Emergency declaration extended, budgetary planning

Dear Ohio State Community:

Each spring at this time we celebrate renewal and hope in places of worship and homes around the world. This year, when so many families cannot come together physically, we nonetheless are united virtually and in spirit. We are united in our love and care for one another, in the battle against this disease, and in our support for those on the front lines. Our collective efforts are flattening the curve and saving lives. I am so proud of our community.

Below is a summary of updates related to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). We will continue to share with you the latest information during this incredibly challenging period.

University state of emergency

I am extending the university state of emergency through Friday, April 17. As a reminder, this state of emergency declaration enables us to utilize Disaster Leave (Policy 6.28) and is essential to providing the university with flexibility in making a variety of financial decisions over an extended period if necessary.

Budgetary contingency planning

As mentioned last week, the duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are unknown at this time. As responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us, we must plan for multiple contingencies while maintaining and advancing patient care, research and teaching and protecting our students, faculty and staff. To that end, we are engaging in active budgetary contingency planning. The university is asking all colleges and support units to prepare budget projection scenarios for fiscal year 2021 covering a range of possibilities. Guidance on how to submit these budget scenarios will be forthcoming from Financial Planning & Analysis in the Office of Business and Finance. This is a planning exercise so that we can consider the broadest range of options available to us as we face an unknown future.

Research and community resources

We know that many in our research community are working tirelessly to address challenges associated with COVID-19. The Keep Researching website provides tools and resources to assist in these efforts. The Office of Research also offers guidance for a broad range of issues at its Coronavirus and Your Research Program website. Research and creative inquiry are especially challenging at this time. The university is committed to doing all that we can, and we look forward to returning to our campuses and facilities as soon as it is safe to do so.

Our gratitude also goes to colleges and units throughout the university for pulling together to address COVID-19. These include the Knowledge Exchange COVID-19 Hub, led by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), Ohio State University Extension and the CFAES research communities. Additionally, COVID Connect has been launched by the College of Public Health to unite health departments and other organizations with professional volunteers willing to share their expertise.

Wellness resources

We are committed to resources that support the mental health and wellness of our community. This week, we shared that the Ohio State: Wellness app is now available on both Android and iOS devices. The app is designed for students but offers tips and guidance useful for all members of our community. A list of additional wellness resources for students, faculty and staff is available at the bottom of this email.

Support during trying times

Students, faculty and staff continue to demonstrate incredible support for one another and their communities. Earlier this week, Gene and Sheila Smith, Ryan and Nina Day, and Chris and Lori Holtmann made very generous donations to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s COVID-19 emergency fund. For more information, visit Ohio State News. And our students are supporting the HelpColumbus Facebook group, where individuals and families can offer or request aid. These are just a few of the many examples, including your collective work, to advance our academic mission.

We also continue to support students through emergency funding. The Office of Student Life’s Student Advocacy Center facilitates the distribution of these resources to students during times of personal crisis. During this pandemic, the center is overseeing the distribution of various funds. To learn more about these emergency funds, visit the Student Advocacy Center webpage. To support Buckeye students through giving, visit COVID-19 Response: Help Ohio State students. To date, we have raised more than $55,000 from more than 350 donors. Thank you, Buckeye Nation!

Wexner Medical Center webpage also lists ways to support its important efforts.

Celebration of the Class of 2020

As a reminder, the university will hold a virtual celebration on Sunday, May 3. The livestreamed and televised event will begin at noon. Apple CEO Tim Cook will deliver a special address. Importantly, this virtual event in no way limits or excludes a future live commencement ceremony. We will plan and 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.

Our students, faculty and staff continue to lead by example. This video from The Best Damn Band in the Land provides a great look at the Buckeye spirit in action. Enjoy and be safe.


Michael V. Drake, MD