A thank you to faculty and staff after a turbulent term

June 22, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

This past Saturday’s commencement was like none other. While we are immensely proud of all our graduates and were pleased to be able to offer a meaningful ceremony, albeit remote, we know we are all looking forward to the day when we can get back to in-person activities—both on and off campus.

And as we continue our planning for an eventual return, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for all your work, energy, creativity, and dedication to our students through this very difficult time.

We are profoundly proud to work shoulder-to-shoulder with you—our outstanding faculty, officers of administration, staff, and graduate employees. When the world flipped on its head in March and we had to move to a remote system of learning, research, and work, you made a speedy and Herculean transformation under great pressure. You made it work, and our students were the beneficiaries of all of your efforts. We are grateful beyond words.

We encourage you to take some time to recharge this summer. You all deserve a break. We know that it is challenging to fully relax when you have questions about the future. We understand that many of you feel bombarded with emails and information, and yet, still crave information about what fall term will look like. So, we want to briefly remind you of where you can turn for information this summer.

Planning for a Safe Return to Campus

Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order and the Oregon Health Authority standards issued on June 12 gave all Oregon institutions of higher education important information to advance our planning for a safe and responsible return to on-campus activities.

These standards have allowed our university community, the experts on the Incident Management Team, and the UO policy group, in consultation with employee groups, to begin to make some important decisions. We can turn our plans into actions for a return to mostly on-campus instruction, research, living, and working. As a reminder, staff will be returning on a unit-by-unit basis, based on the operational plans developed in each school, college, and administrative unit once approved by the IMT.

We continue to share these plans and decisions on our COVID-19 Information webpage and Return to Campus webpage, and in our COVID-19 Update emails. These are the best sources of information about the current situation and planning.

Recent Developments

In case you missed some of the recent announcements about fall term planning, here are a few developments:

  • Face coverings will be required in classes, in campus buildings, and in other non-personal spaces.
  • We anticipate ending in-person classes after Week 9, just before Thanksgiving. Week 10 will be fully remote, as will final examinations.
  • Libraries will be open to university patrons only—essentially students, faculty, and staff—though we will likely have to limit the number of people allowed into a library at any given time to meet physical distancing guidelines.
  • This information was included in a message to students last week about our current planning for fall.

Next Steps

We will continue planning and making decisions that meet or exceed health standards provided by the Oregon Health Authority through summer, providing the latest updates on the webpages, and sharing them in the COVID-19 Update emails. You will also continue to get updates from Human Resources, and directly from your schools, colleges, units, and supervisors about planning, feedback, and next steps.

In addition, in late August, we will email you directly to provide an update on fall term planning, and again just prior to the start of classes on September 29.

In closing, we want to reiterate our thanks and also acknowledge that we understand that uncertainty about conditions in the fall is taking its toll on many of you. While we fervently want to have a largely in-person term, we are aware that the future pathway of the virus might make that goal very challenging. We thank you in advance for your flexibility and understanding and want you to know that our decision-making process will be inclusive and guided by safety considerations and emerging best practices.

Again, thank you so much for all you do for the UO and for our students.

Take care and be well.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President