COVID-19 Weekly Update (5/13)

May 14, 2020

(This message was originally sent on May 13, 2020. It is being published here for preservation.)

Dear Department Chairs, Associate Deans, Deans, Vice-Chancellors and colleagues:

Congratulations on making it to the end of the semester! As we head into finals week, I hope you all find some time to applaud yourselves for getting our students through this difficult time. We know from our conversations with them that they are eager to get back in the classroom with you, when that becomes possible.

In the coming weeks, all of our plans for Fall 2020 will begin to roll out. There are groups working on academic operations, residential life, operations, and research. As their plans are approved, I will note them in this weekly email, and these documents will also live on our website so that they can be amended as needed.

Virtual Celebration of Graduates
Our celebration of Mizzou graduates will kick off at 2:00 on Friday, May 15, with video messages from campus leaders. Mizzou’s social media channels will deliver engagement opportunities throughout the virtual celebration on,, and Additional “event” details will be added as they become available on

Graduate Student, Post Doctoral, Faculty and Staff Awards
View the virtual awards “ceremony” by the Graduate Professional Council and the program on the Graduate School webpage:

Online Course Enrollment for International Students
During the spring term, the federal government temporarily suspended the restrictions on online course work. This allows international students to take all online courses, and to do so here in Columbia and elsewhere in the U.S. or outside the U.S., while maintaining valid student visa status. However, at this time we do not know if this provision will be extended through the fall 2020 semester. For now, the university is required to notify DHS/USICE of operational adjustments and advise our international students to update their addresses. We hope these provisions will be extended or clarified to accommodate the ongoing uncertainties anticipated for the fall 2020 semester. We will update the campus as soon as we have more information, but for now International Programs is monitoring the situation closely and providing advisories on their website.

Graduate Assistantships
The Graduate School has received a number of questions about the applicability of HR-710 and 720 for students in graduate assistantship titles. Students in these titles are not subject to furloughs, layoffs, or salary reductions. Graduate assistantships are part of graduate students’ academic experience and training; in addition, graduate assistantships are not eligible for unemployment, which makes their employment status unique.

A question
Some of you have asked – why cut our budgets when we heard in the news that our state withholds may come back? Click here to read my response.

Hearty congratulations – Associate Professor Amanda Hinnant is the 2020 winner of the O.O. McIntyre Professorship at the Missouri School of Journalism. The award recognizes teaching excellence. Click here to read more about the award and Dr. Hinnant’s teaching.

Kudos also to the Hacking COVID Task Force which includes faculty who are working across campus to mobilize UM and maker-community resources to help health-care professionals fight the COVID-19 pandemic with rapidly deployable technology-based solutions – from N95 masks, to hand sanitizers, if they cannot find it, they will make it !

Congratulations to Dr. Lisa Sattenspiel, Chair of Anthropology, who is the PI for a just announced NSF grant of $146K (one year) related to COVID-19. Her area of expertise is the 1918 flu pandemic and this project compares the 1918 flu pandemic and COVID-19 in Missouri with a focus on comparing rural and urban responses. The primary goal of the project is to investigate how the experiences of individuals living in small cities and rural areas during a major pandemic differ from those observed in large, urban areas. The results from this project aim to aid in preparing for future waves of COVID-19, especially in rural areas. Other members of the interdisciplinary research team include Carolyn Orbann (Co-PI, School of Health Professions), Chris Wikle (Statistics), Giovanna Guidoboni (Mathematics and Engineering ) XiuFeng Wang (Medicine, Engineering, and VetMed), and Jane McElroy (Medicine). Click here to listen to Dr. Sattenspiel discuss the similarities of the current crisis with the 1918 pandemic, especially the reason why the 1918 flu was described as the Spanish flu!

Congratulations also to Drs Mark Palmer of Geography and Johanna Hearne of English who were recently notified of an NSF award ($315K, 2 years) to describe the processes of translating Indigenous knowledge into standardized 3-D image and visualization technologies. The investigators of this project have the honor and rare opportunity to collaborate with Otomi time keepers and knowledge holders who have inhabited the central Mexico plateau for at least seven thousand years. Their main objective is to assemble a community of Indigenous knowledge-holders, academics, and artists to present storyboards to the Otomi community to evaluate the degree to which translations (controversies, interests and mobilization) shape the design phase of an Indigenous visualization prototype.

From a faculty member whose student was shipped a laptop –

I can’t begin to thank all of you enough for your time and attention on this matter. And, no one is more excited than Kenny. He’s been in touch with me to tell me how grateful he is that we (Mizzou faculty and staff) have come together to ensure he’s able to continue to do the work he did when he was able to access campus technology.

Thank you Amy, Lynda, Chris, Matthew, and Brandon, and of course our own Chris Riley-Tillman and the entire IT team who honor and process these requests.

Please take care of yourself, and keep the suggestions and applause stories coming.

Latha Ramchand