Dear staff colleagues,
As the world and our university continue to deal with the unknown around COVID-19 (coronavirus), I know many of us are concerned about our own personal health, safety, and financial stability. University leaders have these same anxieties – not only for our own families, but for each of you as well.
I understand that this week’s message about merit, hiring and purchasing processes was difficult news to hear. Yesterday, I had the privilege of talking with Staff Council and hearing first-hand about this and other concerns we share as a community. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in a forum where colleagues can have productive exchanges with university leadership.
University leadership, including the incoming interim provost and president, has been meeting regularly to plan through this complex pandemic, and our policy decisions are being driven by what we believe is the best path forward to a stable future. It is necessary that we collectively slow down financial commitments to allow time to thoughtfully consider how to best position the university for flexibility in this unpredictable time.
We are committed to making sound decisions with staff in mind. We strove for this with our other recent policy decisions around timekeeping and employee leave, and procedures designed to support healthy environments for those of you who continue to report to work on campus. We also continue to assess state and federal opportunities that become available to our campus community, like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that provides additional paid leave provisions to those affected by coronavirus.
A common theme in my interactions with staff is uncertainty about the future. I wish I had a definitive answer about when we will transition back to living, working and learning on campus. I do expect that when it’s time, we will apply what we are learning about connecting and communicating in this environment and continue to work in flexible ways that help us meet our individual and family needs.
I believe that now more than ever it is critical that we continue to take care of ourselves. Your well-being is our top priority as we navigate this unprecedented time. This pandemic does not end with our workday. Human Resources published a guide that - whether teleworking or reporting to campus to provide invaluable support to our university’s core mission - highlights available resources you can take advantage of to stay mentally and physically healthy, connect with and support other UT employees, and work on your own professional development and personal growth. I urge you to take the time to discover the many resources available to you as you care for yourselves and your loved ones.
You have proven over the last several weeks that you are innovative and dedicated no matter the circumstances. We will get through this together, as a community. Thank you for everything you do.
Darrell Bazzell | Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer | The University of Texas at Austin