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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Update about Summer Classes and Activities

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

It's been three weeks since we spent a full day on campus. I am surprised and pleased at the amount of work I am doing from home, seven days a week, and most of my days are filled with Zoom meetings. However, I miss face-to-face interactions with all of you.

At UMD we are much more than meetings, phone calls, and distant encounters, no matter how much work we accomplish through those formats. We are a large community made up of smaller, connected communities who care about each other and care for each other. So, here we all are, sheltered in our homes and other safe spaces as we try our best to keep our University work progressing while we deal with the awful threats of COVID-19. Our sense of caring has had to shift more from the UMD community to caring first for our loved ones and to taking care of ourselves. But the UMD community is still here, even though it has temporarily changed, and I look forward to being with you again as soon as possible.

We are in the final month of the spring semester, which even under normal circumstances is filled with a mix of deadlines, stresses, and accomplishments. Even though these April challenges are heightened this year given the current circumstances, I continue to be amazed and grateful for how our campus community has responded with flexibility, collaboration, and compassion. Thank you. 

As President Gabel mentioned in her message Monday, we are always looking ahead while we continue to address immediate needs related to COVID-19. I have a few UMD updates for you here as we look forward to summer. 

Summer Courses:
All summer undergraduate and graduate courses will be conducted through alternative instruction. Over the last few years, UMD has transitioned to offering most of our summer classes online, so this is not a significant change for us. Many students have already registered for summer classes knowing they would be offered online. We will use our normal A-F grading format, with pre-existing opportunities for students to select S/N grading. Information regarding your options and regulations can be found at OneStop.

Summer Orientation:
UMD’s Orientation Committee has done good, quick work to migrate our summer orientation and registration program for new students to an online format. This will include a multi-phase virtual program with webinars, online information sessions, small group advising and registration, and student leader one-on-one conversations and small group chats.  

Summer Activities:
We will continue to follow guidance from President Gabel based on input she receives from the Minnesota Department of Health and from Governor Walz. Given that things change quickly, for the time being we are not making blanket decisions to cancel, reschedule, or change the format of other summer activities. We will keep you informed if cancellations are made.

You can also find on-going COVID-19 information and resources at the following:
Please be safe and take care of yourselves as we work through this pandemic together.

Lendley C. Black

Important 2020 Census Information for Students

Dear Students,

While we are in the midst of taking extraordinary measures on our campus to protect UMD students, faculty, and staff from the spread of COVID-19, many critical national, state, and University activities continue, one of which is the decennial Census.

The Census determines funding levels for federal appropriations, and also determines Minnesota’s number of U.S. House seats and its electoral vote apportionment. For example, for each person who is uncounted in the Census, Minnesota could lose $28,000 in federal funding over the next ten years. With a poor turnout, Minnesota is at risk of losing one of its eight current congressional districts, meaning you could have less representation in Congress and in the presidential elections.

The Constitution requires a count of every person in the nation, regardless of immigration status, standing as an international student, or country of origin. Each house, apartment unit, and dwelling is required to submit one Census form.

Under federal law, information reported on the Census form is confidential. The Census Bureau is prohibited from releasing any identifiable information about you, your home, or your immigration status to anyone, including law enforcement agencies. The law protects your private data and ensures that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. By law, information about individuals cannot be released by the Census Bureau for 72 years.

How Do Students Ensure They Are Counted?
The Census collects information based on where individuals live on April 1. However, given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the address that applies when completing the 2020 Census is the address where you would have lived during this spring semester if COVID-19 hadn’t displaced you.

If your spring 2020 plan was to live off-campus with a parent, your parent should include you on their Census form. You do not need to complete a separate form. If you are living in that household only because of COVID-19, you should not be included on a parent’s Census form.

If your 2020 spring semester plan was to live in University housing, UMD will complete and submit Census information on your behalf. You do not need to complete the form. The Census Bureau made this change to capture the most accurate count possible for people living in group housing settings such as residence halls.

If your 2020 spring semester plan was to live off-campus, without a parent, in a rental unit or another arrangement off-campus, instructions are as follows:
  1. If you are still in your unit, check the mail for the postcard or letter from the Census Bureau with your 12-digit code, which should have arrived between March 12-27. If you are not there currently or haven’t received it, you can complete the Census online with a few additional steps to verify your address.
  2. Designate a single roommate to complete the Census here. Only one form per dwelling unit should be submitted.
  3. Each roommate should fill out a sample Census (pdf) and give the information to the person who is completing the actual Census form.
  4. Get your 12-digit code from your census mailing or just begin the process here. Use the information from each roommate’s sample Census to accurately complete the form.

Remember, student participation in the Census is very important and helps our University of Minnesota Duluth community as well as our city and state.

For more information, please review this Census information for University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff. We strongly encourage you to educate yourself on the Census process, complete your Census form, and be counted.


Lendley C. Black

Friday, April 3, 2020

Update from UMD: Comprehensive Student Fee Refund Plan

Good afternoon UMD families,

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents met today to discuss President Gabel’s Comprehensive Student Fee Refund Plan. You may view the captured video of the meeting. As a result of the meeting, President Gabel has issued the message included below to University of Minnesota Duluth students.

I wish you and your family members good health. We are in uncharted territory and I am pleased that our UMD community has found ways in which to stay connected, work through this time of transition, and remain positive. For example, members of our campus community submitted their words of encouragement into this heartwarming compilation video.

The UMD COVID website continues to provide UMD specific information. The University of Minnesota Safe Campus site continues to collect important systemwide messages and links to resources. You can also read more about the University’s widespread response to COVID-19. Questions may be directed to umdhelp@d.umn.edu.

Thank you for your continued support.

Lendley C. Black

Message from the Office of the President

April 3, 2020 —Sent Systemwide

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

At my direction, and with the support and approval of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents today, we have created the Comprehensive Student Fee Refund Plan. This systemwide program considers an extensive list of specific student expenses and fees, and outlines appropriate financial credit for these items in light of changes to University operations in response to the public health challenges of COVID-19.

Because individual credit amounts will vary depending on the campus, the services students access from the University, and the housing or meal plans that were purchased, students should read the following information carefully to estimate what their individual credit will be. Please know that receiving financial credit requires no action. The credit students are entitled to will be automatically placed in their student accounts in April.

The "Stay at Home" executive order, issued by Governor Tim Walz for the entire State of Minnesota, went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 27. March 28 was the first date that all Minnesotans were required to stay at home. In other words, no one was allowed to return to campus; only those already living on-site or those who were designated as essential on-campus employees were allowed on campus. Based on this change in circumstances, all credits for on-campus housing and access to other University services are calculated using March 28 as the first full day that most students could no longer use many on-campus services.

The situation we find ourselves in because of COVID-19 is challenging for all of us and constantly evolving. The difficult, real-time decisions my leadership team and I have been forced to make are decisions none of us ever anticipated. We know these decisions affect many lives across our University family. We will continue to carefully consider every decision we make and if we can improve upon it, or make it stronger for our students, we will do so. We hope this comprehensive approach helps to address questions many of you have raised directly to me and to other leaders at the University.

The Comprehensive Student Fee Refund Plan includes:
  • Housing and Residential Life: Students who have a spring semester contract for any Housing and Residential Life service (housing, dining plans, and flex-dine/dining dollars), on any campus, will receive a 100% credit of their housing and dining fees from March 28 to the end date of their contract. This credit does not apply if students have remained on campus and are currently a resident of a University-managed residence hall or apartment.
  • Voluntary Meal Plan: For students with block, standard 11-meal, 14-meal, or Anytime voluntary meal plans, they will receive a 100% credit of their dining plans from March 28 through the end of the spring semester.  
  • Parking fee: For students who have paid for parking on the Crookston, Duluth, Morris, or Twin Cities campuses, they will receive 100% of their parking fee credited from March 28 to the end of their semester contract. Rochester has no University-owned parking.
  • Recreation and Wellness fee: For the Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Twin Cities campuses, students will receive 100% credit of the recreation and wellness fee from March 28 through the last day of finals in May. Students on the Rochester campus will not be charged for April and May fees from the Rochester YMCA since the YMCA will, in turn, not be billing the University of Minnesota Rochester for this time period.
  • Student Services fee: Students will receive 50% credit for the student services fee from March 28 through the last day of finals in May.
  • Transportation and Safety: For the Duluth and Twin Cities campuses, students will receive 100% credit of the transportation and safety fee from March 28 through the last day of finals in May. Crookston, Morris, and Rochester campuses do not charge this fee.

