Dear Campus Community,
I write to provide a brief update. I want to begin by thanking you all for your hard work and your commitment to our community. Recently, I have heard from faculty, staff, and students that they are tired of bearing unprecedented burdens, that they are, in their words, exhausted. The pandemic has stolen from all of us happy occasions and time with loved ones. We are all weary and frustrated by ongoing uncertainty and anxiety. And yet, every day I find myself inspired by students who, facing obstacles in their path, maintain their focus on learning; by faculty whose teaching, research, patient care, and service continues to light the world; and by staff, unsung heroes, whose hard work makes it possible for the university to function.
The good news is that the Omicron surge has crested and is now quickly receding. After a frustrating start to the quarter, we can catch our breath and begin thinking about what comes next. As you likely saw in Chancellor May’s recent message, we will follow the advice of Dr. Aimee Sisson, Yolo County’s Public Health Officer, and maintain our mask mandate at least through the end of winter quarter. This policy, coupled with our vaccine and booster mandates, will continue to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 within our community.
The Academic Senate is keeping in place a number of important flexibilities for spring quarter and summer sessions. These flexibilities will be posted on the Senate’s COVID-19 webpage in the coming days. I am deeply grateful for what has been a fruitful partnership with Academic Senate leaders throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The Academic Senate has been consistently collaborative and thoughtful, supporting students and faculty even in the most difficult moments, and embodying shared governance and UC Davis’s Principles of Community — the very best of what the University of California means to our state, nation, and the world beyond.
What we’ve learned
Looking ahead, it is important to recognize that circumstances surrounding COVID-19 will continue to change. For now, though, I am confident that instruction in spring quarter and throughout summer will take place in person. The same is true of next fall, when I hope and expect that the campus will return to fully normal operations. That is not to say that we have not learned a great deal during the pandemic. Flexible work arrangements are now a valuable option for managers and supervisors to use in some situations. And working with the Academic Senate, we will continue to think about how to keep learning accessible for all students. But one of the most important lessons of the pandemic is that UC Davis is a brick-and-mortar institution where learning typically happens most effectively when students and faculty are together in a classroom, laboratory, or the field. We are at our best when we are together.
We remain committed to ensuring that all students, faculty, and staff have an opportunity to succeed at UC Davis. Students with disabilities who wish to request accommodations related to in-person attendance, please do not wait to begin working with the Student Disability Center. If you are a faculty or staff member with a disability that impacts your ability to perform the essential functions of your position, including teaching or working in person, please contact Disability Management Services to discuss potential accommodations. And if you are a member of the faculty, and you prefer to continue to teach remotely, please begin making plans as soon as possible. The pandemic-related adjustments that we have had in place this year will no longer be available next fall. You will need to have virtual or hybrid offerings approved by the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction, a process that, even when the queue is not crowded, requires significant time. The Academic Senate will soon send additional details about how to request a new virtual or hybrid course so that it might be offered in fall 2022.
In closing, I want to thank you again for all that you have done, all that you continue to do, and all that you will do in the future to fulfill the mission of the University of California.
All the best,
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor