– [Woman] As tigers, we’re all part of something greater than ourselves.
– [Man] It’s what makes this community so amazing but especially right now.
– [Woman] And though things are different for the moment, though, we’re apart, we’re never divided.
– [Man] Because some things will always unite us, like 180 years of tradition.
– [Woman] And our core values of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence.
– [Man] We’re finding new ways to collaborate with each other.
– [Woman] We’re bringing our classrooms to your living room.
– [Man] And extending the support of our community to you wherever you are.
– [Woman] Together we can achieve anything from anywhere.
– [Man] And in the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to accomplish incredible things.
– [Woman] Because wherever our people are.
– [Man] That’s where Mizzou is.
– [Woman] We’re a family and we are strong.
– [Man] We are united.
– [Woman] We are the University of Missouri.
– Welcome everyone, I want to thank you all for joining us today. This is the third town hall in a series being held by University leaders to answer your questions during this unprecedented time. I’m Emily Spain, your moderator, and a very proud MU alum myself and an evening anchor for KOMU 8. So here’s how the town hall will work this afternoon. We’ve had already 500 questions submitted across all of our town halls, and we will continue to take additional questions this afternoon. To submit those questions, head over to chancellor.missouri.edu. Again, that’s chancellor.missouri.edu, and click on virtual town halls, and we have a team of folks who are collecting those questions there. And of course I will read those questions and direct them to a specific panelists that will give you those answers. After the town halls, if you missed anything, we will provide additional information. Any questions we didn’t get to as well as a recording of this town hall that you can access later online. Before we get started we have a few words here now from President and Interim Chancellor, Mun Choi.
– Emily, thank you, and many thanks to all of you for joining us today, and I hope that you’re in good health. As you know, the last few weeks have been very challenging for many of us. And like many of you, we are also feeling anxious about the future. But I also know that we can influence our future by being proactive. Many parents who are my age may remember some of the dark times like the Oil Embargo to the Great Recession and everything in between. It took a lot of hard work, but we all endured and survived. In the same way we’re going to get through this pandemic. What we need to do now more than ever is to support each other, to be understanding, to be resilient, and to stay positive. Throughout all of this, and through the crisis ahead, we will evolve, and our perspectives will change. University will also be different in many ways, including the way that we teach, learn, and engage, but what’s not going to change is our commitment to student success. And that success begins with the safety and wellbeing of our students. We’re excited for our students to return in the fall, and with caution we expect the traditions at Mizzou to resume in full bloom. My favorite event of the year is commencement. In addition to the virtual celebration in May, we will have a special in-person commencement when it’s safe to come back to campus. The graduating students deserve that recognition and celebration for their hard work. So in closing, we have a number of challenges to address in the next few months. It won’t be easy, but throughout this process, we will be direct, transparent, accountable, and inclusive. So thank you. Thank you once again for joining us. We wish you good health and we are fortunate to have you as lifelong tigers. Now I’ll turn it over to our Provost, Dr. Ramchand.
– Thank you, President and Chancellor Choi, and thank you to all our parents, our students, our faculty, and staff who are participating in this. You know, it’s been more than a month since we started down this uncharted path. We brought home all our students who were on study abroad trips, we moved courses online, we moved students out of res halls, we facilitated social distancing. Social distancing, a term we had never used before, and we are very fortunate that everyone participated, everyone helped, and everyone of you rose to the occasion. Students, I want to thank you for the resilience you have shown during this transition. I know it’s been extremely challenging, learning, taking exams, turning in quizzes, reports, perhaps you’re back home or perhaps you’re elsewhere where you are dealing with unstable internet connection or maybe you have siblings who all want access to your laptop, or other such issues. But you’re doing it and you’re doing it showing tremendous courage and resilience, and for that we salute you. Parents we applaud you for everything you’ve done and that you’re doing, and most importantly we are so grateful, we are so grateful and honored for the trust that you have placed in us. We don’t take that trust lightly, we really don’t. We take the education, the wellbeing, the safety of your sons and daughters very seriously. It is for this reason that our effort, our guiding principle in the last month and going forward has been to ensure the health, safety, and success of your son or daughter, or both. Thanks to a truly dedicated team of staff and faculty, we’ve made several changes to the way we do things around here, and the keywords have been flexibility and understanding, flexibility and understanding. Let’s make sure we understand that students are dealing with a whole set of issues that they have never dealt with before. We are grading things differently, assessments, summer programming, commencement, all of these things are changing and changing in rapid succession. And we’re looking ahead to the fall. As the chancellor mentioned we are moving forward with plans to return to campus in the fall. We know you’re eager to be back on campus, and we are, too. The streets, the columns in front of Jesse Hall never looked more attractive. At the same time, we must be careful and we must prepare and plan and that’s what we’re doing as we speak. Whether it’s classes, whether it’s face-to-face, online, whether it’s the combinations, the res halls, the dining areas, cleaning, scrubbing, deep cleaning, we’re looking at every aspect of what we do to make sure that the campus is ready for your return. Personally, being a parent myself, I have always believed that in higher ed, we don’t just admit students, we adopt them, we really do, and this transition has shown us that we need to consider the holistic and complete learning experience of a student, and it is critical that we consider the wellbeing, the health, the safety, and success of every one of our students, and that’s what we are doing. We want to thank you for all you’re doing to support us, and I hope to see you soon. And with that, I’m gonna turn it over to someone who deals with student affairs very closely, our Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Bill Stackman.
– Thank you, Provost Ramchand, and thank you President and Chancellor Choi, for giving me this opportunity to be with you this afternoon. I also want to thank our student leaders who have joined us, Al, Kierra, and Jen. Before I go forward with my remarks, I also want to acknowledge our amazing students, our student leaders, our student organizations, our students who have really stepped up to this remarkable challenge and demonstrated their resiliency, their passion, their courage, and their care for this university and for our Columbia community. So thank you so much. And while the list is long I could go and be here for all afternoon to acknowledge the efforts that I have seen, but I just want to show a few, to give you an example of what has happened over the past four and five weeks. Tiger Pantry, our student-run pantry, has provided food during this food insecurity time to also provide support to the Columbia community as well as our faculty, staff, and students. Our campus activity board has gone virtual and is providing opportunities for our students to engage and connect with each other and our Involvement Ambassadors have also done the same thing. We know that students are feeling isolated, they feel lonely at times, and they are finding ways to make a connection, a meaningful connection with this community. During the past year I have reached out to family and parents and students via a number of social media emails, Twitter, and I’ve done a lot of that during the past two months, and I specifically have asked you to contact me with any of your concerns, questions, suggestions. And I have heard you. I have heard you, my staff has heard you, and we have responded the best that we can. One of the things that I have heard loud and clear, is the issue and concern around mental health, emotional wellbeing, and safety. And I want to remind everybody that our Counseling Center and Student Health Services is remote. We are online to all students. We are providing a number of services. Our Wellness Resource Center is also providing tools for helping students manage their sleep, their anxiety, their depression, mindfulness, and meditation. We have care consultants. We have three of them who are trained in the area of mental health. They are not counselors, but they are prepared to troubleshoot, offer referral support. They’re located in the Dean of Students Office, and they are also outreaching and supporting students. We also have a student committee that we formed in the fall with staff, focusing on mental health and emotional wellbeing. We have a meeting on Friday, and I can say that in addition to focusing on the present, we are already beginning to focus on opening up. What will our students be needing? What kind of services will we need to be prepared for when they return? And then lastly, I also want to mention our Disability Center who is there to provide support for students with disabilities during this time, during all year, but we know right now there are special needs, and they are making adjustments to provide support to them. And as we move forward and as we look forward to your return and to having an exciting campus in the fall, I want you to know that our priority for the Division of Student Affairs, is the health, safety, and emotional wellbeing of our students. Thank you.
– Okay, thanks, Bill. I’d now like to introduce the Missouri Student Association President, Jennifer Sutterer, to make some remarks.
– Thank you, Emily. Good afternoon everyone. My name is Jennifer Sutterer, and I was the President of the Missouri Students Association for the 2019 to 2020 academic year. The Missouri Students Association, or MSA, is the undergraduate student government here at Mizzou. This is an extremely difficult time for all of us, and I know that there are many questions and concerns, which I hope we can help address today. We have also created a form on Engage called the Student Questions and Concerns Form, and it can be found under the Missouri Students Association page. If you have any questions or concerns that are not answered today, please fill out the form and MSA will follow up and email you when we have an answer. Thank you and I would like to introduce the new MSA President Anthony Tretter.
– Thank you, Jen, and good evening everyone. My name is Anthony Tretter, and I am the current Student Body President of MSA. Over the past couple weeks we’ve been working on a number of different changes, and we’ve been working with Mizzou Administration and Faculty Council on things like partial refunds for students and the implementation of the satisfactory, unsatisfactory grading changes. Please know that myself and MSA has been and will be advocating for student interests and will continue to be there for you and support you. I look forward to you all being today during this difficult and unprecedented time and look forward to our discussion today. Thank you.
– Jennifer and Anthony, thank you so much. Next we’d like to introduce the Graduate Professional Council President, Al Willsey.
– Thank you, hello everyone. My name is Al Willsey, I’m a fifth year PhD candidate in Philosophy. This is actually my ninth year at the University of Missouri. I went to undergrad here as well. This is actually my second term as the President of the Graduate Professional Student Government, GPC. GPC is working together with the University of Missouri to advocate for graduate and professional students in this time. Graduate and professional students are being hit both by student concerns and the concerns that some faculty and staff might be feeling. Here are some examples. Teaching assistants who do their own research and or have classes face the difficulty of moving to online education from both the student point of view and the instructor point of view. Research assistants feel the struggle of doing their research online in much the same way that their mentors do right now. And that research is vital to their career success. Students employed in the university feel the demands of their staff roles as well as their student role. I can’t imagine what graduating doctoral and master students are feeling right now in this job market. Know that GPC is doing all that we can to keep advocating for and supporting our graduate and professional students in this trying time. And I want to thank all of you for your continued commitment to Mizzou and our undergraduates.
– Okay, thanks, Al. Finally, we have speaking now the Legion of Black Collegians President, Kierra Jones.
– Hi, thank you so much. Again, my name is Kierra Jones, and I serve as the President of Legion of Black Collegians. I am also a graduating senior. Within this past month our nation has suffered tragic loss. We, the Legion of Black Collegians, extend our hearts out and thoughts to the families and victims of all the survivors of each of the COVID-19 case as well as our constituents, administrators, faculty, staff, and community members. We also recognize that given the constant evolution of the COVID-19 situation, this is an unprecedented time, a time for many that are filled with uncertainty. We hope that everyone is taking the necessary steps to protect yourselves and your families in this crisis. The Legion has always been steadfast in our dedication to support and uplift the lives and experiences of our black, marginalized students at Mizzou. This year we have worked diligently on multiple platforms such as addressing food insecurity, increasing mental and emotional wellbeing resources, developing more campus-wide cultural competency initiatives and hiring and retention of underrepresented faculty and staff and fostering a more inclusive and positive environment for all students at Mizzou. These are areas that were in our focus as we work to support and serve our needs of our constituents. As the Legion we hold events and senate meetings to inform our students on social and political issues within the Mizzou, local, and national communities. These also allow our student an opportunity to voice any concerns so there is a collective plan to promote positive change across campus. During these times we understand that black and brown communities have been largely impacted by COVID-19. Because of this, our goals have never been more prominent in continuing to support and advance these communities. We are committed to staying connected to each other and prioritizing our voices and stories. The Legion’s executive cabinet and advisors, Gaines Oldham Black Culture Center staff, and all of our constituents have been a great source of resilience and hope from which we will continue to pull strength from. It is the Legion’s desire to share our students’ stories, experiences, and concerns so that we may communicate with administration. This information will be taken into consideration for more informed decisions to be made on behalf of the community, Mizzou community. Finally to all of our constituents we serve at the University of Missouri Columbia, please stay focused, flexible, and hopeful, even during these certain times, the Legion of Black Collegians will continue to uphold its mission to work to eradicate ignorance, promote positive change through education, motivation, and advocacy. Please continue to stay safe, healthy, with much love, the Legion of Black Collegians. Thank you.
– Kierra, thank you so much. I now would like to introduce our panelists for this town hall. We have Beth Chancellor, the Interim MU Chief Information Officer and Interim UM Vice President of Information and Technology; NaTashua Davis, the Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity; Matthew Gunkel, the UM System Chief eLearning Officer; Jeni Hart, the Graduate School Dean and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies; Kim Humphrey, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management; Jim Spain, Vice Provost for Undergraduates Studies, and also, yes, he is related to me, and he is my dad, hi dad. Bill Stackman, Vice Provost for Student Affairs; and Christian Basi, Director of Media Relations. I want to quickly remind you that if you do have questions, be sure to go to chancellor.missouri.edu and click on the virtual town hall where you can submit those, and we have a group of folks keeping an eye on those, live, during this town hall. Let’s dive in with our first question. This is actually something we’ve been getting a lot of questions about, and we’ve addressed in previous town halls that you can also view at that website I just read off to you, but these are questions about residency. So we’re gonna direct this first question now to Kim Humphrey about giving us more information about how Mizzou is handling residency right now and can you give us details on what students and families should be doing right now to establish residency during all of this?
– We understand that this is a big concern for students from out of state who were planning to become Missouri residents this fall. The safety of our students is of the utmost importance. We don’t want anyone to move back to Columbia solely for the sake of meeting residency requirements. So this year we will be awarding provisional residency for students who are not able to meet the full requirements due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Provisional residency will be granted to students who are not claimed as dependents on their parent’s or guardian’s 2019 income taxes and fulfill at least one other residency requirement. They are not expected to earn $2,000 in income or live in Missouri this summer. They will pay in-state fees for the 2021 academic year and can apply again next year to obtain full residency. Go to registrar.missouri.edu/residency to find Mondays video and to get more details.
– Okay, thanks Kim, and you kind of broke up there at the end, so I’m gonna re-read that address that she just gave out. It’s registrar.missouri.edu/residency. And that has more information for you. Now for our second question. This is for Jim from a staff member. What is Mizzou doing to support graduating seniors in this bleak job market outlook?
– Thanks, Emily. So as President Choi mentioned as we started this afternoon, student success is at the core of what we do each and every day at MU. And part of that success is earning a world class degree, gaining experience that add value to that, have a safe experience, and get secure after graduation a meaningful start to your career. Over the last three years we’ve had over 90% successful career outcomes. As Provost Ramchand said, that’s our effort to really honor the trust that families have placed in us as an institution. So this is what we’re currently doing. First our career centers are actively involved in continuing to support students who are searching for that career opportunity once they graduate. We have the MU Career Center, which has pivoted and now provides all of the materials that students need in an online format and they continue to be available through virtual and online sessions that meet with individual students and support our students as they search. Our career centers continue to work with companies and establish virtual career fairs, virtual career interviews for students, and the companies who are here recruiting. We still have strong interest among companies across the country who want to hire MU grads. The Mizzou made brand is still meaningful even in a very difficult job scenario or atmosphere. I also want to point out that hiremizzoutigers.com, hiremizzoutigers.com, is our online career portal that’s available to our students now and will be available to our students once they graduate, and will be available to our students as alums, and I’ll also highly encourage any parents who are out that are looking for some great talent from the graduating class of 2020 that you can also post career opportunities to hire Mizzou Tiger and have a Mizzou Tiger join your team at your company and your firm, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to support our students as they search for that great opportunity to start life after Mizzou.
– Okay, thank you so much. This next question, it comes from a parent, and this one is for Bill. Bill, if my child has a job with MU but is unable to work right now due to reduced operations, is she eligible to apply for unemployment? And how can she get the employment numbers that she needs to list on her form?
– Thank you, Emily, great question. So unemployment is a state program. It is not coordinated by the university. I would suggest that students contact their state unemployment office in their local community, and if you live in Missouri there is a good resource, and you can contact it at labor.mo.gov. Again, labor.mo.gov. We are working with supervisors to provide telework. So if somebody is home we’re seeing if they can provide work remotely. We’re also seeing if students can move from one office to another remotely. So if they were in one department and there’s not work to be done, we are working with students and supervisors to see if they can find work elsewhere. If the student is unable to work, for a number of reasons, because there’s no more work, and they’re not here, they are eligible and have been receiving administratively at normal pay rate. And this has been happening since March 23rd through April 12th. And then we were able to receive federal funds through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for two additional weeks. And at this point, if they are in anticipation of the loss of benefits, again, I would have the students contact their unemployment office in their local community.
– Okay, thanks, Bill, and a quick follow-up question for you on this topic again from a parent. Will student staff jobs be cut?
– Again, thank you, Emily, great question. It’s probably too early to tell. We are just, in fact, I met with my staff today to get initial thoughts about where those cuts might be. And what I want to share is that student employment is a valued experience for just not the Division of Student Affairs, but also the university. We understand what students are gaining through working on campus, so we want to protect that as much as possible. But again, it’s too early. And one thing that I would want to share is that as a division, last week when I met with our staff, the leadership team, we identified core values, guiding principles that we would go through this process with when we were needing to cut our budget. And one thing that I want to share with you is that at the top of the list of our number one priority was being student centered when we were making these decisions. We want to make sure that we do everything to provide student with an upstanding experience, and we want to make sure that as we make these decisions that we’re doing so in a way that supports not only our values and our mission, but also the values and missions of the university. Thank you.
– This next question is for NaTashua. NaTashua, how are you supporting students of marginalized groups?
– Thank you, Emily, for the question. Before I answer that, though, I would like to take a moment to recognize the student leaders for serving as both a voice for and support to their constituents. We look forward to continuing to engage your organizations and thoughtful dialogue and look forward to actual items that we continue to utilize to move our campus community forward. So thank you all so much for being here and sharing your thoughts today. In regards to your question, as Mizzou is committed to building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive environment, the Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity works to embody this commitment, and we absolutely do this in regards to our student supports. So right now our focus is really on outreach and engagement. And this is in two of our particular units that we have, our Social Justice Centers as well as our Access and Leadership Development units. And both of these units, I think, have been so creative in their abilities to not just translate their high impact programming to an online platform, but to also to be really able to create this very wonderful virtual space for students to stay connected to one another and also stay connected to the programs that they’re a part of, but more importantly to stay connected to the campus community and to be drawn into the campus and to stay engaged. And that’s really, really important that we’re seeing right now for our students. Additionally, one of our other offices I think that needs to be mentioned is our Access, excuse me, our Accessibility and ADA Office, which is working tirelessly to promote and sustain an accessible community, particularly as it relates to now that we’ve transitioned and shifted to this online environment. They’ve been a wonderful resource for faculty, staff, and students, and so we want to definitely make sure that we continue to engage them as we move on and continue in our online work in the summer as well, too. I also want to mention our Office of Civil Rights and Title IX is still open and available for students and serving as a wonderful resource for students as well in terms of reporting. As far as student supports, we have just such wonderful partners that we work with across campus. The work that we do is not done in a vacuum or in a bubble. We have so many that are engaged in the work and supporting our students, and so I want to mention that the Case Program as well as the Trio SSS Program, the International Center, the Bridge, they’re all working to remain supportive and advocates for our students and caring for their needs as well, too. And so we want to make sure that these long-standing entities that we have on campus are continuing to make sure that they’re building layers of support for our students to stay engaged in making sure that their academic as well as personal professional supports are being met as well, too, and their needs. And so with that, I think that our commitment is unwavering for our students. And our supports are just absolute and have been heightened, actually, within this environment that we’re in so far.
– Okay, thank you NaTashua. And we just got a question in from our questions that we’re receiving live. This one is for Provost Ramchand. This comes from a parent. It says, we’ve noticed some inconsistencies in the level of online instruction. Some instructors are no longer providing any direct access for Q and A and are instead using prerecorded content or just posting slides. Why aren’t all instructors available for live video discussion? And why not during the regular class meeting time? Provost?
– Thank you, Emily, and thanks for that question. It’s a good question. And this is what has been happening. So when we started on this journey, the initial response was to try to make it as synchronous as possible, to try to keep to the meeting times we had. But in doing that we realized that we had students returning home to all different time zones. So you could have a student in New York and you would have a student on the West Coast, and meeting at one time and doing it for all students was a challenge. So in the interest of being understanding of student needs we decided that holding this as a, on a synchronous basis would perhaps not work well for all students. So that was the reason to change to this asynchronous modality where the lectures are prerecorded. Having said that, I would encourage the student to reach out to the faculty members to have their specific questions and concerns addressed, because our faculty have been instructed, and they are stepping up to play the role in making sure that every student is treated on a case-by-case basis. Again, if you have any concerns, issues, you’re always welcome to email us, email anyone of us, and we’ll be more than happy to assist.
– Provost Ramchand, thank you so much. Our next question is for Kim Humphrey. Kim, with the switch to a virtual summer welcome, how can we obtain a refund of the amount we paid for summer welcome?
– Thanks, Emily. Refunds are being processed for those who paid for guest housing and meals for summer welcome when it was being planned as an in-person event. The $300 enrollment fee is not a payment for orientation. There is no specific orientation fee. It is, the enrollment fee is required for all new students. If a student decides not to attend Mizzou this fall that fee can be refunded until June 1 by declining their admission.
– And a follow-up to that question, Kim, how can individual academic units successfully provide orientation to new students and their families?
– New student programs and staff across campus are working really hard to ensure that new students will have access to all the information normally provided during summer welcome. We are providing virtual online sessions, on-demand video throughout the summer, and live Q and A chats. Information will be disseminated during welcome week, too. Academic units will be able to showcase their majors of interest, share tips for academic success, give new students and their families the opportunity to ask questions, and interact with other incoming students. Deans and other divisional leaders can provide a warm welcome via video, and faculty members can share their perspectives, too. We want all new students and their families to feel welcome and excited about becoming a part of the Tiger family.
– Okay, thanks, Kim. Next question, this comes from members in our community, and it’s for Matt Gunkel with eLearning. Matt, how has MU helped its students transition to remote learning?
– Yeah, thank you for the question, Emily. So, one of the things that we’ve done that we were working on actually just a couple of weeks before we transitioned remotely was to purchase and acquire a university-wide license for Zoom. So following up just a little bit on the eLearning response from Latha. it was really to help assist us in being able to deliver synchronous. We’ve also, though, been working heavily to provide additional support and availability not only for our students through our Keep Learning website, but also for our faculty. So in helping to assist and work with them directly in transitioning that material and content as we need to pivot around the different modalities in order to provide the broad support for our students and our family and faculty as they’ve had to transition in this hard time.
– Okay, thanks, Matt. This next question, keeping on the topic of remote learning, this goes for Beth. Beth, what remote learning tools is the university providing to ensure students maintain their quality of education, particularly when it comes to technology such as internet access?
– Thank you, Emily, yeah as Matt has mentioned, some of the tools and some of the support that’s provided for online learning and teaching, we have, our IT division has taken a number of steps to make sure that our systems are up and running and that students have access to the resources they need and the software they need to continue to learn and take classes. But speaking specifically to the internet access issue, on March 20th an email went out to all students letting them know about the internet resources that internet providers were making available to students. That included things like waiving late fees, discounts of services, letting students use their mobile phones as hot spots without extra charges. So a number of the internet service providers stepped up and provided discounts and free services. That same email included information to students about access to WiFi resources at our extension offices that are available in every county in Missouri. And we have since, for about a month now, we’ve been distributing hot spots to students, predominantly rural students trying to get hot spots in the hands of those students who have no internet options at all where they’re living. So that’s been our focus is to make sure that we get host spots in the hands of the students who need them who don’t have option at all. And as we supply and demand of hot spots is an issue, but a we continue to get more hot spots in we continue to mail them out even through this week.
– Okay Beth, thank you. We have another question that just came in. This one’s from a parent and it goes to President Choi. The parent writes, as I listen to the President and others outline plans to open Mizzou, I do not hear how they plan to do so given that COVID would still exist in the country, that students would be traveling from countries and states which potentially may have high rates of exposure and may still be closed. How do you plan to mitigate risk to the students to manage the risk?
– Thank you for that question, excellent question. And those are the topics that we are discussing on a daily basis with our senior leaders. And our decision to open for the fall term will be determined with the best interest of the student wellbeing in mind. So we’re gonna work very closely with officials from the health departments and to use science to be able to come up with plans. Currently, obviously, the most important thing is to ensuring that our campus is disinfected, but beyond that how do we have the proper social distancing, if that is required, by the time the fall term is open? There are also plan to explore testing of our students and our staff members. But in making the final decision we are going to really carefully determine the path forward by listening to the health directors, especially from the region and the state, but as well as the science that they provide.
– President Choi, thank you so much. Our next question is from a graduate student, and this is for Jeni. Jeni, will grad students be able to return to their graduate assistantships this coming fall? And do you anticipate lifting the hiring freeze for graduate assistantships?
– Thank you, Emily, and thanks to the student who asked this question. It’s a really important question for us to consider. In response to the first part of the question, any offers that have been extended to graduate students to continue in their positions are expected to return to those positions in the fall. With regard to the second part of the question, there is not an across the board hiring freeze for graduate assistantships. These positions, unlike some other positions on campus, are directly connected to the educational training for the students who hold them. However, the budget constraints we face will change the way new offers are approved. So any new assistantship offers that have yet to be made must be approved by the Deans Office or the head to the Nonacademic Unit prior to extending that offer. And I do need to note that it’s both possible and understandable that some new offers will not be approved in light of decisions that the difficult decisions that schools, colleges, and other units must make in order to meet the immediate and future budget shortfalls.
– And Jeni, a followup to that, this time from a faculty member, would there be any support to keep graduate assistants paid if faculty members have difficulty securing outside funding due to changes and proposal calls?
– Another great question. Nationally the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, of which Mizzou is a member, the Association of American Universities, again, Mizzou is part of that group as well, and other national associations will soon be sending a letter to The Hill to ask for supplemental support to ramp research back up. The bill that’s being proposed also has support from the Council of Graduate Schools, which advocates at the federal level for graduate student issues. The proposal, the proposed request is a multi-billion dollar request. And based on the knowledge that we currently have, they anticipate that this will be passed and will provide resources that would include cost extensions on grants, which would include resources to fund graduate assistants, staff, post-docs, and other personnel. We hope that this will provide some relief to our graduate student population. The funds are expected to be distributed proportionally to the funding agencies, based on their research funding priorities. So for example, the percentage that NIH receives in terms of research finding will be appropriately designated according to the money that will be secured by the federal government. Likewise, for NSF, the National Science Foundation, Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal funding agencies. At the university level I also want to reaffirm that graduate students are critical to our research mission and our research enterprise remains a priority area. One way we will assist is through having a pool of resources, and these resources will be managed through the graduate school to assist those units that have made commitments to continuing students with assistantships and may need some additional support to be able to meet our obligations to students, and most importantly, to our research and teaching missions.
– Okay, Jeni, thank you. Our next question is for Kim. And Kim, this one comes from a student. Why are some students being charged back the cost of a scholarship we accepted once we have moved out of the dorms and received the discount?
– Thanks, Emily. Some students receive institutional grants or scholarships that pay the on-campus housing portion of their bill. So for those students, any housing refunds would have resulted in an adjustment to his or her scholarship. So the student wouldn’t have received the scholarship because they didn’t pay for housing.
– Okay, Kim, thank you. This next question goes to Jim, and this one comes from both a faculty member and a staff member. Why are we not backing a universal pass policy for all students?
– Thank you, Emily. This was an important issue for our campus. I think Provost Ramchand shared with us very early as we were beginning to make the transition in response to a global pandemic what other institutions were doing, in particular I think the first institution to make a move was MIT. We took this question, this concern, to our Associate Deans for Undergraduate Studies, worked closely with the Graduate School, and our students, Jen, and others from MSA, were part of the discussions that we had. We recommended to Faculty Council that we go to an SU, satisfactory, unsatisfactory, which is our current policy. The change was to provide our students with the option of changing their grading option after the final grade has been posted for the semester. That allows the students to know completely how they’ve done during the semester and make an adjustment that is in their individual best interest based on their individual courses. One of the challenges that face us with a universal pass fail, is that some of our academic programs are held accountable to national accreditation and licensure requirements. And so it made it very difficult for us to take that approach to a universal pass fail plan or policy, if you will. So what we’ve tried to do is frame it with input from faculty and students and support and endorsement by Faculty Council in what we think is a very student centered approach to providing them with the best option available for them to continue to make progress towards academic degrees, to adjust based on the challenges that they’ve faced in a remote learning environment, while also maintaining the requirements that some of our programs have that are unique to specific disciplines.
– Okay, thank you. The next question is for Provost Ramchand. Provost, this one comes from a student. How will finals week work? And is the university doing a school-wide thing or is it up to each professor how it should be taken and what program to use?
– Great question, again. Thanks to the student for asking that. I just go back to what I said earlier, and I think that theme has resonated with some of the other responses, which is, to be flexible and understanding. Rather than have an across the board change in any of these policies, whether it’s grading, whether it’s finals week, what we are encouraging instructors to do is to be understanding that students’ needs during this crisis could be varied, and so it’s really going to be up to the instructor, for the most part, to sort of determine what that is gonna be.
– Okay, Provost, thank you so much. This next question comes from a parent and is for President Choi. Will there be partial refunds for students who paid for in-person classes now that they have moved online?
– Thank you for that question. As many of the students and parents know, we did make refunds for dining and housing. I believe we returned 45% of those fees back to the students. With regards to our teaching and the tuition refunds that are being asked by parents, I just want to share with you how we are operating as a university. And you may know this already. Tuition dollars and the state support form the basis of paying for our faculty and teaching assistants. And currently all of our faculty and teaching assistants are delivering their courses. And we recognize that in some cases, the eLearning or remote learning platform is not the most ideal, especially given the rapid transition, and for that reason we want to support our faculty and teaching assistants. And so we are unable, we are unable to provide a refund for tuition back to the students. Thank you.
– Okay, President Choi, thank you. This next question goes to Bill. And it is from a student about remote learning and mental health. Bill, the switch to online has been really hard for me and many other students. How are you supporting students’ mental health at this time?
