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April 23, 2020

Dear Members of Business and Finance,

This has been a long and extraordinary month filled with grief, frustration, and sacrifice—but also with dedication, kindness, and compassion. As we approach the end of another week of primarily working from home, I want to take a moment to acknowledge what we have all been through and, most importantly, to thank all of you.

I want to express my gratitude to all of you for the herculean efforts and innovation demonstrated throughout this crisis. In every way, our lives have been disrupted and turned upside down. Students learned that they would finish the semester online and that seniors would have their graduation ceremony postponed until December 2020. Faculty and staff learned overnight how to transition classrooms and workspaces from on-campus to online.

Tragically, members of the 'Canes community have lost loved ones to this pandemic and have had the added sorrow of being unable to gather with family and friends for comfort in their grief. I am profoundly sorry for your losses.

Others are facing hardships due to a spouse or partner's unemployment, concern for relatives in high-risk populations, family members serving on the front lines, or the challenges of juggling childcare while teleworking.

Understandably, some are just overwhelmed by the uncertainty caused by this pandemic. We have all suffered a degree of loss in our lives, and my heartfelt condolences goes out to each of you. At the same time, I am grateful for the special community of which we are a part.

Over the last few weeks, I have heard numerous stories of worry and concern and received numerous emails and texts of gratitude. I have also received many questions about our financial mitigation efforts.

This is a crisis unlike any we've ever seen or dealt with before because of its unpredictability and uncertain timeline. To be honest, I don't have the answers to all of your questions today as I write this letter. As soon as we have solidified decisions, we will let you know.

However, please understand that we are making decisions in the best interest of the University, both for financial sustainability and the safety of the community.

As this evolves and the leadership team makes real-time decisions, it may not always be perfect. We are in constant evaluation mode learning and modifying as we go along, and I am committed to doing my best to keep you informed along the way.

With regard to returning to campus, given the nature of this pandemic, it is difficult to have one specific reopen date where everyone returns to campus simultaneously. Instead, Matt Shpiner is leading a large working group to think about a phased reopening, in alignment with local, state, and national guidelines. Many of you have been asked to participate in that group, and I thank you all for your efforts. When it happens, this transition will be another adjustment we will all have to face. We still have a long way to go and it's going to get harder before it gets easier, so let's proceed with the same resiliency, flexibility, and compassion that we've shown thus far. One thing is certain: together we make extraordinary things happen.

Finally, I want to encourage you to keep some focus on your own self-care. This Friday, April 24, HR is hosting the "Navigating Change in Challenging Times" and I encourage everyone to browse the FSAP wellness webinars where you'll find two new sessions: "We Can Dance!" and "Balancing Working from Home with Kids."

Thank you again for everything you do for the University.

I will write to you again next week, #CanesFam! GO 'CANES!


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