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Miami phones 16,000 departed students to ask, ‘How are you doing?’

Miami officials have made nearly 16,000 phone calls to the departed students to let them know though they are away, they are not far away from the thoughts of school leaders. Miami University faculty and staff members including Miami President Gregory Crawford and his wife Renate - have been engaged in the telephone campaign to personally call all of Miami s undergraduate students, not only those who attended the main Oxford campus but those from regional campuses in Middletown and Hamilton. (File Photo/Journal-News)
Miami officials have made nearly 16,000 phone calls to the departed students to let them know though they are away, they are not far away from the thoughts of school leaders. Miami University faculty and staff members including Miami President Gregory Crawford and his wife Renate - have been engaged in the telephone campaign to personally call all of Miami s undergraduate students, not only those who attended the main Oxford campus but those from regional campuses in Middletown and Hamilton. (File Photo/Journal-News)

Miami University officials have been working the phones for weeks in an effort to stay connected with thousands of students forced off its campuses because of the coronavirus.

Miami officials have made nearly 16,000 phone calls to the departed students to let them know though they are away they are not far away from the thoughts of school leaders.

More than 380 Miami University faculty and staff members – including Miami President Gregory Crawford and his wife Renate - have been engaged in the telephone campaign to personally call all of Miami’s undergraduate students, not only those who attended the main Oxford campus but those from regional campuses in Middletown and Hamilton.

“We have contacted 15,669 students or 96.5 percent of the undergraduate students in Oxford. For those we have not been able to reach, President Crawford has emailed them,” Jeffrey Wanko, associate provost at Miami, said Monday. “This was really a grass-roots campaign to reach all of our Oxford undergraduate students. The graduate school worked on contacting all of the graduate students and the regional campuses contacted their students.

“We wanted to let our students know that we really do care about their well-being, and that Miami is looking forward to having everyone back here in Oxford.”

All of Miami’s campuses have been closed since March as part of Ohio’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Miami students have been receiving their class lessons via remote learning. The school has refunded $27 million in student fees due to the shutdown.

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When possible, students spoke with faculty or staff with whom they already have a relationship, said school officials.

Callers answered students’ questions, referred students to appropriate resources and forwarded students’ information to others if another outreach was merited.

School officials said students contacted tell them they appreciate the school’s effort.

Crawford said the unusual effort is reflective of the school’s tradition and values.

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“This initiative is just one example of why Miami is nationally recognized for its faculty and their commitment to teaching. We miss our students greatly, and we look forward to having them back on campus when it is safe. I am inspired as I talk with our incredible students and hear their hope, their optimism and their stories in these unprecedented times,” said Crawford.