SMU Classes Move Online Through End of Spring Semester

Dear SMU Community,

Each day we evaluate the challenging issues created by COVID-19 and work diligently to make the best possible decisions for all of us. To align with declarations from federal, state and Dallas County health authorities, SMU is moving all classes online for the remainder of the spring semester.

We also are reducing even further the number of people working on campus. Effective Monday, March 23, the University moves to essential personnel only status until April 3.  Employees will be contacted directly by their appropriate vice president or athletics director with guidance on their individual units’ operating plans. All faculty and staff, whether salaried or hourly, will continue to be paid during this period. Please remember to report your time as you normally would.

Obviously, there will be multiple ripple effects from this decision, and they cannot all be addressed in this letter. Watch the COVID-19 blog for updates on this and other concerns. We also will continue to share important announcements via email.

Students who had planned to return to their residence halls by April 6 will now need to make arrangements for retrieving and/or storing their possessions. We must manage this check-out process very deliberately to comply with health restrictions. Students will receive detailed information from Residence Life and Student Housing by Friday, March 27. Please do not come to campus to retrieve your belongings until you receive guidance from RLSH.

SMU is currently determining the best approach for prorating refunds for certain charges such as residence halls and dining. The refund process is currently under development and will be resolved by no later than the end of the semester.

For those who left town, laws and ordinances have changed dramatically in Dallas County over Spring Break:

  • All restaurants and bars in Dallas are permitted to serve food only through take-out, delivery, or drive-through services.
  • All gyms are closed.
  • Community gatherings of 50 or more individuals (indoors or outdoors) are prohibited –   which includes worship services, meetings and conferences.
  • Recreational gatherings (indoors or outdoors) of 10 or more individuals are also prohibited – which includes parties, backyard barbecues and sporting events.

The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center will be open during normal business hours. Students who feel ill should contact the center by phone first at 214-768-2141.

The scheduled May 16 Commencement is very important to all of us. We are carefully weighing the options and will make a decision at a later date.

I ask for your continued patience and understanding as we work through the many details and questions that I know you need answered. Your health is of utmost importance during this time, so we all need to take seriously  precautions about social distancing, hand washing and other preventive and protective measures. We must look out for each other – not just ourselves. 

The campus has a very different look and feel right now, but this is still SMU and we are committed to continuing our mission. Let’s all look forward to the time when we can return to life as usual on our beautiful campus.


R. Gerald Turner

Reduced Campus Operations

Dear faculty and staff,

In consultation with the President’s Executive Council, I have decided to move the University to “reduced operations” status until April 6 to responsibly care for our campus population in response to the spread of COVID-19. We will monitor developments in the days ahead and will revisit the possible extension of this plan, as well as our timetable for teaching remotely, on Monday, March 30. We will communicate any changes as soon as decisions are made.

Each vice president has crafted a plan for their specific area of operation outlining how to meet the responsibilities of their division with reduced on-campus staffing. Those employees identified as “essential personnel” by their supervisor and emergency policy will come to campus, as will those employees identified by their vice president as needed to provide on-site services. Each staff member will hear from their vice president and each faculty member will receive instructions from the provost.

Even as the plans are being developed for specific University divisions, anyone at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of age or a serious long-term health problem that compromises the immune system, or who is experiencing childcare issues, should still work with their supervisor to make alternative work arrangements. Go to the Human Resources site at,
review the documentation and, if needed, work with your supervisor to fill out the Emergency Telecommuting Arrangement Form.

Any employee who would like to continue coming to campus to work should do so in consultation with their manager.  All employees, however, are urged to monitor their own health judiciously and remain home (while contacting their health provider) if they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – dry cough, fever and body aches. And for the health of the University at large, we would appreciate it if any faculty or staff member feeling ill – whether working from campus or from home – would report the information to the University through this form. We will, of course, keep your information confidential and respect your privacy rights. 

As part of this reduced operation plan, University libraries will for the time being be staffed for virtual operations only and will not be open to the University community or the public.  The Meadows Museum and Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports will close, at least until April 6.

Thank you for your flexibility and patience as we roll out new information every day to help us all work through this unprecedented situation.  As I’ve said before, please follow SMU’s COVID-19 blog for the latest we have to share, and stay healthy.
R. Gerald Turner
R. Gerald Turner

COVID-19 update from the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

Hello Mustangs, 

We understand that this is a very stressful and confusing time. Please know that our staff here at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center are still here working hard to support both your physical and mental well-being. We will remain OPEN Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. to provide care for students both on and off campus. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and the new virtual learning environment at SMU, we have made adjustments to our Health Center operations. Medical and Counseling professionals are now utilizing virtual visits as much as possible. Please read below for information on how you can continue to access both our medical and counseling services.

