The spread of COVID-19 across the United States has brought about a new set of challenges for the University of Nebraska at Omaha community to face together.
In a special edition Maverick Minute, UNO Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, MD, addressed some of those challenges and the steps university leadership has taken to help keep students, faculty and staff healthy and safe on their educational and professional journeys.
Check unomaha.edu/coronavirus daily at 9 a.m. to see the latest announcements and resources.
Hello, I’m Jeff Gold, and thanks so much for joining me today on this very special Maverick Minute.
The goal of our few minutes together today is to talk a little bit about all things virus and to extend a message to the campus community.
I recently had an opportunity to spend some time with my grandchildren – electronically that is – and to answer their questions about what’s going on in the world. They’re just about three and-a-half years old, and they don’t understand why their school is cancelled, why they can’t go on play dates, they don’t understand why the museums and libraries aren’t open anymore, but what they do understand is that their parents care for them and that they have a feeling of being safe.
While I did spend some time talking to them about good germs and bad germs, about how important it was to wash their hands, I spent even more time talking to them about their fears and tried to make them fear comfortable. At the end of the conversation, each of the twins said, “okay, grandpa,” and then we went on to talk about even more important subjects, like cookies and ice cream.
I think they understood that no matter how complex the changes were going on around them, that they felt embraced by the love of their family.
UNO is also a family. It’s a family of students and faculty and staff, it’s a family of a community that we embrace every day, and that embraces us. It’s a family of donors and philanthropists, foundations and businesses that work together to create an incredibly high quality of life that makes it even better for our children and for our grandchildren. We here at the University of Nebraska at Omaha are completely committed to that. That commitment that’s embodied in our mission, that’s expressed in our values doesn’t change. All that changes is the way we deliver that commitment. And so I would ask you when you think about the changes that are going on around us, that we focus on our excellence, our engagement, our values around inclusion, discovery, integrity, and of course as always, the Maverick Spirit, the tenacity, the innovation, that it means to be a true Maverick.
We recently made some very important announcements regarding remote education. We talked about the ability for students to make a decision whether or not they wanted to stay in housing, we talked about telecommuting, we talked about distance learning, and we continue to work through many of the logistical challenges. But our faculty and our staff and the entire community are committed to the success of our mission, to our goals around education, to our goals around discovery, creative activity and research, and of course, to the community engagement that embodies what it means to be a public metropolitan university here in Omaha.
It’s difficult for me to express how proud I am of all of our faculty and staff and how responsive and thoughtful and giving our students and their families have been.
There’s a lot of uncertainty, and putting on my healthcare hat I understand that all too well as we are very highly engaged at Nebraska Medicine and UNMC on the federal, regional and local aspects of health security and how that interacts with the global community. But I can tell you this: the leadership of our med center are among the most knowledgeable and dedicated individuals and are open and transparent in sharing information day by day, week by week basis.
My best advice to you right now is to connect – use your technology. Make sure you connect with your family and loved ones. Make sure you connect with your faculty and staff, and stay connected and support each other. To take care – take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones, and to make sure we are watching each other’s back all the time, and I mean that in the best possible sense of being sure that if there are unmet needs, and not everybody in the community has the same resources that many of us have, that we are always asking what we can we do to pay it forward for others. And finally, when and if you need some help, if you need somebody to talk to or if you have questions, reach out. Everybody is here to answer those questions and to be supportive.
As sure as I am of the commitment and the dedication to excellence, I am equally sure that not every decision is going to be perfect. We’re going to do our very best to make them as good as possible, and when we need to fix them, correct them, adjust them, strengthen them, we will do that as well.
I can tell you this: the Maverick Spirit is as strong as ever.
I’m Jeff Gold, and thanks so much for giving me a few minutes today.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.