New semester welcome and update from Provost Jones

February 1, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back for the start of the spring 2021 semester, whether it is your first day of classes or you started in the last two weeks as part of the E-term or Law faculty. Let me first say that I hope you and your family have started this new year safe and healthy as we continue to navigate the pandemic. As an academic community across three campuses, we should all be proud of what we accomplished in the fall. We sustained our unique commitment to student success while supporting the state and our nation through groundbreaking scholarship and research.

We learned a great deal about dealing with the virus in our community over the fall. We have had several teams hard at work for the past several months revising and enhancing protocols to support our community through the pandemic. We made significant enhancements to our testing lab including the addition of capacity, results in less than 24 hours and the capability to screen for virus variants. Enhanced protocols have all students on and off campus being tested twice per week and complete implementation of the Wildcat Pass to improve compliance. We have also improved our capacity and protocols for contact tracing, rapid isolation and quarantine. 

One thing we learned was that COVID-19 transmission occurred primarily off campus. As a result, we worked to partner more closely with landlords, businesses and the town of Durham. Their cooperation has been excellent, including use of the Wildcat Pass in town and additional messaging and cooperation with contact tracing. The university has added additional contact tracing support to ensure this critical process can support all three of our campuses.

Finally, I want to thank all of the faculty and staff for their hard work preparing for the spring semester. We have had 279 instructors participate in training and staff have been working on the IT infrastructure, cleaning and preparing buildings, and readying the dining and housing facilities for the arrival of students. We are ready thanks to your efforts and commitment to excellence. Thank you.

A few items of information as we start this first week of classes:

  • If you are coming to campus, keep your Wildcat Pass valid. Please make sure you have updated your profile and stay on track with testing. This is our commitment to one another to keep the community safe.
  • It is winter and inclement weather is possible. Stay informed about conditions and any campus curtailment. If one of our campuses is curtailed, on-campus activities are restricted. Classes will continue where feasible. Faculty should communicate directly with students to keep them informed.
  • If you have questions, the updated coronavirus website including a new dashboard and COVID@unh.edu are the best places for information.
  • Please continue to wear your mask and physically distance. While the vaccine is rolling out and we are working to be approved as a point of distribution, please remember that our public health campaign remains our best strategy. 
  • Finally, if you see something wrong in any of our buildings, please say something! You can notify facilities at 2-1437.

We also find ourselves at a unique point in history as our society has been navigating challenges of racial justice and civil discord across the country and even in our nation’s capital. As an institution of higher education, we have a responsibility to our students, the UNH community, the state of NH and our nation. With this in mind, on February 19, 2:10-3:10 p.m., we will host a convocation to provide a forum for faculty, staff and students to come together and address these issues. There will be additional events on this important topic throughout the semester.

The start of the semester is always an exciting time. New opportunities are everywhere, even in a pandemic. By working together, following our public health guidelines and remaining vigilant, we will successfully navigate this semester and find these new opportunities and success.

Thank you for everything that you do in support of UNH and our students’ success.

Wayne E. Jones Jr.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs