SMU Moves To High Operational Level

Dear SMU Community,

Every week, our Emergency Operations Center group and the president’s leadership team review a number of data points regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SMU campus, then update the University’s operational level. This week, we are increasing the overall operational level from “moderate” to “high” to reflect the number of cases on campus and other related factors.

What does this mean? One of the many factors we consider in determining our operational level is the availability of spaces to isolate our on-campus students who test positive. Students have a choice as to where they will isolate, whether that is on campus or at some other location, and they will continue to have that choice. To ensure we can accommodate those students who choose to isolate on campus, we are working this week to increase the numbers of isolation beds available. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our consultant epidemiologist is that it is preferable for students to isolate on campus (as long as it is feasible) in lieu of travelling home to prevent the spread of the virus to other areas. We are also opening up the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center for limited hours during the weekends to ensure students have access to testing on campus.

We should all remain vigilant about wearing face coverings, social distancing and hand-washing. We expected to see an increase in cases, as we have seen with many other universities that started fall classes before we did, and we are responding within expectations to these circumstances. Even with the current number of cases, we have a manageable situation and will continue in-person operations.

You can find a full explanation of our operation levels here (Appendix 2). We expect the following areas to continue to operate at the “moderate” level, as there is no data to support spread through these settings:
• Classrooms, lecture halls and academic buildings
• Religious group services
• Shared office spaces
• Labs and research (Human Subjects Research is already operating at “high” level)
• Library spaces
• Residence halls and common areas
• Student organizations and events (events remain at “Orange event level”)
• Dining halls
• Athletic events and activities
• Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports
• Health Center
• Meadows Museum

Thank you for all you do to keep this campus healthy.

Message to Campus on Rising COVID-19 Cases

September 4, 2020

Dear SMU Student,

With two weeks of the fall semester successfully behind us, I would want to recognize our SMU students, faculty and staff for your efforts to adapt to learning, living and working on campus during this pandemic.

As we anticipated, we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases as well as an increase in quarantines. The summer preparations are working: We are aggressively isolating positive cases and quarantining those who came into close contact with infected individuals. This week, we had a localized outbreak at the Sigma Chi Fraternity House. In cooperation with Dallas County Health and Human Services, SMU requested that all students residing in the house quarantine for 14 days. We also asked the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority to quarantine one floor of their house out of an abundance of caution. We greatly appreciate the positive cooperation from the fraternity and sorority members and their organizations.


We are also using more of our isolation units to house on-campus students who test positive. While the numbers are growing, we still have capacity and contingency plans, if needed. We also continue to provide resources including meals and case management for those in isolation and quarantine so they can keep up with their studies. Even with the jump in student cases, we currently have only a few known cases in faculty or staff. You can see the latest numbers on our updated COVID-19 dashboard.


We are hearing reports of students choosing to test off campus at night or during the weekend. You can find a list of nearby urgent care centers and other after-hours support if the Dr. Bob Smith Student Health Center is closed. If you are feeling anxious, remember that we have counselors available 24/7 by calling 214-768-2277. We ask that you continue to support the overall wellness of your fellow students and faculty and staff by reporting positive cases or if you came into contact with an infected individual. We are grateful for your efforts to abide by the Pledge to Protect and wear face coverings or masks, wash your hands frequently and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet when you are gathered together. Science tells us that these steps stem the spread of the virus. We have taken disciplinary action against some individuals and groups who are in violation of the pledge, and remain committed to enforcing it through the Student Code of Conduct.


Even though we will be attending class – in person and virtually – on Labor Day, please stay focused this holiday weekend and continue to follow our health and safety protocols both on and off campus. Your cooperation is critical to keeping our campus open for a full semester of activities.
Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner
President

Employee Payroll Tax Update

Southern Methodist University will not implement the payroll tax deferment program announced by Presidential Memorandum on August 8, 2020.

The executive action is optional, allowing employers to postpone the collection of payroll taxes, specifically an employee’s portion of Social Security taxes, for affected employees. The action applies to wages paid to affected employees beginning on September 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020.  Affected employees are defined as employees generally making less than $4,000 per biweekly pay period.  Currently the order also indicates that the affected employees will be responsible for withholding and paying back these taxes before May 1, 2021, or be subject to interest and penalties.

SMU will continue to collect payroll taxes on behalf of all employees to reduce possible confusion, undue hardships, or other difficulties during the filing of taxes for 2020 by employees next year.

When more information becomes available that clarifies many of the administrative questions pertaining to the payroll tax deferment, SMU may reconsider implementation.

New Digital Tools Help SMU Community Check for COVID-19 Symptoms and Log Locations

SMU is offering two new digital tools to help monitor your health and protect the campus community: a daily COVID-19 symptom checker and a contact tracing log. Daily checks for virus symptoms and support of contact tracing are two important safety measures emphasized in SMU’s Pledge to Protect.

The Mustang Daily Symptom Checker is a quick survey that students, faculty or staff can use each day before leaving for class or work. If you aren’t feeling well, the survey will help you to determine if you are currently experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19.

After answering a few questions, the symptom checker will provide guidance on what to do next, based on your results. You should receive daily emails from the Symptom Checker, or go to smu.edu/covidcheck if you do not see them.

When you complete the survey and get a green checkmark, you are clear to go to campus. If you get a red X, the symptom checker will prompt you on next steps to take, which may include staying home and filling out a form to notify the University.  Students will complete the Caring Community Connections (CCC) form and employees will fill out the faculty/staff COVID-19 reporting form.

The other tool, PathCheck, is a private location diary for your phone. This mobile app records where you have been in case you need the information to assist in contact tracing should you experience a positive COVID-19 test result.

SMU chose this app because it is a privacy-first design that started at MIT before transitioning into a non-profit foundation. PathCheck privately stores your location on your phone for 14 days. This location diary remains private unless you choose to share this information. Even then, the data will only be used once to assist in the contact tracing interview and then deleted.

To download, go to the Apple or Google store and search for PathCheck SafePlaces. SMU Office of Information Technology (OIT) has more information on how it works and how to set up your phone. If you have any questions, please contact the IT Help Desk at 214-768-HELP (4357) or email help@smu.edu.

A crucial message from Dr. Turner and Dr. Mmeje

Dear SMU Students:

As new and returning students move into their Residential Commons or apartments this week, we must reemphasize how crucial it is for each member of the SMU community to take individual responsibility for our ability to complete and enjoy the fall semester on campus.

As you have surely read or heard, several universities that just began their semesters have had to call them off or delay them due to rapid COVID-19 infections coming from off-campus parties. Every one of these cancellations has been due to the thoughtless actions of groups of students having off-campus parties without wearing masks and violating social distancing standards. Any such gathering has an almost certain probability of involving one or more students who are asymptomatic but virulent carriers of the virus. As a result, significant numbers that go to such parties become ill and then spread it to roommates and others with whom they come in contact.

For us to complete the SMU fall semester on campus, such potential parties must be cancelled before they begin. Any person or organization who organizes such a reckless party will be seriously disciplined for putting the entire campus at risk. That is not the SMU Way: Mustangs do not put other Mustangs at risk. What has happened at other universities can be prevented at SMU, but it will require those who might host such events choosing not to do so, and those invited to any that are planned, choosing not to attend. The healthy alternative is to meet in groups of 10 or fewer, all wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Surely, we can all follow this approach for three months or until a vaccine is approved. We must all make the right choices.

Therefore, as we look forward to gathering for the first day of class on Monday, we must all take responsibility during this weekend and afterward for the health and well-being of the entire campus. If we do not, we will join those universities that have had to cancel in-person classes. As world changers, let’s Pony Up and follow the health guidelines and have a great semester.

Go Mustangs,

R. Gerald Turner
President

K.C. Mmeje, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

SMU Updates Campus Community on Testing, Travel and Facilities

August 19, 2020

As the University prepares for the start of the fall semester on Monday, August 24, please see the following updates for the SMU campus community.

No-cost, rapid curbside COVID-19 testing for employees is now available at Expressway Tower

SMU employees and families can now receive no-cost, rapid drive-through testing for COVID-19 at Expressway Tower, 6116 North Central Expressway, on the East Campus. The University covers 100% of the cost and no insurance paperwork is needed for those who have SMU health benefits. Telemedicine appointments and drive-through testing may be scheduled for this location Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The SMU curbside testing site is in addition to existing Virtual Care for Families clinic locations in the DFW area that can provide rapid COVID-19 antigen testing to SMU employees and their dependents. It is available to those who have symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus. Clinic and testing hours vary by location so call ahead to confirm availability. 

To schedule a test, complete an initial telemedicine screening at virtualcarefamilies.com/smu. Based on the screening, an appointment for curbside testing can be scheduled at one of the Urgent Care for Kids clinic locations (scroll down for the list.) Employees who test positive should complete the SMU Health Reporting Form and remain at home. If a dependent tests positive, employees should contact their supervisor for additional instructions. 

SMU eases travel restrictions, but approval is still required

Based on the August 6 decision by the U.S. State Department to lift its level 4 Global Health Advisory, SMU-sponsored international travel may resume, subject to approval. Concur Travel requests may be submitted, but are subject to location, specific health and safety restrictions as dictated by the Department of State, CDC and International SOS before approval. Please complete this form to request a review of international travel plans by SMU’s Travel Oversight Committee (TOC). The health and safety of university travelers will be a top priority when reviewing a request, and approval of travel is not guaranteed due to the ongoing global pandemic. For any questions related to the travel request form or international travel, contact Allison Russell, awitucki@smu.edu.

SMU is moving to Phase II of its COVID-19 Domestic Travel plan. SMU continues to restrict University-sponsored and/or sanctioned overnight domestic travel, either by motor vehicle or airplane, but exceptions may be requested by the traveler from their dean, vice president, athletic director, or that supervisor’s designee, for approval by using this form. Local motor vehicle travel (for day trips only) is permitted without requesting an exception.

Any authorized University-sponsored and/or sanctioned travel by faculty and staff for an SMU business purpose requires approved in advance of making travel arrangements. Reservations must be made using the University’s Online Travel and Expense System. Please review the Travel and Entertainment Management Policy 4.7 before booking travel.

SMU outdoor facilities remain closed to the public

With the return of our on-campus population and the resumption of classes, SMU outdoor facilities (such as tennis courts and other athletic fields and facilities) will remain closed to the general public to prevent the potential for virus spread. Outdoor facilities will be open to the campus community on a limited schedule to be set and posted by their managing authority – either Recreational Sports or SMU Athletics. Signs will be posted to reinforce that these venues are closed to the public.

Virtual Town Hall Invitation

 Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we prepare to welcome students and parents to campus, we invite you to a virtual town hall to address issues and questions as we begin our upcoming fall semester.

Date: Thursday, August 20, 2020

Time: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.


Who: Hosted by President R. Gerald Turner who will be joined by:

Elizabeth G. Loboa: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Christine Regis: Vice President, Business and Finance
Dr. Robert W. Haley: Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Division of Epidemiology in the Internal Medicine Department at UT Southwestern Medical Center

Where: The link to the town hall will be sent closer to the day of the event.

A recording of the town hall will be posted later for those unable to join us on August 20th.

Question submission during the live presentation will be possible, but please submit your questions in advance to help establish the priority of comments and responses made by the panelists.

Please submit questions in advance here.

We look forward to hearing from you!

R. Gerald Turner
President

SMU Updates Faculty on Pledge, Operation Levels, Contact Tracing and Air Filtration

Dear SMU Faculty and Staff,

It is exciting to see students return for our Fall 2020 opening. Thank you for everything you have done to prepare for their arrival. We will continue to monitor the pandemic to ensure we can move forward in a healthy and safe manner. I’d like to share a few updates and remind everyone of the important part you play in this plan.

While some of us have been on campus all along, others are now arriving. As a reminder, all employees should complete the “return-to-work” training before coming. Also, we are all required to do a daily self-screen to check for symptoms of COVID-19.

Another way to promote a healthy return is to take the our “pledge to protect” developed by the SMU Community Action Network (SMU CAN). Signing this pledge confirms that we as members of this campus community understand our personal responsibilities and are committed to following the safety guidelines required in these challenging times.

As outlined in the Fall 2020 Operations Plan, SMU is using four operational levels to guide the University’s response to the pandemic. The status of the University’s current operational level, from low, moderate, high to very high, will soon be added to the COVID-19 Mustang Strong website and updated each week. The University uses an operational assessment tool, also described in the plan, to evaluate campus conditions weekly and update or reaffirm the operational level. It is important to note that the operational level guides SMU’s leadership in making decisions regarding campus activities, but does not dictate specific measures. It is used holistically to assess and determine the best responses to the situation at that time.

On a related note, the campus contact tracing protocol is being updated to provide more support in case of a localized outbreak on campus. If one is declared, the University may use additional resources, including a requirement for localized targeted testing in a residence hall or University office space, to address the situation. Also, if a student receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, our contact tracing team will alert the faculty who teach that student of a case in their class without details that could identify the student. No additional information will be provided unless a faculty member is also identified as a “close contact” during the contact tracing process.

We have already shared that we are upgrading air filters in all air handlers across campus. Thirty (30) campus buildings have been retrofitted as of today and all RLSH and academic buildings will be completed by the start of classes. In addition, more than half of our air handlers have commercial grade Ultraviolet light filtering technology integrated into the system which helps to keep viruses and other microorganisms from reproducing and infecting indoor space.

We also have good news on our ability to increase the amount of fresh air pushed through our system. Most of the windows on our campus do not open, and it’s a balancing act to increase fresh air through our HVAC system without exceeding our central plant’s ability to support the added demand. Our traditional approach has been a 20 percent infusion of fresh air mixed with recirculated air, but we have determined that we can safely increase that to a 50 percent infusion of fresh air in most buildings. Be forewarned that our indoor spaces may be a bit warmer as a result.

We will continue to make modifications as needed to adjust to the fluid nature of this pandemic. We appreciate your partnership in keeping our campus healthy this semester.
Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner
President of SMU

Completion of Required COVID-19 Training Course Due August 24

Hello, Mustang!

As we prepare to return to campus for the fall semester, it is of the highest importance that all SMU students educate themselves on the ongoing COVID-19 situation and the updated policies and procedures at SMU. To accomplish this, all SMU students will be required to complete the Returning to Campus: COVID-19 Student Training Course through their Canvas account. 

Completing this course will ensure that all of us have a better understanding of how our campus will operate and what is expected as we work together to protect the health and safety of our entire community. 

What’s in the Course?

Through this course, you will develop skills to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on campus and learn about what SMU is doing to protect the health of our community. The course will take about 60-75 minutes to complete and will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • COVID-19 Basics
  • Proper Prevention
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • What Happens if Someone Gets Sick
  • What to Expect on Campus
  • What to Expect off Campus

You must finish all of the modules and pass the final assessment in order to complete the course successfully. As you complete your training, we invite you to reach out to the many referenced resources in order to join the larger discussion regarding these topics on our campus.

At the end of the course, you will also be asked to sign the “Pledge to Protect our SMU Community.” This pledge symbolizes each individual’s commitment to keeping our campus community healthy and safe.

What happens if a student doesn’t complete the course by the due date?

Completion of this course is REQUIRED for all SMU students. Please ensure that you have completed the course before your first day of class, which is Monday, August 24, 2020. Failure to complete the course by the assigned due date will result in a registration hold on your student account. Beginning Monday, August 24, 2020, this hold will prevent you from participating in fall add/drop and registering for future semesters.

What happens if a student completes the course before the due date?

Those completing the course before the required due date will be entered into a drawing for a FREE semester-long meal plan worth up to $1,500.

Thank you for your participation, and for helping us protect our SMU community. With your help we our campus will move forward and remain MUSTANG STRONG!

Sincerely,

Melinda J. Sutton, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs

and Dean of Students

Helpful Course Tips:

  • Work at your own pace from any computer or tablet.
  • You do not need to complete modules all at once. Canvas will save your progress if you need to stop and return later.
  • You must review all of the pages and complete the quiz at the end of each module in order to gain access to the next module. You must complete all of the modules and pass the final assessment in order to successfully complete the course.
  • For questions about the program, please email deanofstudents@smu.edu or call 214-768-4564.
  • If you experience any technical issues, please contact the SMU OIT Help Desk by phone, 214-768-4357 (8-HELP), via email to help@smu.edu, or submit a ticket online through help.smu.edu.

SMU Continues to Provide Options for Working Families With Children in School

August 26 Update:

With several school districts, including Dallas ISD, recently moving to extend on-line virtual ONLY learning until later in the year, we wanted to provide an update on options for employees as you navigate the ever-changing environment created by the pandemic. SMU will continue to offer flexibility and options to support parents with some slight adjustments to what had been communicated earlier this month.

Here are the options available.

  1. If the K-12 school district your child attends is offering only online learning for an extended period of time, please work with your supervisor to craft a feasible telecommuting option, if possible, considering your job responsibilities.
  2. If your school district offers/will offer both in-person and online learning, and you choose to remain home with your children during all or part of your normal working hours to support online learning, you may:
    • use vacation time
    • choose to take part or full time leave un the Working Family Leave option.

Working Family Leave offers employees either full- or part-time unpaid administrative leave through December 2020 to cover your time away from work:

• Your position will be held for you during this time.
• You’ll maintain current SMU medical and dental plans with SMU covering the full expense.
• For part-time leave, employees must work a minimum of 20 or more hours per week on campus, but schedules may be flexible to allow for work hours before 8:30 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
• Current vacation balances can be applied before the unpaid leave goes into effect, if you choose.
• Vacation and sick-leave hours will not accrue during an unpaid full leave. Vacation and sick-leave hours will accrue at a prorated amount for those on unpaid part-time leave.
• Approval from the appropriate vice president or dean will be necessary for all telecommuting and unpaid leave options.
• To start the process, fill out this form. For more information please contact returntowork@smu.edu.

Please discuss these options with your supervisor at each stage as you decide the best solution for your child’s health and education. SMU will continue to review and respond to the changes that affect our employees and their families during this pandemic.

Posted July 24, 2020:

Dear SMU staff,

We understand the difficult choices that parents face during these uncertain times – in particular as you attempt both to care for your children and fulfill your professional responsibilities. We want to support you in addressing the challenge of providing child care when schools are closed or operating only online because of the decisions of local authorities during the pandemic. School districts with children of SMU employees have reached different decisions. For example, K-12 public and private schools within Dallas County will not be allowed to hold in-person classes until after September 7, and schoolchildren in Tarrant County will not be returning for in-person classes until September 28.

Under these exceptional circumstances while K-12 is required to be online or experiencing a delayed start for in-person instruction, please work with your supervisor to craft a feasible telecommuting option if that is possible considering your job responsibilities.

We realize that even when K-12 schools in your child’s school district open again for full-time, in-person instruction, some parents might choose to keep their children at home. If your choice at that time is to remain home with your children during all or part of your normal working hours, you may use vacation time or take unpaid leave to cover the time away from work while also retaining benefits. Available options include either full- or part-time unpaid administrative leave. Employees may take such leave through December 2020, and your position will be held for you during this time. For part-time leave, it is expected that employees work a minimum of 20 or more hours per week on campus, but schedules may be flexible to allow for work hours before 8:30 a.m. and after 5 p.m.

Current vacation balances can be applied before the unpaid leave goes into effect, if you choose. Vacation and sick-leave hours will not accrue during an unpaid full leave. Vacation and sick-leave hours will accrue at a prorated amount for those on unpaid part-time leave. While on full- or part-time leave to accommodate your child’s remote learning, employees currently on the SMU medical and dental plans may retain their current benefits with SMU covering the full expense. 

Please discuss these options with your supervisor at each stage in deciding the best solution for your child’s health and education. As local authorities issue or amend orders, the fluidity of this situation dictates that these arrangements be reconsidered each month to ensure they meet both your family’s needs and the needs of SMU in supporting our students. Approval from the appropriate vice president or dean will be necessary for all telecommuting and unpaid leave options. To start the process, fill out this form. For more information please contact returntowork@smu.edu.

No cost rapid COVID-19 testing for SMU employees

No cost test with same day results available at nine DFW locations

SMU is now offering a fast and convenient option for COVID-19 testing with same day results for employees and their families. The University will cover 100 percent of the cost, and no insurance paperwork is needed for those who have SMU health benefits.

The University has contracted with Virtual Care for Families to provide curbside rapid COVID-19 antigen testing at nine clinic locations in the DFW area. Testing is available for SMU staff and faculty members and their dependents who have symptoms or circumstances in which they may have been exposed to the virus.  

To schedule a test, go online for an initial screening via telemedicine at virtualcarefamilies.com/smu. Based on the screening, an appointment for testing can be scheduled at one of the Urgent Care for Kids clinic locations. Upon arrival, a provider will complete the test at the employee’s vehicle. 

Telemedicine appointments may be scheduled every day from 8 a.m. to midnight. The testing service is available weekdays from noon or 3 p.m. (depending upon the location) to 9 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Employees who test positive should complete the SMU Health Reporting Form and remain at home. If a dependent tests positive, employees should contact their supervisor for additional instructions. 

Flexible work arrangements for SMU faculty and staff

Dear SMU Community,

It cannot be said too often that the health and well-being of our faculty and staff are of vital importance to me and to the University we serve. We value your work, your sense of mission, and the individual talents you bring to the table. As we complete the first cycle of staff telecommuting arrangements, SMU remains committed to adjusting our campus operations, as needed, to meet the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and to best support our community.  To reflect the most current guidance from the CDC and the State of Texas, the University is revising and expanding its guidelines for flexible work arrangements. Please access the new information here.

I want to thank you again for the careful and supportive way you have helped SMU prepare for the resumption of on-campus instruction this summer and fall, working with us to follow evolving CDC guidelines and governmental instructions.  While a relatively modest number of students will join us on campus in July, we have every indication that our students are eager to return to campus in the fall. Our planning reflects the energy our students are sharing, with the understanding that we may need to adapt to future changing conditions.

I also want to thank the University community for engaging in meaningful dialogue to help members of the President’s Executive Council refine our processes. It is our goal to be prepared for a strong, well-attended fall semester beginning in August.

I am proud of the SMU family and look forward to our continuing work together as we meet these extraordinary challenges.

Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner

President

New Air Filter System, Cleaning Protocols, Among Enhancements to Keep Campus Healthy

SMU Air Quality Improvement Strategy

SMU Facilities Planning and Management is upgrading all air filters in air handler units across campus, as a strategy to improve air quality in all University buildings. All air filters will be updated from the current MERV 10 level to the highest rated filtration level effective for SMU’s air handler system – MERV 13. This diagram details the filtration ratings, and the types and amounts of particles captured.

COVID-19 Facilities Custodial Response Guide

The Office of Facilities Planning & Management is committed to informing students, faculty and staff of steps and measures taken to protect the SMU community, as we prepare for the fall semester. This guide communicates the cleaning protocols and strategic communication plan developed specifically with regard to prevention of the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.

More resources links:
Enhanced Cleaning Protocol
https://www.smu.edu/-/media/Site/BusinessFinance/HR/welcome-back/enhanced-cleaning-operations-procedure-manual-for-office-and-education-environments

Enhanced cleaning coverage for all buildings
https://www.smu.edu/-/media/Site/BusinessFinance/FacilitiesManagementSustainability/Covid19_info/Enhanced-Custodial-Coverage-06-20-20.pdf

Three-Step Approach
https://www.smu.edu/-/media/Site/BusinessFinance/FacilitiesManagementSustainability/Covid19_info/EnhancedClean-Reentry-Guide-WORD-SMU_new.pdf

Facilities Communication Plan and Custodial Response Guide PDF
https://www.smu.edu/-/media/Site/BusinessFinance/FacilitiesManagementSustainability/Covid19_info/Custodialresponseguide_final.pdf?la=en

UPDATE: SMU Requires Face Coverings in All Public Spaces for Fall 2020 Semester

Faculty authorized to require students to wear face coverings in fall classrooms

SMU is requiring that everyone on the SMU campus wear a face covering over the mouth and nose in all public indoor spaces. This requirement includes classrooms; building entrances and exits; lobbies and lounges; as well as in hallways, stairwells, restrooms and elevators and also extends to SMU’s Meadows Museum – both for staff and visitors.

The requirement is in line with continued orders by the State of Texas and Dallas County, and strengthens the earlier University policy that stated the University “expects” all students, faculty staff and visitors to wear a face covering in public spaces.

For the fall semester, faculty members are authorized to require face coverings in their classrooms and during faculty-student meetings. All faculty will have access to disposable face coverings to provide to students who forget to bring one to class.

Facial coverings are required public indoor spaces, including the classrooms, or anywhere on campus—including public areas of residential facilities or outdoor spaces— where social distancing cannot be maintained. They are not required in private spaces such as inside an office or partitioned cubicle for employees, or inside an individual residence hall room for students. 

SMU is prepared to maintain or adjust its “face coverings in public spaces” requirement as circumstances evolve.

Message to campus on confirmed COVID-19 cases

Dear SMU Community,

Last spring, SMU sent an emergency notification to all students, faculty and staff about the first confirmed COVID-19 cases involving our campus community. This was an important step in informing our campus about this rapidly evolving situation.

As we begin to identify additional cases, we wanted to be sure the campus community is fully informed about the process that will be followed as well as the communications that can be expected. Going forward, as we are informed, SMU will update the campus community by listing all confirmed cases on our COVID-19 site. The identification of positive cases on campus occurs through several mechanisms, including:

  • Testing through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center
  • Local county health department notification
  • Self-disclosure by employees or students

Students or employees experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms should contact either their personal physician or the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center at 214-768-2277 for a screening interview by trained medical staff. Based on the results, testing may be required. If the test is positive:

It is the responsibility of an employee or student testing positive to immediately notify the University through the avenues presented above.

Following county, state and federal guidelines, SMU uses the University’s contact tracing protocol to identify and notify individuals who may have been exposed among the University community. All individuals testing positive for COVID-19 cases are contacted and CONFIDENTIALLY interviewed by trained University staff to identify close contacts. The tracing is based on class schedule, living situation, student activities, employee 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, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to testing). Close contact is described by the Centers for Disease Control as within six feet for more than 15 minutes (without direct respiratory droplet exposure).

Those in the SMU community who may have come into close contact with the positive case are notified directly and given further instructions to prevent the spread. If you are not directly contacted, it was determined you did not have close contact with anyone who has tested positive. Medical confidentiality will be maintained for everyone. Employees and students who learn of positive cases should respect this important privacy concern by not commenting on any information that could identify the person and/or posting about a case on social media. Supervisors, including deans and vice presidents, will be notified when one of their faculty or staff is positive. The communication from the University is the official communication on these matters, so please refrain from sending any additional emails or messages about the case. It is important for all of us to act responsibly. If you have any questions on how to respond to a situation, please reach out directly to Human Resources for assistance.

When a positive case is confirmed, SMU custodial workers also deep clean and sanitize the area in which the person worked or lived, as well as adjacent rooms and public spaces in the building. This enhanced cleaning is performed by an expanded crew within four to eight hours of the case confirmation.

Along with communications within the affected campus location and to campus individuals who were determined to have been in close contact, the University will keep a running list of confirmed cases on the SMU COVID-19 site. Again, SMU will not give out the person’s name, and we ask that you respect this individual’s privacy as well. If you would like to be updated when a positive case is added to the campus list, please email subscribe-covidcasenotifications@list.smu.edu to receive notifications.

Fall 2020: The Big Picture

Dear SMU students, parents, faculty and staff,

Those of us who have been planning for our students’ return to campus are pleased to share with you the road map for our fall semester on the Hilltop. While you can expect more communications on a variety of topics as we work through the summer months, this “big picture” document is intended to give you an overview of how we will teach and learn, protect our health, live on campus and handle basic operations at SMU as we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, you will have more questions, so watch your emails and the COVID-19 website for updates as we get closer to residence hall move-in, followed by the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 24.  I have missed you all, and am looking forward to welcoming the Class of 2024.
Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner
R. Gerald Turner
President

President Turner previews SMU fall semester

Dear SMU Community,

Preparing for the return of our students during the pandemic will require creativity, commitment and cooperation. Our plans for reopening the campus to students in the fall for student instruction, campus life and community programs are progressing well, and I am especially looking forward to welcoming our students back to our Dallas and Taos campuses. Informed by state and county health guidelines, benchmarking from other universities and the work of the President’s Task Force for a Healthy Opening Fall 2020, SMU will resume activities on its campuses under the following framework:

CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION WILL RESUME ON CAMPUS

The vast majority of SMU courses will be offered in person, on campus. To accommodate safety and health concerns, some classes will follow a hybrid model when necessary, providing a virtual, off-site component and staggered attendance schedules. For these courses, teaching in person as well as online would occur simultaneously. Such simultaneous online/in-person classes will accommodate international students facing travel restrictions, as well as students with health conditions that may preclude their being on campus at this time. The classes will also be recorded, adding greater flexibility for online students who may live in dramatically different time zones, or for students to re-watch classes as needed. For classes where students are participating online, all tests will be administered online so that every student’s progress is measured under the same circumstances.

