April 22, 2020 Status Letter

Dear Colleagues,

Governor Whitmer’s Stay at Home Order requires that WMU operations be limited to essential functions only. This restricts in-person activities and does, unfortunately, impact faculty and graduate student research. In order to remain compliant with the executive order and ensure health and safety of students and employees access to research facilities is severely limited. WMU instituted early on a process to wind down research and allow only essential in person research operations to be conducted until further notice. See March 24 Status Letter. Even activities related to essential research operations must include social distancing and strict hygiene practice.

All laboratories and research facilities are now in hibernation with only minimum critical operations allowed to maintain living organisms or sensitive equipment, and field research is suspended. Faculty members cannot and should not require graduate students to come to campus, and students should not feel pressured to participate in the essential research operations.

We are very aware that as building hibernation goes on these necessary policies significantly impact research advancement and progress towards degree completion. Graduate students are encouraged to perform research activities that can be done remotely, such as drafting manuscripts, writing theses/dissertations, conducting literature reviews, developing proposals, performing data analysis, and carrying out other scholarship that these limitations allow.  An appendix to this information lists other opportunities for remote activities for graduate students collected from APLU universities.

Faculty are encouraged to consider the effects of these unusual circumstances on student progress and to advise students on how they can continue to make progress towards degree completion while working remotely.  The need to complete on site experiments or access on site resources for a period of time are not considered essential functions and will not be approved for building access.

Please note that remote thesis and dissertation defenses are allowed and public presentations are not required during these restrictions to remote work. The Graduate College has posted tips for remote defenses.


Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Terri Kinzy, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Innovation

Christine Byrd-Jacobs, Ph.D.
Interim Dean, Graduate College

Carla Koretsky, Ph.D.
Dean, CAS

Julie Garrison, MLIS
Dean, University Libraries

Andrea Beach, Ph.D.
Acting Co-Dean, CEHD

Marcia Fetters, Ph.D.
Acting Co-Dean, CEHD

Ron Cisler, Ph.D.
Dean, CHHS

Steven Butt, Ph.D.
Interim Dean, CEAS

Satish Deshpande, Ph.D.
Dean, HCOB

Dan Guyette, MFA
Dean, CFA

David Powell
Dean, CoA

Irma Lopez, Ph.D.
Interim dean, LHC



General Guidance for Graduate Students
Create and/or update your Individual Development Plan (IDP). Your IDP can help you decide which of the professional development opportunities will be most likely to advance your career. The WMU Graduate College IDP is available at https://wmich.edu/grad/plan-it. For scientists we also recommend the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) IPD at https://myidp.sciencecareers.org. You can learn more about IDPs and their importance here: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2013/05/myidp.

Tips for working remotely: 
Six tips for happy, productive remote working
Ten Tips From Scientists Who Have Spent Months in Isolation
Science-ing from home 
Mentoring during the COVID-19 pandemic 
My lab is closed to me because of the coronavirus. Here’s how I’m planning to stay productive 

Research Data Management and Sharing Resources/Training Opportunities

  • NISO Research Data Management - the National Information Standards Organization has a primer to cover the basics of research data management.
  • ICPSR Data Management & Curation - ICPSR is an international consortium of more than 750 academic institutions and research organizations and provides training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for the social science research community. This site provides information specifically on Data Management & Curation, and there is a Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving: https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/files/deposit/dataprep.pdf
  • Educopia ETD+ Toolkit -  Designed for training Graduate Students how to manage research for Thesis/Dissertations, but the curriculum can be used by anyone involved in research.
  •  MANTRA: Research Data Management Training -MANTRA is a free online course for those who manage digital data as part of their research project. It is managed by the University of Edinburgh. Modules include data protection, rights, and access; sharing and licensing; and metadata and curation.
  •  Disciplinary RDM Training -This site lists Research Data Management materials specific to five areas (performing arts, archeology and social anthropology, health studies, psychology, and geosciences, social sciences & clinical psychology). Other courses are listed as well. Maintained by the Digital Curation Centre of the U.K.