View the latest campus policy, news, and information related to COVID-19.

Follow Up: Update for Graduate Students

Date: March 18, 2020
Dean Alexis Abramson

Dear Thayer Graduate and BE students,

What a world we are living in. I hope everyone is safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. I imagine that, for each of us, the events of the past few weeks have been stressful and confusing and I want to make sure each of you and your loved ones are doing well. I also want to assure you that Thayer is here to support you and tend to your questions and concerns. Thank you for hanging in there.

I want to provide you with a few updates, especially given the communication from the Provost and Task Force yesterday evening.

First, I want to reassure you that the contacts of the graduate student who tested presumptive positive (as mentioned in the 3/16 COVID-19 campus update) have been notified and are in self-quarantine.

Office and on-campus spaces

In light of new guidance, we discourage student use of any spaces on campus, such as office carrels and common study spaces, including the Great Hall, MEM Space, the Atrium, or Graduate Student Lounge. You should only be on campus for pre-approved laboratory or TA related work. As of now, classrooms are for faculty use and remote teaching only, and students may not use any space without a faculty or staff invitation. If you were scheduled to work in on campus building during the spring term, please contact your supervisor for guidance.

Off-campus housing and on-campus resources

While our undergraduate and some graduate students have left the Upper Valley, we understand that many graduate students currently live in off-campus housing. Please be advised that while some campus resources will be offered remotely, some resources, such as dining services, are not available at this time. Students who are taking courses and who have left the Upper Valley are not required to return, even if you have live in off-campus housing, as all courses will be offered remotely.

Spring Term Courses

As you know from the 3/17 COVID-19 campus update, all Thayer courses will be offered exclusively via remote access for the remainder of the term. There is no longer an option for in-person classes. Our faculty are working diligently to prepare courses for online delivery. Prof. Van Citters will have a complete list of available courses by the end of this week. The vast majority of our graduate course catalog will be available as scheduled.

Lab Research and Stipends

As also announced, Dartmouth has decided to ramp-down and pause on-campus research activities, and all non-essential research activities are to be performed remotely as of Monday 3/23 at the latest, unless an extension or exception has been granted to the laboratory. Faculty are able to request extensions or exceptions that may be granted on a case-by-case basis for critical on-going experiments and for work necessary to maintain irreplaceable research reagents (e.g., unique genetically modified organisms).

Please note this is not a decision to cease research or scholarship at Dartmouth. Graduate students should work with their faculty advisor(s) to develop a plan to continue remotely working on research and academic activities. Such activities could include writing papers, fellowship proposals, data entry, data analysis, computational analysis, and literature reviews. I am confident you will be able to find creative ways to keep research active, even while working remotely. You will continue to receive your stipend during this time, provided you participate in your coursework online and/or make the academic progress on your research that you and advisor agree is appropriate.


Those of you assigned a TA-ship for the spring term should work with the corresponding faculty member to devise a plan to provide necessary course support. To the extent possible, TA work will be completed remotely.

MS and PhD Proposals and Defenses

You should arrange to have your private and public oral exams, proposals or defenses remotely, including all participants, using Zoom or some other electronic means. More information will be coming from the Thayer Registrar regarding submission of your thesis.

Thayer Office and Deans

As advised by the COVID-19 Task Force, in order to maintain social distancing, Thayer’s offices will be, for the most part, operating virtually for the coming weeks. I want to stress that all of us remain available to you via email, phone, or internet, so please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

If you have specific concerns or additional guidance on research or course planning, please reach out directly to the following resources:

• BE students: Doug Van Citters (

• MEM students: Geoffrey Parker (

• PhD/MS/MEng students: Ian Baker (

• General questions: Holly Wilkinson (

Specific guidance on research should come directly from your faculty advisor.

I hope for the safety and well-being of all of our students, our community, and their loved ones. These are challenging time, for sure, but I am grateful for how caring, inventive, and dedicated our community has been in supporting one another during the past two weeks. We will continue to keep you informed and updated as best we can, and please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.