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Graduate Student Update: Coronavirus - March 17, 2020

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Jeremy Haefner

News  •

Dear graduate students,

We know that the past few weeks have generated an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and stress for each of you. As you wrap up the winter term, many of you are completing online exams, making adjustments to your research or creative projects, and navigating disruptions in internships and field placements. I have no doubt that the consequences of these disruptions weigh heavily on your mind, and that you also are deeply concerned about the well-being of friends and family.

This message is intended to address some of these concerns.

Please know that although spring term courses are moving to an online learning platform, DU will remain open. However, as most staff members will be working off-site, many services and resources will be offered remotely. Your education and community experience continue to be our paramount concern, and we are doing everything we can to honor that.

Our Commitment to Your Success and Academic Progress

While we realize these new procedures and plans are outside of your control and they have significant implications for your academic experience, we are committed to advancing your progress toward your degree. The Office of Graduate Education is working diligently to support you through this time. For those graduating in spring, the office is currently verifying graduation requirements and will soon be reviewing theses and dissertations as we prepare for your graduation. Reach out to the office at if you have questions.

  • For students anticipating graduation in June: We will be rapidly conducting degree evaluations for all those intending to graduate in June, looking for missing classes, seeking alternatives, and communicating frequently.
  • For students with diverse learning styles and neurodiversity: We will be ramping up resources, tools and advising to ensure students' transition and navigate successfully in these new learning environments.
  • For students who anticipate technology challenges with online coursework: Please contact the Provost’s Office ( and we will help you troubleshoot.
  • For students using GI Bill benefits: We know you are concerned about potential impacts to your benefits as a result of transitioning all courses online. A legislative solution is currently moving through Congress. Please be assured that as updates come in, Veterans Services and the Certifying Official will update you as soon as possible.
  • For all students: We are working to create or modify policies to support your success and help you stay on track for degree completion.

In addition to our commitment above, here are a few brief updates and answers to questions we have received:

Winter Term Finals

All final exams and assessments will be offered online. We want you to do your best, and we understand that these are extraordinary circumstances. Please reach out to your faculty members if you need help navigating your study plan or if you need additional flexibility. If you are having technology difficulty, please visit DU’s Information Technology Student Resources.

Please understand that all group proctoring of exams is cancelled. However, the Disabilities Services Program will continue to assist students who require accommodations. Call first: (303-871-3241). They are also available via email (, and you can also schedule to meet via Zoom. They will continue to work to provide Alternate Format Text (AFT) for eligible students during this time.

Spring Term Classes

As we announced earlier today, we have fully moved to remote learning for the spring term. Many classes will be offered on a compressed schedule, with some beginning with a planning week to orient both students and faculty to this new learning environment. Experiential classes may present additional challenges, but faculty have demonstrated exceptional creativity in these early days on how they will offer their content and also maintain the desired learning outcomes. We recognize that this is an extraordinary disruption of the regular academic enterprise, and appreciate your patience and flexibility. We are developing advising tools for you to use during this transition.

As a community, we are committed to close faculty-student engagement. We are building tools and supports to help faculty maintain this critical aspect of the DU student and faculty experience. We look forward to supporting innovation in engaging students in the adaptive process of pushing forward research, scholarship and creative works in these digital times.

Please know that our faculty and staff are working tirelessly to prepare for your return to DU digitally. You can expect to hear from each of your faculty members about what you can do to prepare for your work in the spring term, in whatever form that experience takes. We are making extraordinary preparations to ensure that however your classes in the spring term are delivered, you will continue to receive high-quality teaching that will prepare you for leading lives of purpose.

Theses and Dissertations

Spring is a busy time for graduate students, especially including the defense of theses and dissertations. We know you already have devoted countless hours to your research and have been looking forward to this culminating event in your academic career. We will soon provide guidance to all graduate students and faculty on modified deadlines and how to conduct theses defenses safely, while also providing the best opportunity for the community to celebrate your work. In the meantime, the Writing Center has moved its activities online and you can make an appointment here.

Internships, Placements and Fieldwork

Many of you currently are, or will be, spending some portion of your graduate program at an off-campus site. Each program is different, of course, and conditions are changing rapidly. However, each program has a designee that is overseeing these partnerships, and they will be your best source for advice. Everyone on campus is united in their desire to find creative solutions to optimally train students to prepare for their careers.

Licensure Concerns

The faculty and administration also are working closely with licensing and accrediting bodies. They will provide continual updates on how they are addressing these guidelines.

Research, Creative Work and Campus Closures

We realize that while many of you can work remotely on your creative work, research and scholarship, others require the use of campus facilities. In those laboratories where research is deemed essential, please follow the instructions of your faculty mentor, and observe best practices to minimize risk and prevent the spread of illness.


We know that your final quarter or semester should be one of your happiest and most memorable times at DU. We know graduation is a key life milestone and we are committed to finding a way to celebrate this with you if public health guidance will allow us to do so. At this time, we have not altered the dates for Commencement exercises in May (for Sturm College of Law students) and June. We will continue to listen to the health experts and will keep everyone informed.

Your Well-Being

As we all prepare to navigate the days ahead, we want to make sure that, in this extraordinarily demanding and stressful time, you are paying close attention to your emotional well-being as well as your physical care. It can be overwhelming to manage the almost-daily communications and recommendations from the University and others relating to COVID-19. Being isolated raises new challenges.

Maintaining your well-being during this time is an important priority. We will be supporting virtual community-building activities and encourage you to submit your ideas to

If you have symptoms of cough, fever, and shortness of breath, during business hours, call the Health & Counseling Center nurse triage line, 303-871-2615. Our afterhours medical staff may be reached through the HCC mainline, 303-871-2205. Please be sure to call before showing up at the clinic. Our medical staff will help you determine best next steps. Additionally, you may connect with a Student Outreach & Support (SOS) Case Manager to determine which support resource is best for your situation by calling 303-871-2400 or reaching out online.

In times of crisis, monitoring the environment, adapting our behavior, and communicating to our stakeholders are key. We will be sending regular updates to the student community. That said, please check the DU COVID-19 website for the most current University communication, guidance on what to do if you feel ill or may have come in to contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, and updates on event restrictions. The FAQ section is extensive, and new updates are posted every day.

Please know that this is an unprecedented situation, and the issues we face at DU are being faced at universities and schools around the world. We understand your anxiety and value your input. Please take care of yourself and those around you.


Jeremy Haefner

Corinne Lengsfeld
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor