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March 19, 2020

Dear Members of Business and Finance,

In times of crisis and uncertainty, an enduring quote from the late Fred Rogers tends to emerge again and again: "Look for the helpers." His mother reminded him to find these people in times of high stress and anxiety, and it continues to ring true.

"You can always find people who are helping," he said. We are truly writing history, so it is important to be sure we are lending a helping hand to those that need it and propping each other up.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to drive unprecedented changes in the way we conduct teaching and campus operations, our 'Cane Community is certainly rising to the occasion. Currently, UMIT has more than 60 volunteers that comprise the UMIT Volunteer Corps who have been helping train faculty on how to effectively use Blackboard and Zoom to teach classes remotely. I hope to be sharing more examples like this in the following weeks.

The Business & Finance leadership team continues to actively monitor the coronavirus pandemic, and we are working closely with local and state public health authorities regarding response protocols to ensure the safety of our full community.

  • Jessica Brumley and Team Facilities Operations & Planning continue to coordinate institution-wide response efforts at the Emergency Operations Center led by Matt Shpiner. Provisions are being made for the center to go virtual by the end of the week. The operational teams in Environmental Health & Safety, Facilities & Operations, Design & Construction, and Parking & Transportation are supporting the University's COVID-19 coronavirus response efforts, the continuance of major construction initiatives, and keeping critical facilities on the Gables and Marine campuses operational.

  • Chief Rivero and Team UMPD have instituted a new patrol schedule that protects half the police department from a possible exposure by rotating officers on and off a quarantine schedule—14 days on, 14 days off (in quarantine). UMPD is also practicing social distancing by handling incidents via telephone rather than in person when feasible.

  • Blanca Malagon and our Internal Audit and Compliance teams are keeping auditing and compliance on track with remote working, and all existing projects are progressing satisfactorily.

  • In addition to creating the UMIT Volunteer Corps, Ernie Fernandez and Team UMIT are ensuring the University's systems support the increased demand of online courses and remote logins, and making sure faculty and staff are properly equipped to work remotely. They have also re-engineered our help desk so UMIT staff can take support calls remotely. Please be sure to visit the newly developed academic and business continuity site with daily updates and new information about remote access systems and tools for faculty, staff, and students, including video and audio conferencing (such as Teams and Zoom), cloud storage (such as Box, Google Drive, or OneDrive), and more.

  • Brandon Gilliland and Team Financial Affairs are focused on mitigating, wherever possible, the financial impact caused by COVID-19. The team is preparing guidelines and procedures for tracking COVID-19 related expenses to maximize the potential of recovery aid from FEMA; and developing financial scenario analyses to anticipate any long-term effects to the University's financial position and performance. In order to respond to the increased level of calls and student/parent outreach regarding COVID-19, 'Canes Central is accelerating and will go live next month. And, in an effort to "flatten the curve," 95 percent of the Financial Affairs team is working remotely; and dining operations on campus have been transitioned to pick-up-and-go meals. All on-campus retail operations are closed except for The Market and Starbucks in the Shalala Student Center. And, our Purchasing and Treasury Departments are being nimble in supporting emergency purchases.

  • Mary Harper Hagan and Team HR are doing a remarkable job responding to this evolving situation by reviewing and updating related policies and procedures. This group of "helpers" is working diligently to ensure the health and well-being of our 'Canes family. In just one week they have:

    • Implemented and communicated temporary sick pay policies for those considered vulnerable to COVID-19, affected by school closures, in a temporary or per diem status, and for employees requiring an advance from their sick bank eligibility. They have also created temporary HR policies for telecommuting and pay for both the Gables/Marine campus leaders and employees and UHealth/MSOM leaders and employees.

    • Developed faculty and staff FAQs that are posted on the coronavirus website.

    • Collaborated with UM Government Relations and UHealth Communications; to partner with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the YMCA to offer full-day programming exclusively for children of Jackson Health System and UHealth clinical employees during school closure to ensure continuity of patient care.

    • Migrated to an online new hire orientation for I am the U (global orientation) and We Care (UHealth/MSOM's orientation). U Facilitator's will be trained for online delivery of these programs. We will migrate to and or add online programming until further notice.

  • Recruitment Team is developing guidelines and tips for hiring managers to host interviews with candidates via collaborative tools like Zoom or Skype.

  • Telecommuting Activity Survey was developed, launched and analyzed in partnership with B&F Communications for Coral Gables and Marine campus employees (who are not part of the UHealth/MSOM).

    • Overall, participants gave a 2.79/3-star average rating of their overall telecommuting experience.

    • Most issues and concerns regarding access to systems, UMIT devices and sick time will be addressed in guidelines for remote work that HR will be releasing today.

  • To assist with telecommuting access requests, the Enterprise Business Solutions team has implemented the WalkMe ActionBot in Workday, located on the bottom right corner of the Workday home page. The ActionBot provides the employee with assistance on completing a variety of business processes including the COVID-19 Telecommuting Request so that we can track all work at home arrangements. For any technical issues, please email

  • To support the health and well-being of our members, HR partnered with Aetna to remove barriers to care by offering the following services:

    • Access to telemedicine visits at $0 copays for any reason via Teladoc through May 31, 2020. Teladoc gives members access to U.S. board-certified physicians through the phone or mobile app, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To access Teladoc, you need to create an account using your UM/Aetna Member ID.

    • Waived copays/coinsurance/deductibles for all diagnosis testing related to COVID-19. This includes coverage for test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines, which can be done in any approved laboratory.

    • Optum Rx allowing members to refill Rx by opening refill-too-soon restrictions with no delays for Optum Rx Mail order delivery.

It is an impressive body of work in a week for all of our Business & Finance members. I am profoundly grateful to each of you for your dedication to the U. This is an unprecedented time, no playbook, but I am confident that we will emerge stronger, with even deeper respect and admiration for each other. We will have more patience than ever before and more appreciation for just being at work together.

I leave you with a reminder from someone who cares about our workforce greatly. Attend to your health and wellbeing. Though not a doctor, I am a mother and grandmother of many. I urge you to get rest, exercise, and drink plenty of water—faucet water works too! As the news on the coronavirus pandemic changes every day, it is essential that we all remain attentive to our health. Take care of yourself, your families, and your fellow members of the 'Cane community. Thank you for your patience, flexibility and resourcefulness over the last week. I will write again soon.

Always my best,


Jacqueline A. Travisano, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President for Business and Finance & Chief Operating Officer