March 13 Faculty Memo

Undergraduate faculty information and guidance around grading, online classes, travel, and more.




Dear Faculty,

This email is directed at our Undergraduate Faculty. In the spirit of transparency, I am including all faculty at the College as well as all MICA staff.

Due to the fact that the COVID-19 impact is rapidly evolving in the state of Maryland, some of what I share in the bullet points below may change. As we are learning, these pandemic circumstances demand extraordinary measures. Most of us have never experienced disruptions of this nature.  

Thank you for your patience, kindness, and cooperation in this time of rapid change.

Based on information available to me, the following apply, effective immediately:


  • All students and faculty (and staff) who travel outside of the 50-mile radius for anything other than a home-to-school commute must self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Senior students may elect to work remotely with permission of their Chair. It is highly recommended that if students travel outside the 50-mile range, they be prepared not to return to campus, as the pandemic situation is rapidly evolving and when they return, their studio and/or building may no longer be accessible.

  • There will be a deep cleaning of all campus spaces next week. (See email from Campus Services, 3/13, 1:44pm.)


  • Students who prefer to work off-campus to protect their health may do so at any point in time.

  • Students must not travel distances greater than 50 miles if they plan to return to MICA’s campus at any time during the two-week period. 

  • Students who are traveling for spring break should plan to continue their studies remotely, including our class of 2020 seniors.

  • All senior thesis or degree work that takes place in the coming two-week “extended spring break/Make Work” two-week window will focus on completing the requirements for the degree and/or thesis course. This is certainly not ideal.  We recommend that faculty be generous with students and help them modify their shop and studio based projects for the limited time frame. Please keep in mind that students can and should continue working remotely on thesis and related degree projects. Thesis faculty will be in touch with their students in person or online.

  • May 2020 graduates who wish to work in their on-campus studio spaces may do so through Friday, March 27th. Saturday, March 28 is for moving out materials, work, etc. Students working in their own studios must vacate by 4pm on March 28, 2020. The continuity of dining and shuttle services will be ensured.

  • Please refer to your departmental documents including PLOs/CLOs as a guide for what YOUR program requires in order for students to complete the degree. Grades will be distributed as usual at the end of the term in May.

  • Spring Class of 2020 senior students have regular access to their studios and labs ONLY for the two "Make Work Weeks.” Note that in the rapidly evolving pandemic situation, studios may eventually become inaccessible if the campus closes, so students are urged to use the available days to work toward developing thesis or final studio projects that require access to MICA facilities and/or equipment. After March 28th, students will continue to work with their faculty remotely.


  • Students graduating in May 2020 who remain near campus to work during the “Make Work” two-week period may use MICA-provided tools and equipment on-site.

  • Students may not remove MICA-owned tools or equipment, checked out or not, from campus.


  • In-person group seminars or class sessions with all class members physically present in one room will not continue through April 12 at the earliest, perhaps longer. Academic leadership will continue to update the community.  The situation will continue to evolve and require frequent updates.

  • Chairs, thesis faculty, and studio managers may arrange to meet with students one-on-one or in small groups in order to advance thesis work as far as possible or finalize end-of-semester studio requirements.

  • Faculty are encouraged to take attendance in Canvas. Canvas also has the ability to show who is accessing information and when. Attendance is a federal mandate for certain student populations.

  • Students can access Canvas and Zoom in China. Accessing MICA email and other Google tools is usually not possible in China. We need to be cognizant of students who may have accessibility issues for any reason. Make your classes as flexible as possible. Try to help students find meaningful ways to engage.

  • Check your MICA email regularly.

  • Find Keep On Teaching resources HERE.

  • Some departments are finding it useful for faculty to use a Canvas course “shell” to share assignments and approaches to modifying coursework for remote “portable practice.”


  • The Lazarus floor renovation scheduled for next week has been cancelled. All entryways will be accessible as usual. 

  • During the “extended spring break/Make Work Weeks” fabrication spaces and shops will remain open, contingent on staffing. 

    • Only students who are planning to graduate in May 2020 have access to studio, shop and fabrication spaces. There are no exceptions for December 2020 graduates, juniors, or other students.

  • Non-graduating student work needs to be removed from studios/workshops by 4pm on March 21, 2020. The reason is that the campus will undergo a deep cleaning and disinfecting process. If students require accommodation or assistance, please contact Cydney Delia.

  • MICA does not have the capacity to provide storage for student work removed from studios or advise on storing work at this time.

  • Parents who plan to pick up their students are encouraged to practice social distancing by minimizing their time in buildings and help load belongings outdoors.


  • Faculty are to submit midterm grades as requested by Wednesday, March 25.

  • Final course grades will be Pass/Fail although students may email faculty to request a letter grade. Consider a passing grade equivalent to a D and above. All faculty will be modifying syllabi to make clear what is required to achieve a passing grade. Students must email their faculty to request a letter grade.

  • Drafted changes to syllabi that include modifications for distance learning will be due to Department Chairs on Wednesday March 25, 2020. More information and resources to follow, including specific instructions on how to submit adapted syllabi.

VISITING ARTISTS & EVENTS AT MICA (Exhibitions, Art Walk, Commencement, etc.)

  • There will be no “in person” visitors to programs or classes. Remote visitors are fine.

  • Any arrangements or contracts for visiting artists, critics, Artists-in-Residence, or other invited guests who would travel to MICA from beyond the 50-mile perimeter must be cancelled unless provisions are made soon for online engagment.

  • Critics and artists visiting as part of a senior thesis class should be cancelled. The primary emphasis is on completing studio thesis work right now.

  • For potential guests during class, video conferencing is the only way to join the campus community or a class for the remainder of the term. We recommend that if you host a guest you record their presentation as we will have many students in different time zones and synchronized lectures may prove challenging for some, and bandwidth could be an issue for others.

  • There will be no lectures open to the public until further notice. 

  • There will be no group/class field trips for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term (no non-essential travel whatsoever).

  • All courses will resume via distance learning beginning on March 30th. 

  • Will we have ArtWalk? The situation is rapidly changing.  We don’t know at this time but it seems likely we should prepare to share and document senior work in alternative ways (online, portfolio, etc.) and wait and see.

  • All other campus exhibitions and associated events will be cancelled or move online.

  • Commencement and other institution-wide events will be determined at a later date by MICA leadership.


  • We are committed to maintaining some technical, work study, and graduate student employment though specific job tasks may change. Details will be forthcoming in the days ahead. We don’t have a clear answer for right now.

For the safety of the entire community, I implore all students and faculty to keep the above firmly in mind until more information is available.  We will follow up over the weekend with a clear set of resources related to our goal to “Keep on Teaching” in these challenging circumstances.

This information will not address every question you may have. We will be updating you with periodic briefings.

Thank you for all that you continue to do. We are in this together; the Undergraduate Studies and Academic Affairs teams are here for you. 

All my best, 

Tiffany Holmes, PhD
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies