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UCI Town Hall with Chancellor Gillman - Oct. 14, 2020

Section 1

To kick off the 2020-21 academic year and recognize Staff Appreciation Week, Chancellor Howard Gillman and Interim Provost Hal Stern, in association with the Academic Senate and the Staff Assembly, hosted a virtual town hall on Wednesday, Oct. 14. The forum was viewed live by nearly 2,500 attendees, who had the opportunity to hear firsthand the most up-to-date information and ask questions of leadership. Among the important topics addressed were how fall quarter is going, what winter quarter will look like and the state of campus finances.

A replay of the town hall is now viewable below (skip to the 08:00 mark to begin viewing):

First and foremost, Chancellor Gillman expressed sincere appreciation and gratitude on behalf of the entire leadership team to staff and faculty for the impressive way you have remained both resilient and flexible these past eight months. Without your dedication and commitment, we wouldn’t be where we are today – continuing to provide high-value education to some 38,000 students.

Here are the key updates from the town hall:

  • Returning to campus – We are in a rolling three-month cycle for determining when it is appropriate for a full return to campus for employees and students. To that end, please plan to continue working remotely throughout winter quarter, until at least March 24 unless your supervisor or unit leader tells you otherwise. Information on continued remote working during spring quarter will be communicated before then.

    Students have been informed that nearly all undergraduate courses will be virtual in winter quarter, while graduate courses will be allowed to be held in-person with appropriate public health practices and procedures in place.
  • Testing – Asymptomatic testing of students is going very well. We have 7,000 students in campus housing who participate in regular testing, and the positive rate is consistently under 0.1 percent, or 1 in 1,000. All the testing information is available at the UCI dashboard, which is updated daily. We are currently considering expanding testing to include students who live just off campus but come to campus, as well as staff and faculty who come to campus. The contact tracing program is up and running. Everyone is asked to participate should you receive a call from a contact tracer. 
  • Financials – We entered the pandemic in a strong financial position. There are challenges such as state budget cuts and revenue loss from auxiliary services (housing, dining, etc.). However, with continued prudence in managing the budget, we have no plans for furloughs or layoffs during the current fiscal year. Workforce retention remains a priority.

Other topics that were covered included: ramping up research, childcare support and use of dependent care funds, vacation accrual, permanent telecommuting, campus spaces that are open, athletics, classroom and building airflow, mental health resources, tenure and merit review, flu shot requirements for remote workers, COVID-19 vaccines and timing, working-from-home expenses, interim modified COVID-19 duties for faculty, and the status of capital projects.

There were questions on many other subjects too; we encourage you to watch the replay of the town hall so you can receive all the information that was discussed.

While there remains an element of uncertainty about what the future holds, the leadership team is diligently working with the information at hand to plan for the future and thanks all employees striving to advance our vital research and provide the first-class experience our students have come to expect.