What to Expect Next

We will credit all accounts within one month. This will happen automatically and requires no action. This period will allow us to calculate credit amounts and ensure that all credits are compliant with financial aid rules based on Department of Education guidance. If students have not received their credit by the end of April, please contact the One Stop Student Services or business offices on your campus. Students who have a remaining balance will see these credits offset remaining charges. Any excess credit will be applied to current student accounts, and if there are no charges owed, will be refunded to students in a credit balance refund either via direct deposit or check.

Please note that financial credits associated with study abroad/study away programs are in process and will be issued on an ongoing basis. Students will receive a separate communication once credits for these programs are finalized. Please contact the One Stop or business office on your campus with questions.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Your success has never been more important to all of our University’s leaders, including me. We stand behind all of you through this uncertain time and in support of your continued academic and other successes.

Join Our Upcoming Town Hall Meeting

Lastly, I hope you will join me for a systemwide COVID-19 Town Hall, reviewing our response and some of the innovative and exciting research underway at the University to combat this public health emergency. Join me at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7. A link to access the Town Hall will be available on Monday. In the meantime, faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to submit questions in advance using this form and your University login.

With warmest wishes,

Joan Gabel

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Rescheduled: Systemwide Strategic Plan Town Hall

UPDATE: The Systemwide Strategic Plan Town Hall has been rescheduled from April 3 to Monday, April 20, 1-2 p.m. Registration is not affected by the new date; all previously submitted registrations and questions remain.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Please join me, President Gabel, and other senior leaders from across the system on Monday, April 20, for a Zoom Systemwide Strategic Plan Town Hall.
  • Systemwide Strategic Plan Town Hall, Monday, April 20, 1-2 p.m.
  • Please complete this Zoom webinar registration if you are able to attend
  • You may submit questions beforehand
  • Participants will also be able to submit live questions to a moderator during the meeting
  • Learn more about the Systemwide Strategic Plan Commitments and Goals for Friday’s meeting, leadership is specifically interested in action items from participants as a next step in the conversation

While recognizing that we are currently in uncharted territory with the Coronavirus, we still need to move forward with this important strategic initiative. I hope you are able to join the Zoom video meeting as your schedule allows. 

Lendley C. Black

Happy 125th Birthday, UMD!

Good morning Bulldogs,
One hundred and twenty five years ago today, the State Normal School at Duluth was created with a signature by Minnesota Governor David M. Clough, approving the vote of the Minnesota State Legislature. I am grateful to our former legislative leaders across the state who knew that a higher education investment in Duluth would prove beneficial for decades to come. 
Our plan was to have a fun celebration on campus today to mark this momentous occasion, but given the current social distancing requirements, we will celebrate our "half birthday" on Friday, October 2, 2020 instead. I hope you can join us.
In the meantime, you can test your historical UMD knowledge and find more photos, stories, and history on the UMD 125th website

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Systemwide Strategic Plan Town Hall; Friday, April 3 at 1 p.m.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Please join me, President Gabel, and other senior leaders from across the system on Friday, April 3, for a Zoom Systemwide Strategic Plan Town Hall.
  • Systemwide Strategic Plan Town Hall, Friday, April 3, 1-2 p.m.
  • Please complete this Zoom webinar registration if you are able to attend
  • You may submit questions beforehand
  • Participants will also be able to submit live questions to a moderator during the meeting
  • Learn more about the Systemwide Strategic Plan Commitments and Goals for Friday’s meeting, leadership is specifically interested in action items from participants as a next step in the conversation

While recognizing that we are currently in uncharted territory with the Coronavirus, we still need to move forward with this important strategic initiative. I hope you are able to join the Zoom video meeting as your schedule allows. 

