We are thankful to welcome you back to another academic year at CU Boulder. There is no doubt that the start of this year, and this summer, have felt different in the ways we approach our work, and the feeling of community has looked different from what we knew. Nonetheless, we are excited to begin a new academic year and be that much closer to closing out 2020.
We want to take a few moments to thank you for your work, your commitment to this campus and its community, and the resiliency you continue to display. This time has challenged us all. From working remote to feeling like the work never ends, we want to acknowledge each and every one of you for your service to CU. Most of us are starting the year with pay cuts and many are returning to work with staffing at less than full capacity, while taking on more responsibilities than ever before. We know the challenges are not over, and we continue to work with campus leadership to lessen the burden wherever possible.
As the academic year begins it is vital for each staff member to know the campus’ current plans and policies. These are continually evolving based on the latest data and scientific knowledge; therefore, we ask all staff to take the time and read each COVID-19-focused email from campus and regularly check the campus and HR websites for updates.
As you may recall, in early August we offered a town hall with Chief Operating Officer Pat O’Rourke and Chief Human Resources Officer Katherine Erwin to discuss the current state of campus operations specifically as it relates to staff. We had over 300 in attendance. For those of you who missed that dialogue, you can view the discussion online.
Many points that came out of this town hall involved employment questions, concerns around equity, and racial profiling that can result from the public health mask mandate (see Staff Council’s Inclusive Excellence Committee statement). Staff Council has continued to discuss these issues. Our Inclusive Excellence committee is working alongside campus leadership to address key actions our campus can take to ensure we are a community that treats every individual with dignity and respect. The town hall was a great example of the types of spaces we plan to create for staff all year; a space where staff can be fully heard.
While a small number of employees subject to the summer furlough were laid off, retired or have requested personal leave, over 475 employees have returned to their positions as of August 1. More individuals will return by September 1, leaving less than 20 employees on furlough into the fall semester.
All Staff Council committees have started to plan programming and support initiatives to build upon the community we know and love at CU Boulder. A variety of virtual opportunities will be held for staff and their families to engage and connect as we continue to navigate the state of campus day by day.
We are doing our best to provide transparency on key conversations we are having, including navigating the “essential” employee definition, making sure staff voices are heard and their efforts celebrated, and continuing to work hard for all CU Boulder staff.
We are here. We are listening. We are fighting to ensure this remains a vibrant place to work where all can thrive. Thank you for being an essential part of what makes this community great. Please reach out if we can help in any way.
We wish you and yours well.
Dylan West, Shelby Javernick, and Chris Muldrow
Tri-Chairs, Boulder Campus Staff Council 2020-2021