Current Campus Status: Fall 2020
- Students: Classes will begin as scheduled on August 31. In-person instruction will end and residence halls will close on Wednesday, November 25 — the day before Thanksgiving. The final two weeks of the semester and exams will occur remotely as scheduled.
- Visitors: Our campuses are currently closed to the public.
Dear USM Community,
Chancellor Dannel Malloy has announced plans for University of Maine System students, faculty and staff to return to our respective campuses to learn, teach and work this fall.
Here at the University of Southern Maine (USM), I know this news is met with a range of emotions, including excitement and uncertainty. Our return to campus also naturally prompts many questions focused on how we will engage each other and our work in ways that minimize risk of community transmission and offer students the best possible learning experiences.
The System has provided us with an overarching framework for coming back to campuses statewide in late August. But as each university is distinctive in its size and student profile, many of the operational decisions and solutions will be made at the campus level.
At USM, the Fall Planning Task Force, co-chaired by Vice Provost for Mission and Accreditation Dominic Barraclough, and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs David Roussel, has been working for months on the full scope of issues presented by our return to campus. The work of this group of students, faculty and staff, representing all operational aspects of USM and a broad range of perspectives, has informed the Healthy Huskies plan for our return.
Healthy Huskies is predicated upon four tenets:
- The health and well-being of students, faculty and staff are of paramount importance. All decisions and actions pertaining to our return to campus are grounded in preventing the spread of COVID-19 among members of the USM community.
- Maintaining the quality of learning experiences is a central, organizing principle for remote instruction as well as any changes that need to be made to how in-person courses are taught and the spaces in which they are taught. Our faculty have engaged the CTEL team throughout the summer to work on further optimizing their pedagogy for remote learning in anticipation that it may continue to be a preferred mode of instruction during the pandemic. Our teaching this fall will be informed by the lessons learned in spring 2020, and our teaching will be better for it.
- We will continue to live our values through this period of change, and we will be unwavering in our pursuit of the Ten Goals for USM. Our collective striving to become an even better university in service to our students and the state of Maine will continue unabated. As tempting as it may be to pause this work, I believe we will be better positioned for success and stronger as an institution if we continue to make progress during this period of disruption.
- Maintaining our health and limiting the spread of COVID-19 is a shared enterprise that will require new norms of behavior in all of our campus spaces. Put simply, our ability to come together for learning and residential living requires that we adhere to guidelines for wearing masks and social distancing, among other recommended practices. To make this work, we have to work together — to keep everyone healthy.
To help you understand the implications of our return to campus and how we will conduct the business of the University across all facets of the institution, we have created this Healthy Huskies website, which contains a broad overview of life at USM this fall and answers to frequently asked questions at the department and program level.
As thorough as we have labored to be in anticipating questions and providing answers, we recognize that there are still issues to resolve and that the pandemic may require that we adapt our policies and practices over time. Here are some ways you can pose questions and stay apprised of the latest information:
- Students who have additional questions are encouraged to pose them to the Dean of Students Office through this form. Dean of Students Rodney Mondor and his staff will answer your questions or route them to other campus leaders who will respond.
- Faculty and staff are encouraged to share their questions with Alec Porteous, USM's Chief Operating Officer, Chief Business Officer and COVID-19 Ombudsperson.
- To help keep everyone apprised of new information, I will be sending regular Healthy Husky email updates to students, faculty and staff, and we will update this website with the latest information.
- We will also soon hold a series of Zoom-based town hall meetings for students, prospective students, faculty and staff. These will be held in the coming weeks to provide members of the USM community with opportunities to ask questions and share thoughts and concerns.
- The Together for Maine website will be the primary source of information and guidelines promulgated by the University of Maine System.
As we enter this phase, I am deeply grateful to report that our fall enrollment is strong. This tells me that students and their families continue to believe in the power of a USM education — and that faculty and staff will continue to do right by them as they pursue their academic passions and career goals on our Gorham, Portland and Lewiston–Auburn campuses.
To our students — thank you for continuing to entrust us with your education. I pledge to you that we remain student-focused every day. And thank you, in advance, for your pledge to mask-up, maintain social distancing and follow all guidelines to keep yourselves, your classmates, your families and the USM community healthy and free from COVID-19.
To our faculty, staff and members of the Fall Planning Task Force — thank you for the hard work you have done over the spring and this summer to prepare for our return to campus and continue to provide our students with the best possible learning and residential living experiences.
In the coming weeks, we will discover new challenges and questions that need to be resolved. The plain truth is that none of us have undertaken anything of this magnitude before. That’s true for students, faculty and staff nationwide. I mention this with the hope that we may all understand that the changes we will face will require new reserves of patience and flexibility. As we move forward — in accordance with guidelines promulgated by Governor Mills, the Maine CDC and the University of Maine System — I’m confident that we will continue to approach our search for solutions with the same spirit of goodwill and unwavering focus on students that saw us through the end of the spring semester.
For my part, I am happy to be here at USM, meeting these challenges head-on with all of you. I look forward to sharing more information with you in the coming weeks. And I very much look forward to seeing you on campus this fall.
Dr. Glenn Cummings
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