by Rick Koubek, President
Dear Members of the Michigan Tech Community:
Friday officially marked the end of the spring term at Michigan Tech. On Saturday, we would have celebrated the success of 1,066 graduates at our Spring Commencement ceremony. Had things been normal, Mike Pulick, former president of Grainger International, a Michigan Tech electrical engineering alumnus, and former Blue Key president, would have served as our keynote speaker. Instead, we are redirecting our energies in creative ways as we adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic—including the launch of an online 2020 commencement celebration web page on May 23.
We’ve also made the decision to move summer Track B sessions online and cancel Michigan Tech’s pre-college programs and athletic camps for the summer. These decisions were necessary based on the continued “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order and to allow our academic and facility teams time to prepare for a safe, in-person, on-time start to the fall semester under the new operating guidelines imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of you may be wondering how our physical campus may be different when we return. To start, we know we must adhere to social distancing protocols. This may translate into:
- Reducing class sizes and modifying our classrooms and course offerings.
- Shifting our dining services to include more options like takeout, grab-and-go, and meal delivery throughout campus.
- Creating more spaces for smaller collaborations and fewer opportunities for large group gatherings.
- Cultivating a culture of health and safety by making COVID-19 testing available, vigorously monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms among our residence hall populations and larger campus community, and responding proactively if there is evidence of the virus on campus. This includes contact tracing and immediately isolating suspected cases.
The current plan is to gradually resume face-to-face operations over the next three months in accordance with the state’s guidance and in compliance with best practices. We will have more to share about these plans next week. But, even the best-laid plans are sometimes thwarted by the unlikeliest events. So, despite diligent and comprehensive planning, the number of variables involved requires us to couch all of our plans as tentative at this time.
With that said, the leadership team has analyzed the impact of reducing operations and services on campus, which will continue throughout the summer. This unfortunate reality requires us to align our workforce needs with the current level of campus operations. Next week, approximately 119 employees will be notified of a temporary reduction in work hours or be placed on temporary leave without pay due to a lack of work. Those affected will continue to receive University health care benefits, retain any paid time off accrued, and qualify for unemployment and the relief package being offered by the federal government. Employees are also encouraged to apply for financial support through the Husky Emergency Assistance Fund, either online or by calling 906-487-1567. Let me reiterate that these personnel actions are temporary and made through no fault of those affected. In most cases, employees will return to full-time status once we resume normal operations. It’s important to note that this decision is independent of the significant budget shortfall that must be addressed at the May Board of Trustees meeting.
COVID-19 has altered our course, but not our destination. We will continue to provide the very best hands-on, high-quality educational and research experience that we are known for. I am grateful for your dedication and determination to make that so.