Dear Faculty and Staff,
Monday was a historic day and a key moment of pride as University of Florida students, faculty and staff and community members convened at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to assist with the vaccination drive or be vaccinated.
Through UF Health’s collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, we expect approximately 20,000 people will be vaccinated by the end of business Saturday — an ambitious goal that soon will help UF and the Gainesville community return to a more normal way of life.
Our hope is that this vaccination push — one of the largest conducted by a higher education institution in the country — will help protect our community from the uptick in cases we are seeing nationally as well as here on our campus. Currently, the positivity rate recorded by UF Health’s Screen, Test & Protect program continues to hover between 1.3 and 1.5%, numbers that give us confidence as we look toward returning to more normal operations in the Summer and Fall semesters.
Also, UF Research announced this week that it is aligning guidance for safely conducting research in labs and in the field with the broader institutional guidelines. Requirements implemented last year regarding occupancy in labs, as well as required approvals of proposed activities and personnel through the Research Activity Request portal, are no longer applicable as we transition to a pre-pandemic-like atmosphere on campus.
As an additional signal that we are gradually transitioning to a greater sense of normalcy, this weekend’s 27th annual Dance Marathon event will be held both in-person and virtually. The in-person component of this student-run event, which raises funds and awareness for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, will take place at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center with safety protocols in place, as developed in coordination with UF Health Screen, Test & Protect and in keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
We encourage you to show support by tuning into several live streams through social media.
We would also like to thank those of you who supported UF’s efforts around Gator Day, which provides an annual opportunity to showcase our Gator pride to our elected leaders in Tallahassee. Held virtually, many of our alumni and other members from The Gator Nation celebrated UF’s achievements on social media. And State Sen. Keith Perry presented President Kent Fuchs with a resolution that commended the university for its continued achievements, including the U.S. News & World Report’s recent graduate school rankings, which recognized 12 UF colleges and 61 graduate programs as among the top in the country.
In sum, we — like you — are continuing to do all we can to support our students and this university in the face of the challenges presented by the pandemic. Gradually, and with all due prudence, we are excited as we look toward Summer B and Fall semesters that are more reflective of the collegiate environment we all love about UF.
Joe Glover, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Charlie Lane, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
David R. Nelson, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF & President, UF Health
David Norton, Vice President for Research
Win Phillips, Chief of Staff, Office of the President
Dance Marathon Stream: https://www.facebook.com/floridaDM/
Rankings News Release: https://www.news.ufl.edu/2021/03/graduate-rankings-reflect-ufs-upward-momentum/