It can be difficult to appreciate where you are going without reflecting upon how far you’ve come.
On March 12, 2020, our university made the difficult but necessary decision to transition to remote teaching, working, and learning due to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Since that day we have experienced the loss of loved ones, a historic economic downturn, and closely related social and political upheaval.
However, through it all, we have remained truly proactive – we let science guide our decision making, cared for one another, explored growth opportunities, and led by example in our Omaha community. We have been clear that our goal is to reunite safely on campus in full capacity and stronger than before. As all Mavericks know, a goal without action is simply a dream.
So, true to the Maverick Spirit, we have worked hard to safely bring all to a vibrant and exciting campus learning and working environment. We rolled up our sleeves and began putting in the work to bring that vision to fruition. In the past year we witnessed historic enrollment and retention marks, entered academic partnerships with three Omaha-based companies, and implemented numerous COVID-19 health and safety policies and practices that made our campus one of the safest in the region, and so much more.
Just as we made plans to grow through our challenges in 2020, we have made plans now for building our future.
I write you today confident that we will safely return to a new normal with vibrant in-person teaching, working, and learning operations beginning with the Fall 2021 semester.
There are many reasons for the confidence that I share with student, faculty, and staff leaders, there are three of particular import.
First, the successful development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines through the spring and summer months will significantly limit the spread of the COVID-19 infection. Second, significantly enhanced COVID-19 testing accuracy and capacity means we will be able to more closely monitor any campus spread and make necessary adjustments to promote campus safety. Finally, the ability to very accurately track and respond to regional and campus COVID-19 transmission rates provides an opportunity for early and effective intervention.
As we move through the Spring semester, we will continue to monitor and respond with our planning as we approach the Summer and Fall semesters. We will share updates and planning details as they evolve and change, beginning at our upcoming January 26 Chancellor's Forum.
Mr. Warren Buffett, a former UNO professor, once quipped to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter that “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
The start of the Fall 2021 semester may seem far away, but as the “Oracle of Omaha” noted, it is never too early to plan for our future. Thank you for all that you do to help make this plan a reality.
In the Maverick Spirit,
Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.
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.