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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Updates from Chancellor Black

 Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we progress through the third week of the semester, I appreciate the new ways in which you are working and connecting. I am grateful for your continued commitment to safety and quality as we work through the Maroon and Gold Sunrise plan.

Last week and throughout the weekend residential students moved into the residence halls. Take a few minutes to watch this move-in video to see and hear from our new students.

On Tuesday, we held our annual Faculty & Staff Welcome event in a new virtual format. If you were not able to attend, you can view a recording of the event online. Along with addressing the questions submitted by members of the campus community, my remarks include gratitude for all of the hard work you have all put in to get us to this point, an overview of COVID-19 health and safety measures, a continued emphasis and commitment to Goal 2 and our diversity and inclusion action items, a budget and enrollment update, and sharing just a sampling of accomplishments from the last year. We have so much to be proud of.

While we are still at the start of the Fall semester, I will note that we have continued conversations and preparations for Spring semester. At this point, we are planning to begin instruction as currently scheduled on January 13 and faculty are working on their instructional modality plans. We are planning to use the same four instructional modality options in use this semester. There are systemwide discussions about whether or not to have a spring break next semester. We anticipate that each campus will make its own decision, and I will keep you informed if there is any change in our spring break schedule.

As always, please continue to watch the Safe Campus COVID website for updates and information. The faculty and staff page has tools and resources to help you navigate questions about face coverings, testing, and other pandemic related matters.

Thank you and stay well.


Lendley C. Black

Monday, September 14, 2020

Reminder: Chancellor's Welcome for All Staff and Faculty, Tuesday, September 15, 2020

 Dear Faculty and Staff,

This is a reminder to please join me virtually tomorrow for our annual faculty and staff welcome.

Tuesday, September 15
3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The Zoom link can be found here. We will also post the recording on the website afterwards.
Thank you,

Lendley C. Black

NOTE: if you would like to view the ASL Interpreters, there is a dedicated site at z.umn.edu/interpreterview. It will require a second device.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

New Date: Chancellor's Welcome for All Staff and Faculty, Tuesday, September 15, 2020

 Dear Faculty and Staff,

Please save the new date to join me virtually on Tuesday, September 15 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. for our annual faculty and staff welcome. The timing will conflict with some classes, but please tune in when you can. We'll also post the recording here afterwards.

If you have any new or unanswered questions, please submit those on this Google form by noon on Friday, September 11.
Thank you and stay well.

Lendley C. Black

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

News from UMD and this month’s Bulldog Update

 Dear Bulldog parents and family members -

As you may already have heard, Chancellor Black announced UMD’s Maroon and Gold Sunrise plan today. This plan adds to existing Fall 2020 plans and specifically addresses how we will welcome undergraduate students back to our residence halls. It also includes a September 14 return to face-to-face and blended instruction, in addition to the online and remote teaching currently in place.

UMD Housing and Residence Life will be following up very soon with students who live on campus, providing information about move-in and other logistics. Our UMD Safe Campus website will continue to be updated, so please be sure to bookmark this site and check it if you have questions.

Here are your updates with regard to the Bulldog Update: Parent and Family Edition.

If you have an idea for a future article for the newsletter, please submit it to vcsl@d.umn.edu. We received one idea for an article that we’re lining up for our October edition!

Wishing you and your family good health and success for your Bulldog this fall!


Lisa Ann Erwin, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Student Life
  and Dean of Students
University of Minnesota Duluth
(218) 726-8501

Update: Resuming Move-in and Instruction Delivery Modes

 Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

With approval from our Board of Regents, along with University of Minnesota System leadership, on August 24 we made the decision to delay the start of most in-person classes and student residence hall move-in for at least two weeks. Taking a brief pause to learn from the challenges other universities around the country were experiencing as students returned to their campuses, allowed the University to adjust its approach in combating the virus. This was essential to providing a higher level of safety for our students, faculty, and staff.

Today, we have a way forward that allows us to adapt the extensive plans that have been developed over the summer, and offers a return to on-campus life that prioritizes your health and safety while best positioning all of us to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Maroon and Gold Sunrise plan adds a layer to existing plans for Fall 2020, and specifically addresses how we will welcome undergraduate students back to our residence halls. It also includes a September 14 return to face-to-face and blended instruction, in addition to the online and remote teaching we are currently using.

The Maroon and Gold Sunrise plan requires everyone’s participation if we are to be successful. In particular, the undergraduate students who live in on-campus and near-campus housing all have an enormous role to play. Watch this video with students and Champ to see health and safety measures around campus. It won’t be easy, and it won’t look anything like a traditional fall on our campus, but I believe if we all commit to this plan, commit to our health precautions, and fully utilize the MTest plan, we can continue with on-campus courses, active residence halls, and certain other activities this semester.

The plan has four steps, each with different expectations. Below is an overview; the full Maroon and Gold Sunrise plan has more detailed information about each phase.
  • Step 1: Stay in assigned housing for ten days, with limited exceptions.
    • Students remain in residence halls for ten days after arrival except to attend classes; use dining facilities, campus health services, library, recreation and wellness facilities; or to shop for necessities. They may also be outdoors if following physical distancing guidelines.
    • Students may be granted exceptions for medical or mental health appointments or family emergencies.
    • Students may report to on- or off-campus work shifts.
  • Step 2: Increased access to campus and the surrounding community, with 10 p.m. return to residence halls.
    • For two weeks, students who have completed Step One will have greater campus access. In addition to the locations allowed under step one, students can also visit Kirby Student Center, other on-campus locations, and the surrounding community.
  • Step 3: Full access to campus and the surrounding community, with a midnight return to residence halls.
    • Students have full access to University facilities and surrounding communities in accordance with existing University, city, or state COVID restrictions.
    • We expect Step Three to last approximately two weeks.
  • Step 4: COVID normal operations, during which students will continue having full access to campus and the surrounding community with all appropriate health and safety protocols, but no longer have any limits on when residents must return to their rooms on any given day. Reverting back to a previous step could be required if warranted by public health conditions on or around campus.
For students living off-campus who may be taking in-person courses and visiting campus facilities, please limit your on-campus interactions if possible. We encourage you to continue to be safe, wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing from those not in your household, and to get tested if you have COVID symptoms or are instructed to seek testing by a public health or medical official. The MTest program is available to all students regardless of where you live, so please utilize it should you feel sick.

We will also be sharing our plans with officials, business owners, and landlords in the neighborhoods and cities where our campuses are located, to ensure they are aware of our plans and to request their help to promote a successful semester.

Students, I know this is a lot to ask, especially of the many of you who will be experiencing campus life for the first time. It will be a challenge, and I want you to know I have such confidence in each of you. Your choices and judgement at each step will play a critical role in allowing us to progress to the final phase, and your work to keep yourself and others safe and healthy will pay off in the opportunity for all students to remain on campus, rather than reverting to distance learning as we did in the spring.

I send you this message with the full conviction that together we can do this and do it well. We will show our communities, our state, and the country that the University of Minnesota continues to be a leader in COVID-19 research and clinical care, as well as a model for a blended approach to teaching this semester.

Thank you all for your commitment to a healthy and safe semester. In addition to the plan linked above, remember to visit the UMD COVID Safe Campus website and watch for additional information to be sent this week specific to your living or learning plans.


Lendley C. Black

Friday, August 28, 2020

Fall Semester Update, UMD Sunrise Plans, COVID Dashboard

 Dear Faculty and Staff,

A few updates for you as we round out yet another busy week. 

Fall 2020

We have been actively monitoring peer institutions around the country as they have moved students to campus and begun fall semester classes in recent weeks. We have watched as many schools have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, and we are closely reviewing their response, in conjunction with our local data to make our decisions with better information. With full appreciation for the extra work our two-week delay caused and the uncertainty it created, it is incredibly helpful for us to see actual data rather than projections as we finalize our own Fall 2020 plan and stay focused on the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff.

As was noted in the Board of Regents discussion last Monday, we hope to have clarity on our plan for moving forward around September 4.

Sunrise Plans and Working From Home

On Wednesday, August 26, University of Minnesota System Interim Vice President for Human Resources Ken Horstman, sent all of us a communication with updates regarding the System’s Sunrise Plans. There have been questions from UMD faculty and staff about how this communication impacts the Sunrise Plans we already have in place at UMD. The UMD Sunrise Plans that have been approved remain in effect.

Mr. Horstman indicates the Governors' executive orders directing Minnesotans to work from home if able to do so remain in place. While the State and the University have allowed a number of individuals to return to the workplace when needed, UMD employees who can work from home should continue working from home unless your UMD unit’s Sunrise Plan requires you to work on campus. If you are working on campus through an approved Sunrise Plan, you should continue to do so. Please visit with your supervisor if you have questions or concerns about that plan or about working on campus. 

COVID-19 Campus Dashboards

Earlier today all five campuses published the first iteration of an online COVID-19 dashboard (UMD's COVID dashboard). As we collect more data in the weeks ahead, you will see enhancements that will help illustrate trend lines, as well as other information that will provide some perspective on our student community. 

There are significant limitations to these data. For the Duluth campus, our data are limited to what is collected at UMD Health Services, just one of more than 250 testing sites around the state. Due to federal patient privacy laws (HIPAA), the University does not know the test results for Duluth students, faculty, or staff that seek testing at any other facility. Testing data for these other testing sites are reported to the Minnesota Department of Health and would appear in the county data on the MDH COVID page

Thank you for your patience and dedication to UMD. I particularly appreciate all the work done to prepare for the fall semester, while balancing shifting plans and homelife. Working from home can have advantages, but many of us miss seeing each other in person, interacting with our students and colleagues, enjoying a laugh, and supporting each other in ways that are difficult to do from a distance. I am hopeful those days will come again soon.


Lendley C. Black

Monday, August 24, 2020

Fall Semester Starting Online; Move-in Delayed

 Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The Board of Regents met this morning and approved University of Minnesota System President Joan Gabel’s proposed adjustments to the fall semester. As I mentioned in my message to you on Friday, this is a difficult decision and a decision made with the health and safety of our campus community at the forefront. 

With the Board of Regents approval today of President Gabel’s recommendation:
  • We will start the semester as scheduled on August 31, but primarily through online and remote instruction. 
  • We will follow the University of Minnesota plan and pause move-in for our residential students for at least two weeks.
With support from the University of Minnesota System public health experts, we are constantly monitoring the data, following public health guidance, and watching what is happening in our communities and at other institutions of higher education across the country. I know that you have many questions. Campus leadership is working diligently to address them and communicate answers as they become available.

I am very thankful to the faculty and staff who have prepared for fall and continue to adapt to this changing environment. I am also thankful for a very engaged UMD community. I have heard from many of you, and I appreciate your comments and passion for our campus. While I can’t predict what the future holds, I do promise that we will do all we can to examine the scenarios in front of us, keep you informed, and find the best way forward.


Lendley C. Black