Message from the President

March 26, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

Gov. Steve Bullock today issued a stay at home directive for all Montanans that will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28.

The governor said he took this bold move in order to keep our state ahead of the outbreak of COVID-19 and to keep Montanans as healthy as possible to allow healthcare workers to catch up and perhaps outpace the disease. Yesterday, Montana had just 65 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Today, we have 90.

To slow the rate of infection, Montana residents are ordered to not leave their home except for necessities, such as food, doctor appointments or to care for others. They can go outside to exercise, but are asked to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet.

The directive from Gov. Bullock exempts educational institutions, and specifically the Montana University System, as it is critical that we maintain the necessary staff on hand to support our residential students, critical research, remote learning and other key activities.

As you know, however, at UM we have already been working to encourage and enable remote work to the greatest extent possible and to minimize the number of our UM colleagues on campus. And we have made tremendous progress in doing so. Almost all of the 4,000 sections of classes offered on campus this spring semester have already successfully migrated to a remote learning environment. We have all but emptied our residence halls. Most of our faculty and staff are working from their homes. I am deeply grateful for everyone’s hard work, dedication and creativity in making this happen in such a short time.

With today’s announcement from the governor, we will direct all managers across campus to do everything possible to reduce even further the number of employees who must physically come to our campus to work. And in cases where it is necessary for some of our UM colleagues to be here to ensure the provision of key services, we will enforce strict social distancing guidelines and cleaning and sanitation protocols.

The current situation will continue to evolve, and as we navigate what we know will be challenging days and weeks ahead, please know that the health and safety of our UM Family – and the broader Missoula community – remains our top priority.

Thank you for your continued dedication to our students and their success, and for your fierce commitment to one another and to the well-being of our UM Family.

And whatever comes next, we will face it — together.