All virtual visits are HIPAA compliant and integrated with your Student Health Portal.

To schedule an appointment with a medical professional or to speak with Counseling Services, please call 214-768-2141.  Based on the information you provide, you will be scheduled for an appointment either in person or via virtual visit (walk-in appointments are not available at this time). Limited counseling services are available to students outside the state of Texas. 

*Students in crisis, who feel they need immediate help from Counseling Services should call 214-768-2277 to reach a counselor on call 24/7.

Additionally, the Health Center Pharmacy is still open during this time and can assist with the filling and/or transfer of any and all prescriptions. To request a prescription transfer contact the receiving pharmacy. Your pharmacy will then contact the SMU Pharmacy to begin the prescription transfer.  

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call. You can also find more information on our website or by visiting the COVID-19 webpage. Thank you for your cooperation as we work together to keep you and our community safe!

The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

Three SMU students positive for COVID-19: All tested during Spring Break, none currently on campus

Dear SMU Community,

Because we are committed to doing all that we can to help keep our University population healthy, we are sharing information that three of our students, none currently on campus, have tested positive for COVID-19.

All three students were tested after leaving campus for Spring Break.

The first student, a graduate student in the Cox School of Business who lives off campus, attended one class on March 11 after returning from an international study trip and tested positive at a local hospital on March 15.

The second student, an undergraduate in Dedman College who was living in Loyd Commons with no roommate, was last on campus on March 13 and was subsequently tested, with positive results, after returning to the family home out-of-state.

The third student, a Dedman College undergraduate who lives in a private, off-campus residence, was last on campus on March 13 and was subsequently tested, with positive results, after returning to the family home out-of-state.

In all three of these instances, the time between the student’s last presence on campus and their confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 were within the estimated 14-day incubation period for the virus. All three students who have reported positive tests are recovering at home under the care of their personal physicians.

Because the University must protect the medical and privacy rights of these students, we will not share with the broader community their names or information specific enough to identify them.  However, the University is making every effort to inform individuals most likely to have been in close proximity to these students, such as classmates, faculty members and members of the graduate student’s international study team. Those persons more likely to have been in contact with them are being advised to self-monitor for symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.

By moving our classes online and requiring only essential personnel to come to campus, SMU has dramatically reduced its campus population to support social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. Wherever you currently live, please do your part to comply with federal, state or local laws regarding shelter-in-place or other government orders. Because community spread of COVID-19 is now a reality in Dallas and across the country, we hope you will follow CDC guidelines to stay healthy and protect your family and friends. This message is intended in that same spirit.

We will continue to notify the SMU community of significant developments on the COVID-19 webpage. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.


Dr. R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

This notification serves as a timely warning to the SMU campus in compliance with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act.)

A message from R. Gerald Turner to alumni and friends

Dear Mustang Family:

We hope that you, your family, and your loved ones remain safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. Responding to the rapid and relentless expansion of COVID-19 has challenged us all. As I see our faculty and staff prepare for this first full week of online instruction and remote working, I am grateful for the resilience, strength and determination of our community to rise above it all with even stronger commitment to our mission. Many of you have received our emails and monitored the SMU blog, so you know that we have responded strategically to the threat of the pandemic to our on-campus community.

We have had to pivot and adapt rapidly these past few weeks by moving instruction online for the remainder of semester, enabling employees to work from home, and cancelling spring sports and usual spring events.
Nevertheless, as we work toward meeting these current demands, we are planning for the future when students and the entire SMU community can once again gather on our campus. In 105 years our University has successfully addressed many crises. I often refer to the words of SMU’s first president, Robert S. Hyer, who said, “Universities do not grow old but live from age to age in immortal youth.” The commitment of the University to enhancing human knowledge, ensuring social progress and shaping our students for successful futures will prevail beyond this difficult time. To paraphrase William Faulkner, we must not only endure this crisis but prevail against its destructive forces. And we will.

As you can imagine, the complexity of managing the needs of the entire SMU family is immense and requires diligent effort on our staff and faculty as well as the students themselves. I am proud of our campus community for the courage, patience and grace they have demonstrated. Our alumni and friends have always made sure that SMU has the commitment, support and resources to meet whatever challenges the University confronts.

This history grounds our continued optimism for the future. We look forward to all members of the SMU family returning this fall to the Hilltop to enjoy anew the beauty and ties of “Varsity.” Until then, we will keep you updated. Please stay safe and healthy.

With deepest gratitude,
R. Gerald Turner

SMU suspends all University–sponsored and/or sanctioned international travel

Please note latest updates reflect more flexible travel guidelines.

Following federal and local guidelines recommended to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SMU is suspending all university-sponsored and/or sanctioned international travel. Students (undergraduates and graduate students) as well as faculty and staff members currently studying or working abroad are requested to return to the U.S.  In addition, SMU requests that those returning from university-sponsored and/or sanctioned international travel follow the CDC’s self observation protocol for symptoms for 14 days after leaving that destination.

SMU Abroad has cancelled all summer abroad programs and is not authorizing university-sponsored and/or sanctioned international travel by students, faculty or staff for the immediate future.

New guidelines issued March 1 by the Centers for Disease Control and amplified by Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) encourage higher education institutions to consider these measures given the speed of spread and number of countries experiencing human-to-human transmission. We understand the inconvenience this creates and ask for your patience as we work through challenges related to this request.

Any member of the SMU community who chooses to disregard University recommendations for international travel must understand they will do so at their own risk and may face difficulties in return travel to the U.S. and/or possible restricted access to the SMU campus.

Undergraduate students currently abroad and the provider companies that support them have all been notified of the international travel suspension for university-sponsored and/or sanctioned program and activities.  SMU is evaluating alternative ways for students to complete their courses and educational requirements. SMU Deans and their staffs are working to inform graduate students of this international travel notification.

We are also in the early stages of notifying undergraduate students signed up for summer programs of these changes. Our SMU Abroad office is committed to providing alternatives by working with SMU Intersessions, SMU-in-Taos and other entities to offer alternative summer options to meet student degree requirements.

SMU has developed a campus-wide plan to address potential challenges created by the Coronavirus. We have established this blog that will be updated regularly. Please see the post from last week on tips to preventing the spread of the virus.

Please understand that people across the SMU campus are diligently working to address this rapidly changing situation surrounding the Coronavirus, its potential impacts on our campus, and alternative curriculum options to allow students to continue and complete their studies. Thank you for your understanding as we work through these challenges together.

Research continuity update

Dear Colleagues,

As SMU takes precautions to respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), I’d like to offer additional information on how to continue our academic work and protect our research during this unusual period.

The move to online instruction for the two weeks after Spring Break and other cautionary actions announced in Dr. Turner’s March 12 email do not affect Ph.D. dissertation defenses, nor do they prevent faculty, staff, and graduate students from conducting research in laboratories. Scheduling and the conduct of Ph.D. defenses should continue without change unless notified otherwise. Likewise, faculty, staff, and graduate students may continue conducting research in laboratories currently.

Research is an essential component of SMU’s mission, and the University’s emergency response planning must ensure the security and continuity of essential laboratories and research facilities if it becomes necessary to promote remote teaching or limit campus access. Consequently, it is prudent to prepare continuity plans to ensure that mission-critical laboratories and research facilities are maintained with no substantial risk or harm to ongoing research.

To ensure this happens, please work with your Department Chairs and appropriate faculty to prepare a list of all mission-critical research labs and facilities in your school, and then complete this on-line questionnaire no later than March 20, 2020.

Responses should include:

  1. Facilities within which on-going research cannot be interrupted
  2. Facilities with equipment or animals that require continued attention or oversight
  3. Facilities requiring environmental monitoring
  4. Facilities for which continued operation is essential to meeting grant obligations
  5. Facilities that are operating under security protocols or that contain hazardous materials

The situation around the Coronavirus remains fluid and can change rapidly. Please check emails and the blog for frequent updates and answers to other questions.

Peter K. Moore
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs ad interim

Health update for faculty and staff

Dear faculty and staff,

It’s been a challenging weekend as we all have been navigating the closures, delays and anxiety associated with the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we head back to work tomorrow, I want to reaffirm the University’s commitment to your health.

Remember that maintaining social distance between you and your co-workers is an important way to fight the spread of the disease. Find good tips on social distancing and other measures in this information shared by County Judge Clay Jenkins from Dallas County Health and Human Services. If you have any concerns about your ability to maintain a distance of about six feet between yourself and co-workers in your workspace, please talk to your supervisor about alternative arrangements. And of course, if you should feel sick, please stay home. Our sick leave policies will be very flexible in coming weeks as we work together to stay healthy.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem that compromises your immune system, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease. Please go to the special Human Resources Department site at, review the documentation, and if needed, work with your supervisor to fill out the Emergency Telecommuting Arrangement Form. Your supervisor will work with you to make necessary arrangements for these and other considerations, including issues related to childcare. 

