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From the Graduate Dean – Graduate Student FAQs during COVID-19, April 14, 2020

April 14, 2020

Dear Spalding Graduate Students,

Thank you for your flexibility and cooperation as we navigate the move to online-only courses during the coronavirus pandemic. We hope you are adjusting well to the transition to online classes, and, I applaud you for your dedication to your academic career. Most importantly, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this time.

These uncertain times have generated several common questions from grad students about university policies and academic processes that relate to them. For your reference, I have compiled answers and information about a range of topics into a Frequently Asked Questions format. Please review them, and never hesitate to contact me at, a member of your faculty or your advisor.


What about traveling personally or home to continue my graduate studies during the COVID-19 advisory period?

Graduate students considering leaving Louisville are encouraged to review with their program directors and faculty that they can meet their Spalding obligations remotely and, if so, notify their program directors that they plan to continue their coursework remotely. Please check the university guidance on travel and COVID-19 as updates to the university COVID-19 webpage are made on an ongoing basis. Graduate students considering international travel, for instance, to return home, should be aware that you may face quarantine and/or flight cancellations. Also, you may be unable to return to campus for an extended period of time after traveling abroad. You may face visa issues and may not be able to travel to some domestic American destinations as well due to the trajectory of the coronavirus virus itself.  If you are unable to return to campus, you may be asked to take a leave, depending on the requirements of your program. All students are encouraged to talk with program directors and faculty and think through the various ramifications of travel at this time in the COVID- 19 advisory period.


Can I still submit my research projects to the Research Ethics Committee for review and approval during the COVID-19 advisory period where our coursework and research is now conducted online?

Yes. The Research Ethics Committee (also called the Institutional Review Board) continues to operate and accept proposals for research projects that relate to human and animal subject matter and all advanced graduate-level projects must go through the committee for approval or denial. Dr. Cindee Quake-Rapp is the chair of the committee and the committee’s graduate assistant is Nicole Hagan. Please contact Nicole at and for more information on the process, please click on this link:


Can my defense be moved to a virtual format?

Yes. During the current COVID-19 advisory period in which academic coursework and research are being conducted virtually via GoToMeeting and other forms of technology, all dissertation defenses will be held virtually over GoToMeeting (the university’s virtual meeting platform). After the University returns to pre-COVID-19 temporary guidelines, dissertation defenses will most likely be moved back to the in-person, face-to-face (non-virtual) format. However, until further notice, these virtual defense guidelines will be put in place.

Can my friends and family attend my defense?

Yes, but only via the teleconference virtual link. Spalding is using GoToMeeting as its virtual meeting platform.  You and your dissertation chair will provide the link to your committee members and to others who might want to attend. At this time, the University does not plan on offering any face-to-face and on-campus dissertation defenses until the COVID-19 advisory period ends.

Can I postpone my defense?

It is recommended you review this request with your dissertation chair and program director. Although academic deadlines remain in place, individual students may be able to work with their programs to alter or modify their defense dates.

Can I confirm the completion of my doctoral dissertation and submit my dissertation signature pages electronically?

Yes. In addition to electronic dissertation submission process, all doctoral candidates can submit electronically their 1) dissertation title, 2) name of dissertation chair, 3) date the defense is officially considered completed (after all additions and corrections are complete, which may mean the official completion date is after the actual dissertation if a committee requires further changes to the graduate student’s actual doctoral dissertation), and 4) a dissertation signature page to the Registrar and their graduate program directors. The Registrar will accept scanned signatures as well as electronic signatures. Please send those to the Registrar’s Office at and copy your graduate program director. Please contact the Registrar or Dean of Graduate Education ( if you have any questions about the dissertation submission policy, which has not changed from the pre-COVID-19 advisory period policy.


Kurt W. Jefferson, PhD
Dean of Graduate Education
Professor, Doctoral Program in Leadership