McPhee gives COVID-19 update on CARES Act, task fo...

McPhee gives COVID-19 update on CARES Act, task force, virtual commencement, more

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee issued the following updates Friday, April 24, regarding the university’s response to COVID-19:

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

To the University community,

In my effort to keep you informed on our work to stay on course with teaching, learning, research and service during the COVID-19, here are some brief updates:


• Newly enacted stimulus legislation, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocates money aimed specifically at helping students and their families struggling to cope with negative financial impacts of our national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• The CARES Act provides specific relief related to those students currently paying back student loans. In addition, the CARES Education Stabilization Fund allocates funds for MTSU to distribute in support of eligible students who experienced disruption to their lives and education due to the outbreak.

• The funds are intended to be used in meeting expenses related to food, housing, course materials and technology caused by the transition from on-ground to online course instruction, health care and child care.

• We are awaiting additional federal guidance that will define which students will be eligible to receive funds.

• As soon as we are able to finalize the requirements for students eligible to receive these grants, the students will be notified, and the funds will be disbursed to their MTSU accounts. There will be no action required by our students.


• I’ve asked Provost Mark Byrnes to chair a task force, with members representing stakeholders from across our community, to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 upon our institution.

• This group’s mission will be to identify and cultivate ideas and suggestions on our operations in the wake of COVID-19; develop and explore operational scenarios for the 2020-21 academic year; and conduct a broad overview of our operations to identify areas of concern or need.

• This group will deliver its final report to me before the end of May. However, if they identify opportunities or concerns that need to be addressed quickly, the Provost can bring those recommendations to me.


• To learn more about how we as a community adapted to this semester’s unprecedented teaching and learning challenges, we have created a short survey to get our students’ feedback.

• The survey asks students to consider their educational experience, from the extended spring break through the end of the Spring 2020 semester, as a whole and not each course.

• Enrolled students received a SurveyMonkey link via email asking them to complete the survey. Responses will be kept confidential.


• The university will hold a virtual commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 9, to recognize the members of the Class of 2020. Provost Byrnes and I (plus a few other special guests) will address the graduates.  May graduates will still be invited to participate in a future commencement ceremony.

You will find the link to this online ceremony here. We’ll send out more reminders about this program as we approach May 9.

• The names of all who have applied for Spring 2020 graduation will be scrolled during the ceremony. Those names will also be featured in a special commencement program that will be included in our True Blue Graduation Box, which will be mailed to graduates later in May.

• The True Blue Graduation Box will include the graduate’s MTSU diploma cover with diploma inside; mortar board (cap); unique blue tassel with 2020 drop; two commemorative programs; an invitation to a future ceremony; a MTSU special gift; a MTSU Alumni bag, appropriate Latin Honors stole if earned; and a gift from Veterans Affairs for Veteran students.


• From WSMV (Channel 4): Our virtual “Finish Now Friday” meetings for students (and those considering MTSU) for online learning.

• From The Daily News Journal: MTSU songwriters “Rise Up” with a poignant song and video.

• From our “Stay On Course” show: Faculty Senate President Justin Gardner spotlights faculty innovation in teaching during COVID-19.

Stay safe and remain True Blue,

Sidney A. McPhee