COVID-19 Update to Campus

President Eisler's Message to Campus in Response to Gov. Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order

March 23, 2020

Thank you for everything you are doing.

You are making extraordinary efforts to transition teaching and learning to remote delivery. I am very grateful for our faculty and all who are supporting them. You are helping our students be successful in this new learning environment.

Thank you for everyone who is doing this. You ensure the work of the University continues.

Thank you to the many people who make this possible. You are demonstrating exceptional capacity, adaptability and flexibility.

Thank you for finding solutions and solving problems. There can be no doubt, these are heroic efforts.

Thank you.

Perhaps you, like me, have watched as the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan first doubled, then tripled and today grew to over 1,200 cases. It is clear that more aggressive action is needed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Michigan. Minutes ago Governor Whitmer took appropriate action, issuing a ”Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order effective after midnight and extending through April 13. In this she joins the actions of Governors in other states including California, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Louisiana, Delaware, Oregon and Ohio.

The instructions of this order are simple and clear. Stay home, unless it is absolutely essential for you to be out in public. In staying home you protect yourself, your family and others around you. Now is the time for each of us to heed this message and to radically change our behaviors. I will be staying home, and I urge you to do the same. This can lessen and stop the spread of COVID-19. In this each of us must do our part.

We have worked throughout the weekend anticipating this order. During the December holiday break we follow an approach that can be adapted for these circumstances. A very limited number of people will need to attend to core areas of support like security, heat, information technology and telecommunications. If you are needed to come to work, your supervisor will contact you. Other employees will be on call and contacted if their services are needed on campus. The remainder of us should stay at home and develop the capability to work effectively from there. Significant tools are available to help us stay connected. Office phones can be transferred to numbers off campus. We can communicate via e-mail, telephone, teleconference and video conferencing. As you need assistance in using these tools, please contact your supervisor, IT Services at (231) 591-4822 or visit their list of COVID-19 Information Technology Planning FAQs.

Your vice president and supervisors will be working with you to prioritize the efforts in their division on the following: what is important and possible; what is important and likely not possible; what we should continue if time and resources allow; what can be delayed and what we should not do. Each has developed initial plans for the division and will be sharing them with you. We will refine and build on these in the days ahead. It is vitally important we develop these capabilities quickly so faculty can continue to teach and students can successfully learn, students can register for fall classes, we can continue to recruit students for next fall’s entering class, and for the myriad of other important work efforts that it will be possible to continue.

Please know that during this period more than ever we need you, your expertise and your abilities. If your work cannot be done from home, we will need volunteers to assist with other areas. I am hopeful you will engage in these opportunities. As we adjust and realign our work I need to ask for your patience and understanding.

This is a time of stress, anxiety and challenge. This Stay Home, Stay Safe is an order unimaginable months ago. Over the past week I have received many positive, encouraging messages. Please know how much I appreciate them. I encourage you to do the same for other families, friends and colleagues. Take a moment to express your care and compassion. If you have an opportunity to do something kind, please do so. When you witness or do something like this, please share it with me. I want to read about it and celebrate it.

This virus has done much to disrupt our day-to-day lives. But it does not change who we are and the important work we all do, helping change the lives of students and creating for them the opportunity of a future filled with success. As we deal with the present threat upon us, please remember – there will be a time when this threat has subsided. Then we will want to look back with the understanding that we have done all that we could.

This is a time which calls for the best of each of us. I know that we will rise to this challenge, and we will overcome it. Please be safe and careful.

David L. Eisler, president