COVID-19 Coronavirus Campus Communications

Wash Your Hands!

One of the most effective measures for stopping any infectious disease is frequent and thorough hand washing. Please join the effort and wash your hands a lot! The Centers for Disease Control has an entire webpage on the science behind hand washing. Check it out! There’s more to it than you think.

OrediggerRX, Faculty/Staff Communications



Good afternoon, campus. Today, the Montana University System lifted the mask mandate for all MUS campuses effective immediately. We appreciate all you have done to get us to this point. We encourage you to get vaccinated and to help keep our campus and community safe. Thanks again for your support of this over the course of the past year.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine.



Good morning faculty and staff,

I wanted to reach out and thank everyone again for your patience, perseverance, and commitment to our students and Montana Tech. While COVID-19 has been a major distraction for all of us this year, we made it. I couldn’t be more pleased.

While everyone has been committed to keeping us safe and trying to maintain as much normalcy as possible, your Oredigger Rx team has done yeoman’s work to make this all a reality. Since March of last year, the team has met close to 200 times to ensure we were doing everything within our means to keep us moving forward. Please join me in thanking these individuals, they include:

  • Amanda Badovinac
  • Leslie Dickerson
  • Scott Forthofer
  • Steve Gammon
  • Gretchen Geller
  • Marissa Morgan
  • Layne Sessions
  • Matt Stepan
  • Karen VanDaveer
  • Carrie Vath

And our amazing community partners at BSB Health;

  • Tina Randall
  • John Rolich
  • Karen Sullivan

Going forward, we will continue with the protocols we have in place including the mask requirement for the time being. The Board of Regents will discuss these protocols at their meeting on May 26/27. I will update the campus if there are changes after this meeting.

If you have not been vaccinated yet, there will be another first shot vaccination clinic next Wednesday, April 28 from 3-7 at the Butte Civic Center. 

Tomorrow we celebrate our graduates and while the ceremony will be much different than we’re used to, I know our graduates and their families are excited to celebrate this day.

Thanks again and as always, please reach out if I can answer any questions.



Dear campus community,

As of April 1, all Butte-Silver Bow residents ages 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Registration opens up at 3 PM this afternoon. To register, visit or call 406-497-6401 or 406-497-5008. Get registered and roll your sleeve up Orediggers!

Thanks and have a nice weekend.



Dear students, staff, and faculty,

On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department will lift the community's mask mandate along with all other restrictions. This will not change our mask protocols or others on the Montana Tech campus. The university will continue to follow the MUS Healthy Task Force's guidance, which requires masks to be worn indoors, until we receive any alternative guidance from the Montana Board of Regents.  Additionally, we strongly encourage your continued commitment to helping keep yourselves and others safe and healthy throughout the Butte Silver Bow community.

With less than five weeks left in the semester, we all must continue to mask up and finish the semester strong and healthy. Until then, let's all follow the steps in our OrediggerRx plan.

We appreciate your continued commitment to keeping our campus and community safe. 



Dear students, staff and faculty,

Thanks to all of you, we have continued to have remarkable success managing the Covid-19 pandemic. Your behavior and the OrediggerRx protocols we have in place have made this a reality. We want to be clear that wearing a face covering on the Montana Tech campus and in our community remains required under Montana University System guidelines as well as the Butte Silver Bow Board of Health Covid-19 emergency rule adopted on December 22, 2020.

Research released this week from the CDC shows that any mask is good, but wearing a tight-fitting surgical mask or a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask is important, particularly as virus variants become more of a reality in our country. The research indicates that wearing a mask can reduce virus transmission by up to 96.5 percent.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to keeping Montana Tech and our community healthy.



Good morning staff and faculty,

As we conclude the first week of classes, I want to check-in and make sure that everyone is doing okay and taking care of themselves. While our campus has experienced the typical energy and excitement of the first week of classes, we have also watched with disbelief the violence and disruption in our nation’s Capitol. This can be overwhelming when we couple it with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the stressors we all have in our own lives. However, I am optimistic about the good things happening at Montana Tech. There is light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and promise for the future of our country.

There is good news to share. The final numbers are not in yet, but our spring 2021 enrollment looks very positive. On the first day of classes we were up 29 students over this same time last year. Additionally, our application numbers for fall 2021 continue to look very promising. I know that our entire campus has worked hard to get us to this point. I value your commitment and continued energy to ensure our current students are successful and we yield a substantially larger group of new students in the fall.

The search for the vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school has named four finalists. Interviews for each will occur later this month. The dean search for the College of Letters, Sciences and Professional Studies is well underway and we are pleased to announce that Karen VanDaveer, Interim Dean of CLSPS and at Highlands College has agreed to continue in the interim role as dean of Highlands College through June 30, 2022. We are incredibly fortunate to have Karen’s leadership in this role and look forward to the continued success of Highlands College.

The strategic planning team has been meeting regularly since early fall and we anticipate sharing a refined draft of our mission, vision, values and goals by the first part of February. We will also be scheduling Advancing Tech forums for the semester in the next few weeks.

Finally, as you may know, the Montana University System has received additional Cares Act funds for the semester. The system will receive just over $42 million with Montana Tech receiving $2.7 million. These are similar to the funds received last spring and in August and will be used to help us with the continued mitigation of COVID-19 as well as other related costs. We will provide an update on this as well as additional budget information at our upcoming forum in February.

I don’t know about you, but it certainly feels good to be back in session and in a routine. Thanks for all you do in support of Montana Tech and our students. Please do take care of yourself and as always, feel free to reach out if I can assist in any way.




Good afternoon Faculty and Staff,

I hope you had a restful break and a good New Years. We enjoyed the holidays in Butte and were fortunate to have both kids join us.

As I’m sure you are aware, we are the first campus in the Montana University System to begin classes for the spring semester. Last week we were informed that the MUS would provide us a limited number of BinaxNOW rapid tests to test a subset of our students upon their return. Rapid testing is another way for us to be able to mitigate the COVID-19 virus and take responsibility for the health of our campus. Not knowing how students would respond, we decided to break this into two phases. We elected to begin by asking our students living on campus who traveled out of state over the break to get tested. We also encouraged students who spent time in communities with a high incidence of COVID-19 or if they put themselves in a vulnerable situation to get tested. This morning we launched into phase two asking all other students to get tested if they fall in the same categories as above.

Additionally, we would like to encourage all faculty and staff to get tested if you traveled outside of Montana over the break, were in a community with a high incidence of COVID-19, or may have been in a vulnerable situation where protocols were not followed. If you’d like to get tested, please email The OrediggerRx Team will contact you with test times and further details.

The test used will be a BinaxNOW COVID-19 test. The test is performed by the individual, is non-invasive, and easy-to-use. Testing will be done on-campus and results provided within 15-30 minutes. 

Thanks and best of luck as we kick-off the spring semester.



Greetings Colleagues,

As 2020 draws to a close, I hope you are enjoying some quiet as well as time for a recharge. While the fall has been exhausting on many fronts, I remain hopeful that you have found silver linings that not only replenish your soul, but give you hope for the days ahead. While I’d be lying if I didn’t share that I have had a few days where I felt complete frustration, I will say I have had many days that make me incredibly proud as well as optimistic for our future.

Instances that make me proud include the recognition of our staff for the tireless work they do day in and day out despite the circumstances; our faculty who continue to do all they normally do plus make accommodations for those in quarantine; and our students for their determination and embrace of the experience no matter the situation. This fall, we were able to celebrate individuals like Margie Pascoe for her fierce commitment to international students; faculty members Hilary Risser and Glen Southergill being named MUS Teaching Scholars; Sarah Raymond receiving an HR Leader of the Year award; our men’s golf team winning the Frontier Conference Championship and the list goes on.  Celebrating our accomplishments and the day-to-day successes is important.  From the hours spent entering data to time spent cleaning our facilities, serving our community in the dining hall to processing payroll, we should all be proud of the collective work we do to move Montana Tech forward, especially in times like these.

As previously shared, our spring semester will be similar to the fall with face-to-face instruction. We did fairly well navigating the virus last semester, and I remain confident if we continue to take the necessary steps that we will be able to do it again. The CDC predicts that COVID-19 numbers will spike in early 2021. It will be imperative that we follow the protocols put in place in the fall, but at a heightened level. I have continued to share this message with students as they make plans to return to campus for spring semester. Earlier this week I communicated with students and encouraged them to limit their social circles to time with their immediate family/household and essentially quarantine from December 21st until they return to campus.

I’m truly happy and proud of what we have continued to be able to accomplish despite the pandemic. The new year will bring a new strategic plan, the commencement of the construction on the nursing simulation center, new additions to our leadership team, and much more. With the distribution of a vaccine, and 2020 soon to be in our rearview mirror, I think we can all be optimistic about the future. I firmly believe there are brighter days ahead.

Finally, I want to wish you all the best during this time and especially in the New Year. For all of us having access to education is a gift and what makes this gift are the rich relationships we have and the experiences we share. Thank you, enjoy the holidays, and I look forward to all we will accomplish in the New Year.



Dear Faculty and Staff,

First off, congratulations! We made it. I know the uncertainty of fall and how we would deal with COVID-19 and its challenges, including elections, social unrest, and natural disasters, has worn us all down. However,  we need to celebrate the successful conclusion of the fall semester.

On Monday, Commissioner Clay Christian sent out a memo to all campuses thanking them for their commitment to students and their success since COVID-19 appeared last March. An excerpt from Clay’s memo follows:

“As we near the end of a semester unlike any other for the Montana University System, I want to send a clear and direct message to you and every student and employee on your campus: your unshakable, unending commitment to teaching, learning, research, service - and to each other - has changed lives for the better and produced a positive impact on Montana’s communities and economy that will be felt for generations.

As I learn more about the way in which faculty and staff have gone out of their way to support success for all students, or the statewide research that is helping Montana – and the world – effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt in my mind that your efforts have made these past months the most inspiring of my professional life. I know it has not been easy. Thank you.”

I echo Clay’s feelings and continue to be inspired by the work we do collectively in support of Montana Tech and our students. The pandemic hasn’t been easy and has changed how the world works while also having a significant impact on higher education. Luckily, we have fared quite well.

With the increase in positive cases of COVID-19 in our community and to mitigate the spread of the virus, I am suggesting we all limit our face-to-face interactions as much as possible over the break. Please use zoom or other modalities where you are able to do so when scheduling meetings with others.

Dining Services will be adjusting their services as our resident students leave for the break. The Mill will be the only food service operation open during this time. The Mill will remain open through Wednesday, December 23rd, from 7:00 am - 1:00 pm, and then reopen again on Monday, January 4th. They will be offering freshly made assorted deli sandwiches, salads, and an assortment of continental breakfast items, muffins, fruit, bagels, etc.

Over the weeks ahead, we will continue to plan for the spring semester and how we prepare to bring students back for face-to face-instruction. Similar to our plan for the fall, we plan to bring students back to campus for in-person instruction and like fall, we will be ready to adjust if we have to do so. After having a semester behind us, I think we all have greater confidence in navigating the pandemic and the challenges it presents.

As you make plans for Thanksgiving and the remainder of the holidays, I’d like to recommend the same advice shared with students to spread thanks, not COVID:

  • Limit your interactions to those in your immediate household
  • Wear a mask outside of your home and in all public settings, including in the car with others
  • Maintain physical distancing at all times
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Pay close attention to how you are feeling
  • Limit holiday guests to no more than 10 people total
  • Know who’s vulnerable and avoid visiting them in person
  • Share Thanksgiving or other occasions virtually with extended family/friends
  • Get outside! Fresh air and exercise are a MUST!

You’ve heard me say it many times before, but I want you to know how thankful I am to have a campus and community that cares about our students and the progress of Montana Tech. This was evident when I interviewed almost two years ago and has continued to be illuminated even more so with the pandemic. I am grateful for all you do and hope you have time with those you care about over the Thanksgiving holiday.




Good morning,

I wanted to share with you the dashboard that Butte Silver Bow Health Department has created for reporting of Covid19 cases. This was launched yesterday afternoon and provides additional detail about Montana Tech including cumulative positive cases, as well as recovered and active cases. As you will see we currently have 5 active cases associated with the University. While this is good news for us, Montana had its largest number of cases reported yesterday and we must continue to focus on all we can do to prevent the spread of this virus.

Thanks and enjoy the beautiful weekend.



Dear campus community,

As I know you are aware, our goal since the pandemic arrived on our campus in early March, has been and will continue to be to protect our campus and community’s health and safety. Along with this comes the responsibility of protecting the privacy of our students, faculty and staff while also being as transparent as possible.

For some time, the university along with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and Butte-Silver Bow were in discussions on the best way to provide COVID-19 information to the public. Yesterday’s announcement by Governor Bullock to release statewide K-12 and higher education institutions put the process in place. State-wide reporting will note the school, # of positive students, total # of cases associated with the school, and cases reported in past 14 days. The report will be updated weekly on Wednesdays. Additionally, we are working with the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department to share information about total cases as well as active and recovered cases associated with Montana Tech.

Currently, Montana Tech is the only non-flagship university in the MUS conducting testing on campus. We have been told our protocols for testing are the most comprehensive within the MUS. Testing of all close contacts and symptomatic faculty, staff, and students began on Monday, August 31 and continues almost daily.

To date we have had 34 cases on campus since testing began. Of these 34, nearly one-third of them are no longer active. For those living on campus, we have designated space used for quarantine and isolation away from the student population.

Of the cases we’ve seen at Montana Tech, we have found that cases are not a result of grossly inappropriate or irresponsible behavior (being out at bars, large house parties, etc.). Most can be attributed to communal spaces, living situations and simply being with their friends/peers. Of the new cases in our campus community, most are within clusters. We greatly appreciate our students, faculty, and staff’s responsible approach to systematic testing and symptom reporting.

We will continue to work closely with our partners, the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department, SCL Health, the State of Montana, and OCHE to prevent and mitigate the virus's spread.  We need everyone to continue to mask up at all times, physically distance, and practice good hygiene. Remember it doesn’t end when we leave campus, it’s a 24-7 virus and doesn’t take nights, weekends or holidays off.

This will continue to be a fluid and evolving situation, while we may not get everything exactly right, we’re prepared to adjust where we need to do so.



Dear faculty, staff, and students,

I wanted to reach out and let you know we hear you and genuinely appreciate your feedback with respect to the reporting of our COVID-19 numbers on campus. We have been and continue to work with MUS officials and the local Health Department to release this information within the confines of FERPA and HIPPA regulations and allowable reporting compliance.

Governor Steve Bullock announced today that the Department of Public Health & Human Services would issue a weekly dashboard each Wednesday afternoon with details on the number of COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools and university campuses. Our understanding is this information will be broken out by campus.

Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to working towards providing further information.



Dear Campus Community

I am writing to you with an urgent message. With the increase of COVID-19 cases in Butte-Silver Bow and on our campus, it is incumbent upon us to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus. We MUST follow Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s face-covering directive, which Montana Tech, along with our local Health Department and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, are mandating. 

Positive cases on campus have been linked directly to off-campus gatherings where face masks are not worn. As of right now and because face masks are worn in the classroom, no COVID-19 cases can be traced back to classroom instruction. The problem is we are not following the rules when we leave campus. We need to do better; we MUST do better. When we are off-campus, our behaviors are putting us at risk of transitioning back to online learning; not what any of us want. Our plan for a healthy fall requires that we all wear a face mask at all times indoors, which even means off campus when gathering with others. I cannot stress this enough—if we want the fall semester to continue with face-to-face instruction, we all need to step up our game. We are currently managing the situation; however, we could get to an unmanageable point if we don’t all do our part. Positive cases are occurring from gathering in groups, in communal spaces, and due to community spread. We must pay greater attention to the directives that have been provided.

According to CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, “We are not defenseless against COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Montana Tech doesn’t have COVID, people do. The only way to stop the spread of the virus is to mask up. Everyone has been provided a mask or two from the university. Wear them even off campus! If you get the virus or are identified as a close contact and are placed in isolation or quarantine, the number of days you will be out is 14 and possibly more – the timeline could vary. Believe me, I’ve been there and it’s not fun.

With four weeks into the semester, we have all had enough time to familiarize ourselves with wearing a face mask and the expectation is that you do so. If you are non-compliant with the directive, you will be subject to university sanctions ranging from a disciplinary warning to suspension. Teachable moments such as warnings have occurred, but we are beyond that now. Compliance is required. If you see something, report it here.

We understand there is interest in knowing Montana Tech’s specific COVID-19 information. The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department tracks and reports official data in total by gender and age for Butte-Silver Bow. As of right now, data is not broken down specifically for Montana Tech. The health department has the most accurate and comprehensive information backed by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Currently, there are 39 active cases in Butte-Silver Bow.

This is an extremely fluid situation, but we will get through this together with common sense, consideration, and respect for others. Our actions today will determine our future tomorrow.  

Thanks and enjoy the weekend ahead.



Good morning and happy Friday,

We are one week into classes, and it feels great to be back. All things considered, I think we are off to a good start. I continue to be impressed by everyone’s willingness to do what needs to be done to return to face-to-face instruction, including our students.

In addition to masking up and following our recommendations, the campus has demonstrated a commitment to OrediggerRx. We have had 269 faculty and staff, and 1,015 students accept the pledge. I do believe we can still do better than that. Committing and following the guidelines will help each of us, our families, and our communities stay safe. If you have not taken the pledge, please do so by noon on Wednesday, August 26th. Committing demonstrates your support for a healthy campus and provides you the opportunity for some new Tech apparel.

I want to thank you for being a part of a healthy campus and masking up. I know this is new to all of us and is not easy at times, but science continues to demonstrate that face coverings are extremely helpful in mitigating the spread of the virus. This week, we provided all students with two face masks in their wellness kits. If you happened to pick-up one of the wellness kits, you are all set, if not, you can stop by the Student Union Building’s main desk to pick up an additional face mask.

As you’ve probably seen in the news, several campuses have recently adjusted their plans for fall due to a rise in infections. The University of North Carolina, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Sam Houston and quite a few others have either modified in-person learning or gone completely online. We obviously don’t want to do this and have encouraged our students to avoid large gathering settings when they are out and about. We are in daily contact with the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department and others as we monitor these situations. We will continue to ask our students to make the responsible choice and also will ask student leaders to step up and serve as OrediggerRx influencers. We welcome your help in encouraging our students to use common sense. At the end of the day, it is up to all of us to encourage our students to be smart and make the right choices.

We are currently working with the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department, the Southwest Montana Community Health Center, and St. James Healthcare to provide testing for any member of our campus community who is symptomatic through our student health center. This is in the early discussion phase and as we know more we will share information with you.

Additionally, we will be offering members of the campus community the opportunity to receive contact tracing training. If you would be interested, please email Our contact tracers would only be deployed if needed. Please consider this important opportunity.  

As we move into the weekend, I hope you rest, get outdoors, and stay healthy. Remember, if you feel ill, please stay home and email

Enjoy the beautiful weekend ahead, 



Dear Montana Tech Community,

Just over one year ago, I stepped into the role of chancellor at Montana Tech. While I felt my previous experience and roles prepared me for the chancellor job, I never could have imagined we would be faced with a worldwide pandemic. That said, I continue to be pleased with the commitment and resolve of our campus community.

Our COVID-19 planning groups have been meeting regularly to ensure we are prepared and taking the necessary steps to reopen for face-to-face instruction in August. Our plan when we return is the Oredigger Rx—a prescription for a healthy campus. We are continuing to refine the plan and will share with our entire camps community in the weeks ahead. As we proceed, we will all need to take ownership of the plan and pledge to take the necessary precautions to make it happen.

Yesterday, the Montana University System Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force recommended a mask requirement for all campuses. Montana Tech is in full support of this recommendation and will follow the policy recommendations of the commissioner’s office and state and local health authorities. With the increase in COVID-19 cases, we expect that everyone on campus will wear a mask while indoors when you are with others effective immediately. The data demonstrates this is one of the most effective ways of mitigating the spread of the virus. If you do not have a mask or face covering, please stop by the information desk in the Student Union Building (SUB)  to pick one up. 

I will be asking everyone to commit to Oredigger Rx. We will share the plan’s details via PowerPoint presentation for you to view in July. Part of Oredigger Rx, includes asking you along with our students to take the Oredigger Pledge. While the pledge is symbolic, it reinforces our commitment to protect ourselves, our families, those around us, and our community.  As we continue our planning efforts and face the COVID-19 challenge head-on, we will come together to protect every member of our campus and community. The expectation is that our campus community will:

  1. Wear a mask or face covering when indoors.
  2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. 
  3. Maintain physical distancing between others.
  4. Stay away from campus if you are sick and get medical care if necessary.
  5. Cover your cough and/or sneeze.
  6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  7. Participate in testing and contact tracing.
  8. Keep your clothing, belongings, and personal space clean.
  9. Positively embrace a culture of safety and accountability.

As chancellor, I will be asking our students to return to campus in August and commit to staying with us until classes conclude in November. Our goal is to instill in them a mindset that Montana Tech is their second home and much like the time they have spent at home with their family since the pandemic arrived, we want them to return to Tech and spend the semester here with us. Our planning groups are working on an augmented schedule of events and activities to encourage them to stay put and in our community.

Additionally, we will provide testing for the  COVID-19 virus for those who would like to be tested. Originally, our intent was to test everyone as they came back to campus, however, late last week the Centers for Disease Control came out with a statement and recommends campuses do not test all students, faculty and staff as they return to campus. For those who wish to be tested, testing will be provided on-campus through a mobile clinic during orientation week as well as the first week of classes. I will also add that the Montana University System is working with local health departments and developing a robust strategy that includes testing, monitoring and tracing for the fall.

Together we know we can minimize the risk for our campus. As planning continues, you will notice additional hand sanitizer stations, health and safety posters, directional signage, protective shields, and a lot more. We will have mobile temperature scanners in eight different locations on campus and will provide all students with an Oredigger Rx wellness kit. Campus Facilities has increased the frequency of our cleaning and disinfecting across campus. We ask all of you to assist in keeping classrooms, labs, and departmental offices sanitized and clean.

Last week, Provost Gammon shared the framework of our plans for face-to-face instruction with faculty. A team including Steve, deans, faculty, and staff worked diligently to develop a planning framework for face-to-face learning, which can easily be adjusted to live streaming if necessary. Other subgroups are developing plans for housing and dining, events and activities, communication, and campus facilities. These plans are modeled after the MUS Healthy Fall 2020 guidelines as well as the CDC and other higher education resources. All of our planning will continue to include input, recommendations, and approval from the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department.

While no one knows what lies ahead, I can assure you we are doing all we can to be ready for the fall semester. We will continue to update you as our planning progresses, and will do the best we can with the information and resources we have available. It’s time our Montana Tech family is back together and I know we are all ready to get back in the swing of things.

Enjoy the beautiful summer weather ahead, stay safe, and always, feel free to reach out if you have questions.



Dear Montana Tech Family,

As you are aware, the Montana University System Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force has been working over the past 6 weeks to develop a blueprint to guide colleges and universities as we develop plans for a safe return to campus life this fall.

The Task Force is releasing its comprehensive handbook of guidelines today. While our COVID planning team is already well into our preparations for fall semester, the new handbook provides us with system-level recommendations and protocols to guide our work.

You are welcome to review the handbook, which is posted on the Montana University System (MUS) website at However, please keep in mind that the handbook is a high-level blueprint on which we will base planning specific to Montana Tech.

While the handbook does not offer specific details on Montana Tech, it demonstrates the intensive, high-level planning that is underway to facilitate a safe return to Montana Tech and our other MUS campuses.

As noted in the handbook, the guidance released today is the result of extensive research and discussion, with feedback solicited from experts across the MUS as well as a broader population of employees, students and administrators across the system. The guidelines have been crafted with, and reviewed by, officials from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

As the planning process continues at the campus level, please know that we will provide you with more detailed information as it becomes available.

I would like to wish you a happy and healthy summer and thank you again for being a part of our team at Montana Tech.


Dear Montana Tech faculty and staff,

I wanted to let you know Montana Tech will follow the recommendation by Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian and start the fall semester one week earlier than planned. Most Montana University System campuses, as well as many others throughout the country, will return to campus sooner than initially expected to help reduce the risk of infection by the COVID-19 virus. The first day of classes for the fall semester at Montana Tech will be Monday, August 17. This change to the academic calendar will allow the fall semester to conclude before Thanksgiving at 5:00 PM on Tuesday November 24.

This decision involved consultation and feedback from faculty and staff and results from a survey to all students. We realize the change in the fall schedule will require significant adjustments, accommodations, and potential hardship for everyone, but the nature of the pandemic requires us all to go above and beyond and do what is best for our university.

As you are aware, we are committed to the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community, and are working towards re-establishing some normalcy on campus. We pride ourselves on providing hands-on, experiential learning, and we know our students are eager to resume their education in-person and on-campus.

There are many things to work out before we bring students safely back to campus for the fall semester. Our COVID-19 planning team continues to work on processes and mitigation plans, hygiene measures, and protocols for a healthy and safe return to campus for students, and our faculty, and staff. This is a coordinated effort and will continue to involve local and state public health officials who are assisting us developing our plans as well as identifying effective protocols for testing and screening when we resume full face-to-face instruction in the fall. 

We know this change will raise a number of questions around exam schedules, orientation, fall commencement, registration and financial aid. We are working through these pieces and will communicate new information over the summer as it becomes available, but you can rest assured all on-campus services will be ready for the first day of classes on August 17. (This change will not affect students who have financial aid.)

Please keep these important dates in mind as you plan for the fall:

  • Monday, August 17, 2020 – First day of fall semester classes
  • Thursday, November 19, 2020 – Final exams commence
  • Tuesday, November 24, 2020 – Last day of final exams
  • TBD – Fall semester commencement

This academic calendar adjustment is for the fall semester only. We anticipate returning to the planned 16-week schedule in the spring with the first day of classes held on Monday, January 4, 2021.

We understand this change in the fall schedule comes with personal challenges for some of our students as well as some of you. However, as daunting as COVID-19 can be we have to move forward and this requires continued flexibility from all of us.

Thank you for your understanding as we continue to work through this together. We look forward to having our students back on campus and continuing to deliver an exceptional in-person educational experience.

Stay healthy and safe, and as always, please reach out if I can assist you.


Les P. Cook, Ed.D.


Dear Faculty and Staff,

I hope you are staying well and have had a bit of a break between semesters. I wanted to check-in with you and provide an update about our phased plan to bring some sense of normalcy back to campus as well as provide a couple of additional updates.

As indicated in my last email to campus and the Advancing Montana Tech forum last week, we began the process of bringing our faculty and staff back to campus on Monday, May 4 to have with a goal of back to normal by the first day of summer classes, Tuesday, May 26. The expectation is that departments will continue to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty, and campus guests. This may include staggering schedules where possible, allowing for some telework accommodations, and doing what is necessary to ensure departments are covered and the work gets done.

We have been in discussions with the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department and will ask that everyone adhere to the following best practices for the immediate future:

  • All employees are to gauge their own health, if feeling ill, do not come to work.
  • Faculty, staff, and students are to maintain the social distancing guideline of 6-feet at all times.
  • Masks are encouraged, although not required. In circumstances where a 6-foot distance is not practical, individuals should wear a face mask or covering. We have purchased face masks for faculty, staff, and students. When they arrive on campus, we will let you know.
  • For individual meetings, we encourage the use of Zoom or some other online technology. If not available, please ask those with whom you are meeting how they would like to meet.
  • The University will increase the frequency and sanitization of all high traffic/high touch areas as well as restroom facilities.
  • Additional hand sanitation units have been added throughout the campus.
  • Signage is being developed to remind the campus community and others to wash hands frequently, sneeze into their elbow, cover coughs, and self-monitor their health.
  • Reasonable accommodations will be made for employees with underlying health conditions that may make them or someone in their household, particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. These will be discussed and arranged through Human Resources.
  • For more information about protecting yourself and others refer to the CDC Recommendations.

The bookstore is currently open and the HPER will reopen on Monday, May 18. All research operations will also transition to level one beginning on May 18. The library and museum will be open beginning May 26. All buildings will also be open along with a limited number of computer labs.

I ask for your continued patience and understanding as we move forward. We can’t predict the future, but we can certainly be prepared to handle almost anything that comes at us, we’ve already proven this.

In addition to our reopening, I’d like to invite everyone to participate in our annual “Plant In” on Thursday, June 4 from 9-11 followed by a campus barbecue. We will ensure that we practice social distancing while we enjoy each other’s company to spruce up the campus and enjoy lunch after. Stay tuned, more information will be forthcoming in the next week or so.

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone of the information technology electrical upgrade taking place next week. The switch replacement is long overdue and is critically important to Montana Tech going forward. All access to the campus network, phones, and the data center will be unavailable from Wednesday, May 20 at 8:00 am until Tuesday, May 26 at 7:00 am. Your patience during this time is appreciated.

Thanks and as always, please reach out if you have questions.



Dear staff and faculty,

As the semester draws to a close, I wanted to reach out again to offer my gratitude, not only for the extraordinary display of commitment and endurance the past six weeks, but for your patience and

confidence in me since my arrival last July. While the year didn’t end how I hoped, I believe together we made good progress and will be even better in the days ahead.

Last week, Montana Governor Bullock announced plans for a phased plan to reopen the State gradually. Commissioner Christian followed suit with guidance to campuses for developing staffing strategies to align with the governor’s directive. In addition, Butte-Silver Bow will follow much of the Governor’s phase one plan and will re-open with guidelines.

