March 29, 2020
Tomorrow, we will return to the spring 2020 semester after our students' extended spring break. Our classrooms will be virtual, and our offices, for most, remote. I deeply appreciate everyone who is providing on-campus essential services to keep our campus open during this crisis as well as those working with students to ensure that we continue to provide the support and education that will lead them towards graduation and their goals beyond.
As we work through this together, our number one priority as a campus community is protecting everyone's health and safety. I hate to say it, but this will get worse—perhaps far worse—before it gets better. The United States has now surpassed every other country in terms of diagnosed COVID-19 cases and the number of cases in Indiana is rising exponentially. Our state numbers aren't expected to peak for a number of weeks.
We need to help flatten the curve and turn the corner on this crisis. Please protect yourselves and your loved ones by following the public health advisories coming from local, state, and federal authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and checking the IU coronavirus website, which is updated on a daily basis.
Regular communication is more important than ever. You are receiving updates from the university on an ongoing basis as well as public safety advisories. I have continued to meet with my cabinet, deans, and the university's Executive Policy Group on a daily basis as well so that we can respond quickly to this rapidly changing crisis. This afternoon, I also shared this message with IUPUI students.
Just last Friday, I held two Town Hall meetings via Zoom, attended by more than 1,200 faculty and staff members. A number of colleagues and I provided reports and responded to questions, which focused on matters related to job security and the hiring process, technology access (including Wi-Fi), how to help students facing financial and food insecurity, and when all of us will be able to return to campus, among other areas. A video of the staff Town Hall is available in Kaltura.
One of the most powerful messages that came out of the Town Hall meetings is how grateful the entire campus is to those employees—both faculty and staff members—who cannot perform their duties remotely. We can't continue our essential operations without the on-site services of our IUPUI Police Department, health professionals, Housing and Residence Life (HRL), and Campus Facility Services, among others. One participant put it very succinctly with regard to CFS staff: "CFS folks rock!" You can recognize CFS employees via the Campus Facility Services website.
In addition to sharing my gratitude with our CFS staff, I would also like to add a special word of thanks to those in HRL who are managing the process of moving nearly 2,300 students out of their residence halls. This takes a great deal of sensitivity and care considering the heightened need for hygiene and dealing with students' possessions as well as the upset that this is causing.
The rapid changes that have taken place are taking a toll on each one of us. We have lost what once was normal. We miss our friends, students, and colleagues. We are balancing child-care with work at home. We are taking care of loved ones who are at the greatest risk of infection. We are trying to figure out how to continue research. Put simply, many of us are afraid and for so many reasons. If you feel emotionally overwhelmed and need help, reach out to friends and colleagues. We are here for you. You may also turn to the Staff and Faculty Health Clinic at University Hospital, which will remain available as will the IU Employee Assistance Program.
As difficult and uncertain as this situation is, I am sure that together we will not only get through this, but in the process, we will transform higher education for the better. My certainty about this is due to the great confidence I have in the IUPUI community. You make me proud to count myself among you.
Stay safe and well,
Nasser H. Paydar