Auburn to combine spring and summer commencement ceremonies

By Austin Phillips

Published: Mar 16, 2020 12:00:00 AM

COVID-19 COVID-19

UPDATE March 27:

Following the postponement of Auburn’s spring commencement ceremonies due to the COVID-19 outbreak, spring graduates will have the opportunity to participate in summer commencement when the university combines its spring and summer ceremonies on August 8-9, 2020. While the university plans to host summer commencement, final event decisions are contingent on public health circumstances surrounding the global pandemic.

The announcement follows the university’s recent decision to transition all spring on-campus instruction to remote delivery and cancel campus events through the end of the semester. In a letter to campus last week, President Jay Gogue indicated the university would assess alternate commencement plans while still conferring degrees to those students who meet graduation eligibility.

“Although our spring graduates will already have their degrees conferred, we know how important this Auburn tradition is to our students,” said President Jay Gogue. “There is no academic ceremony more symbolic than commencement, and we understand what walking across the stage means to our students and their families.”

Traditionally, Auburn’s summer commencement program recognizes 1,500 graduates across two ceremonies. By combining spring and summer exercises, the university will extend the event to multiple ceremonies across two days, provided the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

In preparation for the combined spring and summer ceremonies, all spring graduates will receive an email next week requesting their intention to participate in the ceremony. Those students who ordered regalia for the spring commencement and plan to attend the combined ceremony will not need to contact the Auburn University Bookstore. Any student who ordered regalia for the spring commencement and does not plan to attend the combined ceremony may request a refund.

Students, families, and friends unable to attend the combined commencement will be able to view the ceremonies via live stream. For information on specific ceremony dates and times, please visit Auburn University’s Commencement Website.

 


Consistent with current guidance provided by public health officials, Auburn University will suspend on-campus instruction for Summer 2020 Sessions 1 and 2.

Auburn's summer semester consists of three sessions: Session 1: 10-week session (May 20 – July 31); Session 2: 5-week session (May 20 – June 23); and Session 3: 5-week session (June 29 – July 31). Courses offered during Sessions 1 and 2 will be delivered remotely. A decision regarding course delivery for Session 3 (remotely or on-campus) will be made by June 1, 2020. Registration for the summer semester opens on Monday, April 6, 2020, and continues through the start of each the three sessions.

The decision comes as Auburn continues to observe policies and practices aimed at mitigating public health concerns related to COVID-19. As students prepare to make fall and summer registration decisions, the university will continue to support programs and offer coursework designed to support students' continuous academic progress. Students enrolling in remote summer courses can order course materials and supplies from the Auburn University Bookstore with free shipping. Course materials for classes in the “All Access” program will be available on the first day of class. For more information on the All Access program, visit the All Access website.

The university has also canceled all study abroad programs for summer 2020 due to risks associated with international and domestic travel during the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision reflects Auburn's response to recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control recommending higher education institutions cancel abroad programs due to global concerns over the growing outbreak. These concerns highlight the unpredictable circumstances students could face while abroad, such as travel restrictions, challenges in returning to the U.S., or accessing health care. This decision also aligns with the U.S. State Department's current elevation of the global health advisory level to a 4 (Do Not Travel). 

The Office of International Programs is working with students to refund any program fees paid for spring and summer semesters. Students who had planned to study abroad should work with their academic advisors to identify potential summer course alternatives where possible.

"While I am hopeful that the risks associated with COVID-19 will lessen in the coming weeks and months, Auburn must continue to do its part to decrease the chances of transmitting the virus and protect the health of others," said President Jay Gogue. "I know this decision is disappointing for our students and faculty who had planned to study abroad this summer. However, I am confident that limiting travel and continuing remote instruction for the foreseeable future is the best way that Auburn can actively help to slow the transmission of the virus."

 

UPDATE March 26:

Auburn University leadership continues to engage with state and federal authorities regarding COVID-19 and recommendations to protect the health and safety of our community. When the university initially transitioned to alternate operations in a variety of areas, such as remote delivery of instruction and remote work assignments, initial guidance stated that all operational modifications would continue through April 10 with reassessment in late March. 

After careful evaluation, all operational modifications previously assigned a tentative April 10 end date have been extended through May 9, 2020.

As previously announced, remote delivery of instruction will continue through the end of the spring term. Spring commencement is postponed, and information will be announced soon on its rescheduling as well as the delivery of summer courses. All university domestic and international travel is suspended through May 9.

All university events are canceled through May 9. With respect to athletics, the Southeastern Conference has announced that all regular season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled, including SEC championship events, through the spring sport seasons.

The university medical clinic remains open. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not come to work and should immediately call the Auburn Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825 before visiting the clinic. 

All Auburn employees who have been approved to perform their job responsibilities from a remote location should plan to continue to do so through May 9. Additional guidance will be provided regarding university operations during the final week of April. Determinations regarding assigned work locations for employees (remote or job site) will continue to be made by supervisors based on the employee’s assigned job responsibilities and the need to maintain full university operations.

Where remote work is not operationally feasible, supervisors are encouraged to work with employees to establish flexible schedules that may allow those employees to come to work for all or part of their regular work hours.

Employees are not required to submit annual (vacation) or sick leave during this period. However, employees are expected to communicate with supervisors and seek approval of any absences during which they will not be available for work.

Current employees will be paid through May 9 at their regular rate of pay, even if they are unable to perform their normal job responsibilities. This applies to all current administrative and professional employees, university staff, graduate assistants, temporary service workers, post-doctoral students, visiting scholars and graduate/undergraduate student workers who are scheduled to work between now and May 9. All faculty will be paid in accordance with their contracts. Pay methodology beyond these dates will be determined as operational status decisions are made closer to that date. 

This alternate operations model is currently intended to be in place through May 9. As we all know, however, new information becomes available daily. The university will communicate any necessary modifications as circumstances change. Please monitor the university’s COVID-19 site for the latest information and to sign up for daily email updates.

 

UPDATE March 24:

As students prepare to make fall and summer registration decisions, it is important to note that Auburn University will offer summer courses in the typical 10-week summer semester and two 5-week mini-semesters. Decisions regarding the manner in which courses will be offered (on-campus or remotely) will be made in the near future. Students are encouraged to work with their academic advisors to develop appropriate plans that support academic progression.

 

UPDATE March 23:

The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has put together a comprehensive resource page for all our students, faculty and staff who are working remotely during this coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We encourage you to visit this page for any questions or concerns regarding distance learning this semester.

For more information, visit aub.ie/coronavirus2020.

 

UPDATE March 20:

Dear Auburn Family,

Together, as a nation and as members of the Auburn Family, we are facing a time of considerable uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic continues to bring rapid changes to the way we live and interact with others. The unprecedented interruptions and immediate impact of this pandemic occur at a critical time for our campus as we traditionally prepare for final exams and celebrate the academic and personal accomplishments of our students as a lead up to spring commencement.

The decision to transition all instruction to remote delivery was made to uphold the safety for all and support our students as they continue their academic journey. With this in mind, we have made the decision that Auburn will not resume on-campus classes but will continue to deliver instruction remotely through the remainder of the spring semester. By reducing the number of individuals on campus, Auburn continues to promote as much social distancing as possible to help slow the spread of the virus. The university is working on a plan to provide prorated refunds for on-campus housing and dining plans. Those students who need to retrieve belongings from campus residence halls will be contacted by University Housing. No students should return to campus until they receive additional information.

Of course, the decision to suspend on-campus activities, coupled with the restrictions on event sizes announced by state and federal officials, has resulted in the university’s decision to postpone our May commencement ceremonies. This was a very difficult decision made with careful thought and input from faculty, staff, and, most importantly, our students. Spring graduates will receive additional information about alternate commencement plans in the coming days. Degrees will be conferred to students who meet graduation eligibility and will be mailed as usual. Graduation is one of the most important events in the lives of our students, and I look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at a future date.

Understanding the need for flexibility, particularly with our academic policies, the Provost has authorized several changes to support students during this time. These include extending the withdrawal date for students to April 24, allowing more flexible use of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (also known as Pass/Fail) grading, and providing faculty who choose to administer final exams with appropriate online proctoring resources. Students should consult their academic advisors to understand the potential impacts of these changes on their academic progression.

Many members of our campus community have asked about the university’s plans for summer. Final decisions regarding summer classes, programs and events will be made and communicated soon.

I encourage you to subscribe to email updates on the university’s COVID-19 information page and by following university social media accounts.

The response of our campus community this week has been remarkable. Our students and faculty are embracing new approaches to teaching and learning while our staff is adjusting to a new form of work-life. One of the most extraordinary characteristics of the Auburn Family is our solidarity in times of crisis and need. I am confident we will emerge from these trying times even stronger.

Warmest regards,

Jay Gogue

 

UPDATE March 19:

Auburn University’s leadership continues to receive frequent updates in consultation with state and federal authorities as to best practices and recommendations regarding COVID-19 concerns. Meanwhile, the university remains on remote instruction, and the university is providing assistance to faculty and students as virtual classes are successfully underway. Arrangements have been provided for students without access to needed technology for remote instruction, and answers are being made available to many frequently asked questions as this situation evolves. As Auburn assesses these ever-changing circumstances, the Auburn Family is asked to keep up to date on the latest developments involving Auburn’s response to COVID-19 by frequently visiting the university’s COVID-19 website. Any major updates will also be emailed to this list of those who signed up to receive ongoing communications.

 

UPDATE March 17:

As already communicated, Auburn University has transitioned to an alternate operating model.  At this time, the University continues to conduct full university operations.  Supervisors are encouraged to be as flexible as possible to help minimize the spread of illness.  Where possible, remote working is encouraged.  Where remote work is not operationally feasible, supervisors are encouraged to work with employees to establish flexible schedules that may allow those employees to come to work for all or part of their regular work hours.

As communicated by Dr. Gogue, all current employees will continue to be paid at their regular rate of pay through the spring term, even if they are unable to perform their normal job responsibilities.  Please see below for guidance, which is relevant while we are in alternate operating mode. 

Administrative/Professional (A&P) and Faculty (Exempt) Employees

Full-time A&P and Faculty employees will be paid 40 hours per week.

Part-time A&P and Faculty employees will be paid based on their FTE, as they are today.

University Staff (Non-Exempt) Employees

Full-time Staff employees will be ensured payment of 40 hours per week, and any additional appropriate compensation for hours worked over 40 in the workweek.   All Staff employees who are working will continue to clock in using Kronos, whether working on campus or remotely, to ensure proper payment of overtime and any relevant differential pay (shift differential, lead pay, etc.).  

Part-time Staff employees will be ensured payment of the average of hours that were worked for biweekly pay periods 2-5 (January 5 – February 29, 2020).   All Staff employees who are working will continue to clock in using Kronos, whether working on campus or remotely, to ensure proper payment of overtime and any relevant differential pay (shift differential, lead pay, etc.).

Temporary Employment Services Employees (TES) and Student Employees

All TES and Student employees will be ensured payment during this time, and will be paid an average of hours that were worked for biweekly pay periods 2-5 (January 5 – February 29, 2020).   All TES and student employees who are working will continue to clock in using Kronos, whether working on campus or remotely, to ensure proper payment of overtime and any relevant differential pay (shift differential, lead pay, etc.).  

Guidance for clocking in from home will be communicated shortly.  Additionally timekeepers will receive guidance about payroll processing responsibilities in the coming days.

Note that this guidance may change as we consider the University’s response to this pandemic.  We will evaluate employment options beyond spring term based on information at that time.  Please subscribe to daily email updates to stay informed on the latest developments. It's easy to sign up from our COVID-19 information page.

 

UPDATE March 16:

The situation with COVID-19, the coronavirus, is changing, it seems, almost by the hour. In this uncertain atmosphere, there are two important messages.

First and foremost, Auburn leadership is solely focused on the safety and well-being of the students and the rest of the campus community. No one likes being away from the university we love and our friends. Everything is being done to help ensure that your academic progress is uninterrupted and that university operations can return to normal as quickly as it is safe to do so. With this in mind, we ask that no students come to campus during this time, including congregating on Samford Lawn and other green spaces on campus.

Second, to help stop the spread of the virus, it is essential that we all practice good hygiene (hand-washing, disinfecting our phones and more), avoid large crowds and keep our distance. Whether back home, in your Auburn apartment or somewhere else during this period of remote instruction, a 6-foot distance from those around you is a good rule of thumb. We realize "social distancing" is a major departure for most of us, but health and medical officials are unanimous on its effectiveness in stopping its spread.

The university has an online site with safety tips and the latest information. There is also an option to sign up for regular email updates, and I encourage you to do so.

 

UPDATE March 15:

University leadership is in constant communication with state and federal officials as it continues to monitor developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Auburn remains committed to doing our part in ensuring the safety and health of the university community and takes seriously our responsibility to the broader local, state and national community.

Based on the latest COVID-19 developments and best practices recommended by state and federal authorities, Auburn will transition to an alternate operations model starting Monday, March 16, to be fully implemented by close of business Monday. All Auburn employees who can perform their job responsibilities from a remote location should begin doing so as soon as possible but no later than close of business Monday, March 16.

Determinations regarding assigned work locations for employees (remote or job site) will be made by supervisors based on the employee’s assigned job responsibilities and the need to maintain full university operations. Supervisors should communicate as soon as possible with employees in their units regarding implementation of this directive.

This alternate operations model is currently intended to be in place until April 10. As we all know, however, new information is becoming available daily. The university will communicate any necessary modifications to this operations model as circumstances change. Please monitor the university’s COVID-19 site for regular updates.

 

March 12:

Auburn University will transition from on-campus instruction to remote delivery beginning Monday, March 16 and continue through April 10 in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

University officials ask that students refrain from returning to campus after spring break. University officials will subsequently determine if students will return to campus for the remaining weeks of the spring semester. Auburn faculty will contact students on steps they should take to continue their academic coursework.

The university will continue normal operations, although departments and units should utilize remote work and “social distancing” as appropriate.

“The Auburn Family faces many unknowns about this virus,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “We are taking these unprecedented steps based on our utmost concern for the health and well-being of Auburn students, faculty and staff. In the meantime, we continue working with public health and emergency preparedness officials to make decisions in the best interest of the campus community and to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Other university actions:

  • All university events, including sporting events, are canceled through April 10, ensuring appropriate “social distancing” and helping prevent the potential spread of the virus.

  • All university domestic and international travel is suspended through April 10.

  • Dining facilities, libraries and residence halls will be closed through April 10. University officials will make arrangements for international students and others who are unable to return home. Students who have specific questions should contact the Division of Student Affairs at 334-844-1304.

  • Decisions have not yet been made on spring commencement, summer study abroad programs or other events and activities beyond April 10.

  • The university medical clinic remains open. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should immediately call the Auburn Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825 before visiting the clinic. 

  • University officials will make arrangements for students who do not have access to the technology needed for remote instruction. 

Students who live on campus and believe it necessary to return to campus to collect personal items should first contact the Office of University Housing at housing@auburn.edu.

Auburn officials urge the following safety precautions:

- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds

- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve

- Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, mouth and nose

- Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, including mobile devices

Auburn’s COVID-19 information page will be updated daily. Auburn University at Montgomery will issue a separate announcement regarding its operations.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips, austinp@auburn.edu, 334-844-2444

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