Read and sign the Pledge to Protect

Dear SMU community,

Please take a moment to read and sign the “Pledge to Protect” to help keep us all Mustang Strong. You may recall that last year, our campus community embraced the “Pledge to Protect” that was developed by a cross sectional group of students, faculty and staff called SMU Community Action Network (SMU CAN) to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We signed and followed it as a reminder of the healthy habits we needed to practice to keep our campus safe.

With the vaccine now available, SMU CAN is continuing its work and has updated the pledge with a focus on the personal responsibilities needed to meet this ongoing challenge.


Elizabeth Loboa, Ph.D.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

K.C. Mmeje, Ed.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs

A Message from graduate school Dean Quick at the Beginning of the fall term

Dear Graduate Students,

Welcome back to our continuing students, and to our new graduate students: welcome to SMU!  These are difficult times, and I know the recent surge in COVID-19 cases has created challenges for all of you.  You come from many different backgrounds, are at many different stages of life, and have many different living and family situations.  You also occupy many different and important roles at the University—not just taking classes but serving as teaching assistants, performing research, taking part in performances, etc.  Many of the issues you face are different from those of SMU’s undergraduate students, and they matter.  I encourage you to bring any concerns you have about your health and safety to the attention of your program faculty and staff, and especially concerns related to the teaching, research, and other responsibilities you fulfill as part of your program.  For our international students, I understand that many of you are still facing challenges with visa processing and travel delays, and I encourage you to stay in close contact with your program faculty and staff and with the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office about any difficulties you are facing. 

SMU, like other universities across the country, is adapting to a changing situation in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our community.  I want you to know that University leaders are making decisions in consultation with health experts and local officials according to clear and carefully considered guidelines.  You can find information about the University’s operational levels as well as how the University’s current operational level is determined on the Mustang Strong website and in the 2021 Operations Plan.  As University operations are changing in response to changing conditions, it is important that you are well-informed about the University’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  I encourage you to pay attention to messages from President Turner and SMU Information, as they will provide the most current updates.  You will find the latest information on the Mustang Strong website.  I will also be sending letters like this one throughout the year to highlight information that is important to you as graduate students.  Below are pieces of information I would like to bring to your attention right now as we begin the fall term together:

Masks Temporarily Required in Public Indoor Spaces:  President Turner recently announced that SMU is temporarily requiring masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.  Please wear a mask (two-ply) over the nose and mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers helpful guidance on effective mask-wearing.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Available at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center:  SMU strongly encourages members of the campus community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Many options are available for the administration of the vaccine and the kind you wish to receive.  Please make sure to research each vaccine as well and their potential side effects and warnings before scheduling an appointment.  More information on the Pfizer vaccine, which has now received full FDA approval, and on the other vaccines approved in the U.S. through Emergency Use Authorization can be found on the CDC’s website.  COVID-19 vaccinations are available to all members of the SMU community (ages 12 and older) and are now being administered inside the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center.  All current and incoming students, SMU employees and their eligible spouse/dependents can book a vaccination appointment through the SMU Health Portal or by calling the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center at 214-768-2141 (option 1).

Reporting Your COVID-19 Vaccination Status:  If you were vaccinated on campus, your information will automatically be uploaded into your health record under immunizations (no action is necessary).  Ifyou were vaccinated off campus, please upload that information directly to the SMU Health Portal, even if you already voluntarily shared your status through the vaccine reporting tool last spring.  One good reason to report:  if you show you are fully vaccinated at the time of an exposure, you are not considered a close contact and do not need to quarantine.

COVID-19 Testing:  If you have been exposed or have symptoms, COVID-19 testing is also available at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center.  Appointments are required.  Students who test positive must complete a Caring Community Connections (CCC) Form to report their status.

Contact Tracing Continuing in the Fall:  All individuals testing positive for COVID-19 are contacted and confidentially interviewed to identify people who came into close contact with the infected individual.  University employees from Human Resources, Student Affairs, Athletics and Campus Services are trained on contract tracing through Johns Hopkins University and follow county, state and federal guidelines.  The trace assesses the class schedule, living situation, activities, work locations including offices and job sites, face-to-face meetings and any other situations that may have resulted in close contact from two days before the onset of symptoms or testing (if asymptomatic).  More information about contact tracing and case management can be found in the 2021 Operations Plan.

Student Emergency Fund:  Students experiencing financial hardship or food insecurity may request support from the Student Emergency Fund. To initiate the application process, please complete a Caring Community Connections (CCC) form for yourself and select “economic hardship” at the very bottom.  An application for support from the Student Emergency Fund will then be sent to you.  Your application will be reviewed and a decision made on support that can be provided in 3-5 business days.  Please be aware that these funds are limited.  The Student Emergency Fund also does not provide support for tuition or student fees.  We are striving to meet urgent needs as best we can, but we will not be able to fulfill all requests or to provide the level of support requested in all cases.

SMU Libraries Are Open:  All campus libraries are now open, including Bridwell Library, which had been closed for renovations.  Current information about locations and hours for SMU Libraries can be found on the Libraries website.

As always, if there is anything I or my staff can assist you with, you are welcome to reach out to us by emailing or calling 214-768-4345.  If we are not able to assist you, we will direct you to the appropriate office to address your issue.  We are glad to have you here with us for the fall semester at SMU, and we wish you all success in your studies this academic year. 


James E. Quick


Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Vaccination and mask requirement update

August 24, 2021

Dear SMU community,

It is heartening to learn that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA endorsement should bolster confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, which will hopefully lead to an increase in vaccinations. Getting the vaccine remains the best way to protect your health and that of your fellow Mustangs.

SMU will continue to strongly encourage everyone to get the vaccine, but will not require it at this time. Besides considering federal approval, SMU generally follows state health laws for requiring vaccinations for entering students. We will closely monitor local, state and federal health recommendations and guidance following this important federal approval and work to make sure our new students and others in our community know how quick and easy it is to get the vaccine right here on campus.

The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center currently has about 1,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine available for students, faculty, staff, employees’ spouses and dependents (age 12 and older) and campus strategic partners. Limited supplies of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson and Moderna (second and third doses only) vaccines are also available. The health center currently offers third doses for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals who are fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and will provide booster shots to others when they are approved and available.

We have also transitioned to a new way of voluntarily reporting your COVID-19 vaccination through the SMU Health Portal which is maintained by the health center. The portal gives students and employees convenient access to this important health record and should provide a better estimate of our campus vaccination rate. If you received the vaccine at the health center, it was automatically recorded. If you got it at an off-campus location, please take a few minutes to upload your vaccine card, even if you used the previous reporting tool.

Some of you have asked how long SMU will maintain the temporary mask requirement. Based upon the upward trend in COVID-19 cases that occurred as students arrived on campus last fall and spring, we will continue to require masks indoors for at least the first few weeks of this semester. After that, we will review the situation on a weekly basis using our assessment tool to measure the impact of the pandemic on our campus while taking into consideration the most up-to-date health guidance from local, state and federal authorities. Factors such as the number of cases at SMU and in the county; infection and vaccination rates; local hospitalizations; and campus isolation capacity will help determine when the mask requirement should be lifted.

It is such a pleasure to see the campus filled with excitement and activity as we begin this new academic year. Let’s continue to do our part to stay Mustang Strong.


R. Gerald Turner

SMU President

Important Message from the SMU Dean of Students

August 16, 2021

Dear Mustangs,

Greetings from the Hilltop! I hope you’re doing well and enjoying what remains of the summer. The first day of classes for the fall semester is just a week away, which is why I am reaching out to you today. While we are planning for the fall to look and feel more like a typical semester, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and we’ve made a few changes based on the current situation and our past experience on campus. 

Following are a few updates on what may be the same and what may be different as you start the academic year.

Temporary Mask Requirement

As President Turner said in his welcome letter, SMU is temporarily requiring masks indoors on campus, including classrooms, event and meeting spaces, and common areas in all buildings and residence halls regardless of vaccination status. Masks should be two-ply and cover the nose and mouth. Should the temporary mask requirement be lifted, some faculty may still require masks in their classrooms throughout the duration of the academic term (if indicated in the course syllabus). SMU is not requiring masks be worn outdoors or in private spaces such as residence hall rooms for students with roommates.

Please note that anyone can wear a mask anytime if they so choose, and we should all promote a respectful environment for those who do. So, please remember to bring a mask with you when classes begin.

What’s Different from Fall 2020

As we return to fully in-person instruction, expect your classrooms to be at full capacity without physical distancing or remote options. Also, you’ll be able to attend student organization meetings and events in person; and Boulevarding and our traditional outdoor Game Day experiences are back.

What’s the Same as Fall 2020

As you know, the virus is still circulating in our communities, and the delta variant, in particular, is concerning. While a lot of the pandemic restrictions on campus have eased due to the availability of vaccines, we are maintaining many of the same protocols aimed at keeping our campus healthy. If you test positive for COVID-19, please complete a Caring Community Connections (CCC) form so that someone from the contact tracing team can reach out to offer guidance and support. Students living on campus who test positive will be placed into isolation housing, and unvaccinated students who are exposed to someone testing positive will be required to quarantine. Students living off campus who test positive or are exposed will be asked to isolate or quarantine, respectively, in their homes.

Please keep in mind that if you are vaccinated and provide proof of your vaccination status, you will not need to quarantine. If you received your vaccine on campus, your vaccination card will be on record at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. If you were vaccinated elsewhere, you can upload it through the health portal for quick and easy reference during contact tracing. COVID-19 testing and vaccinations will continue to be available during the academic year at the Health Center.

Take care of yourself.

In addition to campus protocols to prevent virus spread, Dr. Peter Davis, Medical Director in the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, offers these suggestions to continue to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and other transmissible diseases:

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • If you are ill, stay at home and consult with your healthcare provider or the Health Center (214.768.2141) to determine whether you should be tested or seek additional medical assistance.
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already!
  • Help protect yourself against the flu by getting the flu shot for free when it becomes available through the Health Center this fall.

Along with your physical wellbeing, your mental and emotional health are equally important. Counseling Services at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center and the Chaplain’s Office in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center are available if you’d like someone with whom to talk or share your struggles. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support.

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to eat well, drink water, and get appropriate amounts of sleep, too! Department of Campus Recreation staff are hoping to see you this fall in the Dedman Center or on the intramural field as you stay physically active. All of this helps to contribute to your overall wellbeing!

Take care of others.

Remember that the Caring Community Connections (CCC) program is available for students going through a difficult time. If you are concerned about a friend (or yourself), please complete the CCC form so that someone from the Office of Student Advocacy and Support may follow up.

With restrictions eased, many of us may be tempted to celebrate (and not always in a constructive manner). Be responsible when going out with your friends and help keep one another safe by not leaving your friends alone, stepping in if someone drinks too much, and designating a sober driver or arranging transportation if you are of age and plan to consume alcoholic beverages.

Take care of our community.

I am excited and optimistic about the fall semester. You play a big part in helping us navigate this healthy return to our traditional on-campus experience. During the pandemic, we’ve all repeatedly heard the saying, “We’re in this together.” That’s because it’s true. We all need to do our part by taking care of ourselves, taking care of one another, and taking care of our campus community – so we can stay Mustang Strong.

Pony Up!

Melinda J. Sutton, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Message to students and families about fall 2021 plans

Dear students and families,

We are excited to welcome you to the Hilltop and want to share what to expect before you arrive. We are returning to a traditional semester, with some exceptions, in order to maintain a healthy and safe campus. Our faculty and staff are eagerly awaiting you and looking forward to engaging you in interactive class learning and vibrant campus life.

Rest assured that we are moving forward with careful consideration of the changing pandemic conditions in North Texas, and are continually assessing the impact to our community.

Here is some insight into how we manage the pandemic at SMU: We have an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that closely monitors the virus trends and meets regularly with local health authorities to determine the best path for our University. This group uses key data points such as local infection and hospitalization rates as well as campus-specific information on cases, isolation capacity and vaccination reports to guide its recommendations. We know what has worked in the past, and can pivot quickly to contingency plans, if necessary.

Mask update

Effective tomorrow, August 12, SMU is temporarily requiring masks (two or more layers covering the nose and mouth) in indoor spaces on campus, including classrooms, event and meeting spaces, and common areas in all buildings and residential halls regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required in private spaces such as residence hall rooms for students with roommates. 

All events, such as Convocation and orientation, should continue as planned with masks being used indoors. This requirement is a temporary precaution during the Delta variant surge to supplement our other pandemic protocols. We will continue to monitor and review industry-specific guidance and recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health authorities in order to make the best decisions for our community.

COVID-19 vaccinations and testing

We strongly encourage you to get the vaccine to protect yourselves, your loved ones and our SMU community. We offer vaccinations and testing right on our campus at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. I am grateful to the students and employees who have received the vaccine and voluntarily reported their vaccination status. We believe that many more are vaccinated than have reported, and are reaching out to students and employees to encourage them to report through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center so we have a better estimate of our campus vaccination rates.

In-person learning

We are no longer offering virtual classes and look forward to having you in class and at campus events.

Contact tracing, isolation and quarantining

We continue our essential pandemic protocols such as contact tracing and case management to identify and offer resources to those who test positive for COVID-19.

For our residential students, we have set aside 44 double-occupancy rooms for isolation spaces and will provide delivery of food for three meals a day during the required 10-day stay for positive cases. A quarantine will also be required for those identified as a close contact of a positive case unless the student demonstrates proof of vaccination.Residential students can choose to isolate and quarantine on campus or at another location of their choice. An easy way to show proof of vaccination is to upload an image of your vaccine card to a secure online portal at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. If you are a returning student who was vaccinated last year on campus, that vaccination will be automatically added to your record.

Thank you for putting your trust in SMU. We understand that you may have continued concerns about the pandemic, and urge you to make decisions that support your health and the health of others, including getting the vaccine and wearing a mask. We also ask that all our community members support one another and promote a culture of respect.

Please check our Mustang Strong website for the latest updates and answers to questions about our campus response to COVID-19. Also, watch for upcoming Mustang Strong newsletters for quick reminders.

Pony Up! We’ll see you soon.


