Important Update From President Rochon and Fall Meeting Link

August 19, 2020

USI family,

The COVID-19 pandemic has tried our country and community in so many ways since March. But it has also brought out the best in USI and proven we are capable of adapting, innovating and pivoting in ways that benefit our students. As we fast approach the start of the semester on August 24, our community is called to flex again. Safety has guided us and been our North Star since the beginning, and it is safety again that causes me to announce another phase in our plan.

Beginning Monday, August 24 and continuing for six weeks, until Monday, October 5, I’m asking you to work with your supervisor and Vice President to reduce the density of the on-campus employee population. We’ve been working together since July 6 and now we are infusing students back into the on-campus population equation. About 40% of classes are being offered face-to-face, and the remaining are a mix of hybrid and online courses. Generally, about one quarter of our students live in campus housing.

This doesn’t mean all employees should return to a remote work situation. We want to maintain services and open offices for our students. For example, the two people who work directly with me in the President’s Office will likely take shifts, one on campus to staff the office, while the other works from home. In this way, we maintain coverage, but reduce health risks by not having everyone in the office at the same time. Every department functions differently and that’s why supervisors and Vice Presidents will be working with you to develop a plan for your area over the next few days.

I’m sure many of you are already asking, what about after October 5? We will take these next six weeks to evaluate what we’ve learned from this plan and use that data and education to enter yet another phase.

Additionally, we know the K-12 educational environment in various school districts which serve our community and, in turn, many USI employee families, will likely be pivoting too. Members of the Steering Committee and Human Resources have developed a plan to begin to address these uncertainties. The details can be found on the Human Resources website.

Although we could not come together in what would have been our second all-employee Fall Meeting in the Screaming Eagles Arena, we want you to know despite all our challenges, we are excited about the start of the Fall Semester and are providing you with updates in a virtual meeting format (even our Zoom license wouldn’t let us all be in the same place at once!). Please view the recorded Fall Meeting at your convenience.

We know we don’t have all the answers on what this Fall Semester will bring, but your safety and that of our students is what keeps me awake most nights. As I have asked from the beginning, please work together, be patient, have grace with one another and our students. These will continue to be trying times. What gives me comfort is the people of USI. We can do this. We will do this. Our students are depending on us.

Stay well,

Ronald S. Rochon, PhD
USI President