July 19, 2021
To all UNH faculty and staff:
As we prepare for the phased return to our campuses, I again want to thank each of you for the tremendous dedication to your work with students and colleagues during this past year. Your efforts allowed UNH to continue to pursue our mission to provide comprehensive, high-quality undergraduate programs and graduate programs of distinction; to continue important research; and to continue our service to New Hampshire.
Looking forward to the fall semester, I will be delighted to see more students, faculty and staff returning to campus and feeling our vibrancy continue to grow with new classes joining us in person at all three of our campuses. We expect a full student body on our campuses this fall, with a return to pre-COVID in-person class offerings at a normal density. I am writing to share important information as we prepare for the start of the fall semester.
The COVID guidelines from the CDC and the State of N.H. have dramatically changed in the last few months due to much lower positive cases and more people getting the vaccine. As a result, the target date for faculty and staff to return to their campus workplace (or off-campus UNH/satellite work location) is Monday, August 16, or consistent with academic year responsibilities. Some areas/units have already returned, and others will return prior to this target date.
We have learned a lot about how we work over the last 16 months and have adopted best practices regarding the ability for people in certain roles to effectively and efficiently work remotely. Please review the revised flexible work arrangement policies and see the highlights below on flexible work schedule requests. Please keep in mind that UNH is a predominantly residential university, and everyone is not able to work remotely. Many jobs that support our physical operations or provide services to our students must be performed on our campuses. Our students are expecting in-person classes and need to have comprehensive access to on-campus resources to ensure their success. Great effort will be made to balance our culture and expectations as we contemplate different work arrangements for all our employees on an individual basis.
The President’s Leadership Council will work with leaders within their organizations to ensure that the expectations for all faculty and staff are clear regarding how we will balance the needs of our students, accomplish our work and support our community and stakeholders. We may see growing pains as we initiate our return to campus. Please know we are here to support you. Your manager and HR Partner are the best resource for any questions or feedback you may have.
Finally, I want to take a moment to recognize how challenging these last 16 months have been and how proud I am of the entire UNH community. We have learned a lot, faced historic challenges and shown tremendous grit and resolve. Many in our community have experienced serious illness during the pandemic. Some have lost members of their families and to those I extend my deepest sympathy. Please know you and your families remain in my thoughts as we endeavor forward through this pandemic together.
We are entering a new phase of the pandemic and our work as a university. It will be challenging at times. Please be understanding, patient and flexible as we go through this transition together. We will not have all the answers right away as we are learning as we go right alongside you.
James W. Dean Jr.