter grade of C- through F, they will receive a NC. 
    • The limit on the number of courses that can be taken CR/NC in a single semester is suspended for the Spring 2020 semester.
    • Undergraduate courses taken CR/NC in the Spring 2020 will not count towards the University’s maximum nine-credit hour limit on the total number of courses that can be counted towards a degree.
    • The University of Miami will add a notation to the transcript key indicating the reason for the grade options for Spring 2020.
    • Students must submit an online request to receive CR/NC instead of a letter grade for each course they choose; the online form will be available shortly on the Registrar’s website.  Students will have until 11:59 p.m. on May 8 to make this selection for each course they choose to take CR/NC.  Grades, transcripts, and other semester academic records will be posted by May 21, as opposed to the originally planned date of May 13.


    Graduation
    We share in your disappointment at the way that your time on campus this semester was cut short. For those graduating, we intentionally rescheduled our May ceremonies to December to allow you and your families the opportunity to participate in this important recognition of your academic achievements. We hope that you can join us, and we look forward to welcoming you and your loved ones back to campus once it is safe to do so.

    Caring for Yourself and One Another
    It is especially important to remember that ’Canes Care for ’Canes. By supporting one another during this unprecedented time, we will persevere and emerge as a stronger community, equipped with new skills and approaches to collaborating, meeting, and learning.

    And caring for your fellow ’Canes also means caring for yourself. Many of you are back at home working through new dynamics and changes, in addition to shifting to online learning and continuing to be active in your co-curricular activities.

    We want to thank all of you for your resiliency, patience, and flexibility.  We are in uncharted waters, and there will still be challenges ahead. Your health and safety are our priority, and your ability to learn and complete your education is at the forefront of our efforts.

    If you have any feedback, please feel free to reach out to us at pwhitely@miami.edu or provost.office@miami.edu.  If you or someone you know is facing extreme challenges, we want to hear from you.

    We are united as part of your Miami Hurricane family.

    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

    Patricia A. Whitely. Ed.D.
    Vice President for Student Affairs

  • COVID-19 academic continuity update (Mar. 16, 2020)

    Dear Faculty,

    We are continuously fine tuning tools and other resources to help you prepare for online course delivery when classes resume next week. We will continue to provide updates as needed to make sure you are aware of the latest information.

    Visit the academic continuity guide often to register for in-person and online support. Please note: The Division of Continuing and International Education is offering scheduled drop-in hours in Allen Hall 202A from Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to provide consultations covering the essentials of online teaching. For more information, contact Johnny Orr, Distance Learning Institute assistant director, at jxo483@miami.edu. Based on the input from the Office of the General Counsel, University Libraries, and the School of Communication, we are providing guidelines and information regarding copyright, online learning, and how to provide instructional materials to students.

    Please remember the University's COVID-19 website remains your best source for all University coronavirus-related updates, including the March 14 notice from Human Resources on providing all staff with the opportunity to work remotely if at all possible, especially in light of Miami-Dade and Broward schools closures, and new policies on paid sick time.

    The Office of the Provost will be operating with limited in-person staffing and is available via email at provost.office@miami.edu and via phone at 305-284-3356. Thank you all again for your commitment and readiness to ensure our students remain connected and learning through this difficult situation.

    Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost