Dear SMU Faculty, Staff and Students,
Thank you again for working so hard to maintain SMU’s vibrancy and operations during this unique time. Members of our SMU community continue to show creativity and innovation in their teaching, learning and working as we face the challenges of COVID-19. In addition to making the most of online instruction, our faculty members are sharing their expertise as thought leaders. Law students have found creative ways to support fellow students seeking internships at nonprofits, and staff continue to support all of us in our endeavors. I commend each of you for the ways that you are demonstrating resilience during this crisis.
Here are a few examples that you might find of interest:
- RevTech, a Dallas retail technology startup accelerator, has issued a $5,000 challenge grant to students at SMU and UTD. Students will propose solutions for creating a low-risk COVID-19 environment on campus after stay-at-home orders have expired.
- Brandy Schumann, clinical associate professor of counseling at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, prepared valuable tips for parents reassuring kids during this pandemic.
- From mastering online learning to delivering conference-call sermons, Perkins School faculty, staff and students have embraced technology to stay spiritually connected while physically apart.
- Bianca Lopez, an assistant professor of history in Dedman College, teaches SMU courses on pandemics. She wrote an op-ed in Education News which outlines the long history of religious resistance to quarantine.
- Stay-at-home orders canceled SMU law students’ plans for a silent auction to raise money to fund law internships at local nonprofits. The organizers converted it to an online auction that continues through April 17, supporting the Association for Public Interest Law.
- SMU Benefits has worked with our medical insurance provider to cover 100% of costs of COVID-19 testing and treatment for employees and their covered family members. This includes deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance expenses.
- With the support of SMU Facilities, you may have seen that our campus joined the nationwide “Light It Blue” campaign to thank health care and essential workers, and anyone on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are turning our attention to assessing the financial impact this pandemic will have on our SMU community. We are evaluating various scenarios coming out of the stay-at-home restrictions and the financial implications thereof to share with our governing board in early May. We are exploring every aspect of our operations to reduce expenses while mitigating impacts to the extent possible on our students, staff and faculty.
In particular, our students are the most vulnerable. Many have experienced loss of income and are having to consider if they are able to return to the Hilltop. Many of our recently admitted students are also having to reexamine their plans to go to college. We are planning an appeal in the coming weeks to help these students pursue their goals of graduating from SMU.
Thank you for all you do for SMU and for sharing examples of the resourceful ways the SMU community is supporting the North Texas community, SMU students and colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to share your stories with firstname.lastname@example.org. And keep up the important work you do on a daily basis.
R. Gerald Turner