In the more than 18 months since the UNO campus moved to remote operations for teaching, working, and learning, the country and the world have made great strides against the COVID-19 virus. In recent months, the UNO and Omaha communities have shown significant decreases in infection and hospitalization rates as a result of the virus as an increasing number of individuals are choosing to get vaccinated.
The Maverick community has also persevered in the face of adversity to ensure that our students can continue to reach their educational goals in a remote setting. However, prolonged physical distance and lack of interpersonal interaction has limited the full scope of tools faculty and staff can utilize to support the important mission of educating the next generation of leaders and furthering engagement and access through exceptional teaching, research, and service.
With these factors in mind, UNO Chancellor Joanne Li, Ph.D., CFA, has asked that all employees prioritize on-campus work and physical presence no later than the start of the Fall 2021 semester on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.
Chancellor Li’s statement is included below.
The start of the Fall 2021 semester marks not just the beginning of a new academic year, but the first major step towards a renewed understanding of what it means to be a university community following the months-long move to remote teaching, working, and learning.
Earlier this year we established the goal for a return to traditional campus operations with the understanding that our students’ academic, emotional, and professional success depends on us, as a university, having a robust and visible presence on campus. In recent months our ability to achieve this goal has been strengthened by positive vaccination trends in our community and a growing number of faculty and staff already returning to campus.
With these factors in mind, all UNO employees in consultation with their supervisors and unit leaders are expected to prioritize on-campus work and be physically present no later than the start of the Fall 2021 semester on Monday, Aug. 23. While some exceptions will be necessary as approved by each Vice Chancellor through the alternative work arrangement agreement process communicated to unit leaders by Human Resources, our goal will be that campus is ready to conduct and support a pre-pandemic level of activity.
It is also important that we remember that the backbone of any university is its staff and faculty. I am asking all units to spend this next month with this goal in mind and understanding what a fully in-person operation looks like for their team. As part of this process, supervisors should consult the University of Nebraska’s System Alternative Worksite Policy for guidance on how to best handle their unit’s respective needs.
I also want to be clear that – at any time – based on the recommendations of our Office of Health Security and reported data from the local, state, and national authorities, decisions will be made with the safety and success of our campus community as top priority.
As we enter this new future together, I want to express my true admiration for the hard work and commitment our staff and faculty have shown during these challenging times. The fact that we are here, today, is a testament to the Maverick Spirit that inspired me to join the Maverick family. I look forward to continuing our important work with the same Maverick Spirit in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
In support and solidarity,
Joanne Li, Ph.D., CFA
Individual employees are asked to work with their direct supervisors to support the transition back to on-campus work, as well as necessary flexibility in limited circumstances where appropriate. Those who have concerns or questions about their ability to conduct their duties on campus by the Aug. 23 date should consult with their direct supervisor.
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.