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UC Merced

Here’s what the Chancellor of UC Merced is saying

'Most students have chosen to remain off campus'

Weekly Briefing from the Chancellor of UC Merced to the campus community

March 27, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

At UC Merced we stand with the rest of the country as we work to adapt to our current reality — curtailment of travel, empty classrooms and campuses, canceled and postponed events, economic upheaval, personal challenges of remote learning and work, and reimagining of how to deliver the great education for which the University of California is internationally famous.

On behalf of my colleagues, I want to express our profound gratitude to the students, the staff, the faculty and the entire UC Merced community for the resilience, the creativity and the commitment to the campus and to each other that has emanated these past few weeks. These are difficult times for all of us, indeed for the entire world, yet I am impressed and grateful for the goodwill and empathy that Bobcats have shown one another.

I also want you to know that I share in your concerns and anxieties about the future. Yet I am also extremely grateful and hopeful for our future, because I know our campus has pulled together so purposefully to address this crisis — and our community is strong, proud and resilient.

Our faculty are preparing to resume classes using a variety of technologies. Most students have chosen to remain off campus, and we encourage those returning from spring break to consider that they might be safer and more comfortable learning from home through the rest of the semester.

For those few whose circumstances force them to remain on campus, please know that we will continue to provide food, cleaning, health and counseling services and full access to the tools you need to succeed in classes.

At UC Merced, we are doing all we can to prepare for what has been happening across the country, while also partnering with city and county officials on a plan to shelter first responders in the event of a local outbreak.

The two students on our campus who had reported symptoms of illness and self-quarantined last week have both tested negative for COVID-19. That is good news for them, their families and their friends.

But we are not shielded from the spread of this virus. We learned today a campus consultant tested positive, and county officials have reached out to all those with whom this person interacted; no one has reported symptoms, but all were asked to self-quarantine. And Merced County has now reported seven positive tests.

Parents and students with questions or concerns can always email specific departments , or attend one of Vice Chancellor Charles Nies’ virtual office hours . I will also be scheduling virtual office hours, and will announce details in the coming days.

In the past week, we have communicated to campus about:

— Guidance for academic appointees and staff.
— A limited number of our facilities remaining open , including some residence halls. Most have been closed to all but designated personnel.
— Relaxed policy on copyright ownership of instructional materials.
— Extended deadlines for staff performance appraisals.

Some of our faculty have been sharing useful insights in area media during this crisis:
— Professor Greg Wright on our economic future.
— Professor Jennifer Howell on coping with social distance.
— Professor Martin Haggar on maintaining social support systems.

The university will be reaching out to faculty, staff and students early next week as the semester starts up again to offer some specific resources to help us all get through to May and beyond.
I look forward to seeing you again face to face on our beautiful campus. In the meantime, please put your health and that of your loved ones first, and remember that even when apart, we are always a strong community.

#BobcatProud

Nathan Brostrom
Interim Chancellor

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