Dear UNC Community,

We have all used the word unprecedented more times than we can count lately, but few words better reflect the recent changes in our personal and professional lives. For several weeks, UNC has sought to manage wide ranging impacts to our students, staff, and faculty, sustain the health and safety of our community, and ensure the continuous delivery of our core academic mission and support functions—even before the federal, state, and local response to the Coronavirus pandemic accelerated.

Our efforts involve so many teams and individuals who are working hard to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. I am encouraged, inspired, and grateful for the tremendous Bear spirit demonstrated by each of you as we work through many complicated logistical issues and seek to maintain support operations and the human connections that make our UNC community so very special.

The Bear spirit is strong among our students who have returned to their coursework and are showing great care and compassion for one another and for our faculty and staff in a time that has generated so much anxiety and uncertainty for us all. This spirit is exemplified by the way that faculty have quickly and successfully—and in many cases, quite creatively—modified their courses for alternate delivery. We see that same spirit in our Housing and Dining staff, who have rallied to provide care and service for the hundreds of UNC students who remain in our residence halls. And, our alumni and community are showing their spirit by stepping up to support UNC and our students. In these times, it feels natural to question what’s normal anymore. If one thing remains consistent, it is our community’s strength in coming together and continuing to put Students First.

In an effort to keep you informed, I want to share a few important updates:

  • Students and faculty returned to instruction on Wednesday, beginning their first classes via online delivery. We are beginning to hear anecdotes of faculty going above and beyond in support of student success, like the art professor who left supplies on the doorstep of a student under quarantine.
  • All student employees will continue to be paid, even if they cannot work at their on-campus jobs or complete work from home, through the end of April.
  • We are resolving students’ questions about housing and dining credits and parking refunds as well as additional questions and concerns as they arise.
  • Accounting for public health precautions, our housing and dining staff are supporting students who are following Colorado’s Stay at Home order and have remained in our residence halls.
  • Our academic and student affairs offices now offer remote services including virtual academic advising and career readiness services.
  • We are collecting student feedback through an online survey to inform how we make alternate plans to celebrate the Class of 2020’s graduation

Many of these and other emerging matters are discussed each morning during an operational status call that I have with UNC’s leadership team. Each video call is recorded, published online at unco.edu/coronavirus and shared through our university Facebook page. It is important for UNC to remain transparent and our community informed. I encourage you to follow our updates for the latest in news and information.

Additionally, I want to share a personal and sincere acknowledgment for the many alumni and friends who responded to last week’s email with a generous gift in support of the Disaster Relief Fund and Bear Pantry. We are just beginning to understand the financial, social and emotional burdens facing our students as a result of the global pandemic. And we can’t address their needs alone.

The Disaster Relief Fund was established in 2013 following the devastating floods that hit our state. Since its establishment, the fund has been used to help students facing other emergent and unforeseen circumstances, just as it will be used now. Bear Pantry was established in 2014 to support students facing food insecurity, which includes expanding our dining services support to students in need. Your generosity directly impacts our students and will assist in removing barriers that may impact a student’s academic progress and completion. Thank you for choosing to help where and how you can. If you want to learn more about these programs and encourage the support of others, please visit our give site for additional details.

Finally, I think we could all use a moment of inspiration. As I shared last week, we unfortunately had to cancel the 2020 Honored Alumni Ceremony but chose to proceed recognizing our honorees through social media. This year’s honorees are educators, health care professionals and community leaders. I encourage you to visit alumni.unco.edu to watch the honoree tribute videos because they serve as a reminder that our community is special because of the people who call UNC home.

As we move forward, I want our entire community to know that I am thinking of you. It is important that we proceed with patience and compassion for one another during this time of great uncertainty. Thank you.

Rowing, Not Drifting,

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Andy Feinstein
President