March 11, 2020 COVID-19 SMPH Update

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, Chancellor Blank has announced several significant changes to campus operations. Please thoroughly read the Chancellor’s memo as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. It is vitally important that we do all that we can to reduce the severity and impact of the COVID 19 epidemic.

This memo will offer further guidance regarding how these guidelines will impact the SMPH community.


Members of the Dean’s Office are reaching out to event planners today to discuss postponing, modifying or canceling upcoming events. Currently, we are focusing on events scheduled to take place before April 10. If you have an upcoming event and you are not sure what steps to take based on these campus guidelines, please contact Allison Golden.

The following events hosted by the Dean’s Office will be canceled:

The Match Day celebration, which had been scheduled for March 20.

The All School Party, which had been scheduled for March 30.

Extended Second Look, which had been scheduled for April 2-4.

The Diversity Summit, which had been scheduled for April 6.

Personnel Matters

SMPH departments are strongly encouraged to consider authorizing ad hoc arrangements that would allow employees to work remotely if necessary. While not all positions are conducive to telework, those positions with primary job duties that can be effectively performed remotely should be given consideration.

Student employees should be shown flexibility and in-office work considered on a case-by-case basis.


At this time, we are not restricting candidate travel to SMPH, although large group recruitee events that fall under the restrictions of the campus policy must not be held. We recognize that some candidates may have home-institution restrictions on travel, or personal concerns about traveling. In general, we encourage hiring managers to default to virtual interviews for candidates who would need to travel from outside the region. Be mindful that large town halls should be conducted via web ex, rather than in person.


While campus has suspended face-to-face instruction, SMPH graduate students can continue to work in labs. Clinical rotations for learners will also continue.

Alternate delivery of classes will begin as soon as possible (no later than March 23) and continue at least through Friday, April 10. A decision on when and whether in-person instruction will resume will be shared in early April. Students will receive additional information about this transition in the next few days.

Ongoing Communication and Resources

This is a stressful time, and the uncertainty of this situation weighs on all of us. Please be mindful that various university resources are available, including the Employee Assistance Office, the University Ombuds Office, and Life Matters.

SMPH has implemented a small task force, in concert with the Dean’s Leadership Team, to oversee COVID-19 readiness planning. We are taking our lead from leadership at UW–Madison and UW Health and contributing to the discussions and decisions at each institution. Regular updates will continue to be distributed.

As a School of Medicine and Public Health, we have an important responsibility to serve as standard-bearers in the attempts to mitigate the impact of this outbreak. We should all be mindful not to spread rumors and hearsay, and to take these restrictions seriously. Please also consider how these restrictions apply to your personal life and in your community (concerts, theater, religious community, sporting events, other large-scale gatherings).

I deeply appreciate the strong leadership teams at both our university and academic health systems that are working so hard to chart the safest course through the turbulent waters of COVID-19. Together, all of us can protect each other, as well as our patients, populations, and communities. Thank you for your ongoing dedication to our missions.

Questions regarding COVID-19 planning should be directed to Be safe.




Robert N. Golden, MD
Robert Turell Professor in Medical Leadership
Dean, School of Medicine and Public Health
Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs