Day: May 19, 2020

Update from the Graduate School, 18 May 2020: MTU Flex online and research lab openings

Dear Students, 

We hope this email finds you and your family in good health. The events of the past weeks required that important adjustments be made to ensure that you can continue your education—coursework, research, and teaching—while staying safe and healthy. We are excited to welcome you back to campus in the fall 2020 semester and we are prepared to respond to changes in these uncertain times. We are opening the fall 2020 semester in person and, depending on developing circumstances, we will make the adjustments necessary so you will continue to receive the high-quality education you expect from Michigan Tech. 

MTU Flex is a digital platform where you will find information relating to the academic experience, campus experience, and financial questions of graduate students. The platform also provides information about campus-wide graduate student-specific resources that you will find useful. We have included a tab on frequently asked questions that provide quick responses to some of the common questions we have been receiving from graduate students. 

A number of research activities have started back up, per State of Michigan regulations. The “manufacturing-like” labs and field research activities have re-opened and all other research labs will start opening with a plan for keeping research group members safe and healthy.  The plan will vary with laboratories so please stay in touch with your research advisor and department chair.  We will keep you and the faculty informed as other information becomes available.  

In the coming weeks, you will receive further communication about our plans for the fall semester and the resources available to you as we navigate this very difficult time.  Please reach out to the graduate school via gradschool@mtu.edu about any concerns you may have. We also encourage you to communicate with your department chairs and/or graduate program directors about issues specific to your program. 

We are concerned about your health and welfare. Please follow all health recommendations from local, state, and national officials. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Wear a face mask in public. Seek medical advice and self-isolate if you are experiencing a fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19. The Michigan Tech Counseling Services continues to provide services that support student’s mental health and wellbeing.  If you are experiencing financial hardships, consider applying to the Husky Emergency Assistance FundGraduate School Emergency FundInternational Student Emergency Fund, and/or Betty Chavis Emergency Fund. You may also contact the Graduate Student Government (GSG) with questions or concerns. HuskyFAN has also made emergency food packs available at Michigan Tech’s Public Safety and Police Service

Be safe and healthy. 

Sincerely, 

Pushpa Murthy, Dean of the Graduate School
Associate Provost for Graduate Education


Report from Provost’s Committee on issues impacting graduate students

Dear students,

In early April, the Provost convened an ad hoc committee to look into issues impacting graduate students. This committee submitted a set of recommendations to the Provost concerning employment, Daniell Heights graduate student housing, fundraising, and communications. The outcome of those recommendations is the subject of this email.

Employment

The committee recognized that a number of students have had their on-campus working hours reduced or eliminated entirely. The committee recommended that these students be supported for the hours they were unable to work. Across-the-board compensation is not possible at this time due to the wide variability in student situations and need. Federal Work-Study students will continue to be paid for the number of hours they were allowed. Students experiencing financial hardship as a result of lost hours are encouraged to apply for assistance through the emergency funds listed later in this email. 

Daniell Heights Housing

The results of recommendations made in regard to Daniell Heights are below: 

  • There will be no evictions as long as a student has a payment plan in place and is meeting their obligations.
  • Accounts Receivable will offer zero-interest payment plans. Please contact them to set one up: mtu.edu/fso/office/contact/
  • Late fees were waived in April. At this time and going forward, normal late fees will be applied. Students are encouraged to set up a payment plan if they are having trouble making rent payments.
  • Students having trouble making their payments should reach out to Accounts Receivable to discuss their situation. Accounts Receivable will work with individuals to discuss future plans and expectations. Additional communication will be coming from Accounts Receivable and Housing.
  • Previously planned rent increases are included in the budget for 2020-2021. It is not anticipated that these increases will change. 
  • If a hold is placed on your account, please contact Accounts Receivable to discuss your situation. 

Fundraising

As the demand for emergency funds has increased, the committee recommended that fundraising for these emergency resources be made a priority. The dean of the Graduate School and Advancement and Alumni Engagement are putting together a plan to raise funds that will be specifically set aside for grad student support. These funds will be prioritized for students who are not eligible for other forms of emergency resources. 

Communications

For information of particular interest to graduate students, visit the MTU Flex website, which addresses questions and concerns from students, faculty, and staff.

Emergency Funds

There are a number of emergency resources available to students. Please see below for a list of available resources.

  • Husky Emergency Assistance Fund – Emergency funds for students and staff experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. These funds do not need to be paid back.
  • Graduate School Emergency Fund – Zero-interest loans provided by the Graduate School. Currently capped at $500 per application. Very flexible repayment options.
  • International Student Emergency Fund – Available to international students experiencing financial hardship. Currently limited to $500 per student, but other amounts may be considered on a case-by-case basis. The funds do not need to be paid back. 
  • Betty Chavis Emergency Fund – Emergency funds for students—now including graduate students—experiencing financial hardship.
  • HuskyFAN – Food resources available for students experiencing food insecurity. No-cost meal packets can be picked up from Public Safety. Please schedule a pickup ahead of time.

CARES Act funds will also be available to eligible students. We are awaiting University guidance on how the funds will be disbursed. Official communication on this matter is forthcoming. 

The Graduate School recognizes the difficulty of the situation and urges any graduate student who is experiencing hardship or who feels their concerns are not addressed by the information in this email to reach out by emailing gradschool@mtu.edu. We are here to help.

Take care,

Pushpa Murthy
Associate Provost and Dean, Graduate School