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Office of the Provost

Academic Affairs FAQ

March 16, 2020

Question:  Many students work in research labs, studios, or other University facilities or research sites in order to receive academic credit.  Should they continue the in-person component of research, studio, or other work if it is conducted for academic credit? 

Answer: Students must not be required to earn academic credit on-campus or at any other specified location.  Faculty must develop a plan for each student to complete the semester remotely.  Once a plan has been developed for a particular student, that student may then choose to use University facilities in accordance with practices established by the faculty supervisor and school director.  At no time should a student feel pressured (either by the faculty member or their peers) to remain on campus.  Our GA’s are employees and are expected to continue in their employee roles, including performing research if supported on a research assistantship, but cannot be required to be on campus other than for their assigned GA duties.

 

Question: Can faculty gather small groups of students for rehearsals, lab work, course work, etc., if the students are in town and volunteer to come to campus? 

Answer:  This practice is prohibited, even if students request such an exception.  No practice for which a student must “volunteer” to participate is allowed.  Students may feel pressured, perhaps unintentionally, to be on-campus participating in such activities, and thus may not go home or take the precautions that they would prefer. 

 

Question: As long as we expect less than 50 students to gather, can we proceed with a student or other activity?

Answer: No. Guidance to cancel events where 10 or more attendees are expected (revised from 50) specifically applies to events sponsored by USM or hosted in USM facilities.  While the University is open to students, who are allowed to use our facilities, faculty and staff may not request or encourage students to gather for activities or events. 

 

Question: Does the travel ban include job candidates coming to campus? Accreditation site visitors from being on campus?

Answer: Many of our candidates may feel uncomfortable traveling at this time.  Additionally, there is potential for further travel restrictions.  Search committee chairs, school directors, and others responsible for search process should transition interviews to an online, remote format, or otherwise suspend the search. Accreditation visits should be managed case-by-case, but safety concerns should remain our guiding priority.

 

Question: How should undergraduate practicum/internship students completing work at external agencies be handled given the transition to online? Can these students keep attending their sites assuming the site still wants them?

Answer: Students must not be required to earn academic credit on-campus or at any other specified location.  Faculty must develop a plan for each student to complete the semester remotely.  Once a plan has been developed for a particular student, that student may then choose to use University facilities or attend a practicum/internship agency site in accordance with practices established by the faculty supervisor and school director.  At no time should a student feel pressured (either by the faculty member or their peers) to attend either campus or the agency site.

 

Question: Are externally funded GAs allowed to travel to their externship /practicum training sites (paid or unpaid)?

Answer:  Our GA’s are employees and are expected to continue in their employee roles, but likewise cannot be required to be on campus or at their external sites beyond what is required for their assigned GA duties.

 

Question: For small graduate programs that are clinical in nature, it is understood that faculty cannot require students to be on campus, but can they still meet for supervision of clients, etc. if they choose to under their own volition? There is a concern that pressing pause on some of the services places clients at risk who desperately need the services.

Answer:  Graduate students in clinical programs must not be required to earn academic credit on-campus or at any other specified location.  Faculty must develop a plan for each student to complete the semester remotely which, in some cases, may delay graduation. Once a plan has been developed for a particular student, that student may then choose to continue their University-based clinical site arrangement or attend a practicum/internship clinical site with an external agency in accordance with practices established by the faculty supervisor and school director. At no time should a student feel pressured (either by the faculty member or their peers) to attend either campus or the agency site.

 

Question: How is the University handling auxiliary sites such as clinics and centers that bring in external clients or children…e.g., Center for Child Development?

Answer: During the extended Spring Break period, the University’s offices and all student services will remain open, including residence halls, dining services, libraries, campus recreation, student health services, student counseling services, and other student services. Unless governing agencies (Mississippi State Department of Health, Mississippi Department of Education, etc.) recommended otherwise, USM auxiliary sites will remain open. Service hours at these auxiliary sites may be modified slightly during the break, so we encourage you to visit each area’s website for current information

 

Questions: Is travel within Mississippi to grant-funded research-related sites allowed? For example, if a USM faculty member has travel planned within the next few weeks to a site within Mississippi pertaining to a grant-funded work, is this travel allowed? Are both the travel and reimbursement allowable?

Answer: We are suspending all University-sponsored domestic travel (regardless of mode of transportation) to reduce USM’s contribution to the potential spread of infection to Mississippi. Travel between USM sites is exempt from this suspension. We encourage finding alternate means of conducting business. We realize the impacts may include cancelled trips, the window of time that research can be done, and for some researchers, the contractual obligation to complete projects involving domestic travel. The best course of action is to avoid grant-related travel and contact the Program Manager to discuss implications for the scope of work and timeline. To mitigate the above, an exception may be granted by a dean, vice president or the provost.

 

Question: What is the plan of action for faculty and students who have purchased tickets or paid deposits and such for travel that is now suspended? Does the school pay? Do faculty or students have to absorb these costs? Are there any University reimbursement guidelines?

Answer:  The Office of Procurement and Contract Services and the USM Foundation have developed an FAQ web page for travel reimbursements. Faculty and staff whose planned travel has been canceled should review this information carefully and contact those respective offices with further questions.

 

GRADUATE SCHOOL AND HONORS COLLEGE SPECIFIC

 

Question:  The deadline to defend theses and dissertations and submit the Results of Oral Defense form to the Graduate School is Friday, March 20.  Has this deadline been extended? 

Answer:  No. The committee chair must develop a plan for a student to defend the thesis or dissertation remotely. Once the plan is developed the student may choose to use University facilities or defend remotely. At no time should a student feel pressured to come to campus. Faculty who are unable to attend a face-to-face defense may also attend remotely. Students who are ill or are facing an emergency situation and are unable to defend by the deadline will be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

 

Question:  Can a student who has scheduled a comprehensive exam or proposal defense this semester still sit for those exams or defend the proposal?  

Answer:  Yes.  The committee chair must develop a plan for a student to complete comprehensive exams or propose remotely. Once the plan is developed the student may choose to use University facilities or complete the exam or proposal defense remotely. At no time should a student feel pressured to come to campus.

  

Question: The deadline to submit final, director-approved Honors theses to School Directors is April 15.  Has this deadline been extended?

Answer: No. We encourage all students and faculty to work toward the April 15 deadline, recognizing that some projects may have to be adjusted as a result of recent changes to campus life, lab access, illness, etc.  We will work with any requests for extensions on a case by case basis.  Any questions should be directed to Amy Benoit-Warlick (amy.benoitwarlick@usm.edu).

 

Question: The original date for completion of the Honors College Comprehensive Examination was April 1, with a 4/15 deadline for reporting of results.  Have these dates changed?

Answer: Yes, we are now asking simply for results to be submitted by April 25.  Since the format/nature of the exams is in the purview of individual schools, school directors have been informed that they should develop on-line or remote options, appropriate to their discipline and requirements. 

Contact Us

Office of the Provost
Lucas Administration Building

Hattiesburg Campus

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Email
provostFREEMississippi

Phone
601.266.5002