• Remote written examinations and Zoom defenses and committee meetings should be prioritized (see Zoom Defense Tips)
• For some disciplines (particularly in the Arts), it is essential for the defense to be conducted in person and with an audience. In these cases, the advisor and/or DGS should notify the Dean or their designee for approval and include the steps that will be taken to mitigate risk.
• In-person defenses and written examinations are possible but must be scheduled in locations that follow public health and safety measures.
• Virtual options must be made available to anyone (e.g., faculty, student, guest) who does not want to attend in person for health and safety reasons.
• General public may attend via Zoom, but it is not mandatory for the appropriate portion of an oral dissertation defense. They should not attend in person, as physical distancing at the time of the defense may be difficult due to space constraints of the meeting room. Graduate Faculty Senate policy does not mandate that oral thesis defenses are public; however, individual departments/programs might and they should follow the same guidelines as oral dissertation defenses.
• Advisors should have a risk-mitigation plan prior to an in-person defense or meeting that should be shared with all those attending.
• Because defenses and committee meetings are scheduled events, public health risk levels may deteriorate between the time scheduled and the time of the defense/meeting. Contingencies to move to a Zoom defense or meeting should be made.
N.B., In person meetings that include some attending virtually can be tricky to manage. Those using Zoom may have a difficult time engaging with others in a conference room or classroom setting. Also, not all rooms will be adequately equipped to facilitate a Zoom event. As such, holding it entirely via Zoom may be preferable.