Office of the Provost
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives

Dear Graduate and Professional Students and Postdocs,

I am writing to provide some guidance about travel disruptions due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Please note that for all issues related to the University of Pittsburgh response to COVID-19, you can consult The Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management for up-to-date information. For other guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the best authoritative source.

Given the current situation we understand that some University-supported travel will be canceled, either because a meeting or event is canceled or because those planning to travel consider a trip to be not worth the risk of possible exposure or need for quarantine.

The University wants to support prudent decision making by all members of the University community, including graduate and professional students and postdocs. We do not want anyone to put themselves or others at unnecessary risk because of concerns regarding possible non-reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs for plane tickets, hotel rooms, conference fees, etc. That is, if the University was going to support the trip and you cancel, we do not want you to suffer financial consequences.

Therefore, Pitt will reimburse students and postdocs for out-of-pocket expenses related to any otherwise reimbursable University-related travel booked through May 31, 2020. This applies to conference travel, training-related trips, and research collaborations. We will reassess this date as the situation evolves and may extend the deadline as conditions warrant. Appropriate documentation of costs will need to be provided (e.g., credit card and cash-based receipts, proposed itineraries of conferences, booking documentation of hotel/airline, etc.). In most cases this will involve allowing the expenditure of funds previously allocated for this travel. In cases in which this is not possible, or not allowable, or causes significant hardship, other sources of funds will be found. More details of how this process will work will be made available as soon as possible. If you have questions or suggestions about how this process should be implemented, e-mail me.

Given the ongoing uncertainty of this outbreak, for future travel plans, we encourage you to consider the cancellation policies of the airlines and hotels you are planning to use. For example, Southwest Airlines has a generous cancellation policy in most cases, and United Airlines has instituted temporary changes to its cancellation policies that reduce or eliminate penalties for canceled travel through March 31st. Also, travelers should be sure to register all University-related international trips through the University international trip registration system.

Thanks for your patience as we work through the details. This outbreak is causing significant disruption and concern across many parts of the University, and it is important that we work through these issues together. As always - if you have questions or concerns about any issues that affect you - don’t hesitate to contact me.


Nathan Urban
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives

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