University of Miami
Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost logo
March 13, 2020
Dear Faculty,

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting our day-to-day lives in many consequential and unexpected ways. But even in the face of this evolving threat, I have been heartened over the past couple of days as the University community has come together and worked to ensure that our core functions—teaching and learning, research and innovation, and patient care—thrive at the U.

While we are concerned with the uncertainty of how this outbreak will impact us, I am convinced the work we do at the University of Miami is more important than ever. I am truly grateful for your continued focus, creativity, and patience in the face of these challenges. I want to thank academic and administrative teams across the university for their strong leadership and decisive and tempered responses.

The steps we are taking to ensure our students can continue to pursue their education and academic goals will require all of us to adapt quickly to new ways to deliver instruction and present course work. At the same time, more than hardware and software, our students will need your understanding and flexibility. We must recognize that their very way of life as college students has been completely disrupted, and they will look to their teachers and advisors for support and guidance. Your enthusiasm to try new teaching techniques will be met by their embrace of fresh pedagogies. The students will look to us as mentors and role models, they will read our verbal and non-verbal cues, and their emotional state will be amplified by what they see in us. Now is the time for us to be renewed and resilient: a common theme among ‘Canes.

We are also providing expanded guidelines and resources to our research enterprise, which, working hand in hand with our clinical faculty, are on the frontlines of providing innovative solutions to challenges like COVID-19.

Next week provides a vital window of opportunity for the institution to launch a new and demanding chapter in our history. Thanks to our previous experience preparing for and responding to hurricanes in South Florida, we have benefited from having actually tested emergency operation plans that allow for business continuation with limited interruptions. Many schools and colleges had been developing or recently completed their academic continuity plans. Well done! Few of us expected we would have the chance to test them so quickly. I encourage you to work closely with your colleagues at the U and across the world to learn valuable lessons and best practices in this new living and learning environment.

You will receive more instructions on course preparation and training when you return to campus next week. Remember to visit our dedicated COVID-19 website for the latest information at

There is still so much we don’t know about how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out, but I am sure we will get through this together. I’m proud and amazed at our adaptability. From the bottom of my heart—thank you!
Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D. signature
Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
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