Commencement Postponed (Not Canceled), State Order and Legislative Actions

Dear Students,

Over these past few weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, each day has brought new changes. Today is no exception. I have a promising update about UWM Commencement for the class of 2020, news about how Gov. Tony Evers’ executive decision impacts UWM, and a brief update on our advocacy efforts to receive aid.

Postponement – NOT Cancelation – of Commencement

In my March 20 update messages, I shared the unfortunate news that our May 17 in-person commencement would be canceled. What I didn’t spotlight enough then are the efforts underway to plan for alternative ceremonies. We are actively seeking future dates to hold in-person commencements for our Class of 2020. While we do not yet have dates determined, we are looking at the possibilities of adding ceremonies in October or November or expanding our Dec. 20 ceremonies. Availability of the UWM Panther Arena, whose scheduling is controlled by the Wisconsin Center District, will be a factor in the dates we ultimately select. For May, we are asking UWM schools and colleges to consider what limited, interim and virtual recognition within academic units would entail. Please note that eligible graduates will still graduate on time; there is no postponement of graduation (just the ceremonies).

State Safer at Home Order

Today, Gov. Tony Evers directed the Department of Health Services to issue a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions. The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25 and remains in effect until April 24. Please know that the City of Milwaukee Health Department has also issued a Stay at Home order. UWM is subject to both the state and city orders.

Both orders allow UWM and other educational institutions to continue to operate for the purposes of alternative/online learning, critical research, and essential functions as determined by the institution. At UWM, deans and division heads have authority to determine what functions are essential and need to be performed onsite at UWM, whether full-time, part-time, or periodically. These decisions also may change from week to week. We will be working to provide deans and division heads more guidance on how to make these important decisions consistent with the letter and spirit of the orders.

There is also a Department of Administration request for UWM and other universities/colleges to provide housing space for COVID-19 emergency operations. We are permitted under both the state and city orders to continue moving students out of University Housing. The safety of our students, families and staff is our top priority, and we have carefully orchestrated our move-out process to align with social distancing standards and other healthy practices. Further details are available in the modules below this message.

UWM and UW System Advocacy Efforts to Receive Aid

Yesterday, I joined UW System President Ray Cross in asking Congress to include emergency funding for UWM and other UW System schools in the economic relief legislation it is considering in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In my letters to U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, I emphasized the important role UWM has in our community as an institution committed to our access and research mission. Details on our specific requests are included in President Cross’ letter to both senators.

We are in a period when great patience, empathy and understanding are of the highest value. None of us has a playbook for the pandemic that is wreaking havoc on our daily lives. What I can assure you of is that everything we do is grounded by our guiding values and the maxim of what is best for our students, faculty, staff and UWM during these extraordinary times.

Additional important updates on campus operations and services are found below.

Best regards,
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Low-cost computers for students

Students who need a computer when classes resume online or through alternative delivery on Monday have an opportunity to purchase one at low cost from UWM Surplus, which has a limited number of used Apple and Dell laptops and desktops for sale. The computers are available only for UWM students and cost between $20 to $50.

  • Students must pay cash.
    Dell devices have Linux installed and the student may install Windows by going to this website.
  • Interested students should contact UWM Surplus manager Andrew Avery-Johnson at or 414-659-1391. He is available weekdays from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. You will also schedule an appointment to pick up the computer.

Computers must be picked up at the University Services and Research Building, north of North 1st Street and West Capitol Drive.

At the scheduled pick-up time, Avery-Johnson will meet the student buyer outside the “Surplus Door” entrance at the University Services and Research Building.

Social distancing measures will be in place. A computer will be set down outside the entrance and the student can then pick it up.

Students can also contact the Dean of Students Office if they do not have access to technology and need support.

All events canceled through May 31

All university-sponsored events are canceled through May 31 in response to city and state orders limiting public gatherings during the coronavirus health emergency. This includes all events for the rest of the spring semester, other than those that have been moved online or are being held by alternate means.

  • Staff are asked to update event calendars by doing the following:
    Add the word “CANCELED” in all caps before the name of the event in the title field.
  • Add the sentence “THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED” in all caps as the first line of the event description.

A select list of major events that have been canceled, as well as other now-virtual events, can be found here.

Moving out of residence halls

The health and safety of students and their families, as well the rest of the UWM community, are top priorities as students move out of residence halls this week. Move-outs are being scheduled to space them out and maintain social-distancing protocols. You can find details about this in the emails University Housing sent to residents on Friday, March 20, and on this website. Residents who are concerned about travel can ask University Housing staff to pack their belongings and have them stored.

Items left at Klotsche Center

For the safety of the campus community, the Klotsche Center is currently closed until further notice. As a result, no access is permitted for retrieving items from lockers. UWM will provide information on the steps and timeline for retrieving items once it is determined that it is safe to reopen Klotsche.

Online voter registration extended

The deadline to register online to vote in the Wisconsin presidential preference primary has been extended to March 30.

You must be registered to vote to request an absentee ballot. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is April 2, though the Wisconsin Elections Commission is urging anyone planning to vote to request one be mailed to them as soon as possible at the My Vote Wisconsin website. As of Tuesday, the Elections Commission said it was working to reinstate online registration.