June 26, 2020
Re: Building the Future
To: All students, faculty and staff
June 26, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
UC Merced continues to plan for a fall semester that will look different in many ways but will remain true to the University of California's mission of teaching, research and public service.
Like other institutions across the country, we are learning how to navigate a new and different environment. We appreciate the patience of students, faculty and staff as we plan for multiple scenarios: the goal is to provide students with a number of academically sound options that also mitigate risk. Some of these options are subject to the decisions of state and county health officials, and to future changes in public health conditions.
As a reminder, our plans now call for:
Some in-person instruction, with the majority of courses delivered remotely. All students will able to take a full course load entirely remotely if they choose to do so. In-person instruction will take place in large-capacity classrooms, with students maintaining appropriate distance, and in some cases may include meetings of very small groups.
- Some students residing on campus, with first priority given to new students and those for whom campus is the best place to live and learn.
- A return to a full research agenda, with research buildings opening this summer after a thorough cleaning and testing of facilities.
- Staff whose work requires them to be on campus will be informed by their supervisors before the start of the semester. All others should assume they will continue to work remotely until further notice.
In all cases, those on campus will be asked to do their part to keep all of us healthier— wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distance, testing for COVID-19 and quarantining or isolating if indicated. We have planned a rigorous regime for mitigating risk to everyone on campus and will expand our health care response as circumstances dictate. I have named Andrew Boyd, executive director of institutional effectiveness, as our chief resilience officer. He will coordinate our return to teaching and research in the face of the pandemic, advised by representatives of every vice chancellor. He will report directly to the chancellor and the provost in this capacity.
You may ask why we are so firm in our intention to return to in-person teaching and research. There are volumes of studies on the benefits of in-person learning, in-person support services and residential communities: in-person academic life benefits all students, and particularly first-generation students and students of color, who are the majority of UC Merced undergraduates. These students are the future of California and the world, and in-person instruction and support are ways to meet our obligations to prepare them for that world.
We also know that living on campus is much better for the learning and general well-being of our students. For some of our students, home life is not conducive to supporting the academic rigor of a University of California education. And in fact, we have students who continue to live on campus even this summer, because it is the best place for them to be.
We also know that the UC research agenda is second to none in the world. A return to in-person research — as always, with strict health protocols — is crucial to our faculty and graduate students whose research in the sciences, social sciences and humanities is essential to our shared future.
Teams of administrators, faculty and staff are building plans that we hope will lead to an intellectually stimulating academic year for undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. Together, we will maintain UC Merced’s status as a research and teaching power as well as an economic engine for the Central Valley. We are prepared to respond to new information, but we are preparing to begin the semester on time and, wherever possible, on campus. We will be calling on everyone — staff, faculty, students — to do their part in this bold but careful process of continuing to build the future, here in the heart of California.
Please keep yourselves and your loved ones safe,
Remarks and Addresses