UCI Forward

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UCI Town Hall with Chancellor Gillman - May 19, 2021

Section 1

Chancellor Howard Gillman hosted an all-UCI town hall on May 19. Several campus leaders also participated. The topics of discussion included: hybrid working envrionment, COVID-19 vaccine requirement, academics and finances.

A replay of the town hall is now viewable below:

In what will be a permanent addition to communicating quarterly with the UCI community, Chancellor Howard Gillman hosted a town hall on Wednesday – the second of 2021. Eleven other campus leaders also participated, with most of the two-hour virtual event spent addressing 55 pre-submitted questions plus additional ones from the live audience. The topics fell into five main categories: remote and hybrid work, campus safety, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, instructional delivery, and employee pay and layoffs.

Remote and hybrid work

The town hall kicked off with the timeline for the reentry to working on campus, beginning July 1 and transitioning through Sept. 30. Leadership shared that this is a phased approach with the option of hybrid and remote work. Decisions will be based on the needs of the unit, with supervisors in charge of determining who is eligible.

It was emphasized that employees should work with their supervisors during this phase to learn what work schedule is best for the unit and also for the employee. From now until the end of August, units should work together to prepare a plan to fully implement by the end of September. The Future of Work website is a resource and is regularly updated. To help with the transition, courses will be offered to leaders, and there will be courses to help employees prepare for the return to on-site work.

Campus safety

Contact tracing, testing and booster vaccinations are likely to be part of UCI for the foreseeable future.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate

It’s highly probable that the University of California will require all students, staff and faculty to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to returning to campus in the fall. Many issues still need to be decided, such as possible medical exemptions. The final UC vaccine policy is anticipated sometime this summer. A system for employees to upload their proof of vaccination is being developed, with an expected rollout in the next few weeks.

Everyone in the UCI community is invited to visit the UCI Forward website for help in getting a vaccine. The panel noted that achieving a 100 percent vaccination rate is unlikely. However, the campus can still reach herd immunity.

Everyone in the UCI community is invited to visit the UCI Forward website for help in getting a vaccine. The panel noted that achieving a 100 percent vaccination rate is unlikely. However, the campus can still reach herd immunity.

Instructional delivery

Students are expected to prepare for in-person instruction. Jeff Barrett, chair of UCI’s Academic Senate, shared that he’s looking forward to a fall where most activities are in person.

The Academic Senate has approved continued instructional flexibility for the fall quarter.

Employee pay and layoffs

There are no plans for furloughs or COVID-19-related layoffs, as the university moves back to pre-pandemic business practices for handling such issues. Coronavirus-related leaves with sunset dates this year do not have any extensions. Additionally, faculty and employees can expect a 3 percent general pay increase later this year, with plans to return to the merit program next year. The Position Management Review Committee will continue to review new positions.

Other takeaways from Wednesday’s town hall include:

  • Faculty housing is a priority, and work is being done to address this.
  • Staff housing is being addressed, with more information to come later this year.
  • Student housing is open; students should access the housing portal for details.
  • Information about the Accellion data breach is available on the UC webpage.
  • Staff Assembly invites employees to visit its website to see the latest updates and events.
  • Student convocation will be in person.
  • Student employees are welcome to return if that’s what their unit needs, but they must still follow protocols.
  • Facilities, air handling, HVAC systems and air filters have all been prepared for safe reentry, and information is available on the Environmental Health & Safety website.
  • There are no plans to require vaccinations for campus visitors.
  • Parking will reestablish over the summer and address the hybrid workforce.
  • Staff awards will be virtual again.
  • There is no word yet on whether flu vaccinations will again be required.