End-of-Semester Support Following Minneapolis Trial Verdict

Dear Faculty and Academic Staff:

After the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on all three counts in the death of George Floyd, many of us are contemplating how the verdict affects our faculty, academic staff, and students. As President Stanley noted in his earlier message the “conviction can never bring back the life that was so tragically and senselessly lost.” As an academic community we are not insulated from the racial injustices of our world and this trial in Minnesota brings into sharp relief the magnitude of the ongoing work that lies ahead for each of us.

As we collectively contemplate this moment, we also realize that during an academic year of unprecedented challenge, and especially as the semester draws to its close – with final exams, projects, and papers due into next week – we must be attentive to each student and their needs.

Classes for most students end tomorrow, leaving many students largely on their own on the designated Study Days this Thursday and Friday. In this already largely remote learning environment, students may be feeling even more isolated and alone at the end of this week, which could compound what is already a difficult time of the semester. A message that includes support services for students and employees was sent to the entire campus community by President Stanley. I want to reach out to extend my support to faculty and academic staff, knowing that the many critical roles you play in supporting our students, both in and out of the classroom, are especially warranted at this time.

While we are not holding classes this Thursday and Friday and final exams largely shape our interactions with students the following week, there are a number of resources available to students in support of their mental health and overall wellness. MSU CAPS will create five listening spaces for students to process their feelings, thoughts, and reactions related to the death of George Floyd, the trial, and the verdict:

  • April 21, 1 p.m. (ET)
  • April 22, 5 p.m. (ET)
  • April 23, 1 p.m. (ET)
  • April 26, 4 p.m. (ET)
  • April 29, 4 p.m. (ET)

Should students reach out to you in distress, please share this information with them. You may also share the link with your entire class via D2L, email, or whatever online learning platform you are using to connect with them this semester. Additional mental health resources for students are provided on the Keep Learning website. Students may also call CAPS’ crisis hotline, which is available 24/7. To reach a crisis counselor, they should call (517) 355-8270 and press “1.” 

If any students reach out to you expressing concern about meeting a deadline or completing any final course requirements, please extend the same grace and empathy you have been demonstrating to them over the course of this academic year. This includes the granting of extensions and Incompletes.

Please also remember that the Keep Teaching website provides information about mental health resources for MSU employees. Remember to extend to yourself the same grace and empathy you extend to your students. The Employee Assistance Program and WorkLife Office offer year-round support for faculty and staff, so keep them in mind, now and throughout the summer.

Universities, by their very nature, are places that explore the most urgent challenges of the day, to improve quality of life and expand opportunities for all. Indeed, higher education rests on a foundation of engagement and in deep inquiry. I appreciate the cornerstone role you, our faculty and academic staff, play in fostering inquiry, dialogue, and change in your scholarly work and engagement throughout our students’ academic journeys. Let us continue in our work to support each other and work toward racial justice for all.

My best,

Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
MSU Foundation Professor