JMU News

Input sought on restoring operations


Dear JMU Faculty and Staff:

In hopes that you, your families, colleagues and friends are well, I write today to ask for your input as we navigate the process of planning when and how to restore university operations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, as guidance from public health and government officials subsequently evolves and as we conceive of how to operate as a primarily residential learning community while the virus remains a public health risk, it is important that we understand your perspectives and hear your ideas before putting plans in place.

To that end, the Contingency Planning Task Force is interested in gathering your ideas and concerns about resuming on-campus operations. Please click here to visit an information request form to provide your input to the Task Force before May 18. This will be the first in a series of requests for your input. The Learning and Innovation Task Force also is interested in your input, and I will forward to you a request from that group soon.

Additionally, here are a few general updates on university progress through this unprecedented time:

  • University leaders are working with colleagues at other institutions, and with public health and government officials across Virginia and nationally, to share ideas about pandemic curve predictive modeling, health and safety protocols and emerging best practices. While vast uncertainties remain, we know more every day. According to reports, hospitalizations for COVID-19 cases remain far below the commonwealth’s emergency capacity, including at Sentara RMH. You likely heard that Gov. Northam expects to begin a phased reopening of nonessential business beginning next week, and will swap the current stay-at-home order for a "safer-at-home" message.
  • We also continue to confer with colleagues at other institutions and with government officials on calculating the budget impacts of COVID-19 on higher education and on local, regional and commonwealth economies. And while the magnitude is still not known, let me just say that we are not alone in any of our challenges. Just a few new items of budget information since our last update on university finances:
    • Funding from the federal CARES Act to JMU was set at $12,080,658 with $6,040,329 allocated to emergency grants for students and $6,040,329 to offset the nearly $30 million of university losses due to spring semester refunds and canceled summer programs. Details about how the emergency grants to students are to be allocated will be sent to JMU families from the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships later this week.
    • Early response to launching the university’s emergency scholarship fund—Madison for Keeps—has been very strong and aims at helping at least 100 students who otherwise would not be able to return to JMU because of sudden changes in their or their families’ finances.

Finally, to close with news about which I am guardedly optimistic, the number of deposits made so far by the incoming Class of 2024 is relatively solid, given current circumstances. Thank you to all who supported this year’s effective recruitment effort. As our continuing students register for classes during the fall semester, please check in with them and wish them well from JMU. And please remember to fill out the Contingency Planning Task Force’s information request form.

Jonathan R. Alger
President, James Madison University

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Published: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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