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Update: Coronavirus - March 20, 2020

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Jeremy Haefner

News  •

En Español: Actualización: Coronavirus - 20 de marzo de 2020


Dear DU Community,

Though there are still members of our community working on campus, today marks the end of the first week when many have begun working remotely. It also marks the end of our winter quarter. Well done, DU! All of us are proud of how we have weathered such calamity with determination, courage and resiliency—the markers of DU’s great character. As we begin to reframe what the “new normal” will become, I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are doing well and staying healthy. We will get through this together.

I know that economic uncertainty is one of the many fears created by this pandemic. We are understandably receiving many questions from students and their families and loved ones about tuition, room and board refunds, student health and activity fees, and scholarships. Staff are asking about job security in our new “remote” world, and what will happen after the next pay period. We do not have answers to all of these questions yet, but we are working very hard to address each of them. I promise you that by early next week we will have sorted out the financial questions for students and families, and we will provide an update. For staff and faculty, we will begin communicating our early financial analysis of the impact of the coronavirus health crisis, as well as our best thinking about how to approach our new “remote” working world.

On top of these persistent and growing anxieties, we are also confronted by physical distancing, school closures, event cancellations and modified service models at local businesses, each of which presents new challenges for all of us to find ways to continue building and maintaining a sense of belonging. One of our deans, Shelly Smith-Acuña at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, has suggested we replace the phrase “social distancing” with “physical distancing” as a more accurate way to describe our new guidelines for staying healthy during this time. I like this phrase much better because it makes clear that we remain socially engaged even if we are physically apart. And remember: While physical distancing is absolutely critical and necessary, it will not become the new normal. Eventually, life as we have known it will return.

In spite of these very real and formidable challenges, I want to say emphatically that all is not bleak, and we are seeing remarkable character and connection manifesting in powerful ways at DU. At our best—and we do not always achieve this state—but at our best, the University of Denver is a welcoming and caring community that goes well beyond our physical boundaries. Let me share with you just a few stories that demonstrate why I have such hope and that show the resourcefulness and resilience of our DU community members. 

An inspiring example took place yesterday. As part of our Community+Values initiative, more than 200 people participated in an online Community Talk titled “Self-Care in A Virtual World.” The conversation included Ann Ayers, C+V co-lead and dean of the Colorado Women’s College; Shelly Smith-Acuña, dean of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology; and Abigail Richards, C+V graduate fellow from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. This conversation was honest and authentic and connecting. It was a wonderful example of how we will continue to come together to shape a thriving sense of belonging at DU. C+V is planning other opportunities to connect, so please be on the lookout for more information about this series.

In another act of compassion and connection, our Board of Trustees, along with other alumni leaders, has pledged to contribute towards our Student Emergency Fund to help those students facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. We invite any community members who are able, and who wish to do so, to join in donating and helping our students at this time of profound financial and personal stress.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how very proud I am of the faculty who put together online exams on such short notice, our law faculty who bravely began teaching online without a break, and our students, who also—with very little advance notice—pivoted and prepared and completed the winter quarter. I am, on the one hand, amazed by this resilience, and on the other, not at all surprised. DU has always been defined by our strong and steady spirit, and I have never felt that more keenly or seen it expressed more vividly than during these last few weeks.

I am extremely proud of all of our passionate, resilient, and creative faculty, staff, students, alumni and parents, as well as our leadership team. It is heartwarming to see the dedication to provide the very best to support the mission of this institution and exemplify a private university committed to the public good.

To students remaining on campus during spring break and to the staff members who will be supporting them, please know that you can reach out to us as you normally would. Regardless of your status on campus, you can reach out to the Health and Counseling Center by calling 303-871-2205 or via email at The central office will connect you to any additional resources you may need.

SupportLinc is DU’s Employee Assistance Program and is available for employees and their immediate family members. All requests for information or assistance through the SupportLinc program are free of charge and completely confidential. You can contact SupportLinc anytime, around-the-clock. To get started, call 1-888-881-LINC [5462], or log in to the SupportLinc website or eConnect® mobile app (iOS/Android) with the username: universityofdenver.

We will continue to re-evaluate and update our guidance as needed. In the meantime, please review DU’s COVID-19 website for ongoing updates to frequently asked questions and other important information.

We will keep you informed as we continue to work our way through each new challenge. Look for some additional messages early next week on some of your most frequent, important and time-sensitive questions.


Jeremy Haefner