Message from the Chancellor
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
I am very happy to welcome everyone back to the University – whether in person or virtually – as we start the fall academic semester. This will be a different fall than the ones we are used to, but our commitment to serve and support our students, as they continue to develop and progress towards their degrees, remains exactly the same.
Our faculty and staff members have done a lot of work over the summer preparing for this day with one goal in mind: to provide an excellent and safe academic experience. We have communicated frequently, providing updates when decisions were made and applied to our unique situation as a large academic community embedded in one of the world’s great urban centers. And every step that we have taken has been guided by state and federal guidelines, as well as the advice of our own world experts in medicine and public health.
With this in mind, we have created a hybrid system of on-campus and remote learning that will be our operating model during this fall. Our faculty members and our teaching assistants have worked hard to enhance the quality of our online courses, while our staff members have created new approaches to delivering services and engagement opportunities for those who will not be able to join us on campus. We are striving to achieve the best student experience possible, we are committed to continuously improving, and we welcome and encourage your suggestions and innovative ideas.
We have also prepared the campus for your return, taking several measures to protect the health of our community, including reducing density of students in the residence halls, classrooms and labs; launching a COVID-19 saliva testing program combined with isolation and contact tracing protocols for positive cases; and requiring mandatory use of face coverings on campus.
Our community is our strength and will enable us to care for and protect each other. It is through our collective responsibility and the rigorous implementation of our protective measures that we can be successful this fall and continue to provide the best possible experience for our students during these unprecedented times.
I also want to take this opportunity to encourage all of us to reflect on the challenges we face as a society beyond COVID-19 and how these affect our University. We have taken the first steps to address the concerns of Black students and faculty on campus, including concerns about UIC public safety policies and practices, the campus demographics, and the support services and resources needed for student success. Last week, I announced the creation, role and membership of a new Public Safety Board, while next week we will be announcing the results of the consultations with several stakeholder groups from our community. UIC has always been at the forefront for equity and social justice, and in this current environment, we embrace our obligation to reimagine and redefine the standards for an inclusive University.
How we progress over the course of the next few months will impact the future of our University. I’m confident that by working together and taking care of each other we can improve the model for urban higher education, building a supportive and equitable community where people from all over the world can connect, interact, teach, learn and respect each other. The future is truly in your hands.
You have my very best wishes for a successful fall 2020 semester. Stay well, stay informed and stay safe.