A few courses, such as large lecture classes, may be offered online only. Other small classes will be offered in person only, in spaces adequate to follow health and safety guidelines. Special accommodations will be made for students in the performing arts.

AN ADJUSTED ACADEMIC SEMESTER

As many other universities have concluded, reducing the number of students returning to campus after holiday travel is important to lessen the chance of contagion. Therefore, we will revise our semester schedule to support a healthy campus population.

SMU will resume class instruction on campus Monday, August 24, as originally scheduled. Please note that the September 7 Labor Day holiday and October 12–13 Fall Break will be suspended and used as class instruction days. This change allows students to complete their on-campus studies and leave campus housing prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The University will shift all class instruction to online only for the remaining class days following Thanksgiving. (Graduate programs in some of our schools follow slightly different schedules, but will make similar accommodations that will be explained in detail by their deans.) Of course, students who do not have access to alternate living arrangements after Thanksgiving will be accommodated on campus, as they were this spring.

As a result, all final exams for the fall 2020 semester will be administered online.

OTHER ON-CAMPUS ACTIVITIES

In the coming days, additional guidelines will be forthcoming regarding campus life adjustments and the impact of the current situation on campus gatherings, large and small, for both students and faculty, as well as for alumni and other guests. To the extent possible, we will retain SMU traditions in the fall, so that students can experience as fully as possible a rich and vibrant campus life.

The information I have shared above is provided to allow students, their families, faculty and staff to plan for the weeks and months ahead. The good news is that our first mission –

delivering high-quality, on-campus classroom instruction – will continue, so that our students can benefit from in-person interaction with faculty members and with each other. Over the coming days and weeks, we will share more details in preparation for the fall semester, including new aspects of how we offer student housing, dining services, student programming and the like. These will be shared through email, the SMU website and the COVID-19 FAQs.

As always, feel free to reach out to your academic deans, advisers, and the Division of Student Affairs with any specific questions or concerns. I look forward to welcoming our students back to our campuses this summer and fall.

Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner

President

SMU Employees: What to expect when you get back

Dear SMU faculty and staff,

You have received quite a few messages from me over the past few months, but this is one I have been eager to deliver: I am delighted to welcome our full University workforce back to campus on Monday, June 1.

I know how hard you have worked from home, and I do not underestimate the productivity we have maintained. Thank you! We have had to reinvent the way we work, teach and learn over the past 11 weeks. However, it’s important to remember that SMU is a university that delivers a unique residential experience for our students. It requires us to be on campus to prepare for delivering that opportunity to our students.

Many of you have asked, “Why June 1? Why is it important that we come back now?” The basic answer is to prepare for the imminent return of our students.

SMU will resume in-person instruction on campus for several hundred of the 1,600 students enrolled for the Summer II term that begins July 6. We expect about 100 of these students, along with over 100 student-athletes, will join the approximately 30 students (out of the original 300) who remained in our Residential Commons through the spring.  It will take extra effort from our schools and administrative offices to be ready to serve these on-campus students. This also provides us with an important opportunity to preview issues we might face when the larger community returns in August.

Obviously, this fall is going to be a monumental challenge. The superior education that we always deliver is at stake, as is the financial health of the University. SMU is in a stronger position than many universities but our responses to the pandemic created a budget gap of more than $13 million for the fiscal year ending on May 31 – and from national projections we expect more losses in the fall. To meet these challenges, as I know we will, all of us must pull together to prepare successfully for July term, followed by the return of all students in the fall.

Our plan is to move forward with both caution and confidence. We will inform our decisions based on the best information available from government and health authorities, and also rely on your commitment to our workplace guidelines to help keep each other safe.  Should the COVID-19 pandemic shift, we will respond in kind, because health and safety are important for all of us.

As you return to campus, some things will be different. These changes have been put in place to help keep you and your co-workers healthy. I hope you will take a moment to watch this short video, so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

Please remember that the “Welcome Back to Campus” packet describes many of the processes the University has developed to support a healthy workplace and also provides important training for you. The special guide for supervisors will help everyone work through the individual employee issues inherent in this transition. 

We must all take extra steps to protect our health, and we will take them. You have my gratitude for outstanding work and flexibility over the last few months, and I look forward to seeing you back on campus soon. Welcome back, Mustangs.

Sincerely, 


R. Gerald Turner
President

Message from Faculty Senate President and Past-President

Dear colleagues,

President Turner is preparing to update the SMU community on Monday June 1 about our planning for the fall semester. We expect it to include information such as modality for course delivery, any adjustments to the academic calendar, initial plans for residential and dining facilities, enhanced cleaning of high-traffic areas, testing capabilities and more. To help in understanding, Tim (Rosendale) and I as well as the rest of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee wanted to send you a quick message to explain the decision-making process in greater detail.

As you may remember from President Turner’s message to the community on April 27, the taskforce, co-chaired by Provost ad interim Peter Moore and Vice President for Student Affairs K.C. Mmeje, oversees the work of six subcommittees, representing about seventy-five (75) faculty and staff members working tirelessly in extraordinarily difficult circumstances to address the charges they have been tasked with in addition to their normal work duties. 

The subcommittees have been meeting several times a week and have generated many pages of detailed recommendations that are presented to the taskforce for discussion and vote. The taskforce also receives a daily summary of the ideas submitted through the Virtual Idea Box, which are then shared with the appropriate subcommittees for consideration. We are grateful to those of you who have submitted ideas and I encourage you to do so if you haven’t. 

The taskforce meetings include all the subcommittee chairs so that they can provide feedback to the group. It is also is an opportunity to coordinate and collaborate on recommendations such as those that need input from multiple subcommittees to be fully formed. To provide an example, travel has implications for the Academic Continuity, Business Continuity and Campus Health and Wellness subcommittees so these teams collaborate to make one recommendation. Once the taskforce vets the recommendations, those agreed upon are presented to the President’s Executive Council, which makes the final decision.

The subcommittees most relevant to faculty are the Academic Continuity and the Campus Health and Wellness subcommittees. Their charges and members (I apologize for any member I forgot to include as the membership list grew after the initial announcement) are listed at the end of this email.  

I have been tremendously impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness of the recommendations the subcommittees have prepared in such a short amount of time, representing a cumulative hundreds of hours of deliberation and analysis. Further, I expect that there will be continued faculty input during and after July term regarding what is working in the classroom as we continue to prepare for the fall semester. 

While other universities across the country are implementing staff and faculty furloughs, layoffs and/or contract non-renewals as a result of the pandemic, SMU is looking forward, innovating and striving to keep its faculty and staff, and we are fortunate that our planned salary raises will go ahead as scheduled. Based on the thoughtful and comprehensive recommendations of the taskforce and its subcommittees, Tim and I, who both have witnessed the process from up close, are hopeful that the plan to be announced this Monday, June 1 will give SMU the very best chance to not only avoid the fate of those other universities but also make the very best possible use of our strengths as an institution to create, expand and impart knowledge while ensuring the health and safety of students, staff and faculty in those challenging and unprecedented times. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me or Tim or any of the Faculty Senate ExComm members for 2020-21, who are: 

Past-President Tim Rosendale (Dedman I), 
President Aurélie Thiele (Lyle), 
President-Elect Pia Vogel (Dedman III), 
Secretary Susana Solera Adoboe (Dedman I), 
David Bertrand (Simmons), 
Rob Frank (Meadows), 
Luigi Manzetti (Dedman II), 
Rebekah Miles (Perkins), 
Anna Offit (Law),
Tom Tan (Cox).

Aurélie 

for 

Tim Rosendale, Faculty Senate Past-President rosendale@smu.edu

Aurélie Thiele, Faculty Senate President athiele@smu.edu


Academic Continuity – chaired by Michael Tumeo 
Develop plans to support educational continuity through a variety of instructional modes, including in-class, online-only and a hybrid of both. Address situations where students, faculty and staff must remain away from campus for a brief or extended period of time, or must adapt to other limitations on normal academic progress due to COVID-19. Plan and develop resources to support continuing classes, strategies for maintaining graduate student research and guidance for academic events of all sizes. Assess implications for student travel for internships and global experiences, including all activities at SMU-in-Taos. Define criteria and procedures for altering academic policies, including the Academic Calendar. Assess and develop options to mitigate the financial impacts that graduate and undergraduate students may face.

Members
Provost Office
·     Patty Alvey, PhD
·     Whitney Henry, MBA
·     Sheri Kunovich, PhD
·     Dayna Oscherwitz, PhD
·     Daniel Eady, EdM
·     David Son, PhD
·     Wes Waggoner, MBA, EdD
·     Doug Reinelt, PhD
·     Jim Quick, PhD
·     Michael Robertson, PhD
·     Michael Tumeo, PhD

Associate Deans
·     David Sedman, PhD – Meadows
·     Hugo Magallanes, PhD – Perkins
·     Tom Carr, PhD – Dedman College
·     Elizabeth Killingsworth, MLS – SMU Libraries
·     Bill Dillon, PhD – Cox
·     Becca Henley, JD – Dedman Law
·     Paige Ware, PhD – Simmons
·     Rumanda Young, PhD – Taos
·     Volkan Otugen, PhD – Lyle

OIT
·     Michael Hites, PhD
·     Curt Herridge, MBA

Faculty Senate
·     Tim Rosendale, PhD
·     Matthew Wilson, PhD

Student Body Vice President
·     Austin Hickle


Campus Health and Wellness – chaired by Melinda Sutton Noss, EdD and Peter Davis, MD, FACP
Develop comprehensive recommendations and plans for testing, contact tracing, social distancing, regulation of visitors, size of nonacademic events, frequent deep cleanings of facilities and other strategies to keep the campus safe, including facilities and activities at SMU-in-Taos. Create wellness information tools and resources to share broadly with the campus community.

