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A Message from the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Experience in light of COVID-19

  • March 20, 2020

    Dear Hawks:

    As we all grapple to adjust with the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact to various parts of our daily lives, I am reminded of one simple fact – The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how we choose to use them.

    Although the spring semester has presented us with some unexpected challenges, we will do what we do best as a community – use these challenges as opportunities for growth.  

    I know many of you have questions and concerns regarding the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. While we will continue to send you messages throughout the remainder of the term, I want to take a moment to address a few pressing topics that I know are on your mind. 

    What’s going on with my classes?

    • The simple answer is – They are evolving.

    Yes, you will still have them, however, they are all shifting to a distance-learning model beginning Monday, March 30, 2020 instead of March 23rd. The reason for this extra time is so that you have adequate opportunity to collect your belongings and return home without also worrying about classes. It also allows faculty time to make your remote instruction the best it can be. Our faculty are working tirelessly to adjust courses to support you and your academic goals. We look forward to engaging with you again shortly to finish out the term.

    •          As a Hawk family, our administration, faculty, and staff all recognize that this change in class delivery may present challenges for you in one form or another. Challenges include, but are not limited to: lack of access to technology/Wifi, changes in learning modalities, unexpected stress/anxiety, and most importantly, a lack of togetherness.

    So what should you do? If you feel something, say something. 

    The university has a variety of online resources to assist you during this time of transition, and means to resolve challenges as they arise. All we need you to do is let us know what you need in this moment. Please send all questions, comments, and or success stories about your experiences to We would love to hear from you and help if we can.

    Below are some of the available resources for the days ahead:

    o Helpful Blackboard Resources

    o Online – Academic Tutoring - CAAS

    o Online – Academic Advising - CAAS

    o UMES Writing Lab

    o Student Accommodations

    o Student Counseling Services

    What’s going on with Housing?

    • ALL on-campus residential students should begin to make arrangements with their families/guardians to move out of the residence halls and return home for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

    The Office of Residence Life will work with students to return to campus to retrieve all of their personal items and officially check-out of their housing units beginning Monday, March 23, 2020 through Saturday, March 28, 2020.

    Each Area Director will be sending additional information to students regarding check-out procedures no later than Sunday, March 22, 2020.

    Students who cannot return home because of international travel restrictions or other extenuating circumstances will be required to submit an On-Campus Housing Appeal form no later than 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. While we cannot guarantee housing for all at this moment, exceptions to remain on campus will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    Questions regarding housing should be directed to the Office of Residence Life at 410-651-6144 or email

    Will I get a housing refund for this semester?

    • Simply put, Yes

    Yesterday, our USM Chancellor, Dr. Jay Perman, released a comprehensive statement regarding COVID-19, and specifically addressed the topic of refunds for all USM schools, which includes UMES.

    Distance-learning has still more implications for housing, specifically the fair adjustment of costs associated with room and board. The universities are, again, united in their support of refunding room and board on a prorated basis.”

    UMES is currently working with our colleagues across the state to provide adequate prorated refund/credit options for students and families. These options include both refunds in the form of check and or credits for future enrollment/housing. While these options will not be finalized before the end of the residential check-out period, we do hope to update all of you before the end of the academic semester. Please remember, as with all financial transactions, all refunds will be subject to Federal Aid and Title IV guidelines and will vary depending on your student account of unpaid balances or other charges.

    Am I still receiving my regular refund check?

    • Yes

    With respect to traditional refund disbursements – nothing has changed.  As of today, Friday, March 20, 2020, approximately 70% of all student refunds have been processed and applied to student accounts. Although currently working remotely, the Office of Financial Aid will continue to process the remaining 30% of student refunds and they will be applied to your account accordingly. Please continue to check your student account on a regular basis and contact your chosen financial institution that is handling your check/direct deposit.

    Is commencement really canceled?

    • No – but it is postponed.

    Commencement is a time-honored magical moment that is celebrated not just by you, but by your family, friends, and the entire Hawk community. As a university, we are committed to ensuring that each of you have an opportunity to experience that magical moment.  However, we must do so in a manner that is both safe and responsible for our local community and the general public.

    We are currently exploring options to reschedule commencement for some time during the summer months once the COVID-19 threat has been lifted. However, this planning is being done in conjunction with guidance from national and state health officials. We will share more information in the days to come as we continue to learn more about this virus and experience the results of our mitigation efforts.

    In addition, we will continue to explore virtual options to celebrate you and your monumental achievements.

    Remember, you are Kings and Queens who have stared adversity in the face and said, “STILL I stand.” You have persevered through personal struggle, conquered fears, and have earned the right to lead the next generation into an era of prominence.  What you have accomplished over the last few years of your life can never be taken from you. Do not allow a delayed ceremony and or a virus rob you of that reality.

    In closing, I just want to remind each of you of the importance of staying connected in this moment.  It is in times of crisis that we truly begin to appreciate the gift of our humanity. So please, check on family members, call a friend who you haven’t seen in a while, send an unexpected love note, or simply try to make someone smile. You are not alone, and because you are a part of the Hawk family, you will never be alone.

    Remember, stay positive, stay informed, act responsibly, and most of all, stay safe.


    Hans Cooper

    Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Experience