Seasons change. That’s the one thing we can all count on, even in uncertain times. As summer ends and fall rapidly sets in, I hope one thing that never changes is the great dedication and professionalism each of you have shown during one of the most challenging times in our lives.
Your efforts in the past six months have been awe inspiring and I couldn’t be prouder of how we all came together to get the job done. From our lab programs to the field and office, our operations have remained effective and impactful despite the challenges from COVID-19.
If you recall back in March, COVID-19 forced a rapid and comprehensive response. Rather than panic, which would have been understandable, I saw a team come together, modify our business operations to keep our programs running all while taking care of each other. I’ll never forget seeing that and I hope as we continue this “new normal” that we continue to put each other first. Please keep checking in on your co-workers and communicate with each other every day if you can. A brief phone call can do a lot for your teammates and it will be good for you too. Also, please continue to take time for yourself and your loved ones when needed and please continue to practice safety when you are out and about.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 hasn’t been the only challenge we are facing. This summer saw civil unrest in our country and many are still trying to make sense of it all. There is no room for racial divide in our programs or at our university and I know we all stand together as brothers and sisters and have nothing but unconditional support for one another. Our Division plan for diversity and inclusion has been a great example of this and I look forward to our team implementing this plan. My thanks to each of you who took the time to serve on this team and help us put together a great plan for diversity and inclusion. We all deserve to feel welcome and valued and this plan will help us address any concerns or areas where we need to improve.
I know we also are concerned about the budget impacts from COVID-19. As you all know, the university is facing a major loss of revenue from COVID-19 and the impact has resulted in the implementation of mandatory furlough days from September 1 until December 31. This move will help with the budget shortfall, but we must continue to work together to help reduce spending wherever we can. Reducing or eliminating non-essential travel and other expenses now will help us down the road and make things easier once we have a clear picture of the state budget. Once we know more about the budget, we will let everyone know.
In closing, I want to say thank you again for your continued dedication and commitment. We have a great team and a great future. I know that as each day passes we are one day closer to a better tomorrow. Please remember we are in this together and we will get past this difficult time. Stay safe and stay connected to each other and again, please take time for yourself and your family when needed. Hope you all have a great fall!
— Dr. Steve Cole, Director, Regulatory & Public Service Programs
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