On our campus, beginning Monday, May 4, we will take Commissioner Christians counsel and will begin the process to bring  our staff and faculty back to campus. All departments are asked to execute plans for gradually resuming on-campus staffing in a way that continues to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. We will encourage all supervisors to work with their staff and consider staggering schedules while maintaining social distancing. As we have done all along, we will continue to ask that everyone self-monitor their health and stay home if they have any signs of illness.

In addition to this, I am serving on the MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force, a group appointed by the Commissioner’s Office charged with determining how all campuses can return to in person instruction

in fall 2020 and deliver a great academic and student life experience with a moderate level of risk. Our task force will meet over the next three weeks and will deliver a plan to Commissioner Christian

and the Board of Regents by the May 20-21 Board of Regents Meeting. Through our work, we hope to develop procedures for in-person instruction and on-campus student life to fully resume for the fall semester.

As we go forward, it is important that we all realize the scope of what lies ahead. Covid-19 is a challenge that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon; however, with protective measures and following the guidance from the Governor’s office, OCHE,  and the  health department, I am confident we can make progress. Our students enroll at Montana Tech because of the quality of the experience, hands-on learning and interaction with others. While our efforts to move online were extraordinary, this is not what students signed up for. When classes resume, we will continue to maintain a safe working environment, but the expectation is that we will all be on campus.

No one knows what the new normal may look like for us but I can assure you we will do our best as we reinvent it. Because of Covid-19, there will undoubtedly be other challenges and hard decisions that will have to be made. This year we have been intensely focused on enrollment, student success, messaging, and our campus environment. While we have made progress with enrollment, no one could have predicted we would be faced with a worldwide pandemic. Moving into the FY21 budget cycle with uncertainty in enrollment, it is clear we will have to make programmatic and staffing decisions to position the university for stability.

On Tuesday, May 5 from the 3-4:30, I hope you will join the Executive Team and the chairs of each of our four campus teams for our final Advancing Montana Tech Forum. Via Zoom, we will provide a brief campus update and the chairs of the recruiting, student success, marketing, and campus refresh teams will highlight the work and recommendations of their teams over the course of the past six months. Click here to join the zoom meeting: (meeting ID: 541 525 863)

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that next Monday, May 4th, we will begin summer hours. All departments with the exception of Enrollment Services, Personnel/Payroll/Purchasing and the Business Office will be open from 7:30-4:00 PM daily. The aforementioned are open until 5:00 PM year-round. 

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and ability to adapt. The past 6-7 weeks have clearly been uncomfortable space and a new environment for all of us. As the Governor has stated, the sacrifices that have been made have flattened the curve and I know this has come at a high cost as well as anxiety for everyone. We all need to act like our loved one’s lives depend on our actions, because they do.

With gratitude,



Dear Faculty and Staff,

I hope you are doing okay despite the craziness of the past few weeks. Campus certainly has a strange feel to it but I guess we can find comfort in the fact that nearly every campus across the country feels similarly right now.

Since we are not having our Advancing Montana Tech Forum that was originally scheduled for this afternoon, I thought I would provide you a few updates via email.

First and foremost, I’d like to share with you that Karen VanDaveer, Interim Dean for the College of Letters, Sciences and Professional Studies has agreed to remain in the Interim Dean role for the year ahead through June 30, 2021. As you may know we were in the middle of a search when all hiring was postponed due to the COVID19 pandemic. Over the course of the past month I have had the opportunity to work closely with all of our deans and Karen has been extraordinary. Given the unsettling nature of our current environment keeping Karen in this role is a plus for Montana Tech. Please join me in thanking Karen for her continued willingness to serve in this role.

In addition, I want to share the Executive Team has made the difficult, but responsible decision to postpone our Spring Awards Ceremony, which was to be held on Thursday, April 16th. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be gathering as planned to celebrate our retirees, award winners, and the length of service awards. Our retirees and award winners will be recognized and announced in an email to campus prior to the conclusion of the academic year and awards will be presented at the celebratory gathering which is yet to be determined. We will recognize all awardees at this time, including Length of Service Awardees.

We have rescheduled our next Advancing Montana Tech Forum for Tuesday May 5 from 3-4:30. The agenda will include a year-end update as well as briefings from each of the teams that were organized in October. Over the course of the last 6 months nearly sixty members of campus have been involved with these endeavors focused on recruitment, student success, marketing/messaging and our campus environment. I hope you will mark this on your calendar and plan to zoom in with us.

Next week we will have a virtual “DiggerCon” event for newly admitted students as well as a virtual Techxpo. While neither of these events will occur in-person, it is important that we remind ourselves that these connections are critically important to our students. It is essential that ALL OF US continue to reach out to our students and make sure they are doing okay, that they have their classes scheduled for fall and most importantly, they know we care about them.

As we travel this journey together, please know I continue to be grateful for each and every one of you and your commitment to Montana Tech and our students in these unnerving times.

Thank you.



Good morning faculty and staff,

Thank you for another week of dedicated and true Oredigger spirit. I’m so proud and honored to see how you all have risen to the occasion as we work through this situation.

I am pleased to welcome provost Steve Gammon back to campus. He is feeling much better, and we are glad to have him back. The most important thing right now is to know that we are strong because of the community we are a part of. I encourage you to reach out if you need anything at all. One of the best ways to make sure our students are having a good experience is to ensure that we also take care of ourselves. Cricket Pietsch and Cathy Isakson have teamed up to create an informative Self-Care guide for employees. I have attached the guide to this email. You can also check out Greater Good Magazine, which uses science-based insight for a meaningful life.

As you may have heard a group of faculty/staff and the Faculty Senate have been working on a plan to provide our students with an alternative grading structure for the spring 2020 semester. The Complete Credit/Credit/No Credit grading mechanism will be available for all courses taken for undergraduate credit. Once grades are available to students, if a student feels that a course(s) grade negatively impacts their GPA, they can elect to transition one or more select courses to the alternative which offers a three-tiered system (parallel in function but no associated grade point). This system is supported by the accrediting bodies and has been vetted by all major areas of campus. Ultimately the goal is to minimize the impact that a given grade may have on a student’s GPA while allowing faculty to provide grades that are reflective of the student’s performance. I have attached the policy or you can find out more information here under the heading Alternate Grades. Faculty will be receiving more information about this soon.

I did want you all to know that with the suspension of all campus events and activities, we will be transitioning to a virtual Techxpo event this year. Students involved have already received an email with details about this year’s event. In addition, we received notification from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education this week that all Montana Universities will not hold in-person commencement ceremonies this spring. While we won’t have an in-person ceremony, we understand the importance of celebrating this milestone in the lives of our students. We are in the midst of surveying our graduates to determine what type of ceremony they would like this May or even into the fall. I am committed to making sure this event is special for us all.

As we look ahead to the summer we have taken the conservative and most realistic approach and will be continuing online with our summer courses. There may be a few that require fieldwork, in those instances some accommodation will possibly be made so these courses can continue.

Finally, as you all are aware, when the Orediggers are victorious our beloved “M” changes to “V” signifying a victory. Beginning tonight the M will flash “V” as a gentle reminder to believe in the strength of our community and better days ahead.

We’re two weeks into being 100% online and I remain grateful for all that everyone has done to help us be in this uncharted space.

Take good care and stay healthy,



Dear Montana Tech faculty and staff,

By now, you have heard that Governor Steve Bullock issued a stay at home order for Montana to begin at 12:01 am on Saturday, March 28, until April 10. Under the order, you are allowed to leave home for necessities such as food or medical care, along with a few other exceptions.

As I shared earlier, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education has provided additional clarification for colleges/universities within the Montana University System. Our campus will remain open and continue to deliver education and provide essential services to our students. The offices and departments to remain open will be admissions, counseling services, dining services, enrollment services, financial aid, human resources, payroll, physical facilities, residence halls, and security. We encourage supervisors to explore alternate work scheduling or accommodate other reasonable requests to meet the needs of employees during this time.

It's still hard to believe how much things have changed in the past two weeks. I want to thank everyone for rising above the uncertainty of this situation to help not only our students but each other. I especially want to recognize our faculty for working around the clock to prepare and deliver your classes online. It appears that most things are working out, and we're hopeful there is little disruption to these modes of delivery as we go forward. In the event you cannot deliver your class at home, you can come onto campus, but please abide by social distancing and do not interact with anyone on campus.

I want to ask EVERYONE to please check in on our students. Many of them have indicated that they have heard little from campus. It's important they hear from us, and please respond promptly if a student emails or calls you. I know it's a stressful time, but students are anxious to hear from their faculty, advisors, coaches, mentors, supervisors, etc. If you have not done so, please reach out.

Thank you for everything you are doing for the safety of our campus community as we continue to remain open to our students. This situation is fluid, and as we know more, we will email and update the operations page on our website.

As I think back on this week, I remain grateful for all of you and am pleased to report some positive news. Our Montana Tech students who were stuck in Peru with Baptist Student Union pastor, Mark Arbaugh, are back in the United States. We received word this morning they landed in Washington DC and are happy to hear they are almost home. I would also like you to know our north and south campus will be loaning 15 hospital beds, IV pumps, automatic BP machines, and an ECG machine to St. James Healthcare. The equipment is on loan from the nursing department and the Highlands College health programs. The campus has also come together to gather personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate to our medical professionals in the community. We also just received some exciting news! Kathryn Bozer, a junior in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, was named a 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholar. Thank you to the National Student Award Committee for your hard work with the nominating process. 

Thank you for your understanding as we all work through this evolving situation together.

Stay healthy,



Good morning Faculty and staff,

As you know, Governor Bullock issued a “stay at home directive” yesterday afternoon. The following is clarification that we received from OCHE.

RELEASE: Governor Bullock Issues Stay at Home Directive to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

... on the impact of this Governor’s order that takes effect Friday night at midnight and runs through April 10 ...

From a MUS workforce standpoint, this means that core essential campus functions are still open for business. No change there from what you have been doing. Many of you still have a number of students who need services on campus. We have facilities and networks and systems that need to be maintained. Campus CEO’s are authorized to identify and staff such core services and identify work areas where telework is allowed or encouraged by you in your best judgment. The six-feet distancing in the workplace shall be maintained. 

From a student services standpoint, students are subject to the same expectations for maintaining six-feet distancing where possible and certainly in the campus settings where services are provided (e.g., in any auxiliary service settings or in the rare academic / lab settings that are not being delivered remotely).

Thank you for all that you have done to move us to 100% online for course/lab delivery this week. Stay tuned, we will provide additional information as it becomes available.



Good morning Faculty and Staff,

I wanted to thank you for your efforts delivering online education and making sure we continue to provide core services to our campus.  Thank you for all your amazing work.

Many of you have reached out to us about events and activities on campus, especially Techxpo and commencement. As I shared last week, all events and activities are suspended until further notice. Decisions about campus commencement ceremonies will be coordinated through the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education as a statewide university system. Rest assured that, as soon as we receive pertinent information, we will share it immediately.

I wanted to let you know we do have a team of staff and faculty working on several  ideas and initiatives to assist us in reinventing some of our campus events and activities for both prospective and current students. This group will be vital in helping us to keep the energy of Tech alive while also helping us to be intentional and encouraging in our messaging and planning. These are opportunistic times and with everyone’s help, I think we can survive and quite possibly do better than our peers due to our size and the nature of the education we provide.

We continue to make efforts to minimize the footprint of campus and have moved three additional buildings offline. These include Science & Engineering, Engineering Hall, and the University Relations Center. Others previously closed include the Mill, HPER, HSB, HPER, Library, Mill, and the NRRC. If you are located in one of these spaces, my guess is you have a key and can get in. If not, please reach out to Campus Security and they can provide you access.

Some on-campus resources for you:

This continues to be a stressful time for us all. However, while these times are unnerving, we must manage our stress and anxiety. I would encourage you to visit the CDC’s resources on anxiety and stress and check out the EAP Support: COVID-19 Resources sent out by Human Resources.

I am grateful for your continued understanding, compassion and flexibility. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can assist you in any way.

Stay well.



Good morning students, faculty and staff,

This morning all of us are embarking on a new day and one that will likely be somewhat of an adventure as we move to 100% online delivery. Who would have known two weeks ago this would be the case as everyone returns for the final weeks of our semester?

To all of you, I want to say thanks. These are unnerving times and your continued patience, flexibility and willingness to do whatever we need to do to make it work has been extraordinary. As we kick into online mode, we know things aren’t going to be perfect and it’s important we all remember this. Additionally, we must remember  that we are all Orediggers, we’re resilient, we can be agile and forgiving and most importantly, we care about one another.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, another member of the Butte-Silver Bow community has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. The reality is there will be more cases in the immediate future and I can’t emphasize enough how much we need your help. Your health and well-being continue to be the utmost importance. Please remember the following:

  • If you traveled internationally over spring break, Governor Bullock has asked that you self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
  • If you aren’t feeling well or believe you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19 (runny nose, fever, cough, etc.) please stay home and contact your health provider.
  • If you think you may have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, please closely monitor your health and pay attention to any changes in how you’re feeling.
  • ALL of us, regardless of our situation need to practice social distancing as well as continued good hygiene. You can rest assure that those of us on campus will be practicing this by using Zoom or other technologies to avoid in-person interaction.

As a reminder for those of you remaining on campus that need computer lab access, the following labs are available for your use:

  • xELC 315 (with dual monitors)
  • Main 205
  • MG 102 (with dual monitors)
  • MUS 101 (12 machines with dual monitors)
  • NRB 228
  • CBB 001

We will monitor usage over the next week or so and quite possibly take more of these off-line once we know which labs are utilized most.

To minimize traffic and assist our facilities team, the following buildings are closed for the remainder of the semester: The Mill, Engineering Hall, Natural Resources Research Center, Library, and HPER. 

The days ahead are bound to be interesting, but I know we will persevere. While the present is undoubtedly troubling, I think there is much to learn and be gained from this experience. Spend a half hour watching the news or some time on social media and you will undoubtedly see all of the good that is already occurring.

Today is a new day for Montana Tech and in so many ways one that I know may be tough. Not having students in our classrooms, the dining hall or satisfying your curiosity in a research lab feels strange for all of us, but let’s use this opportunity to embrace technology like its never been embraced before. Let’s also use this time to embrace our friends and loved ones, the outdoors, a good book, a new hobby or the space to simply reflect.

Thank you and welcome back. I look forward to the success we will create together.



Dear campus,

In order to keep everyone healthy and safe, Montana Tech is requiring any employee, who has returned from international travel to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work.  Please note that the CDC and Montana Tech does not require self-quarantine for employees who traveled within the United States. However, if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 during your domestic travels, it is recommended that you self–quarantine for 14 days as well. If during that time you develop symptoms, please contact your health provider for further guidance. Employees who must self-quarantine should contact their supervisor and consult with HR regarding their options during self-quarantine.

Montana Tech and the Montana University System understand the stress and anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Many of you are concerned on how it will affect you and your loved ones financially if you were to become sick and unable to work for an extended period, due to the outbreak.  In order to help alleviate these concerns, the Montana University System will provide a new “Paid COVID-19 Leave” for up to 30 calendar days in certain situations. In addition, the federal government has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that provides public sector employees (including the Montana University System) with paid leave for workers impacted by the outbreak.

Learn more about the State of Montana Paid COVID-19 Leave and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

We encourage all of you to visit our website for campus operational updates.

Thanks for everything you do,



As I write this email after a constantly changing week, I’m not sure where the week has gone, I’m sure many of you feel similarly. I look back and think about the amazing team we have in each and every department. While we can’t change the situation, we can change how we respond and that we have certainly done. Everyone has risen to the occasion in every aspect from bringing course and labs 100% online to spending all of our meetings in Zoom. What felt uncomfortable for many of us on Monday, almost feels normal today.

I am incredibly grateful to the entire campus, but I do want to extend a shout out to our Covid-19 planning team as well as our deans. They have been remarkable in helping us to navigate in a constantly changing environment.

As a result of our meetings today, we do have a few updates to share before the weekend:

  1. The Bookstore and HPER will remain closed. We will also be closing the Library. Students and/or faculty/staff can continue to get assistance or materials if you need them. Contact information is on the Covid-19 site.
  2. Specific computer labs will be identified for student use.
  3. We will also be working to close down low traffic buildings for the time being. These will include the Mill, Engineering Hall, Natural Resources Research Center, Library, and HPER.

All paychecks will now be mailed. Visit Cyberbear to verify your mailing address on file.

I know our work will continue over the next few weeks, but for now, please have a restful weekend. I hope you will take time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, help others, and find time for yourselves. These are undoubtedly unsettling times, but we seldom have time to pause, call a friend, or check-in on a loved one. Let’s embrace it, think about how we can make the rest of the semester a memorable one for those who will be connected from afar and continue to come together to build upon all that makes Montana Tech what it is today.

In gratitude,


Dear faculty and staff,

I want to thank all of you for stepping up and helping with whatever is needed across campus as we work together on this evolving situation. The support and your  “can do” attitude is nothing short of amazing. Thank you!

I want you to know that our facilities team has been deep cleaning our campus--disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces in classrooms, labs, restrooms, hallways, and other public areas. They have also been dusting horizontal surfaces, cleaning wall spots, cleaning exteriors of trash receptacles, removing bugs and debris from light fixtures, edge vacuuming and cleaning edges of hard surface floors. These will be ongoing activities that will continue into the next few weeks, in addition to regular cleaning activities. Their next step, after buildings are sanitized, will be to begin restorative floor cleaning.

We want you to know that many campus services will be limited, moving forward, and all campus events and activities are suspended until further notice. We will continue to update our COVID-19 webpage with information and have created a page dedicated to operations on campus. Please check these frequently.

Please remember that there are things we can all control and things we can’t. Thanks for your positive attitude, kindness, helping each other out and keeping your distance. As Orediggers we will do our best and continue to shine.

Be well,


Good morning Staff & Faculty,

I am forwarding you the email that was sent to our students yesterday. It’s important as we communicate with the campus that we do our best to craft the message specific to each audience. That said, I believe it is valuable that all of you know what we shared with our students.

The most important points are as follows:

  • Classes and labs will all be 100% online beginning Monday 
  • The semester will be accelerated and will conclude on April 24
  • We recommend that all students remain or return to their home or permanent residence
  • Most importantly, we care

As we go forward I think there has never been a more important time than now to abide by the golden rule; treat others as you would want to be treated. I know all of us care deeply about our students and their health/well-being and success. I would encourage all of us to think about checking in with those whom you know or have contact. It doesn’t matter if you are their coach, professor, advisor, line cook, or custodian, our students need us now, and we possibly need them.  It’s been said that people don’t want to know how much we know; they want to know how much we care. I firmly believe this.


Good morning Orediggers,

I hope you are well and enjoying your time away. While I know some of you may be enjoying spring break in exotic locations, I’m certain that no one is oblivious to the impact COVID-19 is having on all of us. As this is a rapidly changing situation and we learn more about this virus, we need to prepare for a range of possibilities.

While the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, the decision has been made to

convert to 100% online delivery of courses, labs, and clinicals beginning Monday, March 23rd. I realize this is a major change in the way we normally work, but I have confidence our faculty are up to this task.

We recognize that it is challenging for many faculty as well our students to make the transition from face-to-face to remote instruction under the best of circumstances. The fact that we are trying to do this all at once, in less than a week, has made this an incredible challenge for the entire University. We know that you may be concerned about the impact that this disruption and transition to remote learning might have on your academic progress. This is foremost in our minds, and faculty will provide flexibility and alternatives as needed to students. I know everyone will do their best to meet this challenge and I want to thank you in advance for understanding.

In addition to the 100% online format, the decision has been made to accelerate the semester with an end date of April 24, 2020. As the number of cases increases around the country and in Montana, health experts expect substantial growth in the number of people infected.

While much remains to be learned, there are clear indicators it is less virulent for those younger than 40, however, we remain concerned about our faculty and staff as well as members of your extended families. This decision was not made lightly and we know it won’t be easy, but we all feel it is the right decision to be made given the circumstances in front of us.

Finally, we would like to encourage you to stay home or return to your permanent residence if you can and return to campus to retrieve your belongings at the conclusion of the semester. We realize that home for you may be here in Butte, elsewhere in Montana, the US, or abroad. Wherever home may be, we feel it is in the best interests of all of our Montana Tech family to promote adequate social distancing by staying put. We care a great deal about all members of our Montana Tech family which include you and your family. The only way we can promote safe living, learning, and working spaces for all of us is by limiting our interaction and streamlining all we do. For those of you currently living on campus, the campus will remain open and residential and dining operations will continue, although services may become more limited. This is not how we anticipated your return from spring break, however, we feel it is in your best interest at this time.

The above measures will undoubtedly raise numerous questions, and we will follow up with additional communications in the days ahead. Please pay attention to your email as we will be asking you to complete a survey to let us know of your intentions.

I am well aware none of this is the information you want to hear. You can trust that I’d much rather prefer you all come back rejuvenated and ready for MDays, Techxpo and all of the things that make Montana Tech what it is. Unfortunately, this is out of our control. We will do our best and I ask that you do similarly. We have to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and be optimistic that we can all work through this together. We are Orediggers and I’m certain we can. Thanks for trusting in us and please know we care and will do all we can to assist you as we move forward.

With gratitude,


Good morning Faculty and Staff colleagues,

I understand the challenges that the spread of COVID-19 is having on your personal and professional lives. As this is a rapidly changing situation and we learn more about COVID-19, we need to prepare for a range of possibilities. Your understanding and willingness to do what is in the best interests of our students and campus community is appreciated.

As I shared last week, Clayton Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education for the Montana University System provided us the mandate that all campuses within the MUS system in every instance possible, transition all in-class instruction to online or other remote teaching modalities that do not require in-class presence. Initially, we believed that some classes/labs due to the nature of instruction and delivery could possibly continue in person. Unfortunately, as the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, this is not a possibility. As a result, Montana Tech will convert to 100% online delivery of courses, labs, and clinical on Monday, March 23rd. There will be no exceptions to this directive. I realize this is a major change in the way we normally work, but I have confidence the great faculty at Montana Tech will meet this requirement.

All faculty will be given the assistance needed to convert courses to an online format as outlined in the attached document. A team of individuals from IT, academic departments, and other areas have been working tirelessly to get training in place to assist everyone who needs help in moving to this format. I encourage you to reach out if needed.

