March 27, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
As we come to the close of the first week of what I am calling “the COVID-19 era,” I want every member of this University to know how very proud I am of the way you have risen to the occasion. By working together, we have successfully made the rapid transition to delivering our entire instructional program, and the vast majority of our support services, online.
Major congratulations are owed to the faculty: you prepared effectively for the change and you are delivering your courses online with the energy, commitment and creativity that is a hallmark of this University. I have seen how our instructional staff and advisors are finding ways to stay connected to our students and to support them through this difficult time. And I admire how you are supporting each other, lending your expertise informally and through workshops presented by the Office of Faculty Advancement.
Congratulations to our staff: you have tackled an unprecedented administrative challenge with skill and aplomb. I particularly want to applaud the Office of Information Technology and the technical support teams in the Schools and Colleges, who did a spectacular job of enabling this very complex transition, and who continue to support our faculty and students. I also want to note the efforts of the Division of Student Development and Campus Life, who have worked to provide students with the information they need and who have patiently answered thousands of questions and addressed thousands of individual student issues. And a “super brava” goes to Dr. Patricia Ruiz, the Director of the University Health Center, who has led our health response on campus with calm and order, with rigorous attention to the best information and procedures, and with unfailing compassion and warmth.
Kudos, also, to the many, many hardworking employees in every division, who assure that our communications are clear and timely; that our students are provided with food and shelter, advising, healthcare, and answers to their questions; that our facilities are clean and operational; that our community is protected; and that the thousands of administrative tasks that make the University operate continue to be performed. Thank you, each and every staff member, for your good work.
And especially, congratulations to our students: you rose to the challenge and are continuing to be engaged and active learners.
Students, you have been amazingly understanding and patient despite the incredible disruption that the public health emergency is causing in your lives. I have spoken to, and heard from, many students who have expressed how emotionally wrenching and disappointing it has been for them to have to detach themselves so totally from their lives at the University – from the campus, from the presence of their fellow students, their advisors, and their faculty, and from all their activities as University students. I am proud of how you’ve responded to this crisis by reaching out to each other and building virtual communities at a time when we must remain physically separate.
And finally, as one of the handful of people still working on campus, I want to call attention to a very special group of our employees who continue to be here with me. I refer to the staff of University Facilities and our University Police Department, who are here for all of us, doing the important work of protecting our people and caring for our facilities. These are never easy jobs, even under the best of circumstances. They have my deepest gratitude.
To all of you: I admire your resilience, your dedication to keeping this University going under trying circumstances, and your commitment to each other. Keep up the great work.
With deep gratitude,