From the President: Letter to MSP Students

Dear Students,
 
I hope this email finds you well despite the challenges of this time. I know you’re working incredibly hard under challenging circumstances; your dedication and tenacity is impressive. This doesn’t surprise me given how far you’ve come in your life and education.
 
I look forward to the day when this immediate crisis is behind us and we can resume some sense of normalcy in our lives. At that time our work as trainees, psychotherapists, psychologists, and educators will be integral to helping others recover from the effects of isolation, grief, and trauma.
 
I’m providing these updates consistent with my commitment to keep you informed of decisions as soon as I am able. We have been meeting over the past several days and weeks to determine options for  the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year and for fall 2020-21. Our decisions are based on extensive research on public health projections, in consideration of what other graduate programs are currently doing/planning, and based on what we believe is in the best interest of MSP students, personnel, and the future of the Institution. Not everyone will agree with all that has been decided; however, all can agree that decision making is, at best, challenging during these uncertain times.
 
Below is a summary of what we currently know. In the coming days you will receive more detailed information from Vice President Zalapi, Dr. Chávez-KorellDr. Martin, and Dean Ming.
 
Classes for the remainder of the academic year
 
With the extension of Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order, and given that COVID-19 cases and deaths are still on the rise in Michigan, we will not be returning to campus this semester. We will continue our current processes of delivering online classes and services. 
 
Graduation
 
We know a formal Commencement Ceremony is very meaningful. It marks the completion of a remarkable accomplishment and provides the opportunity for students to celebrate with family and friends. It’s also important to us as an institution to celebrate with our graduates. Unfortunately, we cannot hold our ceremony on July 23 as originally planned.
 
However, at a future date we will hold an in-person commencement to celebrate our 2020 graduates. We will follow the evolution of this pandemic and will extend out as far as necessary in order to gather safely. Also, at the end of this academic year we will honor MSP graduates in a way that will mark their accomplishments, yet not replicate or replace our traditional commencement ceremony.  
 
In this way, graduates will receive their diplomas at the completion of all graduation requirements, and will be eligible to apply for licensure and employment. More details will be provided by Dean Ming as they become available.
 
Fall schedule
 
There are basically three options that graduate schools are considering for the start of the 2020-21 academic year: 1) on campus; 2) online; and 3) a blended or hybrid program.
 
It is unlikely that we will be completely back on campus at the start of the new academic year. Public health modeling indicates the possibility of a COVID resurgence, and experts agree that returning to “normal” in an intelligent way will require a phased-in approach. We will follow educational protocols as established by Governor Whitmer; as such, it is not possible to know at this time exactly what that will look like.
 
Regardless of whether we are completely online or offering a blended program in the fall, we recognize that continuing to use Zoom, which was meant to be a response to an emergency and not a long-term solution, is not a sustainable option for students and faculty. We are seeking consultation on best practices in instructional technology and the use of online education platforms, and plan to invest in the  training designed for this purpose. A group of faculty and staff is being formed to guide this process.
 
Tuition
 
In recognition of the current national crisis, the Board of Trustees has decided that tuition for the 2020/2021 fall semester will remain at 2019/2020 rates.
 
Construction progress
 
Effective May 7, Governor Whitmer lifted restrictions for the construction industry. I’m happy to report that our bricklayers resumed their work last week. Our building contractor will provide an updated construction schedule within the next 2 weeks; at that time we’ll know the impact of the pandemic on the opening of our new building.
 
The Michigan School Psychological Clinic
 
The clinic continues to operate via telephone and Zoom sessions, and plans for practicum student placements in the fall are intact. There will be a slight a delay in moving to the new building; until then we will continue to operate from the Woodlands location. We are also exploring resources required to offer telepsychology on an ongoing basis.
 
I hope this addresses many of your questions and concerns. You will continue to receive updates, and I invite you to send me any questions or comments you may have. 
 
Your administrators, faculty, and staff appreciate your patience as we navigate uncharted waters. In the midst of so much uncertainty, it can be difficult to know exactly how to proceed. All any of us can do is our best. Please remember that and go easy on yourselves. 
 
In health and community,
Dr. Brown
 
 
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