Fellow Bears:

Welcome back! I hope you had a restful winter break and are looking forward to the spring semester as much as I am. As we begin a new semester, I have a sense of hope and anticipation for what lies ahead. I would like to share some of our plans for 2021.

Throughout the pandemic, members of our campus community have demonstrated exceptional optimism and care for our fellow Bears and neighbors; we remained engaged with one another on campus and through the use of technology whenever we were apart. I know we all look forward to being able to gather again—in whichever ways we can. Just last week, the state moved Weld County back to the Orange level on the COVID-19 dial. This has allowed us to expand services and offerings on campus as students, faculty, and staff return from break. You can read about the current status of our operations, including the implications of the move to the Orange level in UNC’s latest COVID-19 digest. However, we must remain committed to keeping campus safe by continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing measures. We all learned a great deal about how to live, work, and learn together during the pandemic, and I believe refinements to our practices and protocols in the fall will make for a smoother spring.

With optimism as we begin this semester, I anticipate UNC will hold in-person Commencement activities in May. While this may not be a complete return to our graduation celebrations of previous years, the university is determined to honor our students and recognize their achievements with a more personal, traditional approach than was possible in 2020. Watch for more details in mid-February as our planning moves forward.

The university will also be returning to a full slate of in-person classes in the fall, restoring the activities, events, and opportunities that allow our students to enjoy experiential learning, campus life, and community engagement—all hallmarks of a UNC education. This news is being shared today with the broader community, prospective students, and parents. We will continue to work closely with state officials to monitor developments related to COVID-19 and will keep you informed about changes to guidelines, course delivery, and public health measures, including the roll-out of the vaccine in our community, which began in recent weeks with the vaccination of Student Health staff, the UNC Police Department, and other people defined by the State of Colorado as critical COVID-19 responders.

As UNC makes plans for commencement and looks ahead to fall 2021, our efforts are also focused on the longer-term success of our students, faculty, and staff as we finalize and begin implementation of the first phase of our Rowing, Not Drifting 2030 strategic plan. I appreciate the investment many of you have made in our shared future through the contribution of your time and wisdom. As we move forward in the coming months, we are going to need your continued collaboration to accomplish the key actions and strategies you have helped us develop. In the weeks ahead, we will submit the plan for Board approval, release an implementation timeline, launch a website, and develop resources to aid our community in the work ahead.

I recognize the many difficulties the past year presented to us. The year 2020 will long be remembered as one of the most arduous in the history of our university, state, and nation. We encountered the uncertainty of a global pandemic and economic fallout from COVID-19 restrictions, even while we continued work to put UNC on a more sustainable financial footing for the future. A charged political environment strained relationships and communities. Additionally, renewed movements for social justice highlighted our society’s shortcomings, while calling on each of us to be present for one another and work harder to promote equity and inclusion. As a community, we came together and rose to meet the challenges head on––further demonstrating our extraordinary resilience, strength, and determination as a university. Whatever lies ahead in the year to come, I know we will thrive and look forward to all we will accomplish as a community of Bears.

Rowing, Not Drifting,

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Andy Feinstein