Virtual graduation, disaster declaration extension and contingency planning
Dear Ohio State Community:
We all know that the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is resulting in significant disruptions here at our university and across the globe.
I will continue to communicate with you regularly so that you are all aware of the important and sometimes difficult decisions the university is making during this time of extraordinary challenge and uncertainty.
Below are some announcements and details about the university’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
Virtual graduation celebration and speaker; live commencement ceremony to be planned at later date
Earlier today, we announced that the university will hold a historic virtual commencement on May 3 with Apple CEO Tim Cook delivering the commencement address. The livestreamed event will begin at noon on Sunday, May 3. We expect to award approximately 12,000 diplomas. In light of restrictions on large gatherings at this time, there will be no students or guests in Ohio Stadium. Graduates will receive their degrees by mail. Importantly, this in no way limits or excludes a live commencement ceremony for our class. We will hold a graduation ceremony at a later date for members of the spring Class of 2020, their families and guests, at a time that is safe and practical. The Class of 2020 will be actively included in the scheduling and planning.
University state of emergency
As a reminder, Ohio State is in a state of emergency. This state of emergency declaration enables the university to utilize Disaster Leave (Policy 6.28) and is essential to give us flexibility in making a variety of financial decisions over an extended period if necessary. This includes our ability to provide monetary relief to employees who are able to work but unable to perform their duties in a telework setting.
Today, I am extending the state of emergency through Friday, April 10. Per the policy, we will reevaluate the declaration weekly.
The Office of Human Resources offers information about leave programs available to faculty and staff during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Ohio State offers several leave options, including regular accrued time and university disaster leave. In addition, information is available on how to use the expanded leave options through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Leave options for Wexner Medical Center faculty and staff information is available on OneSource.
Budgetary contingency planning
In these troubled times, our core mission is more critical than ever. In order to protect the core mission and maintain fiscal stability, we are engaged in active budgetary contingency planning. The ultimate duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are unknown. As responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us, we must plan for multiple contingencies while maintaining and advancing patient care, research and teaching.
Availability of university facilities for community support
Organizations across Ohio and the nation are stepping forward to provide resources to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Ohio State has been approached by community partners about the possibility that some facilities currently not in use, such as some residence halls and other facilities, could be made available to the community for a variety of potential uses during this time. We will share information about these partnerships when arrangements are finalized.
Career Roadmap implementation extension
The university remains committed to the implementation of the Career Roadmap as an initiative to standardize job classification and compensation structures to help attract and retain top talent. At this time and in alignment with extending the initial Enterprise Project implementation dates by six months, we are extending the Career Roadmap implementation dates by six months. More information is available on the Career Roadmap website.
Events, buildings and teleworking
We have extended the date for cancellations of all university events to Monday, July 6. This is consistent with our approach to a virtual summer term, announced this week. Any university event scheduled between now and July 6 will be canceled, and no new university events will be scheduled until that time. We will continue to reevaluate based on evolving conditions.
Relatedly and until further notice, Ohio State has closed the following facilities: all recreational sports indoor facilities, the Ohio Union, the Younkin Success Center, libraries and university bookstores. At this time, only critical services are maintained physically on campus. As with all current restrictions, we will continue to monitor and extend restrictions, if needed, or end them early.
This is a very difficult and challenging time for the world. Many are suffering from the disease or have lost loved ones, and all of us are affected by the many changes this pandemic has brought. At the same time, we are coming together and responding in ways that are inspiring.
Thank you, and please be safe.
Michael V. Drake, MD