Lendley C. Black

Friday, March 27, 2020

UMD COVID-19 Updates and Resources

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I am proud of how our campus community has pulled together and remained helpful in a critical time of need. For example, donations to healthcare facilities include donated swabs and N-95 masks from Health Services and gloves from our athletic trainers, scientific labs, and Communication Sciences & Disorders Department. Our faculty are using their research and expertise to assist with coronavirus responses and self-isolation support, and many other encouraging actions from our campus community. Watch this video to see some familiar faces and hear words of encouragement from our campus community

In other good news, UMD has surpassed our capital campaign fundraising goal. You may recall that our public goal was $120 million and we just reached $141.8 million. The goal was reached with many gifts from generous donors. One exceptional estate gift will go to support student scholarships. As with all estate gifts, we hope it is many, many years until this gift is fulfilled but knowing that an alum is willing to commit such an extraordinary future gift to their alma mater is something to celebrate. We anticipate a very different fundraising landscape over the rest of the campaign, which makes exceeding the goal early even more important. The campaign lasts until June 30, 2021.

Access to Campus - Extended Reduced Operations
As a reminder, UMD has implemented “extended reduced operations” until further notice. Campus and all other UMD facilities are closed to our campus community and the public. You should not be on campus unless you are one of the very limited faculty and staff who are officially designated as an “essential employee” and informed by your supervisor to be at work on site. If you are not one of these people, please do not return to campus during this time. It adds an extra burden and risk to the essential employees who need to be there to help support basic operations and for the remaining students still living on campus. With the exception of essential employees still working on campus, at this point you should all plan to work remotely until the end of the semester. I will keep you updated if and when the situation changes and we need to make adjustments.  

Student Information:
Vice Chancellor Lisa Erwin sent out a message to students last week with a useful Q&A that may help in your conversations with students. Today we sent a follow-up email to students with additional resources and information about supporting student wellbeing. Our staff in Housing and Residence Life, Dining Services, Health Services, and Facilities Management have done incredible work to ensure a smooth move-out and to develop a plan for providing care for our students who are living on campus. 

The other major student update is that undergraduate and graduate students are able to select a Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory grading option in their courses instead of the traditional A-F format if desired. This is an important decision and students are being encouraged to talk to their faculty and advisors for guidance before they decide. The due date for them to select S/N grading is April 30.

Faculty and staff will be provided information on the UMD Registrar Resources page. It will include all of the information provided to students and also include what we intend to be helpful considerations or perspectives for all staff and faculty who are providing instruction, advising, and general guidance to students. Registrar Carla Boyd will send out additional specifics when that information is ready and available for the community to begin using.

For your students who are adjusting to this new temporary reality, you can share a great reference on how to successfully adjust study habits during COVID-19. UMD Stores works with several publishers who are offering many free digital materials for students, learn more on the UMD Stores COVID-19 website.

  • Student computing: ITSS has been working with departments to leverage free software licensing from vendors, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Mathematica, and others.
  • Internet access off campus: review this list of Internet Service Providers. Individuals who have exhausted Internet and cellular solutions and still need access should contact the ITSS Help Desk. ITSS has installed outdoor wireless for drive-up use in Pay Lot G by Civil Engineering and Lot B by HCAMS.
  • We anticipate phishing and other types of malicious scams during this crisis and caution you to avoid clicking on links or responding to emails before confirming they are from trusted sources. Learn about defending against COVID-19 cyber scams.
  • For technology support, contact the Help Desk: call 218-726-8847 or email itsshelp@d.umn.edu.

Operational Updates:
We are looking ahead to summer to identify activities and programs that may be affected if this situation goes beyond the semester. Most of our summer courses are already online, which is useful for our academic persistence. 

Given the uncertainty in the construction job market, supply chains, and costs, we determined that it is best to postpone our Residence Hall and Dining Hall projects that were scheduled to start this spring. The projects are slated to be designed and a new timeline developed for construction.

The Office of Human Resources has implemented a hiring pause for all positions, meaning that any job postings or employment offers must be approved by campus leadership before proceeding. Approval will be limited to those positions that are essential and critical to maintain operations.

While the financial impact of this situation cannot be completely understood yet, we are working to track expenses and lost revenues. It is important to recognize that this impact will be substantial to the University System. We will work closely with our System partners to maintain the financial well being of our campus and continue to move forward. 

Other on-going COVID-19 information and resources:

Thank you all for your continued support and patience as UMD, like the rest of the world, works through this time of transition.
Lendley C. Black