Announcing a Public Health Informed Fall Semester for University of Michigan-Dearborn

June 22, 2020

Today I’m pleased to share University of Michigan-Dearborn’s plans for the fall 2020 semester. These plans reflect our commitment to promoting public health, outstanding teaching and an excellent learning environment.

Dear Colleagues,

Today I’m pleased to share University of Michigan-Dearborn’s plans for the fall 2020 semester. These plans reflect our commitment to promoting public health, outstanding teaching and an excellent learning environment.  During the upcoming semester the university will be offering a hybrid educational experience with many classes taught in a remote format while other classes will be offered in-person on campus.  Our academic calendar will be altered to minimize the potential for the spread of COVID-19 to the broader community later in the fall season. 

Throughout the duration of the global pandemic, UM-Dearborn faculty and staff have maintained a commitment to the university’s mission while keeping our community safe and healthy.  Our decision to reopen some campus operations has been made in conjunction with public health  and many other professionals.  Although the challenges presented by COVID-19 will make this fall different from previous ones, we will continue to provide a distinguished Michigan education to all our students.

Our region and state have made significant progress in helping to control the spread of COVID-19, but UM-Dearborn is located in the center of our state’s hardest hit area.  For this reason we are taking extra precautions to provide a healthy and safe learning and teaching environment for our community.  University leaders and faculty will harness the innovative spirit that makes the University of Michigan a world-class institution to deliver an uncompromising educational experience, both in-person and remotely. 

The primary components of our fall plan for campus are described below.  We also have launched a website, which will be updated regularly as more details are finalized.  Please note that changes in conditions related to the spread of COVID-19 could impact the implementation of this plan. 

Until further notice, all staff and faculty who can work remotely must do so.  Our previously announced strategy to gradually and carefully resume various on-campus activities will continue as designed.

Fall Semester Instruction:

UM-Dearborn’s fall 2020 semester will consist of a blend of remote and in-person teaching. Classes will be taught remotely only if an excellent quality education can be delivered in this format.  Some classes will require scheduled times for students to gather, either virtually or in-person on campus.  Classes, such as labs, senior design and other courses that require a high-level of student interaction or special equipment, will meet in-person on campus employing all appropriate and relevant public health precautions.  A complete list of these classes is available here.  To provide additional information as quickly and transparently as possible, the Registrar’s Office will be updating student schedules for the fall 2020 semester, no later than mid-July. Students will be notified by email when schedule changes are available to review.

Diversity, equity and inclusion will remain an important component of course designs.  As a university, we will continue to work to ensure accessibility and ameliorate potential unequal impacts on students during this temporary change in instruction.

All teaching, learning and return-to-work plans are being developed with contingency scenarios should the campus need to pivot due to a second COVID-19 wave.

The campus has developed health and safety protocols that will work to ensure a safe learning environment.  These protocols include: modified in-person teaching schedules, classroom and building reconfigurations to allow for social distancing, the requirement of face coverings inside buildings, frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer and additional cleaning procedures.  For more information on the university health and safety plans click here.   

To facilitate health and safety for students, faculty and staff, changes have also been made to the academic calendar to reduce travel to and from campus. 

Fall 2020 academic calendar highlights:

  • Classes begin September 1 (as currently scheduled).
  • September 1 - November 21: Classes will meet continuously in the appropriate assigned modalities (in-person, hybrid, remote).
  • Fall break scheduled for October 19-20 has been eliminated.
  • Last day of all on-campus class experiences is November 21 (Saturday before Thanksgiving).
  • Thanksgiving break is extended to encompass the full week of November 23.
  • All classes will resume November 30 and run through December 14, exclusively in a remote modality. 
  • Exams will be conducted remotely and will begin on December 16 and conclude on December 22. 
  • Additional information regarding December Commencement, currently scheduled for Saturday, December 19, will be communicated at a later date; the date and type of ceremony are subject to change.

Plans for the winter 2021 semester will be shared with the campus community by October 1, 2020. 

Campus experience:

The university is committed to providing our students with a vibrant student experience and Campus Life activities will continue with a remote-first approach.  All student services will be available, with most interactions, programs and engagement handled virtually, when possible. 

Plans for the University Center, including food service, the Bookstore and Credit Union, are still in development.


All in-person on-campus events remain canceled through August 22.  With the reduction of students, staff and faculty on campus, the need for meeting space will be limited, and most non-academic activities, such as student organization programming, will continue to be held virtually. Event space will be prioritized for UM-Dearborn needs and external customers will be limited.  In order to best safeguard the health of our community, requirements regarding university operations may be more strict than current guidelines issued by the state of Michigan and other guiding agencies.

Mardigian Library:

The Mardigian Library will be open for lobby service September 1, and all physical materials, including books, loanable tech, and DVDs, will be available for checkout.  All returned materials will undergo quarantine and sanitization before being available for lending again.  Interlibrary loan and MelCat will resume.  Reference appointments with subject-specialist librarians will be available under safe, socially distant conditions.  The library will then plan a phased reopening of common areas following strict campus guidelines for safety.  The library will continue to provide virtual research help and access to all electronic resources through our website, chat, email, virtual appointments and database access.


UM-Dearborn will not participate in NAIA fall 2020 athletic competitions; all fall athletic training, practice and competitions are canceled. The Wellness Center will remain closed for the entire fall 2020 semester.

The Union at Dearborn:

Although a wholly separate entity not affiliated with the university, we are working closely with management of The Union at Dearborn to help ensure students have a safe living environment. University leadership has suggested many important measures to Union management that mirror and complement the precautions taken on campus.  Union management has been amenable to our suggestions and is currently finalizing their plans for a safe living environment. 

Early Childhood Education Center:

The Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) is scheduled to reopen July 13, 2020 for summer programming.  Reopening plans will follow guidelines from the CDC and the state of Michigan and will include additional cleaning protocols, social distancing and smaller class sizes.  Alternative spaces are also being considered to give the ECEC more flexibility in its educational offerings.  Fall plans are still under development.

Mission First, People Always

The last few months have been challenging for all of us.  I am proud and thankful for the work we have done together to maintain UM-Dearborn’s mission to provide an excellent education for our students.  Our community has shown remarkable resilience throughout this global health crisis.  I also know that additional questions will arise as the beginning of fall semester approaches. UM-Dearborn leadership remains committed to transparency, collaboration and communication.  

President Schlissel shared a similar communication with the Ann Arbor campus community earlier this morning. Those wishing to review his message may do so here

Please join me, the provost, and other senior leaders for a virtual town hall on Thursday, June 25 at 1 p.m.  We will share details regarding the fall plan, enrollment expectations and new information regarding our FY21 budget.  You can register for the event and submit a question here

We should face the future with optimism.  Guided by the advice of public health professionals, UM-Dearborn will continue to hold paramount the well-being of our students, faculty and staff while not compromising the quality of our education.  We will also prioritize our obligation to the broader community by doing all that we can to limit the spread of COVID-19.  Only by joining together and applying the best health practices will we be successful.

There is no university I would rather be a part of as we continue this journey through these tumultuous times.  Enjoy the rest of the summer in good health and in good spirits. 

Go Safe - Go Blue - Go Dearborn!  

Domenico Grasso

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