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Dear colleagues:

I write to inform you that I have created a system-wide coordinating committee to support our universities as they begin planning for the reopening of campuses in the fall and examining the changes that will be required to ensure both safety and excellence.

The committee will help ensure that leaders at our three universities are all benefitting from the best thinking and the latest scientific and health information about COVID-19. Each university is also looking at the distinctive issues that are involved in resuming on-campus classes and activities this fall at institutions that differ widely in size and scope.

Transitioning to a “new normal” while retaining our world-class educational experience and protecting the health and safety of our campus communities will be the overriding priority. Included in the coordinating committee’s planning will be issues such as how the pandemic will affect class sizes, residence hall occupancy, large sports or entertainment events, and other traditional campus activities.

The coordinating committee will be co-chaired by Barb Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs, and Avijit Ghosh, vice president and chief financial officer. It will include the three provosts from our universities, two vice chancellors overseeing student affairs and research, and a tenured faculty member from the University Senates Conference.

The fall semester may not look exactly the same as when you left our campuses. But I am confident that with the appropriate protocols in place, we will restore much of our face-to-face teaching, as well as lab-based research, residential life and the other unique benefits that make our campus communities second to none. The committee will explore every option to ensure the wellbeing of students, faculty and staff, including new cutting-edge technologies and devices that are being developed every week as science learns more about the virus.

For now, it is incumbent on all of us to stay the course and continue following Governor Pritzker’s new stay-at-home order, which extends through May 30. I am deeply grateful to all of you for everything you have done to keep our operations rolling while also doing your part to slow the virus’ spread. Scientific evidence shows that our collective efforts are working in Illinois and it is now time to plan for our future. 

I look forward to the fall when we can come back together and bring our campuses back to life. In the meantime, thank you again for your sacrifice, understanding and commitment. Take care of yourselves, and each other.

Sincerely,

Tim