Message from the Chancellor

Dear Staff and Faculty,

During the last 10 weeks, we have all experienced unique personal and professional challenges as we have navigated through unprecedented changes in our lives. I know that this has been a hard time for everyone, but much more so for our health care providers and other frontline heroes, who could not shelter at home and continue to return to campus every day. We mourn the losses that our country and our UIC community are experiencing due to COVID-19.

Because of your dedication, UIC has continued to stand tall, as you saved and improved lives in Chicago and across the world through continuing health care, educational, research and engagement activities. I’m very proud and grateful for your remarkable efforts and your impact on the lives of our students and our patients.

Our guiding principle during this period has been the protection of the health and safety of the members of our community, while we continued to fulfill our critical mission. And the results have been outstanding:

  • we continued to deliver the highest quality health care, while at the same time, we expanded access in some of the city’s most vulnerable areas,
  • we successfully completed the academic spring semester and welcomed our newest UIC alumni to the Flames family,
  • we found new ways to support our students academically, emotionally and financially during this very difficult period for them and their families,
  • we participated in the most important clinical trials in the world contributing significantly to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • and we supported the city and the state sharing our unique expertise in medicine and public health.

As soon as we addressed the challenges of transitioning to a mostly remote mode of operation, we immediately started planning UIC’s road to recovery. The task forces established by UIC are closely monitoring the public health situation in Chicago and together with our colleagues across the University of Illinois System, are carefully developing plans for this summer and fall. Once again, our mission and the need to protect the health and safety of the members of our community are guiding our efforts.

I expect that within the next few days Chicago and Illinois will enter Phase 3 of the road to recovery. The most important change that we will experience at UIC during this phase will be the gradual reopening of the majority of our research labs. UI Health will also gradually increase access to clinical care for non-COVID-19-related cases. And finally, a significant number of graduate students, as well as professional students in the health sciences, will return to campus.

The campus operations task force, led by Vice Chancellor John Coronado, has already shared with you a number of measures that will be taken to assure safety on campus during this period. Among others these include:

  • mandatory use of masks and daily temperature screening,
  • physical distancing and sanitization protocols,
  • strict limits in the number of individuals in the same area,
  • and triaging for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

At the same time, we are also preparing for Phase 4 this fall, which will include the return of the majority of our students, including undergraduates. The fall 2020 academic planning task force, led by Provost Susan Poser, has made significant progress in developing a hybrid model that will combine in-person and online courses of the highest quality. As the leading urban research university in the country, UIC has an obligation to deliver the national standard of excellence in this area. I am very thankful for the tremendous efforts of hundreds of faculty and staff members involved in this challenge.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will create a serious financial crisis for higher education as a whole. Unlike other financial challenges we have faced in the past, the current situation threatens all streams of revenue for universities and UIC is not immune to these effects. While at this point, it is difficult to estimate the overall impact – which depends on both state funding and enrollments – each academic and administrative unit is currently involved in the preparation of contingency plans. These plans will reflect our focus on UIC’s mission and core values.

Next week we will host a Virtual Town Hall for staff and faculty on Wednesday, June 3 at 4 p.m. This will be an opportunity for me and the Vice Chancellors to share directly with you the most recent information about our road to recovery. More importantly, we will be able to hear your questions, comments and concerns and address them directly. Information, including instructions on how to participate in this town hall and how to submit your questions, will be included in the invitation that follows. I hope you will find the time to join us!

I’m confident that UIC will emerge from this crisis stronger than before, as we have done in the past. By now we have proven that we are resilient, we know how to face challenges, and – when needed – we can escape forward.

I want to thank you all, one more time, for all that you do to ensure UIC’s continued growth and success. We are all in this together and we share the same pride for our university.

Stay well!

Michael D. Amiridis

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