R. Gerald Turner

SMU President

Message to faculty and staff about fall 2021 plans

Dear faculty and staff,

As the COVID-19 situation in North Texas remains highly dynamic, our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will meet twice a week and remains vigilant regarding the local impact. As a reminder, some members of the EOC also meet regularly with Dallas County health officials and Dr. Robert Haley, our consulting epidemiologist, to review current trends in the area and on our campus. In addition, every week for the past year, the EOC has used key data points such as the Dallas County infection rate, hospitalizations and cases, along with SMU-specific data such as isolation capacity, cases, and, now, vaccine status reports, to recommend the operational level for the campus. Their recommendations are not made hastily, and we appreciate the hours they have poured into keeping us safe.

You may have heard that some local public school districts are considering temporary mask requirements. Along similar lines, we heard the concerns you expressed at the town hall and in your submitted questions. This was followed by the Faculty Senate’s approval of three resolutions on Tuesday regarding vaccines, masking and air quality. We continue to review air quality and vaccination issues with necessary staff and will make further announcements as soon as possible.

Your safety – that of our faculty, staff and students – is our highest priority. Effective tomorrow, August 12, we will implement a temporary requirement of masks (two or more layers covering the nose and mouth) in indoor spaces on campus, including classrooms, event and meeting spaces, and commons areas in all buildings and residential halls, regardless of vaccination status. We will follow a mask protocol similar to the one we followed earlier this year; for example, masks are not required in private spaces such as inside an office or partitioned cubicle for employees, or inside an individual residence hall room for roommates. 

All events, including Convocation, orientation, campaign kickoff and others, should continue as planned with masks being used indoors. Events held on campus by outside groups and visitors to campus will need to comply with this mask requirement as well. This requirement is a temporary precaution during the delta variant surge to supplement our other pandemic protocols. We will continue to monitor and review industry-specific guidance and recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health authorities in order to make the best decision for our community.

I recently sent this message to students and parents to describe what to expect when they arrive and reinforce our safety messages: the importance of getting vaccinated, sharing if they have received the vaccine and the new masking requirement. This will be followed by more detailed information in our Mustang Strong newsletters as well as outreach by our various units.

At our town hall last week, we were able to answer a few questions, but received many more prior to and during the meeting. As a result, the Mustang Strong website has been updated with dozens of new FAQs to address your questions.

Thanks to those of you who have received the vaccine and for your commitment to the safety of our campus. I encourage anyone who has not been vaccinated to get vaccinated to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community. Also, please let us know by uploading your vaccine card to the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center so you have easy access to it and to help the University estimate vaccination rates on campus.

I appreciate your dedication to our mission. Students are eagerly anticipating SMU’s excellent learning and classroom interactions, as well as our vibrant campus life. You make that possible each and every day, and I am proud to stand alongside you to welcome our students back this fall.


R. Gerald Turner

Voluntary vaccine reporting tool moved to SMU’s Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

SMU Community,

As we prepare for the fall semester, SMU has transitioned to a new way of voluntarily reporting your COVID-19 vaccination status. The vaccine reporting tool previously located on the Mustang Strong website has now moved to the SMU Health Portal and is maintained by the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center.

If you were vaccinated on campus, your information will automatically be uploaded into your health record under immunizations (no action is necessary).

However, if you were vaccinated off campus, we ask that you now upload that information directly to the SMU Health Portal, even if you already voluntarily shared your status through the vaccine reporting tool last spring.

Here are the steps to do that:

1. Login to the SMU Health Portal using your SMU credentials.

2. Click “Enter my COVID-19 vaccine information” on the portal’s main home screen.

3. In the appropriate fields, enter the vaccine you received and the dates they were administered.

4. Upload a photo of your COVID-19 vaccine card.

5. Click “Done.”

Reporting your vaccination information through the SMU Health Portal provides you with easy access to this important record, in case you are identified during contact tracing. 

You can always view your COVID-19 vaccination record at the Health Center via the Health Center portal. Reporting your vaccine is a voluntary submission of information that helps SMU make informed decisions regarding any additional changes to its operations and on-campus activities.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Available on Campus

SMU is strongly encouraging members of our community to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Taking this important step remains the best measure for protecting your health and that of your fellow Mustangs.

Both the Johnson & Johnson (one dose) and Pfizer (two dose) vaccines are offered at the Health Center. Additionally, second doses of Pfizer are available for individuals who may have gotten their first Pfizer dose elsewhere.

All current and incoming students as well as SMU employees and their spouse/dependents age 12 and older are eligible. Please schedule your vaccination appointment through our health portal. If you do not have access to the portal please call the Health Center at 214-768-2141 (option 1) to schedule an appointment.

Thank you for doing all you can to help keep us Mustang Strong, and we wish everyone a healthy and successful start to the new academic year!

The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center