Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid
March 13, 2020

Important Faculty Guidance: Teaching and Research Continuity and Other Updates

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Faculty:

This past week we have had to make some difficult decisions as we face a situation that is unprecedented in the history of our institution. I want to assure you that we have made these decisions with the health and well-being of our community as our top priority and with full awareness that there are both short and long-term implications. As we face this challenge together, I want to update you on a number of guidelines and policies that we will be following as we move forward.

Please check the CMU Coronavirus website if you have any questions. The site is consistently updated with the latest information.

Teaching and Learning Continuity

Our education and research missions remain the same. It is critical for everyone to understand: The expectation is that we are to teach remotely beginning Wednesday, March 18. We have canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday. Those in-service days will ensure you are prepared to teach remotely on Wednesday. As I stated in my email to students last night, the expectation is that all students will only be able to complete coursework remotely and online. Thus, there is no academic reason for them to return to campus. 

Marsha Lovett and her team have made tremendous progress in a very aggressive timeline to assist many of you in getting your courses ready for online teaching. It is important that every faculty member makes contact with their department liaison to the Eberly Center and complete the survey that was sent on Wednesday, March 11. This will enable us to identify those who have challenges and ensure all of our faculty are fully supported in their efforts to teach remotely. Thank you to those who have already responded to the survey and met with the Eberly Center staff or their department liaisons to creatively explore ways to offer your course. I am hearing amazing stories of creativity and commitment. 

Research Continuity

Those in the research community received an email from Michael McQuade and me earlier today providing further guidance regarding research continuity.

Social Distancing and Residence Life

I have assured students there is no academic reason for them to be on campus during this pandemic. It is vital for us to remain consistent on this point for the remainder of the semester.

As Gina and I noted in our email to students last night, we will do everything we can to support those students who remain on campus, and their safety and well-being are our top priorities. I would ask each of you to keep in mind social distancing practices for all work-related activities. While we know we don’t have answers to all of our students’ questions, please know that CMU’s leadership team is working diligently to identify and address the issues that will impact the remainder of their semester.

Meeting and Events

The university has limited in-person meetings to 25 people and mandated those gatherings follow social distancing guidelines. We also encourage you to meet remotely if possible.  

We strongly urge you to cancel or postpone all CMU events, whether on- or off-campus, that involve more than 25 people. Please also refrain from planning future events until further notice.

Travel Restrictions

All university international and domestic business travel is suspended. I want to remind you that in addition to previously announced restrictions on international travel, we also suspended all U.S.-based domestic travel for university business until further notice. In addition, anyone who is returning from areas declared high-risk by the Allegheny County Health Department, such as Seattle, Washington; Santa Clara County, California; New Rochelle, New York, or international countries under a Level 3 travel warnings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will be required to follow CMU’s self-isolation guidelines. At this time, Level 3 restricted countries include China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. The CDC recently added Europe to its advisory. If you are returning from any of these areas, you are required to self-isolate for 14 days and be symptom-free before coming to campus. If you are self-isolating, we ask you to notify University Health Services. We continue to work with our international campuses on the appropriate travel restrictions for their regions.

Because of this new guidance on domestic travel, effective Monday, March 16, all faculty interviews and Ph.D. visits must be conducted virtually. All doctoral and master’s theses defenses are also permitted to take place remotely. 

In addition, while we still strongly encourage faculty to consider postponing visitors coming to campus, any visitors who do come to campus must register using our visitor registration process, are subject to the same travel restrictions as stated above and must abide by the social distancing practices.

Remote Work Policy for Staff

Please note that the university today announced new guidance from the Office of Human Resources regarding remote work policies for staff.

Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure

In light of this extraordinary situation, I want to assure you we are reviewing policies and processes associated with reappointment, promotion and tenure. For Faculty Course Evaluations (FCEs), we will still be collecting the information so there is a familiar way for our students to provide feedback, especially free-form comments. However, we will provide the results to faculty for their own learning and development while excluding the results from Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure (RPT) documentation.

We understand the decision to transition to remote teaching comes with challenges. I am confident our commitment to our students, your passion for teaching, and our support of one another will lead to our success. I appreciate your patience, collaboration and resolve as we move forward together through these extraordinary circumstances. Finally, I thank each one of you for your willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure we deliver on the university’s mission to provide a world-class education.


Jim Garrett, Provost