Following yesterday’s decision to transition all instruction to remote delivery, several faculty members have requested additional clarification on how to direct graduate assistants with on-campus assignments and those students working at off-campus sites. As we navigate the days and weeks ahead, we must keep in mind that the priority is the health and safety of all our people.
Per his message yesterday, Provost Hardgrave indicated that academic units should develop plans to continue student practicums and internships and that units should determine how graduate assistants will continue their responsibilities. Many of the decisions made will be left to the individual units. Given those parameters, I offer the following points of guidance:
  • Graduate Assistantship Responsibilities: Graduate assistant should work with the faculty member to whom he/she reports to determine how to best handle assistantship responsibilities. Graduate assistants with duties that require in-person oversight – such as the monitoring of experiments and animals/plants that require constant care – should continue. Any other work that can be done remotely, such as on-line teaching or other forms of research, should continue off-campus. If a graduate assistant feels ill, he/she should follow the proper medical protocols and not come to work. If an individual is not comfortable working in a particular situation, alternative arrangements should be made for them to perform their duties.
  • Graduate Student Exams and Defenses: Oral examinations, including thesis and dissertation defenses, should be conducted remotely (via Zoom, for example) through April 10.
  • Graduate Students Working at Off-Site Locations: Graduate students assigned to work at remote locations from campus, either as graduate assistants or as part of practicum/internship assignments, may proceed as long as the sites remain open and the student is comfortable. If a site closes or if the student becomes uncomfortable continuing, then alternative plans will need to be made.
We all recognize and appreciate the roles that our graduate assistants play in supporting Auburn’s mission and how critical they are to the operations of our university. However, they are also students that have entrusted their education and training to us. We must make sure that they are treated appropriately.
If you have specific concerns or would like to discuss further, please let me know.
Best Regards,
George Flowers
Dean of the Graduate School