– Thank you, Emily, and thank you to the student who raised that question. And thank you to the many students who have voiced that concern since this began, and what I would say, one, first of all, I’m sorry that this is happening, and I’m sorry that you are struggling. We have heard that many times from our students that they are dealing with a range of issues, whether it be anxiety, depression, isolation, and also what I’ve learned is that not one situation is the same. There are so many variables in this situation, but I would remind students of what I said in my opening statement is that we have a number of resources available. And again, the counseling center, the health center is online. It’s virtual to all students with a number of resources. And I’d also, I don’t know if all student know this, but we have a 24/7 operation and counseling center. So if somebody on the weekend or evening is really needing to talk to somebody, call that number. And that number is the same number for the Counseling Center. And it’s 573-882-6601. And I’d also, again, want to restate that the, the care consultants in the Dean of Students Office are also available during the day to provide support for students. Again, they don’t provide counseling, but they do an outstanding job in providing resource, direction, troubleshooting, acting as an advocate and a mediary in a number of situations. So, again, contact the Dean of Students Office. Thanks.
– Okay, thank you, Bill. And sticking with this topic we have a question now for Provost Ramchand. This question is also from a student. Says is there anything the university can do to ensure that professors will give more weight to student performance prior to the crisis? Grading students under the original criteria set at the beginning of the semester will likely result in evaluating students based on who was better able to handle the crisis or who had more resources.
– Again, excellent question, and again thanks to the student. A couple of things, this goes back to my earlier comment, doing that will be good for some courses. It may not be easy to do that in all courses. So we are encouraging faculty to consider that, to the extent that it’s feasible, and that it works well for the student, and then use that based on the actual case, based on the actual course. So the answer to the question is yes, it can be done, but rather than doing it as an across the board policy, we are encouraging instructors to consider different markers for assessment in this modality compared to what our regular semester would have been. So, syllabus changes, changes regarding expectations of what you expect students to accomplish during the course. All these have been, we have shared guidance on this with the instructors. We have also made available several online tools that can help instructors adopt more flexible grading policies. And in addition to that, to just sort of add to what Bill just mentioned, the student’s concern and the comment is really a good one. So I really appreciate that. We want to make sure that everyone’s treated fairly and that you’re not unfairly disadvantaged because of the crisis. So if you feel like you are in that situation, you need more help. Whether it’s the Counseling Center, or perhaps it’s the MU Disability Center, we want you to know that all these resources are available on campus to assist you or encourage you to avail of those resources if you so need.
– Okay, Provost, thank you so much. This next question comes from a parent, and it goes to Bill. Bill, my student’s belongings are still in the dorms. Because of health reasons we couldn’t retrieve her things by the housing refund deadline. Is there any risk of her belongings being disposed of by the university? And when is the latest date we can retrieve her belongings?
– Thank you, Emily, and thank you to the parent who asked this question, and so the answer is no. The belongings are not at risk for being left and not returned. And we’re doing everything that we can. We have from the very beginning, as we were trying to empty our halls, so we could get them safe and clean, we also were working with individual families to be flexible to get them back here to get the belongings out. The deadline that we have set is May 31st. So we are being extremely flexible and will continue to be. If you are running into a challenge because of state laws or local laws or other circumstances in your family getting back here, let us know. Because we will do everything that we can to be accommodating and flexible. The number for you to call is 573-882-7275. That’s the Housing number. Again, that’s 573-882-7275. And you can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. And again, I should have said this earlier that I have appreciated students reaching out and parents and families with concerns and questions. Please continue to do so. You’ve got my information, my contact number, contact number for the Division of Student Affairs. So continue to let us know what’s going on and how we can help.
– Okay, thanks, Bill. This next question is for Jim, and it comes from a parent. My daughter will be a senior in the fall, and graduation requirement is an internship. Given the current situation, are there opportunities to help undergrads find internships that still are available? Or is there any way to waive this requirement so that my daughter still graduates on time?
– Thank you, Emily, and great question, appreciate the question. Internships are recognized as a very important and high impact educational practice. In some cases, internships are actually required for licensure. In many of our programs, as the parent indicates, a graduation requirement includes an internship. Well, we’ve encouraged internships that can be remotely completed as a first step. Second, we’re trying to encourage our academic programs where possible and appropriate to consider alternative internship experiences that if an internship be a remote involvement and employment is not available, and if an in-person internship is indeed approved, it needs to one, be in spaces and places where there’s not a stay at home or shelter in place directive for the local community, and two, that the host organization, company, agency, has to be able to assure to us that they’re able to enact and uphold the public health standards that provide a safe work environment for our students. So we’re working with students every day. They can contact their associate deans. They can contact the MU Career Center, hiremizzoutigers.com, again, is a great place to access that information. And we’re hopeful that our students will, if they’re not able to do the in-person internship are able to have a meaningful alternative experience, either remotely or substitute experience I think work with faculty to develop. Thank you.
– And in another question on hands-on learning, and this one’s for Provost Ramchand. This is also from a parent. Provost, how are you handling classes that required hands on learning like nursing and education as well as lab classes in engineering, in which the labs were canceled?
– Again, great question. So, some of the lab classes, as we’re finding out, can actually be offered online. Our Physics Department, for instance, has created some amazing resources where they have made a lab experience possible online. Now it’s easier to do that in some cases and not so in other cases. In other cases where it is absolutely essential for the student to be present, physically, we are working with those deans and those department chairs, on a case by case basis to see how we might, when we transition back, to moving back to campus, assuming the stay at home order is lifted, we can bring those students back in small groups without compromising public health and safety and give priority to those groups before we bring other groups back. So we are creating a process by which that transition happens in an orderly fashion.
– Okay, Provost, thank you. The next question is for Kim, and this has come from many students and parents, of course, lots of folks are curious about spring commencement. So what are the alternative options to spring commencement and is there an approximate date for when these activities and alternatives will be announced? Kim.
– Thanks, Emily. Like President and Chancellor Choi said earlier, we are so disappointed that we can’t hold commencement this spring. We know that nothing will stop our class of 2020. We will acknowledge our graduates’ hard work and accomplishments with a 24-hour virtual ceremony on May 15th and 16th, and the whole entire family can participate on Mizzou’s social media channels and on our website. An email invitation will arrive around May 1 with more information on how to participate, and we will invite our graduates to an in-person event at a later date. We have just concluded a survey asking what they prefer, so stay tuned for more information.
– Okay, great, thanks, Kim. The next question comes from a parent, and this one is for Bill. Bill, will Greek life, fraternity and sorority recruitments be happening at the beginning of August?
– We hope so. So we are in conversation right now with all of our sororities and fraternities to see how we can make that not only happening in the fall, but it can be strong and robust. And so there is a meeting tomorrow that has been scheduled to plan according.
– Okay Bill, thank you. This next question, and this is a two-part question from a parent. It goes to President Choi. President, does MU anticipate recent state funding costs will force increased tuition fees or cuts to student grants, aid, for the coming fall session? And, if non-in-person classes continue into the fall, how will tuition and fees be adjusted to compensate for that?
– Thank you, yes, we’ve recently experienced what we call a withhold from the state for this fiscal year, and we expect that to occur again in the new fiscal year. But when I stated earlier that student success is what drives us, that drives us because it’s really the most important part of our mission. And so, scholarship commitments that we’ve made to incoming students as well as continuing students will continue. In fact, with the stimulus funding that we expect to receive, we would like to provide more support for our new and continuing students going forward. Now in terms of what we plan to do for the fall term in terms of tuition discounts if we go entirely online, at this point it’s too early for me to say. And the reason being is that we are gonna be experiencing what we hope is a strong enrollment for the fall, but if our enrollment is softer, like many universities are currently expecting, that will affect our revenues. And as I stated before, our faculty and teaching assistants are here, and their salaries are dependent on our revenues from tuition dollars and state dollars. So we are continuously monitoring the situation, but we are not, and we have never been, a university that would place the burden of education on the backs of our students and our parents. And during the past 10 years we’ve only had one year, one year where we increased tuition above inflation. And we rank as one of the lowest among top 50 states in terms of that tuition increase over the past 10 years. So that commitment will continue.
– Okay, President Choi, thank you. This next question comes from a parent and is for Bill. Bill, have there been any discussions or work done in helping students and parents manage off-campus housing expenditures?
– Thank you, Emily, great question. So, while the Division of Student Affairs manages a lot of the student experience outside of the classroom, we are not responsible for off-campus housing, and so we are not involved or responsible for the leases or for the contracts. But what we are doing right now, we are working with students in our off-campus housing office to make suggestions rather than break the lease to sublease. And so we’re trying to find ways to make that easier for students than what it has been in the past. So we’ve created a platform to help this. And so it can be found at offcampus.missouri.edu. Offcampus.missouri.edu. And something else that we are also doing is that, and have been doing for years, is that we have an Office of Student Legal Services, and we’re suggesting for students who feel like their basic tenant rights are being violated for different reasons to contact that office, and that would be, you can look at it, you can find it on the Dean of Students Website, but it’s the Student Legal Services that’s available for all students, undergraduate, graduate, and professional.
– Okay, Bill, thank you so much. All right, we are heading into our last question here. And this one is for Kim. It’s also from a parent and also about fall 2020. How will automatic scholarships or any scholarship be affected if a student decides not to return to Mizzou in the fall? Can the scholarship be deferred?
– Okay, thanks, Kim. That wraps up our time today for the third town hall. Again, you can find this full recording later at chancellor.missouri.edu under the virtual town halls. There are three of them. They address a lot of different topics and questions, so be sure to check those out if you have any additional questions. Thank you so much for asking me to be the moderator today. It was great to see you all. Nice to see you, dad. I’m going to send it over now to President Choi to close us off. President.
– Thank you, Emily, as always, a great job. I want to thank all of the panelists, as well as the student speakers. The students that we have at our university, are truly, truly amazing. They’re resilient and they make us better, and so we appreciate that. So to the students who are out there and parents, we wish you good health. We hope to see you back. We’re excited to see you back in the fall, but the most important thing is to do the right thing by hunkering down where you’re hunkered down, and keeping a social distance. We will be contacting you frequently with updated information as we move forward. But before we leave, I want to share with you a video that was made by our outstanding, talented students in the School of Music. So with that, take good care, and we’ll see you soon. ♪ Old Missouri Fair Missouri ♪ ♪ Dear old varsity ♪ ♪ Ours are hearts that fondly love thee ♪ ♪ Here’s a health to thee ♪ ♪ Proud art thou in classic beauty ♪ ♪ Of thy noble past ♪ ♪ With thy watchwords, Honor, Duty ♪ ♪ Thy high fame shall last ♪