Welcome to Issue 03 of Recap, MICA’s regular communication on the College’s progress and planning around the return to campus for Spring 2021 and beyond.

Welcome to issue 03 of Recap, MICA’s regular communication on the College’s progress and planning around the return to campus for Spring 2021 and beyond.

As a regular snapshot of current thinking and planning around safely and successfully mounting the 2021 academic year, Recap is also a place for dialogue, so feel free to comment using the Comment on This Topic button at the end of each story. We encourage its use as we use your feedback to help build our shared understanding as One Team MICA.

And remember, while Recap is intended to be a general update on MICA’s AY 2021 reopening efforts, some information may not apply to all programs and constituents, such as Open Studies. For specific information, please use the departmental directory at the end of this issue.

In This Issue:

  1. On Track: Unified Social Agreement and Enforcement Policy

  2. Current Planning: Exhibitions at MICA

  3. Recap Revisit: Revisiting Space Planning and Common Areas

  4. Key Dates: Employees and Furloughs

  5. What If: Will Changing Conditions Mean Changing Policy?

  6. Transparency Report: Comments from Community

Unified Social Agreement and Enforcement Policy
As we continue to develop our plans to safely and progressively return to campus for 2021, MICA is investing heavily in systems, processes, and infrastructure to reduce the public health risk.  But no amount of policies or procedures, metrics or monitoring will themselves be enough to ensure a completely healthy and safe community. The success of our campus-based education—for teaching, learning, working, and making—is dependent on each member of the community. We as MICAns must all work individually and collectively to ensure the MICA experience is productive, rewarding, and, most importantly, healthy and safe. To that end, we’re working to finalize a Common Social Agreement for all students, staff, faculty, and administration to read and sign before visiting campus. And while it would be impossible to  eliminate risk entirely, this Common Social Agreement can help us work together to minimize it.

The agreement will present a variety of on-campus behaviors and critical public health measures to which all on-campus community members must agree, such as:

Health Monitoring & Testing: “I will not physically attend class, access campus facilities, or attend campus functions if I feel unwell or have been directed to quarantine.”

Physical Distancing: I will avoid shaking hands, giving high-fives, hugging, or any other unnecessary physical contact.”

Face Coverings, Personal Hygiene, and Cleaning: I will wear an appropriate face covering, which covers the nose and mouth, at all times while on campus whether inside or outdoors…”

Additionally, we are working on a supplement to the Social Agreement that will provide guidance on how to engage someone who may not be following the terms of the agreement and how the College will respond to repeated infractions.

Draft versions of the Social Agreement have been shared with leaders from SEC, SVA, FEC, graduate faculty and directors, part-time faculty, and representatives from the Great Colleges Steering Committee. These individuals have offered meaningful feedback, and we are incorporating that feedback into a final draft. We expect to have a final version of the agreement available to the community by December 7th.

Exhibitions at MICA
No On-Campus Exhibitions for Spring 2021
While our 5 Campus Operational Modes (see issue 1: Operational Modes and a progressive return to campus) provide MICA with a framework to dial-up or dial-down on-campus activities as public health conditions dictate, our current planning assumes Operational Mode 3 for the Spring Semester.  This mode, unfortunately, does not allow for the scheduling of internal or external exhibitions in any of MICA’s on-campus galleries.  Regrettably, this necessarily includes two signature exhibitions events, GRADSHOW and Artwalk.  And while this stings for all of us, the time needed to mount these events simply precludes the possibility that these could happen any time in spring—even if public health conditions were to improve.

Enhanced Virtual Exhibitions
While nothing can replace the experience of an in-person gallery exhibition, MICA has been working to expand and enhance the functionality of the College’s official virtual exhibition platform as well as the MICAGRADSHOW website to provide the community with robust and flexible outlets to show work to peers and to the world. Originally launched to provide graduating students an alternative to Artwork, this platform has been quietly undergoing substantive enhancements to bring virtual exhibitions to all MICA constituencies—students, faculty, departments, and programs.

Some current and planned functionality includes:

Individually curated exhibition page configurations with customizable layouts.

Robust digital media support including audio, video, animated SVG, WebGL, HTML5 object embedding, and more. 

Integration with #MICAMade Art Market.

Potential Integration with on-campus galleries (when available).

Archivable / Searchable Exhibitions

Future Vision - Persistent student portfolios across entire student journey.

The virtual exhibition platform uses the design paradigm of “layout rows” to provide a near infinite amount of unique layout configurations.
Additionally, the Exhibitions Department is developing further specifications to provide even more curatorial advising and flexibility on the platform. We’re pleased to note that several departments have already begun working with Exhibitions and Strategic Communications to plan upcoming shows on the platform.
Issue 02 - Space Planning and Room Layout
In issue 02 of Recap, we shared with you the pan institutional work campus partners have been doing to create occupancy, density, and configuration layouts for on-campus instructional and public spaces. In that story we noted that architectural firm Gensler has delivered layouts of all tier 1 (main instructional spaces) and that layouts for larger public spaces like ABOX and BBOX (called “tier 2” spaces in reopening parlance) would be delivered sometime in December.

Related to that point, we received this comment from a MICA community member:

“Space Planning for community spaces such as ABOX and BBOX may be too late if completed in December. Planning for Spring Orientation and other start of school events is already underway and understanding the space limitations is critical in our planning. If there's any way to expedite this phase with Gensler, that would be greatly appreciated.”

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We should have noted in the previous story that some tier 2 spaces critical to early spring planning have been prioritized for the reasons you’ve noted. In fact, Gensler has recently completed the layouts for the ‘Boxes’ and has submitted them for review.

See below for a sneak peek of density diagrams for ABOX (left) and BBOX (right):

Finally, thank you for using the comment feature. As we hope you see, it really does help surface issues that may need further explanation or clarification.

Employees and Furloughs
Unless otherwise specified by your manager, the official return to work date for all employees furloughed through the Fall Semester will be January 3, 2021. Human Resources will contact affected employees between December 14, 2020 and December 18, 2020 to confirm your return to work date. Please note that remote-work policies will still be in effect. So, if you were working remotely before your furlough, you’ll be working remotely when you return.

Real-World Questions from the Community
As a reminder, What if? Is an ongoing feature of Recap intended to help create a shared understanding of what the 2020 - 2021 academic year will look and feel like by posing real-world “what if” scenarios submitted by the community. There were several thoughtful scenarios submitted last week, so we’re including two this time.

What if COVID conditions of Summer ’21 are promising enough? Will there be opportunities for students who lost time on campus (currently enrolled and including class of 2020 graduates) to reside in dorms, take classes, or simply have access to studios and resources?

To answer this question, we reached out to David Bogen and the Academic Affairs Department.  Here’s their response.

Our most critical focus right now is on preparations for the spring. However, our approach to planning—using the five operational modes—is intended to give us the ability to dial-up or dial-down on-campus and in-person activities in line with any changes in public health conditions. We are also committed to utilizing the capacity of the MICA campus to the extent feasible within these operational modes, and have begun looking at what this might mean for summer 2021. At this point there are no firm plans, but we will begin these discussions with academic leaders as soon as we have completed the initial planning and announcements for spring.

The second What if? scenario is an important one.

What if student mental health [concerns] continue to dramatically increase? What will be done to help?”

To provide clarity around this essential issue, we asked Dr. Judith Kinney, associate vice president for Student Health and Wellness and Andrea Regenberg, associate director at the Student Counseling Center to provide their insights. Their response follows:

We are all concerned with the mental health of not just our students, but the entire campus community. The challenges impacting our population’s mental wellness are significant, and the uncertainty of not knowing when we will "turn the corner" and return to something that feels closer to normal further exacerbates the situation. Because of this, supporting our students has been, and will continue to be, our top priority. Please know that MICA's Student Counseling Center is equipped, staffed, and prepared to meet the mental health needs of all students either through individual sessions for in-state students, group support for other student needs, or referral assistance for those students seeking an outside provider. We also will continue to provide virtual wellness programming and support, and encourage students to make use of the relaxation activities and virtual fitness classes already available through the MICA/App.

Student Counseling Info:
Phone: 410-225-2367

A Snapshot of Responses from the Previous Issue of Recap
As mentioned previously, we’ve included the ability for you to submit comments on individual topics for each issue of Recap in order to help provide an open dialogue around the complex and evolving issues of mounting the 2021 semester.

We thank all of you who have submitted thoughtful comments from past issues. Those comments are used to inform future issues, raise awareness on topics, and ultimately help build shared understanding as one team MICA. And while we cannot provide individual recognition for each comment, we are providing a summary snapshot of those comments to promote transparency.

Please address specific questions to an appropriate departmental contact.
Graduate Studies:

Undergraduate Studies:

Student Affairs:

Open Studies:

Finance and Operations:


Strategic Communications:

Human Resources:

Strategic Initiatives:



Parent Relations:

That’s it for this installment of Recap. Thank you for your engagement in this ongoing dialogue and building of shared understanding. If there are any topics you would like to have addressed in future installments, please provide your ideas here.

Stay safe and be well.

Look for Issue 04 of Recap next week, where we’ll be discussing MICA’s official Spring Semester announcement, scheduled for November 9th.

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