Dear Monmouth Students:
Since the first message to all of you on Feb. 7, I have promised an aggressive, yet measured approach in our response to this global pandemic, which arrived recently in Monmouth County and is currently expanding in the region. The safety and welfare of those entrusted to our care is now — and always will be — our top priority.
Given Governor Murphy’s most recent executive order, as well as the public health professionals’ best estimates of the pandemic’s trajectory and timeline, we have little choice but to continue remote instruction and learning for the duration of the spring semester. We held out on making this decision as long as possible in the hope that we might all be together again before the end of the semester, but, unfortunately, that no longer looks possible. We join nearly all of the other higher education institutions in New Jersey in making this very difficult decision to suspend in-person instruction for the entire semester. While we will be unable to gather on campus as one Monmouth community, we remain committed to offering you in this remote learning environment the personalized education that you expect from us, enabling each of you to continue to make progress on your academic journey.
The decision to extend remote instruction and learning through the end of the semester prompts a cascade of other considerations, including the following.
- Grading. In collaboration with the Provost, the Faculty Council has approved a flexible grading policy for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. At the conclusion of the semester, faculty will award letter grades to students for their work. Once standard letter grades are posted, students may choose to keep some or all of those standard grades (A-F), or they may choose to have some or all of the grades recorded as Pass/Fail (P/F). This policy offers the most flexibility possible for students. The Provost will provide the full policy details and considerations for students under separate cover.
- On-Campus Work. We have worked to preserve all on-campus student employment opportunities, wherever possible, for the remainder of the semester. Students will continue to be paid for work performed, though they have been asked to work remotely, just as full-time staff have been asked to do so. In addition, we will honor graduate assistantships and Federal Work Study awards. Please be in touch with your campus supervisor for more details.
- Residential Move-out. The Office of Residential Life will conduct the move-out process over a 14-day period, beginning Thursday, March 26. In adherence to the strict social distancing guidelines set forth by the State of New Jersey, students will be required to make an appointment to recover their belongings and may be accompanied by no more than one person. Area coordinators will provide detailed instructions, including the scheduled days for specific buildings, either later today or tomorrow. To comply with the executive order, the move-out process cannot begin until March 26, so be on the lookout for more information soon.
- Refunds. The Board of Trustees has approved a policy to ensure that all students will receive prorated refunds or credits on unused room contracts, meal plans, and parking fees. All refunds and credits will be prorated for the period beginning March 23, 2020 through the end of the semester. Additional details will be shared shortly.
- Commencement. The University is committed to hosting traditional, in-person, graduation ceremonies for both undergraduate and graduate students in order to properly celebrate our students’ achievements. The May dates will be postponed to a time later this summer when public health officials deem it safe to hold such celebrations. Details will be forthcoming.
- Summer International Trips. All faculty-led and study abroad summer programs are cancelled for the Summer 2020 sessions. Making this decision now protects students against incurring any fees that might be unrecoverable later.
- Summer Courses. At this point, summer courses will continue as scheduled. We encourage students to register for these courses as normal. Any change to the mode of delivery or to the schedule of classes will be communicated later in the spring, as the public health situation dictates.
We will continue to provide additional information in the days and weeks ahead. Please check your Monmouth e-mail on a daily basis for updates.
Lastly, I understand the hardship these trying times can create for students, especially those with limited financial means. To that end, I have established a President’s Relief Fund that can provide small grants to students to relieve financial pressures during this difficult time. Please visit monmouth.edu/relief to fill out a simple appeal form. Resources are limited, so I cannot guarantee that every appeal will be funded, but let’s try.
President Kennedy once said: “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men and women.” I pray that all of us can summon additional strength to navigate these turbulent times. Together, we will weather this storm and make Monmouth University better than ever. If you have any questions or comments regarding these decisions, please feel free to contact my office directly email@example.com. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and will ensure each message gets a response.
Thank you for being a part of the Monmouth University community.
Dr. Patrick F. Leahy