A message from President Schatzel regarding spring term changes

March 19, 2020

President Schatzel sent the following message to campus on Thursday with updates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dear Towson University faculty, staff, students and their families:

I’m writing today with some significant updates for our community as we respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland and across the nation continue to grow in number, we must all do our part to help flatten the curve of further outbreak of the coronavirus. As a reminder, there are currently no known confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Towson University. 

These decisions are made in alignment with the federal guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House, as well as Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman, and our USM partner institutions, as we all are facing these challenges together.

Earlier this evening, the University System of Maryland announced that all member universities, including Towson University, and regional higher education centers would immediately begin the transition to distance learning for the remainder of the spring 2020 term. Based on that directive by the USM, Towson University will be taking the following actions:

  • The previously announced transition to distance learning for students beginning on March 23 will now continue through the rest of the spring 2020 term. There will be no on-campus, face-to-face classes or instruction for the remainder of this semester, and all courses will be completed remotely. This includes all TU campuses and facilities.
  • Students will receive an additional email from the Division of Student Affairs today regarding student services for the remainder of the spring term. Students will also receive an email today regarding technology resources for remote learning for the spring semester.
  • Students living in residence halls will receive a separate email today from the Office of Housing & Residence Life with specific directions for removing their belongings from campus. 
  • All staff who are currently teleworking will continue to do so under the TU Temporary COVID-19 Telework policy unless otherwise directed.
  • Faculty will receive an email from the Office of the Provost that will detail specific instructions regarding the remainder of the spring term. 
  • Under the leadership and guidance of the USM, a uniform policy, to be used by all member universities and regional higher education centers, is under development regarding prorated refunds for unused room and board, parking and meal plan charges. Any refunds will be subject to Federal Aid and Title IV guidelines and may vary depending on unpaid balances or other charges. TU recognizes the responsibility to students and families who have been disrupted during this unprecedented situation and with our USM partners we will develop an approach in keeping with this responsibility. We will communicate this policy with our campus community as soon as we can. 
  • In following public health guidance around social distancing, all in-person university events for the remainder of the spring term are canceled. 
  • Finally, we have made the very difficult decision to postpone our May 2020 commencement ceremonies until this fall. To our graduating seniors: this is still your year and we are incredibly proud of your accomplishments. TU will celebrate the academic achievements of the Class of 2020 graduates with a fitting campus commencement ceremony. But at this time, holding such a large gathering in May, as is tradition, conflicts with our priorities around health and safety and the national public health predictions that the virus outbreak could peak at that time. 

I want to emphasize that we will continue to have the health and safety of our TU community as our highest priority. We will do our absolute best to minimize the very real challenges faced by the most vulnerable of us. 

Our faculty and staff—across all divisions—are working tirelessly to support our commitment to all of our students and our greater university community. I will continue to emphasize and reinforce that we remain steadfast in supporting our academic mission and in keeping all TU students on track to maintain progress toward the completion of their degrees.

For now, the Towson.edu/Coronavirus microsite lists resources for remote teaching, learning, and working. We have also updated our Coronavirus FAQ to help answer some of the most common questions from our community. Please continue to frequently monitor your email and our university Twitter account, @TowsonU, for updates. 

This is a significant moment in our world that has required a great deal of flexibility, understanding, caring and patience from all of us. I have been inspired and touched by the efforts of our entire TU community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families—to support each other. This unprecedented situation brings much stress and uncertainty but I have watched our campus community unite in the midst of these challenges and remain steadfast in our commitment to do everything we can to support each other—now and in the months ahead. 

Thank you, and remember to take care of yourselves and your families. The months ahead will be challenging but please find some peace in knowing we remain committed to each other and to this most amazing university. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing everyone—all our Tigers—back on campus this fall—students, faculty, and staff—as well as having a fantastic commencement to celebrate the Class of 2020! 

With sincerest regards,

Kim Schatzel, Ph.D.