UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on October 14, 2020
To the UB Community:
On Monday, Oct. 26, we will host a town hall on Zoom to discuss two important topics: our planning efforts for the Spring 2021 semester, and the report by the UB Task Force. We're planning two sessions for that day, one at 10 a.m. and a second at 4 p.m. You may attend either one, or both. We'll send out a reminder for these sessions closer to the date, including the Zoom link.
Our priority for the next semester is the continued health and safety of our community. The town hall discussion will focus on how to maintain that stance, while also accommodating those courses and operations that require special considerations. While no one can predict where we'll be in the pandemic come the new year, we must do our best to plan and prepare now so that UB can best serve the needs of students, faculty and staff. This is your opportunity to ask questions and convey your concerns.
On the matter of the UB Task Force report, we're anticipating its release by the end of this week. Look for a notification about that soon.
Separately, I want to share some outstanding news coming from the Office of Admission. After a year of effort and outreach, our BeeLine program for dual admission of transfer students from several Maryland community colleges is up and running. Students from Anne Arundel, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, and Wor-Wic community colleges, as well as CCBC and the College of Southern Maryland, can qualify for admission at their home campus and UB, allowing for a seamless progression from community college to our institution. The details are available here. I want to thank Seth Kamen, assistant vice president for admission, for leading us in this initiative. Look for more community colleges to join us in the BeeLine program soon.
Big things are happening at UB. The Oct. 26 town hall is a great place to be part of the discussion about our shared future. We need your perspective, so please plan to be there.
As always, stay safe and be well.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on October 7, 2020
To the UB Community:
This week I want to highlight the good work of UB's Student Government Association, which has had tremendous success in recent days in both raising awareness and taking an activist stance on some of the most important issues of our times.
Student activism is often thought of as "practice" for the hard work of crafting legislation, demonstrating, debating -- the serious business of bringing about change in society. But it's much more than that. Yes, our students are learning how progress takes place in the world. But it's insufficient to think of that world as "real," as if the University of Baltimore, and the community it represents, are somehow less so. The SGA is devoted to real governance, and this semester, despite the many challenges of the pandemic, they have moved UB forward. Here are two recent examples:
- In the space between the Liberal Arts and Policy Building and the William H. Thumel Sr. Business Center, the SGA led a group of volunteers to create a beautiful version of the Philadelphia Rainbow Flag mural in paint. Designed by local community artist Sara Golden, the mural stretches from the Charles Street side of this previously unremarkable space to the Morton Alley side. So, while most of us have been away from campus, a major work of art has been installed there -- a work that celebrates equality, solidarity, and the joy of togetherness. As a lifelong believer in the power of process, I was happy to work with the group to make sure the mural was made the right way so that it can endure in the elements. Photos of the installation can be found here. More plans are taking shape to grow this space and give it more meaning through placemaking. Dubbed Inclusion Alley, this location represents a point of pride for UB. If you want to know more, or be a part of these efforts, send an email to project lead and SGA President Daniel Khoshkepazi.
- Through an SGA resolution, UB is recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day on Monday, Oct. 12. This is a national, grassroots response to what has traditionally been known as Columbus Day. The resolution reads, in part: "Recognizing this day as 'Indigenous Peoples' Day' will allow for a more proper representation of historical events associated with the discovery of the Americas and shed light on the tragedy that colonizers brought to the original inhabitants of the land." These students correctly point out that our history was written from the perspective of colonialists, and it is more in the spirit of the actual study of history to be inclusive of various points of view, including those of the original inhabitants of the Americas.
I endorse both of these efforts, and much more of what UB's student government brings to the table, because it shows us the way forward.
Speaking of which, election season is upon us, and I want to note that once again, UB is nationally recognized for its high participation rate in the essential civic act of voting.
We are a small campus, but a tightly knit one, and we affect enormous change in our own way every day. We may feel confined by the pandemic, and perhaps that leads us to believe we are powerless. But progress is happening, all around, and each member of our community contributes to that movement in innumerable ways. I urge you to be hopeful, stay involved, and continue to make a difference.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on September 30, 2020
To the UB Community:
At the risk of stating the obvious, COVID-19 continues to impact daily life for all of us at UB. This week I have two things to share with you -- and the pandemic stands front and center as the reason why these topics are now in the spotlight.
First, beginning on Oct. 19, we are going to require all persons who want to come to campus to take another COVID test and submit it to us, along with our REDCap process, before they are granted access to a campus building. This prerequisite has been recommended by public health officials, who are urging colleges and universities to redouble their efforts to keep the virus in check as much as possible as we head into the flu season. You'll recall that initially, the University System of Maryland issued the testing mandate -- but they did not address the question of further testing down the road. Although UB's caseload has been low, per our expectations, even that low number (three positive tests) could spike upwards if we stay with the single-test model. I know we all can agree that COVID-19 is insidious; let's play good defense in response. Click here for more information about our testing and symptom monitoring procedures.
Also, I must report to you that because the general outlook continues to be less than optimal, we have decided to postpone our planned Fall Commencement exercises to May 2021. While earlier we had talked about the possibility of putting on an event in the Lyric in December as usual, the venue is still restricted in terms of the size of an audience -- 100 maximum, according to state rules -- and that just wouldn't be right for UB. I, along with the Executive Team, decided that it's best to wait on this until Spring. If that works out, we've secured two dates in May to accommodate the large number of graduates who have been waiting to gather for a celebration. It's a UB tradition that deserves our best thinking and planning, and we're not about to let this pandemic force us to make an error.
Also, please note that the law school is planning its Commencement ceremony for May 18, 2021 at the Lyric.
I continue to ask for your patience as we make these difficult choices. I want to assure you that the latest precautions are our best hope for sustaining our community through some very difficult times. Nothing about 2020 should be thought of as "the new normal." Instead, it's our responses, our contingencies, that are signs of our desire to keep UB moving forward. Someday -- and we know it's coming -- we're going to put this pandemic in our rearview mirror. We'll take the hard lessons and move on, and we'll know that the extra work, the seemingly endless waiting, were the best things we could do.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on September 23, 2020
To the UB Community:
Among the many terrible things that the pandemic has done, it has highlighted the impact of the economic divisions for those seeking to pursue higher education. If you haven't seen it, a recent article in the Washington Post describes how tens of thousands of qualified college students are making the painful decision to drop out. They can't afford the basic requirements forced upon them by COVID-19 -- a laptop, internet access, a quiet space in which to take classes online, etc. They may be newly unemployed, and in a scramble to find another job. Perhaps their work is secure, but their employer has suspended a tuition benefit for the duration of the recession. They could be caring for children, an elderly relative, or a sick friend. Whatever the reason, as we know, the decision to drop out of school often evolves from a temporary to a permanent state of affairs.
UB is working hard to be part of the solution to this problem. Here's how:
- UB partnered with the City of Baltimore Department of Human Resources to establish the Baltimore City Scholars program, which offers financial aid to city government employees who are enrolled in a degree-granting program at UB. The scholarships provide full-time workers with the opportunity to further their education and establish a more capable city workforce. A mix of undergraduate and graduate awards have been made, and we expect the program to grow.
- The Bob Parsons Scholarship Fund, which debuted shortly before the pandemic hit last spring, assists transfer, military and veteran students in obtaining their undergraduate degrees, with 100 percent of their tuition and fees paid by the scholarship. This fund is one of many examples of the generous support of UB alumni and friends. They are an indispensable source of positivity, and a key reason why the institution is holding up well during the pandemic.
- Since March, the Office of Technology Services has been addressing technology-access issues by providing our students with laptops, webcams, and other equipment. Curbside pickup and drop off help to ensures public health and safety; faculty and staff have benefitted from this effort. This fall, new technology is being used by faculty that will help UB's online teaching and learning capabilities reach new heights.
- More than 1,000 students have received grant funds to help them through these tough times. These grants are not required to be repaid, and include:
- UB Cares is a well-funded program that provides financial assistance to UB students who are experiencing hardships due to the disruption of our normal operations. These funds can be used by students for expenses such as technology, including internet connectivity costs, purchase of course materials, and necessities like food and housing.
- The Student Emergency Assistance Fund, established by the University of Baltimore Foundation at the beginning of the economic turmoil, provides support to UB students who are facing an exceptional financial crisis that may prevent them from being successful or making academic progress.
- With our community's move to online classes and telework, on-campus jobs for students aren't required. So, we took advantage of a special federal provision related to work study programs and repurposed funds from work-study positions to outright grants for undergraduate students with the highest financial need.
- The law school's new Law Access Grant initiative provided an average award of $500 each to over 100 qualified law students.
Is there more we can do? Yes. Always. We continue to receive applications for these grants, and funding is still available for the fall semester. You already contribute to our efforts in untold ways -- by supporting our undergraduate and graduate students with a connection, with advice, and with our excellent education and services. If you know of any students who may be experiencing financial difficulties, you can encourage them to go here to learn about our available resources. And if you know of someone who could benefit by beginning or returning to their educational endeavors, invite them to go for that degree, or sign up for that certificate. Now is not the time for anyone to settle for "someday."
Our community is a living example of what it means to attain, and make full use of, a first-rate education. Together, let's continue to do our part to guarantee an equitable future for all.
Thank you. And stay safe.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on September 16, 2020
To the UB Community:
As many of you may know, since the middle of March the presidents of the University System of Maryland have been meeting with Chancellor Perman three times a week by video conferencing. During the most recent meeting, the Chancellor asked us to reflect on how our universities intend to conduct operations after this Fall semester. A number of presidents, including me, had already reached tentative conclusions about the best way forward for the Spring semester.
Although still subject to debate, the public health outlook for the early months of 2021 appears bleak. COVID-19, combined with a typical flu season, is a dangerous mix for people of all ages. I will be getting a flu shot this week, and I urge all of you to do the same as soon as possible. The likely convergence of these two public health threats presents us with a daunting challenge. As always, prudence dictates that health considerations must be our priority in planning for the upcoming semester.
In order to improve our operations, on both the academic and administrative sides of the organization, we should be clear now about the direction for the semester ahead. Therefore, I ask all students, faculty and staff, working with their respective governance groups, to begin planning under the assumption that the University of Baltimore will operate in an online/telework environment during the Spring of 2021. I recognize that public health improvements may develop, and they will be well received. We will be able to make adjustments based on those developments. However, at this point, the best use of our time is to work together to improve on our online/telework operations. Rest assured that we will continue to discuss other options that may be available in the latter part of the Spring semester, and these may impact decisions related to such things as Commencement exercises.
One other important item: This week we're officially announcing the arrival of Roxie M. Shabazz, our new vice president for enrollment management. Roxie is a great addition to our enrollment and admission team, and she will play a key role in UB's sustained efforts to attract and retain great students. You can find out about Roxie here.
Thank you again for your patience, collaboration, and collegiality during this unique time.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on September 9, 2020
To the UB Community:
This week we're witnessing an important test of UB's approach to managing the institution through the global pandemic. Yesterday we received a report that an employee working on campus has come down with COVID-19. The Office of Human Resources (OHR) is in communications with the employee, and, using the Centers for Disease Control's definition of "close contact," has determined that no individuals on campus were in close contact with this person. OHR will provide further updates if warranted.
While our community should expect a low case count in the weeks and months ahead -- our classes are entirely online, and any employee, student, or visitor who comes to campus must follow strict protocols for testing and symptom checks -- we also know that this virus spreads easily and quickly. Our goal, from the early days of the pandemic last March, has been to keep everyone safe and healthy, while maintaining frontline University operations and activities related to education.
The case report is the first real-world test of our efforts. While we regret to learn that an employee has tested positive for COVID, the report does confirm that our diligent screening and testing are viable. If any more cases arise on campus, it's our goal to find out early, notify those who need to know, and maintain a unified stance.
Is any institution with a public mission -- a university, a house of worship, a library, and so on -- completely ready to stop this pandemic? Realistically, no. But a better question is this: How can we work together to slow it down, minimize its impact, and, ideally, keep it away from our doors? I believe we're seeing the answer right now. Our process works.
Please continue to check the COVID-19 information page for the latest news, and follow the University of Baltimore's protocols for access to campus facilities. Stay diligent, enjoy your classes, do great work, and let's go UB!
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on September 2, 2020
To the UB Community:
Many thanks again to all who worked so hard to prepare us for the beginning of the fall semester. Researchers have noted that the shift from emergency remote teaching to an ongoing fully remote instructional strategy has many challenges. While UB is up to those challenges, we recognize that this is still a work in progress. I have the pleasure of co-teaching an election law course with Professor Gilda Daniels in our law school this semester, so I'm learning, along with our students, to make some adjustments in order to achieve a quality academic experience.
Although I had planned to make decisions in late October about the spring 2021 semester operating structure of the University, comments from faculty, students and staff lead me to believe that that timetable must be advanced. As previously noted, everyone at UB has made collaborative and extraordinary efforts to adjust to the challenges posed by the pandemic. We're determined to do even more. Clearly we know that if we can make decisions about spring earlier, we give ourselves additional time to plan and implement more meaningful improvements. The "new normal" calls for us to be proactive, not reactive, any time we can.
While thinking about our options for next semester, I read a short but thoughtful book, entitled The Low Density University: 15 Scenarios for Higher Education. The book explores a range of options for universities, from operating fully on campus to operating fully online, with numerous variations in between. Many of the chapters offer ideas of particular relevance to residential institutions, but there are several suggestions applicable to UB. Agreeing with what many of you have said about a "hybrid" format, the authors note that "Blended learning has long been viewed as ideal." However, they encourage us to keep this in mind:
"To do it well, a lot of things need to line up, including the technology, the course design, the focus on pedagogy, and the engagement of students."
At this time, the term "hybrid" for UB is somewhat undefined. It might involve a limited number of online/in-person courses, taking place in just one or two campus buildings. In other words, a purposefully small-scale model for when the world begins to open up again. Conversely, it might take another shape, with class schedules, technology, and subject matter being significant drivers in our decision-making process.
As we plan our options for spring 2021, all of these factors will be given careful consideration. So let us begin our discussion about the next semester. Public health and safety matters must remain of paramount concern, yet with timely and careful planning and implementation, those issues should not deter our efforts to achieve excellence in delivering our educational mission in this changing environment.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on August 26, 2020
To the UB Community:
On behalf of the faculty, staff and administration of the University of Baltimore, I want to welcome everyone to the fall 2020 semester. After months of preparation, during which we had some real breakthroughs in terms of meeting students' needs despite the challenges of the pandemic, we're here and we're under way. I hope the start of classes is, for all of you, a chance to focus on what's really important: learning, growing, and, above everything else, staying safe for yourselves and your families.
What did we do this summer? For many of us, it was a time to pull together in preparation for a strong, positive online experience for the fall term. When we look back, I believe these last few months will be remembered for the depth and breadth of our planning and problem solving -- nearly all of it by our own experts.
In the area of student financial administration, for example, after the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced a freeze on tuition in mid-June, UB's team dug in to recalculate tuition and mandatory fees for the summer and fall. This helped our students financially, but it required the team to manually rebuild and re-communicate financial aid packages for more than 50 percent of the student population. Also, the staff is introducing a new electronic refund system which allows direct deposits to the student's bank account, rather than the longstanding practice of relying on paper processes and refund checks mailed by the State.
It's not just the dollars that add up in these matters -- it's also goodwill and good care. With support from the federal CARES Act and the UB Student Emergency Assistance Fund, hundreds of students found at least one part of the pandemic's obstacles to be a little easier to bear.
In addition, with special regulatory provisions, we shifted funds from work-study positions to grants for undergraduate students with the highest financial need. Also, via another new philanthropic program, Parsons grants are being awarded to incoming community college graduates. And UB Foundation scholarships are being made earlier to new and returning students, thanks to the implementation of new technology. In total, what we believe is a record amount of financial aid has been awarded, in support of both prospective and enrolled students.
At the same time our teams were balancing these student priorities, they also were managing the institutional budget and regulatory requirements to reflect the reductions we've been forced to make. That work continues, as we await a clearer fiscal picture for the year ahead.
Another step we've taken is our REDCap health check-in system, which will launch this week for those who have received approval to go to campus. Click here to get all the details.
Understandably, people have begun asking what we'll do about the spring semester. I can tell you that we will continue to be guided by public health concerns. Starting in late October, we'll have some community-wide discussions on the topic.
To all of you who serve our community's needs, I want to thank you for taking such a strong lead. Now, in these first hours of the semester, we're reminded that our work is about something greater than processes or efficiencies -- it's about how we can best show our support for every person at UB, students, faculty and staff alike.
Enjoy the rest of your week, and stay safe.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on August 19, 2020:
To the UB Community:
Following up on Monday's Town Hall sessions, I wanted to update you on the status of the search for a new Vice President for Enrollment, which I alluded to during our conversation. The search committee has been working closely with a nationally renowned search firm to review, discuss, and interview candidates. The search is now in its final stage; five candidates have been invited for full-day virtual interviews with the UB community. These interviews will be taking place over the next two weeks. The dates for these interviews are Aug. 21, 24, 25, 27, and 31.
