I am reaching out to all faculty and staff who are engaged in educating the University of Florida’s many students – undergraduates and graduate and professional students – to share my thoughts on the spring semester.
We have much yet to accomplish this fall all across the university. However, we also need to make specific plans regarding the spring, particularly as it relates to our teaching mission.
This fall, our campus is open, and most of our students have moved to Gainesville so that they can take advantage of what the university offers in person and to be a part of our in-person university community.
Since the middle of last spring semester, our strategy for teaching has been for all courses that could be online to be taught online. And, for those courses that must be taught in person to be taught in person. Our faculty and staff have done extraordinary work to deliver high-quality, effective instruction and our students have shown resilience and adaptability.
Beginning in May and through the summer we brought our employees back to campus so they could work safely and efficiently before the arrival of students. And, during the month of August, the majority of our students returned to our community.
Although we are justifiably proud of the effectiveness of UF’s online instruction, the full experience of a residential university includes in-person instruction. The next step we must take is to significantly increase the opportunity for students to experience in-person, face-to-face learning. Our students deserve this opportunity. More importantly, we have learned over the past several months how to keep our faculty, staff and students as safe as possible with in-person teaching and learning.
These are difficult times for government and family budgets. Our best shared opportunity to retain full funding for our university, and thereby protect the jobs of our employees, is to provide more of our students with the full educational experience and opportunities they had before COVID.
I certainly know that it will be incredibly challenging for our faculty, teaching assistants and support staff to transition to in-person instruction this spring semester, and that it will require incredible sustained effort.
On behalf of students who will benefit from increased in-person classes, and on behalf of those whose jobs will be saved through sustained funding of our operations, I offer my deep and heartfelt appreciation.
I am very appreciative of all our faculty and staff for their superhuman effort over the past seven months. I appreciate not only what you have done, but how you have done it - and what I know you will accomplish, and how you will accomplish it, over the next seven months. Many thanks.