Chancellor’s Update: A Message to Our UWM Alumni Family and Friends

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These extraordinary times present challenges to and demand sacrifices from all of us. On behalf of UWM faculty, staff and students, I extend heartfelt best wishes for you and your loved ones’ safety and well-being as you negotiate these uncharted waters.

The spread of COVID-19 has compelled UWM to make difficult choices that put the safety of our faculty, staff, students and their families first. This was not the semester anyone expected.

Each day, and nearly by the hour, we are addressing new issues and making difficult decisions. Today, I am sharing a high-level summary of what we have sent to faculty, staff and students so that you have a picture of developments on campus.

Extended Spring Break to Prepare for Online Delivery of Courses

Originally scheduled for the week of March 16, spring break has been extended by one week to end on March 29. This extra week allows us to move all courses online or to alternate mode of instruction, starting Monday, March 30, through the end of the semester. This measure allows students to continue their academic progress during the pandemic while promoting the health and safety of our campus community. Campus Technology Services is developing a program to distribute about 200 repurposed laptops at little or no cost to students who otherwise would not have access to their online courses.

Student Housing and Campus Access

We are closing University Housing for the remainder of spring semester except for those individuals who do not have other options. Similarly, academic buildings are closed, including the libraries. Faculty and staff, except for those delivering essential services, will work remotely.

In-Person Commencement and Honors Ceremonies Canceled

Given the circumstances facing our university, our communities, the nation and the world, we have decided we cannot hold our in-person graduation ceremonies on May 17 nor Honors Commencement on May 11. These decisions are consistent with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order barring mass gatherings.

We know how profoundly disappointing this is for those graduating, as well as families, supporters and friends. These decisions are not made lightly, but with the best interests of our campus communities and our students’ families and loved ones in mind, especially since many people would make travel plans to attend. We appreciate your understanding of this difficult decision. Our Class of 2020 will still graduate, and we are actively looking at alternatives to our two May 17 commencement ceremonies.

Alumni Events

With regret, we have similarly canceled all in-person alumni events through the end of the semester. We are planning a series of digital engagement opportunities, which we will announce shortly, to help you stay connected with UWM and each other.

Emergency Relief for UWM Students

In recent days, we have heard from many members of the UWM community asking how they can be of service to our UWM students. The closures and cancellations described above affect each of our 26,000 students. While we’re grateful that so many can return home to be with their families, these changes have far-reaching effects on others. Some of our students are now facing extenuating circumstances related to housing, food and concern for their personal and emotional well-being. If you are in a position to help, we hope you will consider supporting these students.

  • The UWM Student Emergency Fund makes funds available for food, emergency travel and living expenses caused by workplace closures due to COVID-19.
  • The UWM Food Pantry, which was opened about two years ago and provides food to students who experience food insecurity.

Please click on this link to make your gift.

We understand what a disruption has been placed on so many lives during this crisis. Thank you for being part of the larger UWM family as we help each other through this pandemic and the extraordinary measures now in place to combat it.

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee