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Letter from President Harroz and Interim Provost Irvine July 15, 2020

July 15, 2020

Dear OU Community,

Late yesterday we were heartened to learn of the reversal of the federal government’s directive barring international students from remaining in the United States if their classes move entirely online. Under this reversal, international students will now be able to remain in residence in the United States while taking online courses, as has been the case since the first declaration of a national emergency on March 13 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reversal was announced in response to a lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT, which we supported alongside more than 180 of our peer institutions in amicus.

This change is a victory for both our University and American higher education as a whole. As we wrote to you last week, our international students are an essential part of our OU community, and while we have already committed to providing a primarily in-person education to all our students, we are pleased that what was an unnecessary and harmful burden for our international students in these already challenging times has been reversed.

Our International Student Response Task Force has already begun meeting and working to address concrete issues facing our international students as they navigate the myriad challenges they face. Our task force’s work extends beyond the initial directive issued last week, as we work hard to ensure a coherent and supportive response to the multi-faceted vulnerabilities faced by our international students during the pandemic.

We are gratified by the outpouring of support from faculty, students, and staff across all three campuses and from the wider community. And we will continue to fight for our international students whenever their status as deeply valued and indispensable members of our community is threatened. For now, we are grateful for the solidarity shown by universities and institutions across the country, and we remain committed to ensuring OU’s international students continue forward in their academic journeys without fearing that they might lose their home here.

Live on, University,

Joseph Harroz, Jr.


Jill Irvine

Interim Senior Vice President and Provost