May 1, 2020
Dear UNL students, faculty and staff,
None of us will soon forget the spring of 2020. As we approach the final week of this historic semester, I want to express my incredible pride in how this community has rallied to lead through the unprecedented levels of change brought quickly by COVID-19. Your innovation, grit and “can do” spirit are truly inspiring.
This message provides an update on how we will continue to progress through spring, in concert with local health guidance. President Carter’s April 21 email noted that the University of Nebraska system would continue the physical closure of campuses except to designated personnel through May 4, and that additional guidance would be campus-specific.
UNL will continue this approach until May 11 and then cautiously begin to ease some restrictions until June 1. Between May 11 and the end of the month, individuals will still need to be designated as needing to have a physical presence on campus in order to gain access to the buildings. However, we will broaden the scope somewhat, particularly for research and creative activities. If you are not currently designated to be on campus, and believe it is critical that you be able to access your office, labs, studios or research facilities in the latter part of May, please reach out to your supervisor and request to have this additional access. They can then forward the request up to the appropriate vice chancellor. Unless confirmed as someone designated to be on campus, all other individuals will continue working remotely through May.
As June 1 approaches, we will communicate further about the approach our university will be taking. And always, we will be guided by local health conditions and will adjust accordingly if more restrictions are necessary.
We are also extending the prohibition on university-sponsored international and domestic travel to June 30. Within the state of Nebraska, please speak with your supervisor prior to traveling. If you do travel within Nebraska, please utilize social distancing, personal protection and caution, particularly in areas where COVID-19 is more prevalent. If there are UNL personnel in the locality where you wish to go, please consider utilizing those local faculty and staff instead of traveling.
As we look toward the fall semester and how to safely conduct in-person instruction where appropriate, we are adding a “Forward to Fall” subgroup under our COVID-19 task force. This effort will be led by Bob Wilhelm, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, and Amy Goodburn, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Undergraduate Education. It will focus on safety and culture, academic programming, student experience, research, housing, operations and other areas and look creatively at how to be successful this fall. With months, instead of days, to plan, I am confident we can tap the ingenuity of our UNL community (and the insights of our colleagues at UNMC) to safely return to campus and deliver on our academic, research and engagement missions.
In a week, more than 3,500 students will receive their undergraduate, graduate, professional and doctoral degrees. This is a record number of May graduates for UNL. What a wonderful achievement for our students and their professors! In the midst of a global pandemic and the rapid changes that resulted, you stayed focused. You stayed connected. You delivered. You succeeded. This is an incredible accomplishment under these challenging circumstances.
I am humbled by what the people of this university can accomplish. You inspire me every day.
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.