from Dean VandenBosch

To: CALS undergraduates

From: Dean Kate VandenBosch

Re: Coursework for the rest of the semester

Dear CALS students,

Before instruction resumes on Monday, I wanted to let you know that completing the academic semester is our top priority. As all communities, including UW-Madison, work to contain the COVID-19 virus and safeguard our health, our instructors are working hard over the break to change the ways you will participate in courses and be evaluated at the end of the semester.

This unexpected change in course delivery will likely result in many of you learning new ways to learn. As with all new things, there may be some technical difficulties or other temporary road blocks. But, as is also the case with new things, there will be many opportunities for growth. With so many universities switching to distance learning at this point in the semester, you will be part of a generation of college students pioneering these remote classrooms, and we are here to support you.

I would like to thank you in advance for your patience and your flexibility. The Office of Academic Affairs staff continue to be available during spring break and beyond to provide assistance and advising, including Dean on Call.  For assistance, please reach out to them via e-mail (

We also know this may be presenting financial hardships for some students, and the university has resources to assist you. Information is available on the COVID-19 website and by contacting CALS Academic Affairs.

I know that seniors may be wondering about spring commencement plans. With constantly changing conditions, it is too soon to make a decision about commencement. The university is actively working on contingency plans if needed and will communicate those plans at the appropriate time.

I know that a significant part of the Wisconsin Experience is to be on our beautiful campus, taking advantage of seminars, research experiences and community building activities. Empathy and purposeful action are also part of the Wisconsin Experience. This shift in our semester is evidence of how the UW-Madison community cares for the heath of others. I challenge all of you to find ways to redefine the Wisconsin Experience so that it lives wherever you may be learning.

This is not the spring break any of use expected, but we are all in this together. You can find the latest campus news at Be safe and do all you can to protect your health and the health of others.


Dean Kate VandenBosch

A Message from CALS Academic Affairs Office

Every day we are amazed by the support CALS students have shown our CALS community, the UW-Madison campus, and our larger local and global communities during this time.  We know this is not how any of you expected your semester to unfold and now your academic experience is going to be different after spring break.  One of our top priorities is to support you through completion of the semester.

Here are some areas we are working on for continued services to help you through the semester.


Course Instruction Will Resume After Spring Break (Mar 23)

Each instructor will be teaching their course with alternative methods that work best for the instructor, the student learners, and the specific course content.  This means that each of your courses will be delivered to you differently.  A few examples of what you might experience (this list is not exhaustive) include instructors holding live lectures on the same days and times each week via web conferencing software, or an instructor recording lectures or lab experiences for you to access in Canvas, or instructors creating new online discussion activities.  Just as each of your on-campus courses is delivered in slightly different ways, the remote learning you will experience in each course will vary slightly, though Canvas will be the primary system used by most instructors.  Your patience and persistence will be called upon to adapt to these different learning environments.  Instructors will be communicating with you about your courses (if they have not already), but please also reach out to your instructors with questions as you engage in these new learning environments. 


Student Services, Including Academic Advising, Will Continue!

Although many university employees are working remotely, they are continuing to provide student services.  Your academic advisor can be a good first point of contact for many questions.  We are aware that this period of social distancing falls within a time of the semester that is normally busy with face-to-face advising appointments related to summer/fall registration and for seeking advice relating to approaching deadlines, such as for dropping a course.  Please note the Registrar has extended the drop deadline to April 17th to help students make the best informed decision.  Be reassured that advisors and staff within the Office of Academic Affairs will be available to assist.  Please email or use Starfish to connect with specific academic or career advisors.

Your academic advisors are available for appointments using Starfish, or whatever method of communication they have shared with you.  No in person appointments will be scheduled, but options for email, phone, or video conference are available through recommended media.

Please continue to reach out to them with questions relating to your academic progress and programs.  Also, feel free to contact the Dean on Call in the Office of Academic Affairs if you have other concerns not covered by your academic advisor (


Dean-on-Call Service Will Continue!

The staff members in the CALS Academic Affairs Office value interactions with students. We also know that students need us to be available for a wide variety of issues. We will be available to you during spring break and for the rest of the semester per usual with some modification for remote interaction.  The Dean on Call service will be:

• accessible through video, phone, and email;

• available as usual Monday-Friday 12:00 - 3:30 pm

• flexible for meeting remotely outside of standard hours.

If you need the CALS Dean on Call, email academicaffairs@cals.wisc.eduand provide your name, phone number, and short description of your question(s). A Dean on Call will respond to your request to set up a meeting by phone or other remote means.


Additional Resources

This is also a reminder during this time of uncertainty that all UW-Madison students, staff, and faculty have access to SilverCloud, a no-cost cognitive behavioral health resource available 24/7. Students can call the UHS Mental Health Crisis Line 24/7 at 608-265-5600 (option 9).  Students with medical questions can call University Health Services (UHS) at 608-265-5600.  Remember to call ahead before arriving at any clinic, urgent care, or emergency room if you suspect you have COVID-19.

The university is coordinating resources to support students experiencing financial hardship or having trouble meeting their basic needs (FAQ’s).

For additional questions, continue to monitor the campus site and FAQ’s, and an overview of campus operations, all of which are updated regularly as new information is available.  The campus undergraduate advising office also has FAQ’s that may be of interest to you.

Students who do not have access to reliable internet services could explore free services currently being offered by Spectrum.