As fall term winds down, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for your work and your service. To say that this year has been a difficult one would be a sheer understatement. We have all had to learn new ways to accomplish our scholarly activities, our teaching, our research, and our connection to students and each other. You have done this with courage, grace, and caring. During a recent celebration of teaching excellence hosted by the Provost’s Teaching Academy, the top “cherished values” of our faculty that emerged for this moment are empathy, connection, and compassion.
True investment in these values takes real energy and can be emotionally draining. It is my sincere hope that all of you will be able to use the holiday break as a way to take care of yourselves and have uninterrupted time with your families. While the pandemic has limited what many of us can do, I hope everyone gets a chance to relax and recharge.
With this in mind, I have a few things I wanted to mention by way of reminder as the term closes:
- All faculty on 12-month contracts who are in active pay status receive an extra COVID-19 personal day. This must be used by December 31, 2020. This personal day is similar to the special day of leave that many refer to as the “governor’s special day of leave.” Also, the two weeks of emergency sick leave provided by the university for use in response to COVID-related absences will remain available until June 30, 2021. It was set to expire on December 31, 2020, but in light of the impact the pandemic continues to have on our community the university extended the leave balances.
- Week one of winter term – from January 4 to January 9, 2021 – will be taught remotely or online. That means no in-person instruction during this time. We will return to instruction as indicated on the class schedule (in-person, remote, and online) at the start of the second week of winter term. This allows students returning to residence halls to undergo testing upon their return, and it allows students extended time to quarantine following travel before any in-person classes begin.
- We are returning to pre-pandemic grading options for students at the start of winter term. That means there will no longer be a pass/no pass option for classes like we have offered since the pandemic started. Most higher education institutions across the country returned to regular grading in the fall, so we have done a good job trying to accommodate student concerns during the pandemic. If you have any questions or concerns about grading, please contact your department head or dean.
- Academic Council has updated expectations for teaching for winter term. There were some slight modifications around remote, online, and hybrid teaching.
- Fewer people will be on campus during the break, which often leads to crimes of opportunity. In secured buildings, do not let strangers in or allow them to enter behind you as a courtesy. UO faculty and staff should not prop open any doors or lend out keys. Immediately report any malfunctioning doors or windows in UO buildings to CPFM Work Control by calling 541-346-2319 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- There is a proverbial light at the end of this long COVID tunnel as we move closer to seeing a vaccine in the United States. While no certain dates have been set yet that target when and how the vaccine will be distributed, the progress is enough to provide some level of hope that a sense of normalcy is in our sights. As state and local health authorities develop plans about how vaccinations will take place, we will keep the UO community updated about any information as it comes forward. We are directly engaged and active in these conversations.
This is time of year when many of us reflect on what we have and where we are in the world. As I reflect on a year where much has been consumed by the impact of the pandemic, I remind myself of the good that has also been present. Even now, we are keeping our eyes on what recovery should look like, how the university can contribute, and how we continue to build a university that is uniquely positioned to serve our students, state, and nation through our educational and research missions. I am thankful for all you do for this university, making a difference in the lives of our students and the entire UO community. I wish you and those you care about peace, happiness, health, and tranquility over the holiday season. Take care.
Provost and Senior Vice President