In addition to the 100% online format, the decision has been made to accelerate the semester with an end date of April 24, 2020. As the number of cases increases around the country and in Montana, health experts expect substantial growth in the number of people infected. While much remains to be learned, there are clear indicators it is less virulent for those younger than 40, however, we are concerned about the safety and health of our faculty and staff as well as our students and members of their extended families. This decision was not made lightly, and we know it won’t be easy, but we all feel it is the right decision to be made.

Finally, we will be sending an email to all students this morning encouraging them to stay home at their permanent residence. The only way we can promote safe living, learning, and working spaces for all of us is by limiting our interaction and streamlining all we do. We realize not all students are at home currently or will be able to return to their permanent residence, thus the campus will remain open and residential, and dining operations will continue, although services may become more limited.

Thank you in advance for your flexibility and service to Montana Tech—we know that the situation is changing rapidly and we are in a time of ambiguity. Unprecedented times require extraordinary measures. They also require extraordinary compassion and understanding. I am confident that we, as a campus, can accomplish this and believe this decision is the best option for our students and our campus community in these uncertain times.

We’ll do our best to keep you informed. Stay well.



Hello campus. 

I hope you had a good weekend although I know how challenging it can be right now, given the circumstances we are in. I will say, although campus is incredibly quiet, there are many people, including all of you, that are diligently working to make sure we are prepared and ready for students to return next week. As we plan for their return, it’s also critically important that we take care of ourselves. This email will provide you a few updates and will also include information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I encourage you to take advantage of these services if you need to. We all must remain physically and mentally healthy.

As we continue to keep the campus open, it is essential that we minimize the impact of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all members of the Montana Tech family and broader Butte community. As you know, our campus provides essential services, so we have to work to keep our campus environment safe and operational for our students, faculty, and staff. 

Some of the services to be aware of include:

Employee Assistance Program:  

The Montana University System (MUS) has launched the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The MUS EAP helps you privately work through challenges that may interfere with your work, family, and life in general. This new benefit is available to all MUS employees and household members. Click on EAP and Work-Life Services Overview. Visit IBH for more detailed information. To access the tools offered through this benefit:

866-750-1327 ׀

Human Resources:

If you do not feel well or have symptoms of illness, you should stay home. Temporary work-from-home arrangements are possible on an individualized basis. Please contact HR for more information.

Other updates:


Due to increased travel advisories from both the CDC and the Department of State and the possibility of further travel restrictions in response to COVID-19, the Montana University System is suspending all university-sponsored foreign and domestic travel until further notice.  

Campus Cleaning:

In addition to the deep cleaning facilities will be undertaking, cleaning and disinfecting products will be available after 10:00 am tomorrow. Visit the Physical Facilities Office Building, 2nd floor, to pick up a spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels. Before using the product, review the safety data sheet and use the product in a well-ventilated area with appropriate personal protective equipment.  

Book Store: 

The Montana Tech Book Store will be closed through spring break. Visit the Book Store online.

Mineral Museum: 

The Mineral Museum located in the Museum Building will be closed until further notice. 

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

Stay safe and healthy, 



Dear Campus Community,

As I write to you, my thoughts and well wishes are with every one of you. I want you to know that your health and safety is my top priority. 

Last night, it was announced that Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. As many of you may have heard by now, Provost Gammon also tested positive for the virus. We do not want you to panic and want you to know that we are working closely with the Health Department and monitoring this situation daily. Steve was on campus last Monday, however, he did not experience symptoms until later that evening. He has not been on campus since. There have been concerns regarding both of these individuals who were at the board of regents meeting testing positive to COVID-19. With the current information, we now have, from our local public health partners who have contacted and interviewed Clay and Steve, it is clear that neither were symptomatic at the time of the board meeting. By the current CDC recommendations, no one at the Board of Regents meeting would be considered a contact, and no one would need to be quarantined. However, this is a very dynamic situation, and we are learning more and more about this virus every day. Therefore, under the abundance of caution, I, along with Steve, Karen VanDaveer, Carrie Vath, Dan Trudnowski, Bev Hartline, Dave Gurchiek, Carleen Cassidy, Charie Faught and Ashton Cummings, will self-quarantine until March 20. 

Our COVID-19 Planning Team met this morning to discuss campus continuity and operations. The following are updates from this meeting:

  1. As mentioned last week, ALL classes need to be delivered online when possible. Online training for faculty on how to deliver your classes online will happen this week. Theresa Stack sent out a message this afternoon. Please watch your email for further information. 
  2. We are asking that in-person campus meetings be kept to a minimum, and we are encouraging meetings to take place via conference call, zoom, or skype. If you must have an in-person meeting, please practice social distancing. 
  3. Dining services will continue to operate with grill-service only. The daily buffet will be eliminated until further notice. The coffee shop in the Mill Building will remain open. All food service in the SSC will be eliminated for the immediate future.   
  4. Public access to the HPER will be suspended. The exercise facilities, locker rooms, and pool will not be open. The HPER will undergo a deep cleaning. 
  5. All campus-sponsored and non-campus sponsored events will be suspended until further notice. 
  6. Tutoring service is not currently offered during spring break. Once students return, it will likely be offered remotely. More details to come.
  7. Your mental health is very important to us. Counseling services will continue to be available using social distancing. We are also trying to determine if there are additional services available through Wellness-MUS.
  8. During spring break, our custodial staff will conduct a deep clean across our campuses. I would ask that each of us make time to clean and wipe down our own office space and the surrounding area.  

Currently there are only a few cases of COVID-19 in Montana, but everyone must continue to be vigilant as well as conscious of the signs and symptoms of this virus. Please continue to follow prevention measures to keep yourself, your family, and the campus community safe. If you are not feeling well, please do not come to work and contact your medical provider.

It is critically important that you all are informed. I will send a daily email for the time being to update everyone. We will also continue to update our website and social media outlets. Your continued patience and understanding is appreciated. 

Please stay safe,


Les P. Cook, Ed.D.


Montana Technological University


Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I wanted to touch base and provide you the latest update on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation. The health of our campus and community is our most important priority. With spring break upon us, it is important the following is shared in a timely manner.

This morning we received direction from the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Higher Education to move forward with the following as soon as possible:

  1. Effective March 23 all campuses, in every instance possible are to transition all in-class instruction online or other teaching modalities that do not require in-class presence. Montana Tech will move towards this where we are able to do so but there are some classes/labs due to the nature of instruction and delivery can only be facilitated in person. Please stay tuned, additional information about classes after spring break will be forthcoming.
  2. Campus will remain open and operational during this time for students. This includes the residence halls, computer labs, library, etc. All employees will continue to report to work as normal unless instructed otherwise.
  3. We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread of this virus by following guidelines for social distancing and will likely postpone any large events for the near future. We will keep you posted as we receive additional information providing clarification on these events.

We have a coronavirus planning team continuing to monitor this situation and I assure you that we will do all we can to continue operations as smoothly as we can with as little disruption as possible. While the uncertainty behind all of this is certainly cause for concern, I’m hopeful we can remain calm and respectful as we consider the safety and health of our entire community.

All members of our community are reminded if you have any symptoms, please do not come to work or class if you are ill. If you have symptoms like fever, cough, difficulty breathing or simply do not feel well, please contact your health care provider or our campus health center at (406) 496-4243. The clinic is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm daily Monday-Friday.

As everyone is aware, this is a continually evolving situation. Your patience, support and understanding is genuinely appreciated as we deal with these challenges in the weeks ahead. It is important that we take care of ourselves but also each other as we navigate the path forward. We will continue to keep you updated via email as well as the website as we receive additional information and adapt our plans.

Thank you and please watch your email for additional updates.



Les P. Cook, Ed.D.


Montana Technological University