Information about the candidates and interview schedules will be sent out shortly. I recognize the competing priorities we face in starting the semester at the same time, but this is an opportunity to get to know those who are in this strong pool of candidates, and for them to get to know us as well. Any delay could have a negative impact on the search process.
Each interview session will start with an open forum during which the individual candidate will make a 15-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes for Q&A. Any member of the UB community, including all students, will be able to attend the community-wide portion of each day's session. There will be a faculty section where all faculty are invited to attend, as well as a section for staff. Additionally, the candidates will meet with other smaller groups.
I want to thank the search committee for their dedication and commitment regarding this important search. The committee members are:
Nicole Marano, Associate Vice President, Student Success and Support Services - Search Committee Chair
David Bobart, Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Office of Technology Services
Seth Kamen, Assistant Vice President, Office of Admission
Megan Manley, Assistant Dean, College of Public Affairs
Marilyn Oblak, Associate Dean, Merrick School of Business
Ivan Sascha Sheehan, Executive Director, School of Public and International Affairs
Chris Spencer, Dean, Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences
Lisa Stickney, Department Chair, Department of Management and International Business, Merrick School of Business
Thank you, and I look forward to hosting the Vice President for Enrollment candidates.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on August 12, 2020:
To the UB Community:
On Monday, Aug. 17, we will host two town hall meetings on Zoom -- one for students, and one for faculty and staff -- to discuss the start of the fall semester and related concerns associated with the delivery of a UB education in the online environment. The faculty and staff session will start at 10 a.m., while the student session will begin at 4 p.m. Both sessions will be closed-captioned. The Zoom log-in information is listed below.
For the sake of efficiency, if you have a question beforehand, please send it to email@example.com, and include "Town Hall Question" as your subject line. I and members of the Executive Team will address these, and we'll talk with you about our priorities regarding student support, the ongoing health and safety of our community, and other items of importance.
(One note: I'm told that if we have more than 500 attendees for either session, you'll find that Zoom behaves a bit differently. This webinar version of the software automatically mutes all attendees, limits user profiles to your name (no live video shots) and restricts questions during the session to the "chat" function on your screen. So if you enter either session on Aug. 17 and things seem a bit different, it's because we're over the 500-user mark. Regardless, I urge you to attend and be a part of this next step forward for the University of Baltimore.)
We all know just how disruptive this pandemic has been, and we recognize the great work that our community is doing to thrive in this challenging environment. I would like to suggest that some of that UB spirit be directed to support our enrollments, which unsurprisingly have been somewhat reduced due to the many uncertainties of today's world. Several of our professors and staff are calling those students who have expressed ambivalence about attending classes this fall. Generally, this is quite helpful. Imagine receiving a call like that -- what a boost it could be to your self-confidence, as well as your passion for learning and your career goals. Deferring is understandable -- but it's not inevitable. Let's encourage students to make UB a part of their lives today.
This is another way that our collective efforts can make a tremendous difference. With no increase in state support likely to come in the near term, now is the time when we must steer the University into calmer waters. Every action helps -- every call to a worried undergraduate to remind them to check out what we have to offer as a unique institution in the heart of the city.
Don't consider this request to be coming from a place of doom and gloom. Many of our classes, especially on the graduate side, are filling up. For example, recently we shifted some funding to hire a lecturer to accommodate an additional Applied Psychology class section. The program then could accept more qualified applicants who were on standby.
While I encourage your optimism, I must emphasize the fact that we will be operating in an online/telework environment for the fall. The University System of Maryland's mandate for a required test for COVID-19, layered with our procedures for all employees to get approval from their supervisor before any visit to the University, should provide a clear understanding: We strongly recommend against this activity. Until we have the vaccine, keep UB on your screen.
Lastly, earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting virtually with Coppin State University's new president, Anthony L. Jenkins. A native of Washington, D.C., he served as the president of West Virginia State University from 2016 to this year, and, prior to that, as vice president of student affairs at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Coppin, our neighbor to the west, shares the award-winning Master's in Human Services Administration program with UB, and also is a fellow member institution of the USM. I expect to have a fruitful relationship with President Jenkins, and I hope you'll join me in welcoming him to Baltimore.
I look forward to speaking with you on Aug. 17 at one of our town halls. Are you ready for the new semester? What's left on your to-do list? Share your thoughts at the email above.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on July 29, 2020:
To the UB Community:
Higher education, like all of life's big endeavors, requires proper planning in order to be most effective. But this week we're reminded that the pandemic challenges our ability to step back, deliberate, and make decisions on a reasonable timetable. This crisis finds us almost always on the defense -- and that's the way it will be for at least the short term.
UB is working toward a goal of implementing a protocol for screening all visitors to campus from the start of the fall semester, including students, faculty, staff -- anyone who wants to enter our buildings, even for an hour. We'll be using the REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) system, in partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to allow individuals to report, via an online system, their health status before they go to campus. They'll receive a go/no-go response based on the information they provide, such as temperature and any unusual symptoms. Everyone will sign a pledge to abide by this protocol. We are also working on a contract with a managed care hotline to provide employees and students guidance in case of symptoms, exposure, or a positive test. In case of a reported illness, contact tracing will be performed by the Baltimore City Department of Health.
While REDCap is gearing up, we've been informed of a new mandate. This week the University System of Maryland will announce a requirement for COVID-19 testing for all campus visitors. Thus anyone who seeks admission to a University building must submit a medically recognized test that shows that they are virus-free before they are approved for an on-campus visit. At that point, the REDCap system will kick in.
I believe the word that comes to mind here is "flexible." Yes, the testing requirement adds a layer of complexity to our planning -- but by being open to the mandate, we are further assured that the UB community, while on campus, will be safe. The importance of this and other measures will become self-evident as time goes by.
Many thanks to all involved in the multiple efforts to improve our enrollment picture. A major focus has been placed on resolving problems that have been barriers to returning students. Targeted messages have been sent to newly admitted undergraduates and graduates describing the strengths of UB in this online education environment. Responses from students have been very positive. A new scholarship program supporting Baltimore City government employees has been developed through a special appropriation from state government. And marketing has increased to make community college students more aware of the Parsons Scholarship. We're experiencing an all-hands-on-deck approach to interrelated enrollment issues.
I want to express our collective gratitude as well as a personal thank-you to UB's housekeeping staff. I'm not sure how many of you know about the dedication these staff members have shown since the pandemic began back in March. For every person visiting campus, the housekeepers must follow in his or her path to clean surfaces and disinfect anything that might have been touched. The enhanced cleaning standards in use include prioritizing high-touch surfaces, such as doors and elevator call buttons, along with cleaning restrooms and public areas more frequently throughout the day.
While these standards are consistent with CDC guidelines, and present the best opportunity to protect our community, we recognize that there is still a risk even when the staff members are in approved protective gear. We are watching out for these brave members of our community, and we want them to know they are in our thoughts and their work is greatly appreciated.
Finally, please visit the Regents' UB Task Force intranet site on MyUB and offer your ideas, comments and suggestions as the group works on its report about the future of the institution. If you'd rather keep your comments private, use this email address, which only the Task Force can view: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe, and continue to enjoy your summer.
Kurt L. Schmoke
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on July 15, 2020:
To the UB Community:
This is the first in a series of weekly updates that you will receive regarding fall semester operations at the University of Baltimore. For more information, visit UB's homepage.
From the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic back in the spring, the University of Baltimore has met the many ensuing challenges with one principle in mind: In order to deliver and receive a quality education, first our community must be healthy and safe. Ensuring your protection, whether you are a student, professor or staff member, has been our top consideration. So far, we have achieved this goal. Now, as we prepare for the Fall 2020 semester, I want to reemphasize this commitment as our plan for operations takes shape. In fact, today, as COVID cases spike in many parts of the country and we learn more about the risks of letting down our guard, it’s more important than ever to be smart, be careful, and remain vigilant.
This fall, here is how UB will function:
- UB will remain almost exclusively online. The exceptions are for first-year law students and legal-clinic students, to comply with ABA requirements as previously noted. They will meet with professors in small sections with personal protective equipment (masks) in place and social-distancing rules in effect.
- Specified areas of the Angelos Law Center will be accessible to the UB community during the fall semester to support academic programs and critical operations.
- Faculty studio spaces are being developed for synchronous instruction and recordings, for those times when effective remote teaching is not possible. There will be a strictly limited number of these spaces; criteria are being established by the Office of the Provost, in consultation with the deans, on how to prioritize their usage.
- The Bogomolny Library will be accessible for a total of four hours per week and only to library staff. Students can pick up books and other materials through an online form. Details will be announced shortly.
- Faculty and staff access to offices will not be permitted during the semester.
- No student employees will be working on campus during the semester. Also, an internship, practicum or similar student placement will be permitted only if the host organization provides us with a statement of compliance with federal and state public-health guidelines pertaining to the pandemic.
- Technology needs will continue to be met by the Office of Technology Services using the same methods established last spring.
- Beginning in August, UB will institute a screening protocol in cooperation with the University of Maryland, Baltimore's REDCap initiative. Details on this effort will be announced soon.
During the summer, using funds provided by the federal government and the UB Foundation, we are investing in resources to provide high-quality instruction in the online environment. At the same time, we are continuing to support the telework approach for all employees. The only exceptions, where in-person reporting is required, are for UB Police and our housekeeping and facilities maintenance staff. Our decision to remain online and in a telework environment minimize the burden on these staff members.
This fall, you can expect an exceptional experience from your University of Baltimore. At the top of that to-do list, as always, is your health and safety. Please continue to work with us as we put into place the things that ensure that UB is a great place to learn, teach, and work.
Look for regular messages from me during the remaining weeks of the summer, with more details about our plan, and more opportunities for you to be part of these efforts. I hope you are staying safe, but also getting excited about the semester ahead.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on May 29, 2020:
To the UB Community:
University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman has announced an overall plan for the USM institutions, including the University of Baltimore, to host classes in a variety of ways this fall. As you will note from his statement, the institutions are being given a good deal of latitude about how to achieve this goal, safely and effectively, and without any real certainties regarding the impact of the pandemic in the months ahead. As we have seen, the more we learn about COVID-19, the better we can respond from a public health perspective.
Earlier, the USM received our operations plan for the upcoming academic year. As you will recall, UB will run predominantly online for the fall semester, with some classes conducted in a hybrid fashion in order to ensure a quality experience for our students. Issues relating to compliance with ABA standards in the School of Law and their impact on the UB plan remain under discussion.
As our faculty and staff prepare for the start of classes, they will deliver solutions that are flexible yet robust, academically grounded yet innovative in approach. Much of what you'll see at UB this fall will be based on the enormous amount of learning that we, as a community, undertook these past months regarding the online environment. And, it should be said, UB already offered many of its classes and degree programs online—the pandemic simply broadened our reach and strengthened our resolve.
Thanks to your efforts, UB's overall expertise in online learning is something of which we can all be proud. That base of knowledge continues to grow. The USM has recognized our expertise, and supports my decision to stay primarily online, with necessary exceptions. Our operational arrangements, as well as plans we must make for spring 2021, are now being worked on by the Campus Planning Group, which will present me with recommendations soon. In turn, I will share with you more details of our plan in the coming weeks.
In these times, the provision of a quality education is more important than ever. It is education that will help us to combat what I think of as "twin pandemics": the pandemic of the coronavirus, and the pandemic of racism. Today I am reminded of the important words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education."
There will be bumps in this process. A glitch in a video, an overburdened laptop—I know it can be frustrating sometimes. But in class after class, in every school at UB, we are finding success. While the world awaits an end to this public health crisis, we are not waiting—to teach, to learn, and to reach our goal of achieving a great University of Baltimore education.
Stay safe and healthy this summer.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to UB students on May 8, 2020:
To All UB Students:
As you may be aware, federal funds have been directed to help support college students who are in need of financial assistance. Today we are announcing the availability of these funds through a grant program for qualified UB students.
The University of Baltimore's goal is to maximize these funds, as allocated through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), to provide direct emergency financial aid grants to eligible students. The act requires that support go to students for their expenses relative to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care expenses.
UB is mindful of each student's socioeconomic circumstances in the delivery of the UB CARES Grant program. The Office of Financial Aid will send a communication and the application link to potentially eligible students beginning today. You can find detailed information for the UB CARES Grant on the UB CARES Grant webpage.
In addition, UB has established the UB Student Emergency Assistance Fund. This resource is made available through the generosity of the University System of Maryland Foundation and the UB Foundation, and consists of gifts made from the UB community, including alumni and supporters. Detailed information for the UB Student Emergency Assistance Fund is available on the Office of Student Support webpage.
We hope that these assistance plans are helpful during our challenging times. Please continue to practice social distancing and stay healthy as we work our way through the pandemic.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on April 20, 2020:
To the UB Community:
As younger students would note, "back in the last century" the rock band Fleetwood Mac offered us these words of advice:
Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone
Now is time for higher education institutions to heed this advice.
Although the coronavirus has challenged our institution and the entire country in so many ways, this pandemic presents the University of Baltimore with new circumstances that we cannot ignore. We know that this moment is a chance for all of us to pass along a message about the excellence of UB and our ability to meet our community's needs during turbulent times. As people rethink their approach to obtaining a college degree and to improving their communities, this is the time to highlight UB's strengths and the invaluable ways that our campus uniquely serves its students and society. Among those strengths are:
- UB's outstanding faculty are experienced in online education. For example, UB led the nation in establishing an accredited online MBA in 1999. Many of our top programs are available online, and a number of others offer a hybrid experience and web-assisted elements.
- UB is acknowledged as a leading public institution, both in Maryland and nationally, for social mobility. This means that earning a UB degree has a direct and positive impact on a student's economic prospects and an assurance of gainful employment.
- UB's commitment to civic engagement is second to none, as seen in our impressive programs in the arts and sciences, public affairs, law, and business, such as the B.A. in Community Studies in Civic Engagement in the College of Public Affairs and the Litigation and Advocacy concentration in the School of Law.
- UB concentrates on educating serious-minded adult learners with a particular focus on transfer students and community college graduates. This has been our focus for nearly 100 years.
Clearly, there is much more to our story. The point I wish to emphasize is that UB is ideally positioned to serve the needs of citizens facing the social and economic obstacle of these times. While we recognize that we have our own issues, the University is working hard to address these impediments by focusing on enrollments, managing our budget matters, and expanding fundraising efforts with alumni, friends and supporters. We've come a long way already, even as the pandemic presents us with many more things to plan for and put into effect at a moment's notice.
My ask of you today is that we all, as our own extraordinary community, commit to letting the world know that UB is "thinking about tomorrow." I've seen it, and I can assure you that when we work together, things will be "better than before"—and UB will lead the way in delivering an impactful, meaningful education for years to come.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to UB students on April 7, 2020:
To the UB student community,
Recently, our lives changed in many ways, and I send my greetings and best wishes to you during these dynamic and challenging times.
At UB and nationally, one of the changes has been the move to a fully online educational environment. This change was made to protect the health of you, our faculty, and our staff in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. I know UB faculty and staff remain committed to delivering the outstanding educational experience that has served our students and alumni well.
I am pleased to share that we have reviewed the mandatory student fees you were charged for the spring 2020 semester, considering their applicability in the fully online environment implemented on March 23. The Office of the University Bursar will credit a portion of these fees to your UB student account this month. Pro-rated refunds for students with prepaid parking plans will also be issued this month through a separate process coordinated by the Auxiliary Enterprises department.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to UB faculty and staff on March 30, 2020:
Dear Faculty and Staff:
Thank you for your outstanding efforts to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Shifting to remote teaching and teleworking mid-semester was indeed disruptive, but you are doing a fine job to further UB's teaching and scholarship agenda in this new environment. The pandemic situation has definitely shown UB’s resilience and ability to adapt well to change.
Prior to the pandemic, I had asked the Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee to evaluate models to realign UB's academic structure to a three-college model (Feb. 5, 2020 email). This action is necessary for the University to thrive and endure the transformation that is happening in higher education nationally. Our plans for academic restructuring and program realignment must occur, and I thank the SPBC and the faculty workgroup for their excellent work. I want to make clear that UB's restructuring activities will take time and ultimately its implementation will extend over many months and throughout the academic year.
For now, while we settle in to online teaching and teleworking, our priority is to provide a collective focus and unified action to complete the spring and summer terms successfully. Let’s continue to work together to solve problems, innovate and keep our students engaged and informed. What we discover during this period of enormous change may be useful to us going forward. We will return to the restructuring effort in the coming months.
Many thanks, and stay well.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on March 23, 2020:
To the UB Community:
We have just learned that a professor in the School of Law has been confirmed as having contracted the COVID-19 virus. This individual is currently receiving treatment. The professor was last on campus on March 11. We are working to ensure that anyone on campus who was in contact with this person can take appropriate steps to self-isolate for a two-week period and stay alert for possible symptoms.
It is vital that every member of the UB community stay vigilant about the spread of this disease. We urge you to be watchful of symptoms and avoid contact with others.
If you may have been exposed, self-observation is an important first step. Be alert for symptoms. If you feel feverish or develop a cough or difficulty breathing during the self-observation period, you should take your temperature, self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or the local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.
As much as possible, stay away from other people in your home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
The University of Baltimore is working proactively to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Every member of our community plays an essential role in this effort. For more information, visit ubalt.edu/coronavirus.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on March 20, 2020:
To the UB Community:
In this time of rapid and immense change, I want to update you on the latest developments as we modify operations at the University of Baltimore to follow social distancing protocols and offer our students a quality education in an online environment. The presence of the COVID-19 virus has complicated our lives in many ways, and our response is under way. I am incredibly proud to be part of a community that works together with a unity of purpose to get through this highly unusual time in our lives. Beginning next week, we will move forward with online learning. Several aspects of our plans will take time to settle, so not every question can be answered today. But rest assured that every item will be resolved, and your continued support is appreciated.
As I previously shared, UB has taken action to protect the members of our community, and we will continue to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders and University System of Maryland’s directives and guidance concerning the COVID-19 virus. These directives were upgraded in the past 24 hours. Therefore, the University is putting in place additional proactive measures that adhere to strict social distancing protocols through the spring semester. The following information aligns with these protocols, and is relevant to all members of the community – please read carefully:
Spring Semester: At this time, adhering to the USM Board of Regent’s decision, we will extend the University of Baltimore’s remote-educational environment for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. Remote education begins on Monday, March 23 and continues through the end of classes and exams in mid-May. Many of you are prepared already to use our learning management systems (Sakai and TWEN for Law) and Zoom, our videoconferencing platform. These are our primary tools for continuing all of UB’s classes online. UB’s team of professionals are available to support your ability using these online tools: Office of Technology Services, RLB Library, and CELTT for faculty. If you need technology to supportyour online learning experience, including a loaner laptop, webcam or Internet access, University resources may be available. Please visit here for more information. As we extend the virtual instruction through the semester, the University will provide regular updates, as needed. If you have an issue related to your participation in the remote environment, let us know so that we can make your UB online experience a positive one.
Events: All campus events, including sponsored on-campus and off-campus events, are cancelled through June 1, 2020 and no new events will be scheduled until further notice.
Commencement: With the cancellation of all events, the University’s May 2020 traditional Commencement ceremony is also postponed. The rescheduled date for commencement will be determined and announced as soon as possible. It is our full intention to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 as only UB students can, when it is safe for all of us to gather together again. Although there will be a delay in the Commencement ceremony, there will not be any delays in degrees being conferred. Students who complete their degree requirements and who have been cleared for graduation will have their degrees conferred at the normal time and will be considered UB graduates (May 2020 for May graduates).
Teleworking: Employees should continue to telework until further notice. We recognize that you may have questions about access to your offices. Decisions about long-term management of on-campus access by employees will be announced in the coming days.
Building Access: While the University will continue to be operational, the campus buildings will only be accessible to the list of employees that have been designated as “Essential for Pandemic Circumstances – On Campus.” Students and employees are not to come to campus for class, study or to visit any office until further notice.
Support for Our Community: We are providing support for students and other members of the UB community who require assistance, especially regarding their educational needs. Information about student assistance is available here, and information for employee assistance is here. Now more than ever, it is critically important that you continue to take the necessary safeguards to protect your health. To our students, as you continue your studies and further your education goals, know that UB faculty and staff are here to assist you. We ask that you check our website, our social media, and your ubalt email for important updates and resources.
The changes we are going through, all across the country and around the world, are disruptive to our lives. But we are a strong, courageous and compassionate UB community. Your health, and the health of families and friends – these things are paramount. Thank you for doing your part to keep UB, our state and our nation moving forward, together, during this historic public-health emergency.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on March 13, 2020:
To the UB Community:
Governor Hogan and University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman have announced significant steps for our state and universities, respectively, to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 virus and limit exposure to our community members and our facilities. The University of Baltimore adopts these measures (click here: guidance). Therefore, in addition to the steps that we have already taken to move to remote education for our students beginning March 23, 2020, effective immediately the University has cancelled or postponed all campus events from March 14 through April 5, 2020 and will move all non-essential employees to teleworking status, including student employees.
The week of March 16-20, the campus will be open only to employees for the purposes of completing necessary tasks to transition to a telework environment, until further notice. UB buildings will be closed on March 23, limiting campus access to personnel identified as Essential for Pandemic Circumstances – On Campus. Employees with this designation will be notified of this designation by Monday, March 16.
The details and other vital information on all changes to the University’s operations are provided at this UB webpage (click here). UB employees are strongly urged to visit this Office of Human Resources webpage for a teleworking explanation.
As UB manages this transition from its normal operations to functioning remotely, we appreciate your patience and understanding of all the nuances involved in making these temporary changes. The University’s top priority is to keep our services fully operational and to maintain a healthy and safe environment – and that takes the efforts of every member of our workforce. In doing so, we will continue to follow the guidance of the state, University System of Maryland (USM), and other public health protocols for dealing with COVID-19. We are in close contact with these officials as we create contingency plans for the continuity of operations. The situation is rapidly evolving, so we advise you to stay informed, read all communications, and visit the University’s webpage frequently for updates and resources.
Thank you for your cooperation and efforts during this time of unease as we manage this public health emergency. We will continue to keep you informed as the situation unfolds.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB employees on March 12, 2020:
To All UB Employees:
University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman, following Gov. Hogan’s announcement this afternoon, has issued guidance (please click the link) to all USM institutions regarding measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. UB’s plans for implementing these efforts will be sent to you on Friday.
To learn more about UB’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, click here.
UB President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on March 11, 2020:
On March 10, the University was made aware of a new member of the UB community who just arrived from overseas and was on campus. The University informed local and state authorities who confirmed that the University should continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel advisory related to COVID-19 protocols. This individual was in contact with a student, four staff and one faculty member while on campus having visited two offices. All of these individuals have been advised by the University to self-quarantine for 14 days, out of an abundance of caution. The offices were closed temporarily and have since been thoroughly cleaned and reopened. To our current knowledge, no member of the UB community has reported a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Please note the University’s Personal Travel Guidance: All University of Baltimore employees and students are urged not to travel to any country with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel advisory related to COVID-19. “Any employee or student who is returning to the U.S. from one of these countries must refrain from coming to campus—and be symptom-free—for 14 days before returning to campus. Similarly, community members who have had contact with someone who has traveled recently to these countries will also be asked to delay their return to campus.”