Members
·     Health Center—Peter Davis, MD, FACP
·     Environmental Health & Safety – Brandon Chance, MS, CCHO
·     Global Health – Eric Bing, MD, PhD, MBA
·     Health Center – Randy Jones, MPH, DDS & Diane Melcher, RN
·     Health Promotions – Griffin Sharp, MS, MPH
·     Junior Student – from Dr. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course 
·     Human Resources—Mai Bui, MBA
·     RLSH—Amanda Bobo, MBA
·     OIT—George Finney, JD, CISM
·     OIT – Curt Herridge, MBA

Dear colleagues,

President Turner is preparing to update the SMU community on Monday June 1 about our planning for the fall semester. We expect it to include information such as modality for course delivery, any adjustments to the academic calendar, initial plans for residential and dining facilities, enhanced cleaning of high-traffic areas, testing capabilities and more. To help in understanding, Tim (Rosendale) and I as well as the rest of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee wanted to send you a quick message to explain the decision-making process in greater detail.

As you may remember from President Turner’s message to the community on April 27, the taskforce, co-chaired by Provost ad interim Peter Moore and Vice President for Student Affairs K.C. Mmeje, oversees the work of six subcommittees, representing about seventy-five (75) faculty and staff members working tirelessly in extraordinarily difficult circumstances to address the charges they have been tasked with in addition to their normal work duties. 

The subcommittees have been meeting several times a week and have generated many pages of detailed recommendations that are presented to the taskforce for discussion and vote. The taskforce also receives a daily summary of the ideas submitted through the Virtual Idea Box, which are then shared with the appropriate subcommittees for consideration. We are grateful to those of you who have submitted ideas and I encourage you to do so if you haven’t. 

The taskforce meetings include all the subcommittee chairs so that they can provide feedback to the group. It is also is an opportunity to coordinate and collaborate on recommendations such as those that need input from multiple subcommittees to be fully formed. To provide an example, travel has implications for the Academic Continuity, Business Continuity and Campus Health and Wellness subcommittees so these teams collaborate to make one recommendation. Once the taskforce vets the recommendations, those agreed upon are presented to the President’s Executive Council, which makes the final decision.

The subcommittees most relevant to faculty are the Academic Continuity and the Campus Health and Wellness subcommittees. Their charges and members (I apologize for any member I forgot to include as the membership list grew after the initial announcement) are listed at the end of this email.  

I have been tremendously impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness of the recommendations the subcommittees have prepared in such a short amount of time, representing a cumulative hundreds of hours of deliberation and analysis. Further, I expect that there will be continued faculty input during and after July term regarding what is working in the classroom as we continue to prepare for the fall semester. 

While other universities across the country are implementing staff and faculty furloughs, layoffs and/or contract non-renewals as a result of the pandemic, SMU is looking forward, innovating and striving to keep its faculty and staff, and we are fortunate that our planned salary raises will go ahead as scheduled. Based on the thoughtful and comprehensive recommendations of the taskforce and its subcommittees, Tim and I, who both have witnessed the process from up close, are hopeful that the plan to be announced this Monday, June 1 will give SMU the very best chance to not only avoid the fate of those other universities but also make the very best possible use of our strengths as an institution to create, expand and impart knowledge while ensuring the health and safety of students, staff and faculty in those challenging and unprecedented times. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me or Tim or any of the Faculty Senate ExComm members for 2020-21, who are: 

Past-President Tim Rosendale (Dedman I), 

President Aurélie Thiele (Lyle), 

President-Elect Pia Vogel (Dedman III), 

Secretary Susana Solera Adoboe (Dedman I), 

David Bertrand (Simmons), 

Rob Frank (Meadows), 

Luigi Manzetti (Dedman II), 

Rebekah Miles (Perkins), 

Anna Offit (Law),

Tom Tan (Cox).

Best wishes,

Aurélie 

for 

Tim Rosendale, Faculty Senate Past-President rosendale@smu.edu

Aurélie Thiele, Faculty Senate President athiele@smu.edu

Academic Continuity – chaired by Michael Tumeo 

Develop plans to support educational continuity through a variety of instructional modes, including in-class, online-only and a hybrid of both. Address situations where students, faculty and staff must remain away from campus for a brief or extended period of time, or must adapt to other limitations on normal academic progress due to COVID-19. Plan and develop resources to support continuing classes, strategies for maintaining graduate student research and guidance for academic events of all sizes. Assess implications for student travel for internships and global experiences, including all activities at SMU-in-Taos. Define criteria and procedures for altering academic policies, including the Academic Calendar. Assess and develop options to mitigate the financial impacts that graduate and undergraduate students may face.

Members

Provost Office

·     Patty Alvey, PhD

·     Whitney Henry, MBA

·     Sheri Kunovich, PhD

·     Dayna Oscherwitz, PhD

·     Daniel Eady, EdM

·     David Son, PhD

·     Wes Waggoner, MBA, EdD

·     Doug Reinelt, PhD

·     Jim Quick, PhD

·     Michael Robertson, PhD

·     Michael Tumeo, PhD

Associate Deans

·     David Sedman, PhD – Meadows

·     Hugo Magallanes, PhD – Perkins

·     Tom Carr, PhD – Dedman College

·     Elizabeth Killingsworth, MLS – SMU Libraries

·     Bill Dillon, PhD – Cox

·     Becca Henley, JD – Dedman Law

·     Paige Ware, PhD – Simmons

·     Rumanda Young, PhD – Taos

·     Volkan Otugen, PhD – Lyle

OIT

·     Michael Hites, PhD

·     Curt Herridge, MBA

Faculty Senate

·     Tim Rosendale, PhD

·     Matthew Wilson, PhD

Student Body Vice President

·     Austin Hickle

Campus Health and Wellness – chaired by Melinda Sutton Noss, EdD and Peter Davis, MD, FACP

Develop comprehensive recommendations and plans for testing, contact tracing, social distancing, regulation of visitors, size of nonacademic events, frequent deep cleanings of facilities and other strategies to keep the campus safe, including facilities and activities at SMU-in-Taos. Create wellness information tools and resources to share broadly with the campus community.

Members

·     Health Center—Peter Davis, MD, FACP

·     Environmental Health & Safety – Brandon Chance, MS, CCHO

·     Global Health – Eric Bing, MD, PhD, MBA

·     Health Center – Randy Jones, MPH, DDS & Diane Melcher, RN

·     Health Promotions – Griffin Sharp, MS, MPH

·     Junior Student – from Dr. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course 

·     Human Resources—Mai Bui, MBA

·     RLSH—Amanda Bobo, MBA

·     OIT—George Finney, JD, CISM

·     OIT – Curt Herridge, MBA


Academic Continuity – chaired by Michael Tumeo 
Develop plans to support educational continuity through a variety of instructional modes, including in-class, online-only and a hybrid of both. Address situations where students, faculty and staff must remain away from campus for a brief or extended period of time, or must adapt to other limitations on normal academic progress due to COVID-19. Plan and develop resources to support continuing classes, strategies for maintaining graduate student research and guidance for academic events of all sizes. Assess implications for student travel for internships and global experiences, including all activities at SMU-in-Taos. Define criteria and procedures for altering academic policies, including the Academic Calendar. Assess and develop options to mitigate the financial impacts that graduate and undergraduate students may face.

Members
Provost Office
·     Patty Alvey, PhD
·     Whitney Henry, MBA
·     Sheri Kunovich, PhD
·     Dayna Oscherwitz, PhD
·     Daniel Eady, EdM
·     David Son, PhD
·     Wes Waggoner, MBA, EdD
·     Doug Reinelt, PhD
·     Jim Quick, PhD
·     Michael Robertson, PhD
·     Michael Tumeo, PhD

Associate Deans
·     David Sedman, PhD – Meadows
·     Hugo Magallanes, PhD – Perkins
·     Tom Carr, PhD – Dedman College
·     Elizabeth Killingsworth, MLS – SMU Libraries
·     Bill Dillon, PhD – Cox
·     Becca Henley, JD – Dedman Law
·     Paige Ware, PhD – Simmons
·     Rumanda Young, PhD – Taos
·     Volkan Otugen, PhD – Lyle

OIT
·     Michael Hites, PhD
·     Curt Herridge, MBA

Faculty Senate
·     Tim Rosendale, PhD
·     Matthew Wilson, PhD

Student Body Vice President
·     Austin Hickle


Campus Health and Wellness – chaired by Melinda Sutton Noss, EdD and Peter Davis, MD, FACP
Develop comprehensive recommendations and plans for testing, contact tracing, social distancing, regulation of visitors, size of nonacademic events, frequent deep cleanings of facilities and other strategies to keep the campus safe, including facilities and activities at SMU-in-Taos. Create wellness information tools and resources to share broadly with the campus community.

Members
·     Health Center—Peter Davis, MD, FACP
·     Environmental Health & Safety – Brandon Chance, MS, CCHO
·     Global Health – Eric Bing, MD, PhD, MBA
·     Health Center – Randy Jones, MPH, DDS & Diane Melcher, RN
·     Health Promotions – Griffin Sharp, MS, MPH
·     Junior Student – from Dr. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course 
·     Human Resources—Mai Bui, MBA
·     RLSH—Amanda Bobo, MBA
·     OIT—George Finney, JD, CISM
·     OIT – Curt Herridge, MBA

SMU keeps going volume 6

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

In spite of the rain, I hope you saw on Saturday the lights on Reunion Tower spell out SMU in honor of our 2020 graduates. Now it’s time to look to the fall as we welcome back those who started working on campus this week! I have enjoyed seeing more faculty and staff as we carefully and safely begin to bring people to our campus. We expect our first group of students to return to campus for a hybrid July term, which will offer both in-person and online classes. They will be the first to follow the recommendations under development by the hardworking members of the President’s Task Force for a Healthy Opening Fall 2020.

Here are just a few stories about the many ways our faculty, staff and students are responding to COVID-19 through research, helping others and sharing the ways SMU has helped them prepare for a future that is very different than the one they expected.

  • From studying on Dallas Hall lawn to celebrating on the Boulevard, our May 2020 grads look back on what makes the SMU experience so special in their Stories from the Hilltop.
  • While medical professionals everywhere have been hard at work for months searching for a cure to the COVID-19 virus, Guildhall’s Corey Clark and Dedman College computational biologist John Wise have teamed together with gamers to join the fight.
  • The 200 residents of Picarus Pueblo near SMU-in-Taos remain COVID-19 free. In this PBS NewsHour story, Mike Adler, archaeologist and director of SMU-in-Taos, explains why.
  • Dedman Law faculty member Anna Offit discussed the pros and cons of a Zoom jury trial with NBC-5.

As we look to the future, incoming student and President’s Scholar Eileen Garcia gives us good reason to be optimistic. She is one of 20 students the Today Show has followed for more than a decade. Eileen and other members of the Class of 2024 started kindergarten the year after 9/11 and graduated from high school in the midst of a pandemic. Thank you to everyone working to create a safe, effective and meaningful SMU experience for Eileen and her classmates.

Please continue to send your stories to news@smu.edu. You may find more SMU stories at  smu.edu/MustangsKeepGoing.

Sincerely,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

SMU employees: Welcome back to campus

Dear SMU faculty and staff,

We are looking forward to your return to the Hilltop. You have demonstrated flexibility, creativity and remarkable good humor in keeping the University on course during these trying times, and those traits will serve us well as we return to campus and prepare to welcome our students back. Some of you, on the guidance of your supervisor, will be returning to campus on May 18. The remainder of SMU employees should plan to return to campus June 1.  Given that the campus is relatively quiet in June, especially due to online classes, the month is an ideal time for staff to return.  Since buildings will continue to be locked the general public will not have open access to SMU facilities.
 
Your health is important, and your commitment to new “rules of the road” will be essential to maintain the health of our entire SMU community. Our faculty and staff must be protected, trained and adequately prepared for this new working environment. Therefore, it is vital that you read the “Welcome Back to Campus” packet and follow its links to fully understand what is required. Please communicate with your manager, department chair or dean before you return to campus, allowing time for a thorough discussion of issues related to your workspace, schedule and other individual considerations.

If you still have questions after communicating with your supervisor, please follow up with Human Resources at returntowork@smu.edu, as needed.

Our new normal is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. Rest assured, we will adjust our guidelines to meet challenges along the way. The most up to date information will be placed on the Human Resources website.  We appreciate your patience as we work together to make our work environment both healthy and productive. 

Thank you,

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

Chris Casey Regis 
Vice President for Business and Finance

On-campus and online classes to be held for Summer Session II


May 15, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

SMU, including its campus in Taos, is expecting to offer a combination of in-person and online classes for Summer Session II, commonly referred to as July term. We will continue to monitor and adjust as evolving guidelines emerge from Dallas County and the Texas governor.

You may recall that the President’s Task Force for a Healthy Opening Fall 2020 is charged with the important mission of bringing our students, faculty and staff back to campus safely. One of the first charges assigned to the group was to evaluate the feasibility of an on-campus experience for the July term.

The task force surveyed more than 1,000 students who enrolled in July term, as well as the faculty who signed up to teach. While most students replied that they would prefer to continue their summer learning online, many students expressed that they would like the on-campus experience, provided that safety and health protocols are in place. Faculty survey results mirrored the students’ responses, with most planning to teach online and many open to teaching in person.

Informed by the latest science, along with health and safety guidelines from federal, state and local officials, the task force recommended that a hybrid model combining some on-site classes with online classes would be feasible and most responsive to the student needs. Welcoming a small community of students on campus in July will also enable SMU to fine-tune recommendations and protocols for the larger group of students returning in the fall.

Recognizing that we are paving new ground, the University is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for on-campus students in July and when the fall semester begins in August.  Employees are returning to campus June 1 after receiving training on safety and health practices, which will include daily health self-assessments; face coverings; enhanced cleaning protocols; social distancing guidelines in workspaces, restrooms and elevators; as well as contact tracing. All these safety procedures will be in place for students as well.

As we prepare for July, we are layering in plans to reduce the density of academic and residential facilities and dining halls, planning for distance-conscious transitions between classes, on-campus COVID-19 testing and more. These details will be shared with you as we get closer to welcoming our July students.

Thank you for your patience as we navigate the continuously changing landscape created by COVID-19. Your safety and wellness are our highest priority, and our commitment to flexibility and responsiveness will help us give you the high-quality academic and student experience that defines SMU.

Sincerely

R. Gerald Turner
President of SMU

SMU keeps going volume 5

Dear SMU Faculty, Staff and Students,

Congratulations to the 2,634 graduating students who will receive their SMU degrees on Saturday, May 16. Here we go Mustangs is just one small way we honor our graduating students’ accomplishments. Also, keep your eyes on the Dallas skyline this Saturday night when Reunion Tower will light up with a special message in support of our graduates. We plan to recognize their achievements more fully at Commencement on August 15.  Until then, please know the Class of 2020 will always be known for its strength and perseverance, despite the anxiety and hardships of these trying times. I am also grateful to the faculty and staff who have, with determination, met the challenge to mentor and guide the Class of 2020 to the completion of the spring term.

Here are creative ways students and faculty have showcased their talents, expressed their thoughts and shared their expertise as we wrap up this most challenging semester.

I miss the proud families and smiling seniors we usually see on our beautiful campus at this time, but we haven’t forgotten the Class of 2020 and you can find here a few videos and photos of their first days on our campus. I look forward to the day soon when the entire SMU community will celebrate their success. Please continue to send your stories to news@smu.edu. You may find more SMU stories at smu.edu/MustangsKeepGoing.

Sincerely,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

SMU keeps going volume 4

Dear SMU Faculty, Staff and Students,

Spring is the time we honor our students for outstanding academic, leadership and service achievements. In spite of distance, students have been initiated into honor societies, recognized for their research and honored for their contributions to the community. The work of the University continues, as evidenced by these fruits of our students’ work. Thank you to each of you for your dedication during these challenging times and your determination that SMU will emerge stronger than ever. 

Here are examples of Mustangs embodying our world changing spirit:

  • Faculty members Fred Chang, computer science, and Jo Guldi, history, co-founded the SMU AI Lab, where artificial intelligence and machine learning are used to search for trends, patterns and insight in search of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Simmons math education faculty member Candace Walkington, takes at-home math to new heights in a video series of math activities for older kids that include Barbie bungee jumping, soap bubble magic and STEM walks.
  • Faculty members Jake Batsell and Amber Benson have found COVID-19 is particularly applicable to classes they are teaching this semester. Batsell’s students are comparing the pandemic to the 2008 economic collapse, while Benson’s healthcare advertising students are creating a coronavirus myth-busting campaign sponsored by the United Nations.

Best of luck to students preparing for final exams and faculty members preparing for stacks of grading. I admire your dedication and persistence to finish the spring 2020 semester well. Please continue to send your stories with news@smu.edu. You may find more SMU stories at smu.edu/mustangskeepgoing.

Sincerely,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

SMU keeps going volume 3

Dear SMU Faculty, Staff and Students,After six weeks of online classes and stay-at-home orders, I continue to be proud of the many ways the SMU community is demonstrating innovation amid dramatic changes brought by COVID-19. By now you may have seen our plans to continue to have a majority of campus employees remain working from home until May 18 and returning to campus by June 1. We also intend to be open this fall. To that end, I have appointed a Task Force for a Healthy Opening Fall 2020, charged with the important mission of bringing our students, faculty and staff back to campus safely while ensuring high-quality instruction, academic rigor, meaningful research and campus engagement – all of which exemplify the SMU experience. Here are a few more examples of how the SMU community continues to embody our World Changing spirit. You can find these and other stories on this site.When an Italian piano company invited Fazioli-owners to submit videos of performances, Meadows’ Carol Leone, professor and chair of piano studies, responded with this inspiring performance of Scarlatti’s Sonata in G Major, K14.

More than 200 people signed in for the free webinar targeted to small business owners offered by Cox’s Caruth Institute of Entrepreneurship, “The Realities of the SBA Assistance Program.”

SMU Libraries had 196 chats, 677 email consultations and 187 zoom or phone calls from March 16 to April 16. They are here to assist you.

George Finney, OIT chief security officer, created this imaginative cybersecurity guide to working at home.

Religious studies associate professor Jill DeTemple is on research leave this semester, but she invited former students to join a weekly COVID-19 Zoom chat. She discussed the importance of courage and care to create community in an online classroom in this op-ed she co-wrote for Inside Higher Ed.

Simmons reading specialists have developed resources to help the youngest readers, and those who are teaching them at home.

SMU alum Hubert Zajicek, M.B.A. ’06, a doctor and founder and CEO of Health Wildcatters incubator, helped create the Health Hacking Crisis Network to find quick solutions to problems like the face mask shortage among healthcare workers.

Yoga, Zumba, Pilates? Find recorded and online fitness classes offered by Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

 We’ve had welcome glimpses on campus of students and their families moving belongings out of the Residential Commons, carefully choreographed by RLSH to maintain social distancing. But our focus is on the future, and we are evaluating various scenarios to return our community to campus in a safe and effective way. Meanwhile, keep up the wonderful work. Each of you is an inspiration to me. Please continue to share your stories with news@smu.edu.

Sincerely,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

We intend to be open in fall 2020

Dear SMU Community,

It’s time to look to the future.

I am pleased to announce that SMU intends to safely open our University for on-campus teaching, learning and student living for the fall semester. We are looking forward to delivering the unique academic experience that defines SMU, and to rekindling the energy our students bring to campus.

Clearly, we will work within the boundaries of governmental guidelines as we plan for the beginning of fall classes. Be assured, every phase of our return to campus will launch with the health and safety of our campus population in mind. Your University is committed to managing this process aggressively and efficiently, using data and verifiable research to make good decisions.

It is important that we move toward the goal of an open campus with confidence, understanding that the path forward will take creativity and patience as the pandemic and our response to it continue to evolve. If you could see, as I have, the extraordinary work and innovation that have carried our University through the past few months, you would understand the source of my confidence.

Our most obvious challenges in preparing for the return of students to campus are physical. We are examining how we will safely gather and learn together in the age of social distancing. The President’s Task Force for a Healthy Opening Fall 2020 is mapping out plans for managing the density of our campus population, from the classrooms to the residence halls.

I would encourage all of you – our current SMU family and those of you we look forward to welcoming in the fall – to embrace the pragmatic optimism that is fueling SMU’s plans for fall 2020. The start of this new academic year will be different in some ways, but what makes us SMU will stay the same. We will learn from each other, and we will take care of each other. It is what Mustangs do.

Sincerely,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

President’s Task Force for a Healthy Opening Fall 2020

SMU is committed to reopening the campus as quickly as possible, while protecting the health of our University community and allowing for safe learning, working, living and socializing. To that end, SMU must have data-informed policies and procedures in place as early as midsummer that leverage the best available testing and/or screening for COVID-19, along with continued health practices such as social distancing, use of protective face coverings and other necessary measures. SMU also must plan for the unpredictable progression of the pandemic and its financial impact while preparing for related government-mandated restrictions on how we work, live and assemble.

Effective immediately, I am appointing the SMU President’s Task Force For a Healthy Opening Fall 2020, co-chaired by K.C. Mmeje, vice president for Student Affairs, and Peter K. Moore, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost ad interim. This cross-functional task force will report to me through the President’s Executive Council (PEC) and is charged with the important mission of bringing our students, faculty and staff back to campus safely while ensuring high-quality instruction, academic rigor, meaningful research and campus engagement – all of which exemplify the SMU experience.

The task force shall:

  • Create subcommittees to address Academic Continuity, Research Continuity, Business Continuity, Campus Health and Wellness, Student Continuity and Communications with specific charges assigned to each;
  • Meet regularly to analyze and take action on reports from subcommittees which will meet weekly or more, depending on need;
  • Examine existing SMU policies and procedures and propose new practices/policies to meet the needs of the University in a changeable environment;
  • Study best practices from other higher education leaders and institutions while remaining focused on approaches that meet SMU’s unique needs;
  • Remain cognizant of the financial strains and limits imposed upon the University by the pandemic;
  • Adhere to deadlines that enable communications with our campus community by:
    • May 15 for July session;
    • June 1 for Study Abroad programs;
    • June 1 for August Commencement and the beginning of the fall semester.

The task force members include:

  • Thomas DiPiero, dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
  • Michael Hites, chief information officer
  • Alison Tweedy, associate vice president of Campus Services
  • Leigh Ann Moffett, director of Emergency Management, Office of Risk Management
  • Regina Moldovan, assistant vice president of Marketing and Communications, DEA
  • Melinda Sutton Noss, associate vice president and dean of Students, Student Affairs
  • Melinda Carlson, assistant vice president and dean of Residence Life and Student Housing, Student Affairs
  • Aurelie Thiele, associate professor of Engineering Management, Information, and Systems, Faculty Senate
  • Joseph Monroy, registrar and director of Academic Services (Perkins), SMU Staff Association president
  • Molly Patrick, student body president

Charges for Subcommittees

Academic Continuity – Michael Tumeo

  • Develop plans to support educational continuity through a variety of instructional modes, including in-class, online-only and a hybrid of both. Address situations where students, faculty and staff must remain away from campus for a brief or extended period of time, or must adapt to other limitations on normal academic progress due to COVID-19. Plan and develop resources to support continuing classes, strategies for maintaining graduate student research and guidance for academic events of all sizes. Assess implications for student travel for internships and global experiences, including all activities at SMU-in-Taos. Define criteria and procedures for altering academic policies, including the Academic Calendar. Assess and develop options to mitigate the financial impacts that graduate and undergraduate students may face.

Research Continuity James Quick, Brandon Chance

  • Create a protocol for expanding the opening of lab facilities, including art studios and performance practice facilities. Identify ways to protect critical research in the event of a brief or extended disruption to normal operations. Compile an inventory of sensitive research that requires continued support during the summer and fall semesters. Prepare a plan to provide that support with limited staff, resources and vendor provisions. Review existing plans for the continued care of sensitive research specimens. Develop criteria for the safe opening and operation of SMU Libraries and the Meadows Museum.

Business Continuity Michael Molina, Alison Tweedy

  • Assess and evaluate SMU’s essential operational functions, determine strategies for maintaining critical campus utilities and infrastructure and continue to evaluate procedures to enable a hybrid work model for SMU faculty and staff. Consider implications and procedures for contract staff and plans for stockpiling supplies in the event of a supply-chain disruption. Additionally, work to recover expenses associated with COVID-19 and develop a plan/brief for long-term initiatives such as capital projects, staffing, etc.

Campus Health and Wellness – Melinda Sutton Noss, Peter Davis

  • Develop comprehensive recommendations and plans for testing, contact tracing, social distancing, regulation of visitors, size of nonacademic events, frequent deep cleanings of facilities and other strategies to keep the campus safe, including facilities and activities at SMU-in-Taos. Create wellness information tools and resources to share broadly with the campus community.

Student Continuity Melinda Carlson, Sheri Kunovich (input from Athletics – Lauren Adee)

  • Explore student life issues, such as providing safe access to essentials such as campus dining services and student support and well-being programs. Continue to develop plans for disruptions to traditional student life programming, including student and athletic events and travel. Examine occupancy standards for residential communities that reinforce social distancing and refine residential communities’ guest policies, consider single occupancy options, etc. Planning and considerations should include classes and activities at SMU-in-Taos.

Communications – Kim Cobb, Dianne Anderson

  • Gather perspective from and coordinate with communications representatives from campus schools and units on frequency, consistency, accuracy and effectiveness of messaging concerning SMU’s plans in response to COVID-19. Create multipronged communications plans for different planning scenarios for summer and fall semesters and identify ways to bolster existing communications methods.

I want to thank Dr. Mmeje and Dr. Moore for leading this important effort, and the committee and subcommittee members for offering their time and expertise as we carefully coordinate the best approach to a healthy reopening this fall.

Sincerely,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

SMU adapts to challenges created by COVID-19

Dear Campus Community,

Anyone walking across our beautiful campus is struck by how quiet it is. What is not visible is the increased activity behind the scenes as we work to educate our students online while adapting to the serious challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the country, many families and individuals are facing personal financial challenges which will have an impact on future enrollment at all universities – particularly at a private university like ours, heavily dependent on tuition income for operational expenses. Due to these financial stressors, the American Council on Education (ACE) recently predicted an estimated 15% drop in undergraduate fall enrollment and a 25% decrease in international students – especially within graduate programs. SMU also must plan for the unpredictable progression of the pandemic, along with related government-mandated restrictions on how we teach, work and assemble. Nevertheless, we intend to be prepared for a thoroughly researched, health-guided opening of the SMU campus for the fall semester, should this be possible.

In our current fiscal year, we have identified a budget gap of more than $13 million, which includes the $7.7 million we are refunding or crediting to our students for interrupted spring semester charges for housing, dining and parking. We plan to deal with these current fiscal-year impacts through expense reductions directly related to services we are no longer offering, budget reserves, and hopefully some federal CARES funding.

The financial issues are likely to become more serious as we move toward FY 21. We are modelling several enrollment scenarios for the fall semester that assume in-person classes, online classes only, and a hybrid model including both. Each scenario comes with factors that cannot be fully quantified, but we will need to be prepared for more lost revenue at a time when we also have a significant increase in demand for need-based student financial aid. Obviously, these dramatic changes will call for difficult financial decisions.

Effective immediately, SMU will impose a hiring delay through at least December 2020 on open faculty and staff positions funded by unrestricted dollars, and will reduce expenses through attrition by not filling positions that become vacant during this period. SMU also will delay implementation of most new or increased budget items for the 2021 fiscal year that begins June 1.

Nevertheless, since it was approved in January, the University intends to support the 2% pool of funds used for increases in base salaries. These continuing and one-time raises for faculty and staff for FY 21 will still be awarded beginning June 1 for staff and August 1 for faculty. However, our deans, University vice presidents, the athletic director and I will not at this time receive any compensation adjustments for the next fiscal year.

To further meet financial challenges for the FY 21 budget, additional reductions will occur in:

  • Supply, expense and travel budgets;
  • Center and institute budgets;
  • Operating expenses for SMU Professional and Online Education.

If on-campus instruction, housing and public events are not permitted this fall, as a last resort, we also may need to consider furloughs of current operational and athletics staff and faculty. University reserves will be used for temporary relief, as possible, during this period of increased financial pressure, but as I am sure you understand, such one-time funds cannot fill recurring budget gaps with no definable end in sight.

We face difficult choices, but as I wrote earlier this month, our goal is to preserve, to the extent possible, the faculty and staff positions within our SMU community until we can return to full campus operations. Of course, we have to recognize that no institution, including SMU, can predict today the impact of this crisis on its future enrollments and resulting budget implications.

