Chancellor's Update -- May 2020

May 27, 2020
Kim A. Wilcox
May 27, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

May typically is a month when we begin celebrating our accomplishments over the last year. As we roll toward final exams, we prepare to say goodbye to students who are heading home for the summer while the graduating class prepares to leave. 

This year, even in the middle of a pandemic, we have reasons to celebrate. For example, graduate students are collecting grants and fellowships to continue their studies and research, like the five students – Crysthal Alvarez, Dylan Enright, Nicholas Higgins, Kayla Rodriguez, and Tyler Smith – who recently received National Science Foundation (NSF) awards.

We also will graduate more University Honors students than ever before. And, for the first time ever, UC Riverside has more than 500 student organizations, many of which will receive awards this week for leadership and their contributions to our community. Undergraduates who have worked on research and entrepreneurial efforts have presented their ideas and results at online events and virtual symposia. 

But similar to my campus update last month and subsequent message, we are concurrently looking beyond the end of this academic year to determine how we start in the fall. Committees connecting across campus are continuing to determine the next phase of adjusted operations.

Fall Planning  
By the end of this week, we will have received preliminary recommendations from some of the working groups evaluating scenarios and opportunities. As many of you know the Research Ramp-up Working Group, led by Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Rodolfo Torres, has finalized draft recommendations for resuming on-campus research activities. The group has worked on many of the details to a phased plan for returning the campus to full research capacity informed by public health guidance, science-based criteria, and faculty consultation. The Public Health group is reviewing the draft of the Research Ramp-Up plan, which we intend to share with the campus by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, the Instructional Continuity group, in consultation with the Academic Senate, is working through scenarios for delivering instruction for the coming academic year.    

The Budget and Finance group, in consultation with the Academic Senate Planning and Budget Committee, is providing guidance to address revenue shortfalls, reduce costs, and manage through an extended period of economic recession due to COVID-19. The Operations and Support Recovery group has drafted guidelines and operating procedures for employees when they return to work on campus. For all committees, the Public Health group is providing overarching guidance and recommendations to help preserve the health of the campus community during a phased recovery plan. 

Very soon we will have more information to share and will launch a fall planning and campus reentry website to make more details available.
Upcoming Virtual Office Hours 
If you have questions or want to learn more about current operations or our planning for fall and beyond, we invite you to attend our upcoming virtual office hours sessions held over Zoom. I’ll be hosting this coming Friday and look forward to answering your questions. More detail is noted below.

5/29, 1-2 p.m.: Kim Wilcox, Chancellor
6/5, 10-11 a.m.: Tom Smith, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor; and Mariam Lam, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer

To register to attend one of the remaining Virtual Office Hours sessions, please visit the below link:

Online Graduation Celebration
Though we have postponed our traditional commencement activities, we are presenting an online celebration for the Class of 2020 on June 14 at 2 p.m. In conjunction with a brief prerecorded program, we will recognize graduates through personalized, individual acknowledgements. Thank you to everyone working on ideas and programming to celebrate our very special Class of 2020. 

Memorial Day 
Monday we celebrated Memorial Day, a day to honor those veterans who gave their life for our country. At UCR, we are grateful to all of our veterans, not just those whose lives were lost but also those who have risked their lives to protect our country. Thank you, to those of you who have served, as well as our military families. 

How UCR is Helping
On the topic of service, I want to end this message with a video that celebrates Highlanders who have answered the call to help our communities during the pandemic. Whether they are donating personal protective equipment or harvesting R’Garden to feed students, sterilizing UCPD vehicles, or conducting research to ensure a safe water supply, these individuals will make you proud to be a part of the UCR family.

I know the service doesn’t stop with the examples in the video, either. Everyone reading this message is making adjustments or sacrifices in some way, maybe supporting family or friends or juggling new responsibilities or facing the challenges of a stay-at-home order while maintaining a commitment to our mission. To each of you, for everything you are doing to keep taking steps through this challenging time toward our future recovery, thank you.

Stay safe.