University of Michigan Interim Provost Susan Collins said in a virtual town hall Thursday she is “very optimistic” about the University having a “public health-informed, in-residence academic year.” 

Collins said she hopes for as much in-person engagement as possible while adhering to changing guidelines and conditions.

“Although some things would still have to be quite different from the academic experience pre-COVID, a public health-informed academic year would provide a very different and much more engaged experience for our students and our employees than when we had to go remote just a few months ago,” Collins said. 

The statement is a change of tone from previous statements from University President Mark Schlissel, who has said he is “cautiously optimistic” about an in-person fall semester. 

Schlissel buffered Collins’ statement, saying an official decision has not yet been made and no recommendation has been given to the Board of Regents.

“The work we’re doing now is designed to figure out whether we really can do this and we’re optimistic,” Schlissel said. “We want to be sure that we have the capacity to do the things that we think can best assure the health and safety of those in our community.”

Collins said the decision on the coming academic year will be announced in June.

“That announcement will focus on key things that have to be decided centrally, such as our plans related to students in residence halls, whether we’re revising our academic calendar, but the active implementation of our plan for the next year is actively engaging already,” Collins said.

Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley announced his intention to bring students back to campus in the fall yesterday. Stanley said in-person instruction for MSU will end before Thanksgiving break and fall break will be cancelled.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Schlissel said the decision for the fall semester would likely carry over through the entire academic year. 

Summer News Editor Calder Lewis can be reached at


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