First and foremost, SMU must continue to protect the health and safety of the campus community. As we look to reopen the campus, I have asked Peter K. Moore, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, ad interim, and K.C. Mmeje, vice president for Student Affairs, to co-chair an oversight group, the SMU President’s Task Force for Healthy Opening Fall 2020. This group will develop a plan based on established protocols for a safe reopening of SMU in the fall, should that be possible. Sub-groups will be formed as well to facilitate a smooth transition to reopening. We’ll share more about this initiative later.

The positive, can-do spirit reflected in our faculty and staff will help us endure – and ultimately prevail – through these tough times. Thank you for the talent and dedication you bring to your work, much of which is now being accomplished from dining-room tables and home offices, with children and household demands competing for your attention. And here on our too-quiet campus, I salute those of you who are coming in to do the essential work to support online instruction and the tasks that keep us operating.

Please remember to take care of yourselves, both physically and emotionally. What we do as a University is important for the future of humanity. The work you do is valued, and our students depend on us to help them achieve their dreams ­– perhaps now more than ever, as they navigate this challenging time. We are grateful to have this opportunity at SMU in Dallas to work through this together.

I will share more information with you after the May 8 Board of Trustees meeting.

Gratefully,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

A message from R. Gerald Turner to alumni and friends

Dear Mustang Family:

The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting all of us – the way we learn, live, work and play. I wanted to update you on how we continue to approach this situation at SMU. 

First, we hope that you and your families remain safe and healthy. Our hearts go out to those who have been impacted by the virus. We extend our warmest wishes for a swift recovery to those who are sick. And we are inspired by the many SMU alumni on the front lines working tirelessly to care for others. 

Since our last update in March, we have extended online learning through June and postponed SMU’s spring Commencement to August 15. Now 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. Some have experienced loss of income and are having to consider if they are able to return to the Hilltop. And many of our recently admitted students are also having to re-examine 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.

Amid this disruptive environment, we find numerous examples of creative and generous ways our community is responding. Here are just a few:

 On a more personal note, I miss the vibrancy and energy of having our community together, so I dropped in on a few online classes this past week. We continue to engage and meet with our committees, volunteer groups and the Board of Trustees through video and audio conference calls.  

Thank you for your warm prayers and kind words of encouragement. Feel free to reach out to any of us if you have any questions or needs. We are a resource for you during this stressful time, and we will get through this challenge together. We are moving ahead with plans for the fall and look forward to welcoming back our alumni and friends to our beautiful campus. Until then, please stay safe and healthy. 

With deepest gratitude,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President 

SMU keeps going – volume 2

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:

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 news@smu.edu. And keep up the important work you do on a daily basis. 

Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner
President

Credit adjustments for housing, dining and parking

Dear student,

We miss you and the buzz of activity you bring to our beautiful campus. I hope you and your family are staying healthy and your studies are going well during this time. The resilience and flexibility you are showing during the COVID-19 pandemic reflect the strength and character of our student body. Thank you for your patience as we worked through a plan to resolve student expenses for the remainder of the spring semester.

SMU will offer credit adjustments for housing, dining and parking expenses in light of this extraordinary situation. The adjustments will vary by student, as charges are dependent upon individual room and board plans, financial aid packages, dining options and other variables. The credit applied to these expenses must take into consideration costs that the University incurs regardless of occupancy, such as year-round staff, utilities, building operations and maintenance. As a result, the credit will range from about 36% to 37.5% of the total semester’s charges for housing, meal plans and student parking.

All parking expenses will be calculated at the same rate regardless of whether a vehicle remained on campus beyond March 23 when all spring classes shifted online. However, students must arrange to move their vehicles from campus before May 18. For dining, the unused balance of any additional flex funds purchased during the spring semester will be included in the credit adjustments.

Credit Applied to Outstanding Balances

It’s important to understand that all credit adjustments will be applied first to outstanding balances on student accounts, including registration for May, summer or fall terms if already registered. For graduating seniors with no outstanding balances on student accounts, any credit balance will be automatically refunded.

As academic instruction is continuing, instructional costs such as tuition, lab or technology fees will not be credited to the student account. SMU’s online courses still reflect the same academic rigor and objectives as when they are delivered on campus. The effort and resources required are equivalent – and in some cases greater – than when the coursework is delivered in person. Other services covered by general student fees also remain available, including SMU libraries, and both telemedicine and in-person appointments at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center.

Given the number of students and the complexity of these plans, packages and options, please allow time for accounts to be individually reviewed to make sure they are accurate and reflect your financial situation. The Office of the University Bursar expects to post individual credit amounts by Tuesday, April 21. Any credit balance that remains after all unpaid charges are satisfied may be refunded based on federal, state and University guidelines. All refunds should be processed by May 15.

This is a difficult time, and we understand that financial issues are sensitive and deeply personal. With that in mind, this outcome was a collaboration between the staff and leadership of Student Affairs and Business and Finance to arrive at the credit adjustments in a fair and equitable manner. For those who may be struggling to cover unexpected costs in these unforeseen circumstances, we have an SMU Student Emergency Fund. Students may complete a Caring Community Connections (CCC) form and check “Economic Hardship” to apply for assistance.

For more information about the credit adjustments, please see the Bursar’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or contact SMU’s Enrollment Services at 214-768-3417. We look forward to the time when we can once again welcome you and your fellow Mustangs back to campus.

Sincerely,
University Bursar

SMU keeps going – volume 1

Dear SMU Community,

Thank you for your flexibility, patience and commitment to the mission of SMU during this time. This is the first of regular updates to help connect the SMU community in a time of social distancing. I hope everyone has seen the recent announcements: the postponement of Commencement ceremonies to August 15, a temporary spring grading policy and the decision to move May and June term classes online. These, and other changes are updated regularly on the COVID-19 website.

We can all be inspired by the creative and generous ways in which our community is responding to this challenging time. Here are just a few examples:

I have missed the vibrancy and energy of having our community together so I dropped in on a few online classes this past week. I look forward to welcoming everyone back soon.

If you have a story about the creative ways the SMU community is supporting the North Texas community, SMU students and colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic, please share with news@smu.edu. And keep up the wonderful work.

Sincerely,
R. Gerald Turner
SMU President


SMU May and June classes move online

Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff:

As the continuation of health and travel restrictions related to COVID-19 remains uncertain for the coming months, SMU has decided to move May and June term classes online. Enrollment for May and June classes for current SMU students opens Monday, April 13, and the priority enrollment deadline is Friday, April 24. 

The University has not yet decided how classes scheduled to start in July will be offered. Courses that start in July are currently listed in the Schedule of Classes as taking place on campus, but this is under review. Enrollment opens on April 13th for all summer courses including those that start in July. Students enrolling in a summer course that starts in July need to be aware that the delivery of the course may change. An announcement will be made later.

Many of the courses previously listed for May term at SMU-in-Taos will be offered online, while others that are site-dependent, such as “Photography in Taos,” will not.  None of the field school classes previously scheduled for June at SMU-in-Taos will be available. Students with questions about SMU-in Taos courses may contact Rumanda Young at rkyoung@smu.edu or Lashanda Phillips at lashandap@smu.edu.

More than fifty percent of our SMU students who graduate in four years take advantage of the Intersession courses offered during breaks between semesters and over the summer. We understand that the availability of these courses is key to timely progress toward your degree and hope you will take full advantage of what is being offered online. May and June courses can provide opportunities for students whose internships have been cancelled or shortened due to COVID-19, and it’s not too late for students to request specific May/summer courses through the SMU Intersession “Wish List” or the SMU-in-Taos “Wish List.”

Thank you for your patience as we continue to adapt to the changing health needs of our SMU community and neighbors.

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

SMU Alert: An important message regarding a COVID-19 case.

SMU Alert: COVID-19

April 2, 2020

SMU has been notified that an employee of the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center on the University campus has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was tested Tuesday, April 1, received the positive results today, April 2, and will self-isolate for the next two weeks.

The potential for contact between the affected employee and other people on campus is minimal as all teaching is occurring online and the University is operating with essential staff only. A limited number of students have physically visited the Health Center in the past 14 days, and the center’s medical director is reaching out to each of these students to inform them of what is perceived to be limited risk of exposure. The University will also contact any other employees, such as health center, custodial, and facilities staff as well as any vendors who may have been in the building during the last two weeks.

No student has tested positive for the coronavirus at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. Only three other health center employees worked in close proximity with the staff member who has tested positive. These three health center employees will self-monitor at their homes for the next two weeks. 

The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center is currently closed and will undergo a thorough, medical-grade disinfection over the next few days. Under advice of the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department, the health center will re-open after this deep cleaning on Monday, April 6, as usual.

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.)

Letter to Undergraduate Students on Spring 2020 Temporary Grading Policy

Dear SMU Undergraduate Students:

I hope you are adjusting to your studies online in response to efforts to keep our campus community as safe as possible during the COVID outbreak. We received many emails and calls from you requesting that we modify our grading policies because of this unusual semester. After carefully consulting with faculty, deans and records administration, we developed a Temporary Grading Policy for Spring 2020, which has been endorsed by the Faculty and Student Senates.

The policy is designed to provide flexibility for individual students’ circumstances and encourage you to finish your courses. Basically, the way it will work is professors will report letter grades as normal. Then, students will have the option to keep that grade or choose Satisfactory (S), Satisfactory Minus (S-) and No Credit (NC) based on the guidelines in the policy. Students may make this selection course-by-course after the letter grade is posted at the end of the term. Seniors must act promptly as the deadline will be quick – May 19, 2020, at 5:00 pm CST. This temporary grading policy should relieve anxiety and uncertainty about course grades and GPAs.

Please carefully review the policy specifics to learn more about the grade options and how these detailed scenarios may apply to you. I hope these accommodations will help you successfully navigate this challenging time.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Peter K. Moore
Provost and Vice President for
Academic Affairs ad interim

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.

Sincerely,

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
President

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.

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