We will continue to keep you informed.
President Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on March 10, 2020:
Today, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman and the USM presidents have agreed to prepare for students to remain off campus following spring break. Each institution will establish its own plans to respond to the USM’s guidance. UB will plan to suspend all in-person classes and move to online instruction. The situation is moving quickly, and our decisions are aligned with the state’s and the USM’s guidance. I urge you to stay informed via the University’s webpage – this is our main source for up-to-date campus information. The University’s plans may adjust as the situation evolves. Our plans are based upon the best current thinking from our state and national public-health professionals on managing this public health crisis.
Following my message of March 5, this email is to update you on the steps that UB will take in the coming days in response to COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus on our campus. It is important that you read this information:
- Continuity of Classes and Campus Operations
- University Events and Activities
- Travel Guidance: University-Sponsored
- Travel Guidance: Personal
- Reminders on Prevention of Viral Illness
We are making adjustments to operations as it relates to academic and campus activities. Since my last email, there are still no known cases of COVID-19 among UB community members. If a confirmed case of COVID-19 virus has impacted you directly, please report to the University immediately (UB-EMT@ubalt.edu or 410.837.4444).
Continuity of Classes and Campus Operations: The University will remain open for now. However, in an abundance of caution, the University will plan to move all classes to remote (online) class sessions. All in-person (on-campus) instruction will move to a virtual environment as early as March 23 and continue for at least a two-week period. Details can be found here. UB will work to ensure minimal disruption to student learning and continue operations.
University Events and Activities: Pending further guidance from public-health authorities or the University System of Maryland, we are assessing on a case-by-case basis whether to hold currently scheduled large-scale university events or UB-sponsored external events. However, effective immediately, new requests will not be approved for large-scale events to be held on campus, until further notice.
University-Sponsored Travel: We continue to evaluate all university-sponsored trips and to coordinate with the University System of Maryland regarding travel decisions. We have cancelled all university-sponsored international student travel through June 30, 2020. While we are not issuing any specific prohibitions against domestic travel for employees, we are recommending against university-sponsored domestic travel for students. Students opting to participate in a previously approved trip will be required to sign a travel waiver; consult with your faculty adviser. Until further notice, no new student travel will be approved.
Personal Travel Guidance: All University of Baltimore employees and students are urged not to travel to any country with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel advisory related to COVID-19. Any employee or student who is returning to the U.S. from one of these countries must refrain from coming to campus—and be symptom-free—for 14 days before returning to campus. Similarly, community members who have had contact with someone who has traveled recently to these countries will also be asked to delay their return to campus.
If you are returning from a country with a CDC advisory or have been in contact with someone who has traveled recently to these countries, you must contact the Office of Human Resources (employees) or Office to Student Support (students). If you are planning to go to a destination that is not on the CDC travel alert list, you should still consider the potential for:
- Isolation or quarantine while you are away
- Flight cancellations and public transportation disruptions
- Screening, isolation, and/or quarantine upon return to the U.S.
- Denial of reentry to the U.S.
UB advises against domestic travel, except travel related to your regular commute. Employees and students should continue to monitor and follow the guidance of public health authorities related to your destination area.
Teleworking: The University is considering teleworking protocols for employees to work remotely, if need be. A separate message will be sent to all employees.
Preventing the Spread: Please continue to follow the guidelines provided for staying healthy, including washing your hands frequently and social distancing when possible. Visit UB’s webpage for more information on public-health guidelines for care and precautions.
I thank the UB community for your understanding and patience as we work through the details of handling this major public-health emergency. It is natural for individuals to have their own views on how our institution should respond during this time of uncertainty. At UB, we value your opinions and needs. In that spirit, let’s work together to implement these measures to keep our campus healthy and as safe as possible.
President Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on March 5, 2020:
The University of Baltimore is taking action in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) alert. We have activated the UB Emergency Management Team to prepare our campus for contingencies involving this disease. As we approach Spring break, I ask that campus community members follow public-health guidelines for care and precautions, such as: remaining at home if you develop flu-like systems; washing your hands often, and reporting to the University immediately (UB-EMT@ubalt.edu or 410.837.4444) if a confirmed case of COVID-19 virus has impacted you directly.
The situation is changing daily. The University's response to, and planning for this international public health crisis is consistent with UB's Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), the organizational structure for handling a variety of crises or emergencies. The UB Emergency Management Team and a special coronavirus subcommittee are meeting and communicating frequently. The team is actively finalizing contingency plans, policies, and protocols for action, as well as preparing for various scenarios that we may encounter. These actions include planning for any potential disruption of classes, preparing active measures for disease prevention and spread, and confirming the employees who will respond first when situations arise. The University has implemented UB-related travel restrictions; a number of states have declared an emergency, which may also impact your travel. We are participating in regional information sessions, and I am convening a meeting of key administrators to ensure that our operations are effectively coordinated across the University.
Be assured that the University is preparing for the possibility that COVID-19 will be a potential public-health emergency in our area. Your adherence to public health guidelines is an important part of our efforts. We are monitoring the situation closely and will keep you informed.
President Schmoke sent the following message to the UB community on Feb. 27, 2020:
The University of Baltimore is closely monitoring developments in the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus, as well as reports on this year's flu virus. As a precaution, here is a web page with helpful hints for you to stay healthy during these indoor months. Click on the links on this page for more information and updates.
Be a practitioner of good health habits, and help keep UB a safe and welcoming place.