Because the progression of the disease in North Dallas is evolving, we are planning ahead to ensure that the University can continue operating if a larger percentage of our workforce needs to work remotely.  Remember that SMU’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) will host a full day of drop-in training sessions for staff (as well as online webinars) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 at Fondren Library East. Training will feature one-on-one consultation as well as short in-person sessions on Box, Skype for Business, Zoom, VPN, Remote Desktop and more. You can register for staff training at

OIT is offering faculty training on Wednesday, March 18, and Thursday, March 19, to prepare you for online teaching when our students resume their coursework after Spring Break. The Office of the Provost will provide you with scheduling and registration information tomorrow.

We’re adjusting every day to changing circumstances. We are an institution with a mission of service and I appreciate both your patience and cooperative spirit as we continue this journey together. I’ll check in with you again as soon as I have more information to share.


R. Gerald Turner


SMU to temporarily move classes online after Spring Break

Dear SMU community,

Due to rapidly changing issues related to the spread of Coronavirus, SMU will move students from classrooms to online instruction for the first two weeks following Spring Break, beginning Monday, March 23.  The University is requesting that as many students as is possible leave the residence halls during Spring Break and remain home until April 5, as we expect normal operations to resume on April 6.

International and other students who need to remain living in the residence halls should formally request approval from the Office of Residence Life and Student Housing to stay on campus. RLSH will send a message directly to residents containing additional information outlining the process. The campus will remain open and operational. Limited food service will still be available, the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, the Meadows Museum and the SMU Childcare Center will remain open, as will Fondren Library. However, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports will close during this period.

Faculty and staff should plan to report to campus as usual during this period.  As a reminder, the University is providing training March 18-19 to upgrade faculty skills in delivering online instruction.  We also recognize that some faculty or staff members may have medical vulnerability or childcare issues to consider moving forward, and we will direct you to the process for requesting special accommodations via this website.

Some types of instruction may not be fully deliverable online, as in the visual and performing arts and laboratory sciences, and these will be addressed individually.  Our goal is to prevent interruption of anyone’s degree plan – particularly graduating seniors.

Student advising for May term, summer, August and fall classes will also be handled online during the two-week period following Spring Break.

In addition to moving classroom instruction online, SMU is canceling or postponing on-campus gatherings of more than 50 people through the end of April. We are establishing an appeals process to consider exceptions for some types of events. At this time, we still intend to hold  Commencement Convocation on May 16.

These decisions raise questions for many of you, and we will continue to address them in coming days.  Please continue to monitor this site and the FAQ section.

We do not make these decisions lightly, but out of an abundance of caution. As I noted previously, we are currently planning for normal classroom instruction to resume April 6, but everyone is asked to remain patient and flexible as we work through this challenging time.  We are determined to deliver on our education mission while maintaining the priority of the  health and well-being of our campus community.  Please understand that if circumstances mandate further change, we will continue to adjust. SMU is  a community of smart, motivated and compassionate people who will work through this.

Thank you all for your patience, and stay healthy.


R. Gerald Turner


How can I volunteer to help students whose senior year, admissions process or internships have been disrupted due to the spread of COVID-19?

Volunteer opportunities exist for alumni who want to provide summer internships for students displaced by travel restrictions. Alumni can also help create a virtual Hilltop environment that further encourages graduating seniors during their final semester and gives admitted students an extraordinary welcome to the SMU family. Email for more information on how to submit your video or send your well wishes.

I was possibly exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19). What do I do?

If you are a student or are concerned about a student, please contact a healthcare provider or the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center to determine what steps to take to protect your health. They will make recommendations whether you should self-quarantine or self-isolate. Please also submit a CCC form so SMU can reach out and offer resources and support. 

If you are a staff or faculty member, please contact your health care provider, and whether working from campus or from home, please report the information to the University through this form.  

Your information will be kept confidential and your privacy will be respected. 

What if I test positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

SMU will follow the guidance of local and national health organizations in deciding the next steps for someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

How do I sign up to receive SMU alerts by text?

Parents may register for SMU Alert by texting SMUParent to 888777. Visitors may register for SMU Alert by texting SMUVisitor to 888777. Check out the Office of Risk Management site for more information.

SMU students, faculty, and staff should already be signed up, but may login to to add/update their SMU Alert contact information.