All SMU employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 18 under President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) 14042 concerning safety protocols for those that receive federal contracts, as announced in an email from the Office of the President Friday morning.
The executive order applies to all research universities that accept funding through various federal contracts. For SMU, this means everyone under the SMU payroll–faculty, staff, adjunct faculty, temporary employees (including those contracted through Kelly Services), student workers, graduate research assistants, teaching assistants, and postdoctoral scholars–must have received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations or the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Jan. 4.
“Until now, we have strongly encouraged, but not required, the vaccine,” the email states. “This EO makes COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment and is mandatory.”
Any employee not fully vaccinated by the Jan. 18 deadline will be subject to university employment policies, which can result in discipline up to and including unpaid leave and/or termination. However, the university may grant an exemption for religious or medical reasons for those who apply through the Office of Institutional Access and Equity.
Multiple states, including Texas, are challenging the executive order in court. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit on behalf of the state alleges the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate policies are unconstitutional and require congressional approval to enforce.
Currently, approximately 75% of faculty and 65% of staff confirm being vaccinated, and there are eight active cases of COVID-19 on campus. Vaccination appointments are available at the health center for first and second doses of the Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson vaccines, as well as booster doses for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson.