Chancellor’s Update - July 2021

July 26, 2021
Kim A. Wilcox
July 26, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

On journeys that involve airplanes, I find that one of the hardest parts of the trip is the return flight. In that time when an adventure is over and I am anticipating the comfort of home, the distance seems to grow longer. 

In just two months, we’ll be opening our doors for the beginning of fall quarter. Our campus—designed for discussion, exploration, and collaboration—will fill once again with the energy that exists when minds meet. After seventeen months of remote operations, I’m ready to Zoom less and converse more. I find myself often asking, are we there yet? 

I know the answer: not quite, but soon. We are actively taking steps forward while continuing to prioritize the health and safety of the campus, as we have throughout the pandemic. In this month’s update, I will share a few of the ways we are preparing for fall.

Governor Signs Budget for FY 21-22
On Monday, July 12, Governor Newsom signed the state budget, which funds the University of California for academic year 21-22. The budget restores UC funding to pre-pandemic levels and funds important initiatives. Though we still face the challenges of increased fixed costs, the difference between last year and this year is a significant improvement.

We are grateful to Governor Newsom and the legislature for recognizing the promise in our university. Beyond general allocations, one-time allotments to UCR include $35 million for the School of Medicine, $15 million for the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), and $10 million for the UCR scientific survey of AAPI communities in California. Additionally, funds for expansion and affordable student housing, increases in awards for students with dependent children and former foster youth, additional funding for student mental health, and emergency financial aid are just a few ways the appropriations further our commitment to student access. 

Great thanks are owed to Senator Richard Roth and Assemblymember Jose Medina, who work tirelessly to advocate for the needs of the Riverside community and our university. We also thank AAPI Caucus Senator Richard Pan and Assemblymember Phil Ting, who worked to secure funds for the AAPI data project. And, of course, Speaker and alumnus Anthony Rendon and Assemblymember and alumna Sabrina Cervantes not only support our needs but represent what Highlanders can do.

These investments in education, health, research, and innovation will accelerate recovery here and throughout the state. As we embark on a new fiscal year, we look forward to forging paths of opportunity for the people of California, to be realized immediately and in the years to come. 

Coffee, Donuts, and Vegetables
Miss seeing your colleagues? Last week we began a series of Coffee Socials open to all employees. Each Tuesday morning throughout the summer, a campus leader will host coffee and baked goods at 9:00 a.m. in front of Hinderaker Hall. 

For our first event, Richard Zapien and Autumn May from R’Garden arrived to hand out some of the day’s excess harvest including Armenian cucumbers, bell peppers, okra, several varieties of squash, eggplant, and more. They promise to return.

We hope you will join us for a time to reconnect with friends on campus. No registration required. Refreshments available while they last. 

Daily Wellness Survey and Face Coverings
As we align our health and safety policy with evolving guidance and state or county mandates, we have eliminated some restrictions. However, two important health and safety requirements that remain in place are the Daily Wellness Survey and the use of face coverings, as applicable.

All employees coming to campus are required to complete the Daily Wellness Check and receive a clearance certificate before beginning work each day. Employees include all faculty, staff, interns, and student workers. 

Wearing face coverings on campus is the standard, unless you have received your vaccination, submitted your proof, and received an email stating you are cleared to be on campus without accommodation. Anyone who has not submitted proof of vaccination will need to continue wearing face coverings while on university property. Per Cal/OSHA requirements, staff working in health care settings and in programs with children under 12 years of age must also continue to wear face coverings.

Submit Your Proof Now: Vaccination Mandate in Effect 
As mentioned in my vaccination policy message , UCOP released on July 15 a vaccination mandate, which had been proposed, announced, reviewed, and revised over the course of several months. At UCR, we have regularly provided updates and encouraged vaccination for all who can get vaccinated. 

You have until Monday, August 16 to submit your immunization records via the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracking Form. Records are housed in the HIPAA-secure Epic system. If you have received your vaccination (one or two doses, based on manufacturer) but have not yet submitted your information, please complete the form as soon as possible. We’ll send occasional reminders via text messages to employees and students.

UCOP has provided for employees answers to frequently asked questions along with the policy on their website. We’ll send occasional reminders via text messages to employees and students.

Thank you to all those who volunteered time at UCR Health vaccination clinics during the winter and spring quarters. We appreciate your commitment to the health and safety of this community.

Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture
During the 2020-2021 academic year, we hosted two excellent virtual lectures from José Hernández and Anthea Hartig as part of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture Series. As we anticipate future opportunities for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events like these, we invite you to consider nominating a preeminent scholar or professional for this lecture series by completing the online nomination form.

And more…
We are still finalizing details on some of our traditional events like the Faculty and Staff Picnic as well as new celebrations like the dedication of the Student Success Center. Additionally, each campus organization is working on campus return plans, which may also include hybrid or flexible work arrangements. As we travel closer to the start of fall quarter, we’ll have more to share about what return looks like and ways to enjoy the collegial spirit of our campus once again.