Update #22 from President Dean

August 31, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff—

Welcome back for the start of the academic year! Whether you are on one of our campuses or are continuing your studies, research or work remotely, we’re so glad you’re with us.

My profound thanks to everyone who has worked to make our reopening possible. While we are still working through issues with testing results and the Wildcat Pass, thank you for bearing with us. This is a huge undertaking and we are making it work by all doing our part. Please continue to wear a face covering, particularly in our classrooms and other indoor spaces. Outside, it is required in many municipalities and any time you are not able to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet.

The amount of effort that has gone into planning and execution is unparalleled. I could not be prouder of the response of our university community, which will allow us to pursue our mission of education, research and service.

Of course, even with all of this hard work, we are not out of the woods yet. In fact, we are just entering the woods! I know that many of you have read about universities around the country who have had to rapidly move back to remote status due to uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreaks. We desperately want to avoid this outcome, and I believe that our planning gives us the opportunity to be successful. But for us to remain together, we need to follow the public health guidelines associated with testing, physical distancing and hygiene. (If you are not sure what these are, consult the roughly one million signs around campus.)

For students, please continue to follow your regular COVID-19 testing schedule. If you need a reminder of your drop-off days, you can find it here along with resources to help you successfully self-swab.

A few months ago, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, I promised you that the university’s leadership team would spend the summer listening and learning and come back to you with our plan for addressing racism, and more broadly diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. We are on schedule to fulfill this promise. Chief Diversity Officer Nadine Petty and I will share our plans very soon and look forward to receiving input and feedback from the university community. The recent tragic shooting of Jacob Blake has reminded us, as if anyone needed to be reminded, how pervasive these issues are.

Finally, I would like to remind you that University Day will be taking place Wednesday, Sept. 2, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. It’s all virtual but will provide students with the opportunity to learn more about the student organizations available across the university and how to get involved. Students will receive a link on Wednesday to participate.

With my best wishes for a safe and successful semester,

James W. Dean Jr.