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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Making Research Work: Addressing Upcoming Potential On-campus Research Disruptions

Dear Research Colleagues:

We are looking to the upcoming academic recess, Nov. 26-29, and what that means not only for instruction, but for research. Beginning Monday, Nov. 30, in-person group instruction, including final exams, will be fully remote. But some students may be planning to continue their in-person scholarly activities.

We recommend that all students consult with their advisors and supervisors before the break to discuss the course of action that best fits their educational situation. In-person clinical training can continue after the break. Research activities approved under and compliant with Research Reboot protocols may also continue in person.

All in-person research activities after the break that involve undergraduate and graduate students must have been previously approved or will need approval to be conducted on-campus.

We recommend that students returning from out of town strictly limit their interactions with others where possible for 14 days after your return. We strongly recommend they receive a test for COVID-19 before returning to campus duties. We recommend they take a COVID-19 test four-to-seven days after they get back, before returning to their research work. Anyone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms should get tested as soon as possible. Information about on-campus testing options can be found at

The UW–Madison campus will remain open for students who are not able to leave for the break; however, some services will be more limited.

In January, UW–Madison will also begin a new round of furloughs. Graduate students and postdocs will not be subject to this new round of furloughs.

After much thought, we have decided that the spring semester furlough, as in the previous round, will be applied to most employees independent of the source of their salary. I have been asked why we are not excluding grant funded employees from the furlough program. Campus leadership does understand the concerns behind this question: the potential impacts to research progress and the consequences of less salary on indirect costs. This is a very difficult decision, balancing unmistakable fiscal impacts and the more intangible impacts on our university community, and there is no perfect answer.

We are a community and our research activities are supported by staff from units across campus including custodial staff, building managers, security, IT, grant services, administration services, data services, and more. We rely on this campus infrastructure to conduct our research and scholarly activities. Facing the incredible stresses of this pandemic together is important.

I believe this is a time for the research enterprise to face these times hand-in-hand with our colleagues, even as many of you are working harder than ever. I appreciate all that you have done over the past several months. As we work through this unprecedented situation, please keep yourselves and your families safe.

Steven A. Ackerman

Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education