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A Message from the President to the Kettering Community

First, let me begin by speaking to you personally. I understand how uncertain you feel about the future of the spread of COVID-19, and about the impact of the changes we are putting in place to address it. I, like you, am experiencing this for the first time, and everything we hear in the media adds to the sense of uncertainty we all feel. It is easy for this uncertainty to become fear, and for fear to arouse feelings of anxiety. It is happening to all of us.

We are all living this with you. We care deeply for you, our colleagues, and our students, and we are working to do everything we think is wise to protect the health and safety of our community during this unprecedented public health challenge. We are strong, as a community and as a nation, and we will come through this successfully. Social distancing doesn’t mean that we can’t reach out to each other – and I know you are, because I see it every day.

We know you want answers. What makes us all feel better is finding answers to the questions that are distressing us. We are working hard to provide them, and to do the right thing, in the face of events that are changing very quickly. Sometimes we simply don’t have them, though. Often we do but sometimes changes in the situation happen so quickly that we have to stop writing a communication on an issue in mid-stream because changes require us to completely rethink our approach.

This situation is extraordinary and it requires action on our part; but it also requires calm and focus. We are a strong community, and we share a passion for the uniqueness that is Kettering and for our students and mission. COVID-19 has not changed that - nor will it. I have seen countless acts of graciousness and caring in our community and throughout our leadership over the past few weeks as this issue has emerged. My trust and confidence in all of us to act in the best interests of our students and each other has only strengthened and grown as a result.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our mission and to our students during this time. I know many of you are putting in many extra hours and assuming new responsibilities to help us as a community to address the many challenges this situation presents. And you are doing this during a time of heightened fear and insecurity, while also managing your own private uncertainties and pressing family issues.

Through your actions, you have shown abundantly and clearly your commitment to and your passion for Kettering. Again, thank you.

We have taken many substantial actions over the past weeks, and undoubtedly, there will be more that we will need to take as the situation evolves. Our COVID Response Team, which has members drawn from across the University, has been meeting daily to make sure our response is appropriate and to evaluate all of these approaches.

A university is very complex and has many moving parts, and we are bound not to get everything right the first time over the next few weeks. You may wonder why we have done certain things and why we have not done others. Given how quickly the situation is changing, we all feel challenged to keep up. But we, like you, are working very hard to get everything right.

The actions we have taken and are taking in response are substantial, but please know that they are not taken lightly. As the situation in our community evolves, we will continue to change to meet any challenges we face with the safety and success of you, your family, our students, and community kept front-of-mind.

Thank you,

Dr. Robert K. McMahan
President and Professor of Physics
March 16, 2020

March 24 Executive Summary

We greatly appreciate your patience as we work as rapidly as possible to meet all of the widely varying needs of our community under these conditions. Consistent with our commitment to do so as early as possible, we now able to make a number of decisions concerning the operation of the University in the spring term. Primary among these are:

  • Students are not exempted from the Governor’s stay-at-home order. While it is in effect (March 24 – April 13) students, other than those approved to reside in Thompson Hall, will not be permitted on campus.

  • Spring term will begin as scheduled on April 6.

    • April 6-10: Academic Preparation Week using Virtual Delivery

    • April 13 through at least May 1: Regular Course Schedule using Virtual Delivery

  • No later than Monday, April 20, we will communicate the decision to further extend virtual delivery in the term or to transition to face-to-face on campus delivery on May 4.

In earlier emails, I wrote that we would communicate to the Kettering community our plans for beginning the next semester as early as possible, but no later than April 8. We established this date to give us time to ensure that our response is appropriate to the situation, that we were remaining in compliance with the wide range of federal and state regulations, and that our students’ progress to graduation would not be adversely impacted by any actions we took. 

We are not on the same schedule as other universities in Michigan or the U.S. These schools are on a semester calendar, which means they are in the middle of their second and final term of the year; whereas, we are in the last week of our third term, and are preparing for exams and the beginning of our fourth. They end their academic year in May, and have a long summer hiatus until the beginning of their fall term; we end our spring term in mid-June, and have only two weeks until we begin our summer term in early July. 

We are proud of our differences because they produce such amazing outcomes for our students. This means we need to respond differently from other institutions to this situation.  We have had to develop our own plans that are specific to the needs of our students in both A and B sections, and then to make sure that we are able to execute them effectively. 

We understand the anxiety that everyone feels about the current situation, because we are all living this with you. These situations are hard on all of us. We regularly communicate with you – even while the situation may be developing and outcomes are changing – in this hope of providing insight into not only what we are doing, but why. 

For example, yesterday the Governor issued a stay at home order for the entire state of Michigan. Only two days before that, her office told us definitively that this option was not being considered. Events are moving that quickly. We anticipated it and have been preparing for it, nonetheless. In compliance, we have now limited campus activity to essential functions.

Our commitment to you is and always has been to act to protect the safety and health of the Kettering community while responding appropriately and responsibly to the situation as it evolves.  No single letter can contain all of the information you may wish to see, nor can it answer every question possible in a community this large. However, we also maintain a website with a tremendous amount of information on our operations and our response, along with external links to even more. You may find it at This site is updated daily; but, if after reviewing it, you still have a question, you may email it to We are also monitoring relevant social media and will respond there as well. 

We greatly appreciate your patience as we work as rapidly as possible to meet all of the widely varying needs of our community under these conditions. Consistent with our commitment to do so if possible, and earlier than originally anticipated, we now able to make a number of decisions concerning the operation of the University in the spring term.

Read Details

How to Keep Informed

If we find it prudent to suspend on-campus activities in whole or in part, the Kettering Community will be notified through the University’s campus-wide alert system, Kettering Alert.  It also will be used to inform students, staff, and faculty when there are updates to existing programs and/or significant changes to the status of COVID-19 in the region. The alert, which will come in the form of an email and text will not be used unless there is important information the entire campus needs to know. Updates will also be posted here, emailed to campus, and posted on official University social media.

This is a Rapidly Evolving Situation

We know there are questions that remain unanswered, and we are working to provide answers and scenarios covering all of them in this rapidly evolving situation. We appreciate your patience and understanding as the University responds to this challenging situation. Thank you to all who are working so hard to ensure the safety of our community and the continuity and integrity of our operations.

As our plans and approaches mature, in consultation with medical and public health experts, as well as our own academic affairs team, we will keep you informed. Even as we face a rapidly shifting and evolving range of issues to address, our shared commitment to the well-being of our community will always guide our actions. 

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Updates on Kettering University and COVID-19 will be posted here and on official University social media accounts.

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