Office of the Provost
Provost’s Message: Planning Beyond our COVID Year
Over the past 12 months, we have lived through a pandemic that has disrupted our lives and our work in nearly every way imaginable. When our University officially made a shift to virtual learning and work for the spring semester, one year ago, we weren’t sure how many weeks that would last. Then we started to wonder how many months it would last, as the decision soon carried forward to summer, then to fall, and now to spring again. Throughout, we have asked a lot of each of you, and you have accomplished feats that would have seemed impossible before the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we shared in a message to the University earlier this week, we are hopeful that our campuses will return to a more fully in-person presence in the fall. For the short and long term, big questions loom, as we ponder the lasting effects of this pandemic on our institution.
Many offices, teams, and individuals are already involved in conversations and planning on these issues. In order to bring our collective wisdom together and provide over-arching guidance, the University has convened two committees: Future of Learning (co-chaired by Senior Vice Provost Jeffrey Shoulson and Engineering Associate Dean Dan Burkey) and Future of Work (co-chaired by me and Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Chris Delello). I encourage you to click the links for each to learn more about these committees and their membership.
We still face many unknowns, which means that flexibility must remain a constant guiding principle when it comes to serving our community. These groups will be crucial representatives of and advocates for the diverse voices and needs across our faculty, staff, and student populations. And they will be crucial in helping us undertake any changes necessary to our plans as they become needed.
We also know that the pandemic will have lasting impacts on faculty and staff progression. The Provost’s Office and Human Resources also partnered on a COVID-Focused Work Balance Task Force in the fall to begin to capture issues and potential strategies and resources, some of which can be addressed in the Future committees, as well as in an effort being led by our office and the Office of Human Resources in collaboration with all University divisions to determine initiatives we can undertake to mitigate the impact of COVID. We are reviewing recommendations from this task force and will share more information in a future communication.
The past year has been trying. We have seen many of the ways in which our community can pull together around a common cause, and we have also seen areas where we must do better. These efforts will be most successful if they both capture and incorporate the best of what we did this past year, as well as acknowledge where we struggled individually and collectively. Both will help us all work together to make UConn emerge even stronger in the years to come.
Amid myriad challenges personal and professional for each of us, I am grateful to be part of a community that has sacrificed so much to continue our mission supporting our students and the State of Connecticut. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs