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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Welcome to the Spring Semester

 Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,


I always like it that this is called “spring” as we enjoy more daylight everyday and look ahead to spring temperatures. I’d like to start off by welcoming the new students, faculty and staff who are joining our campus community. We are pleased to have you with us.

Last semester, I saw so much creativity from our campus as we adjusted how we teach and learn during a pandemic. From Dr. Margaret Elmer-Dixon in Physics & Astronomy taking to the football field to work on trajectory predictions, to Tom Isbell in Theatre taking an entire theatre production outside, we continue to provide great learning experiences. As we look ahead to this new semester, I am confident that we will continue to find new and innovative ways to learn, teach, work, and engage with each other.

I'm very proud that we were able to keep COVID-19 numbers under control last semester and I hope that we have the same track record this semester. Each of us has a role to play in order to keep each other safe and healthy. We must all continue to practice health and safety measures such as properly wearing a face covering, physical distancing, washing hands regularly, and monitoring our own health.

We made a number of updates to our UMD Safe Campus COVID-19 website. Please continue to check this updated website for the most recent resources and COVID-related information.
  • To help students navigate the steps to take if they have symptoms, are exposed to COVID-19, or test positive, please follow the steps on this student decision tree
  • UMD has applied to be a site for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. In preparation for receiving approval, we are currently working on a phased approach for access to the vaccine for students, faculty, and staff that follows guidelines developed at the federal and state level. In this graphic from the MN Department of Health, you can learn more about when you will get the vaccine. We have also added a vaccine page to our COVID-19 website, which will be updated as needed. 
I wish you all a great semester and hope to see your faces soon.

Sincerely,


Lendley C. Black
Chancellor

Friday, January 8, 2021

Recognizing You - Our Greatest Asset

 Dear Faculty and Staff,


Welcome back and happy new year. I hope that you were all able to relax and disconnect a bit over the semester break. As we gear up for the second half of the academic year, I want to recognize what makes this campus the exceptional institution that it is - you. Each and every one of you. Our greatest asset truly is our people.

I want to recognize the nearly 100 faculty and staff who opted to participate in the early retirement incentive program. I echo the comments, appreciation, and good wishes that we have seen over the last few weeks from units who shared retirements with campus. UMD has been incredibly fortunate that these individuals shared their time and talents with us over the years. We are losing a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge, and I am aware of the impact that will have on our campus community. At the same time, we are happy for each of them as they celebrate their time at UMD and, hopefully, find more time for themselves and their family and friends in retirement. You will each be missed and I hope that you continue to stay engaged with our UMD community.

In the last ten months, along with all of the challenges the pandemic brought to our campus and the world, the one constant that has kept me going is our students, faculty, and staff. We have persevered, we have adapted, we have changed how we teach, learn, research, and work. We have each dealt with new stresses outside of work and balanced a whole new set of work/life challenges. I see and understand the toll this has taken on members of our campus community. Yet, we haven’t changed our commitment and dedication to higher education. Thank you!

As we begin to welcome students back to campus, and as classes start next week, I want you to know that the leadership team and I appreciate you and your work. I have no doubt that we are stronger as a result of what we’ve all been through this last year, and I look forward to 2021.

Sincerely,


Lendley C. Black
Chancellor

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Response to Capitol Attack

Statement from Chancellor Black 

January 7, 2021

Chancellor Black encourages a renewed commitment to "respect diverse individuals, perspectives and ideas, and work through differences in productive ways."

On Thursday, Jan. 7, University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor Lendley Black shared the following statement regarding the insurrection that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“I join with President Gabel in condemning the attack on our U.S. Capitol. This insurrection endangered members of Congress and tried to disrupt our critical democratic process of officially naming America’s next president. We must all condemn this violence and affront to our democracy.

"Our UMD Core Values include Integrity, where we strive to adhere to the highest ethical standards and take responsibility for our ideas and actions. Our UMD Mission Statement emphasizes the importance of public engagement as we prepare students to thrive as lifelong learners and globally engaged citizens.

"My hope is that yesterday’s insurrection will not deter the UMD community from our commitment to public and civic engagement, and that we renew our commitment to act with integrity, respect diverse individuals, perspectives and ideas, and work through differences in productive ways that promote our democracy, instead of violent attempts to tear it down.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Gratitude and Appreciation; Have a Great Semester Break

 

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Congratulations on completing such a challenging and unique fall semester. Finals are done, campus is quiet, and my heart is filled with gratitude. Thank you - I simply cannot say it enough. I appreciate each of you and your efforts to keep our campus community safe and moving forward.

Please take a minute to watch and listen to this winter break video message, which perfectly and poetically describes this last year.
 

I’d like to give a special thanks to members of the UMD figure skating club for helping with this video, Lisa Johnson from KUMD for the voiceover, and David Cowardin for the poem and video production. 

As well, I’d like to thank our faculty and staff who donated 302 pounds of food for Champ's Cupboard and $409 for the Union Gospel Mission during our end of the semester boxed-lunch event on December 8. 

Spring Semester Updates
Spring semester will start as planned on January 13. More information for those new and returning students living on campus will be shared in early January. In the meantime, we expect that the spring semester will be very similar to fall. Seats in classrooms will continue to be 6 feet apart, and masks will continue to be required indoors and required outdoors whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Our faculty have determined how their classes will be offered: remotely, online, in-person, or blended. Instruction and learning continues and we are leaning in to the best methods and tools available.

COVID-19 Update
We had positive cases of COVID on campus in 2020. But, through the dedication and collegiality of each of you, we had no major outbreaks and were able to complete our semester as planned.

COVID-19 testing remains an important part of our health safety plan, and there are many options available to you during the break. We encourage anyone who feels they need a test to get one, in addition to continuing to practice physical distancing and wearing a face covering. There are more than 250 community test sites across the state. 

Last Tuesday, the first approved COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Minnesota. A University team of public health, medical, and other experts is hard at work collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Health to prepare for vaccine access for members of our campus community. Dr. David Worley, Director of UMD Health Services, is leading efforts locally. This process will rely on a phased approach based on risk factors that will take some months to implement. We will share more information when it’s available, likely during the first quarter of 2021.

As we look forward to the vaccine being widely available and feel hopeful anticipation, we also know that many are still very much affected by the pandemic. We extend our support and our gratitude to all who work on the frontlines, including our employees who keep our buildings, grounds, and other services running. 

Please, take some time to relax and unwind over the break. This has been an unpredictable and stressful year. There were times when we were all pushed to our limits, yet in true UMD fashion, we persevered. We have many accomplishments to be proud of. I am thankful for each of you and I am looking forward to a new year. See you in 2021!

Sincerely,

Lendley C. Black
Chancellor

Monday, December 14, 2020

Update on Operations During Adverse Winter Weather

 Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,


Although the seasonal weather has been mild and hopefully enjoyable thus far, this is a quick note about how we intend to operate during any adverse winter weather events between now and the start of the semester.

If we have inclement weather between now and the start of the spring semester on January 13, we will continue to conduct our operations remotely given almost all of our work and classes are already doing so. As normal, any adjustments to this will be communicated through SAFE-U notifications as needed.

There are individuals on this campus (deemed “essential workers” from a campus continuity standpoint) who support our base infrastructure and must report to campus for work, even on days when everything else is closed. To these individuals, thank you. I am very grateful for your commitment and for the work you do.

Students - Your faculty member will be in contact with you directly if there is a change to one of your classes or finals during this period.

Faculty and Staff - Your supervisor will be in contact with you if there are any specific instructions for you and your work. Those who are working remotely may need to take time to accommodate caregiving roles and supervisors are asked to be flexible when possible. Your HR departmental liaison can address questions you may have with time and absence management and compensation related questions.

Our approach to this matter may change when the spring semester starts as there is more activity on campus.

Sincerely,


Lendley C. Black
Chancellor

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

UMD's Annual Community Giving Campaign

 Dear Colleagues and Friends,


I am writing to ask you to consider making a gift as part of UMD's Annual Community Giving Campaign to help meet important needs in our communities.

Each year the Duluth community unites to help our neighbors needing assistance. In addition, we support environmental and arts organizations, as well as many other non-profit organizations that have a significant impact on our quality of life in the Twin Ports area.

This year, the opportunity for you to make a significant difference is especially great. Hunger, homelessness, and poverty rates are soaring. The pandemic is exacerbating inequities. Our healthcare systems are stressed, and many arts organizations have been unable to operate for months.

No matter which causes call to you the most, they all would greatly benefit from our help to get through these challenging times. I am asking you to join me in making a gift through this year's giving campaign to help others in our community.

Learn more about the participating charities by accessing the UMD Community Campaign materials and make a pledge to support the causes you care about at https://www.ipledgeonline.org/_uofmduluth

If you have any questions about the UMD Community Giving Campaign, please contact Wendy Larrivy at (218) 726-7507 or wlarrivy@d.umn.edu.

Your gift/pledge in any size will make a significant difference. You can help by Continuing Our Tradition of Giving.

Sincerely,

Lendley Black
Chancellor

Thursday, November 19, 2020

COVID Updates and Native American Heritage Month

 Dear students, faculty, and staff,


As we near Thanksgiving break, we reach another turning point in the semester. In addition, positive cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and put unprecedented demands on our healthcare systems. I urge each of you to continue to take measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-Related Updates

As noted in today’s email from University of Minnesota System President Joan Gabel, learning and research will continue under Governor Walz’s updated COVID restrictions. As planned, our fall semester in-person instruction will conclude on Wednesday, November 25. Classes that were in-person or blended will resume via remote learning on November 30 (unless otherwise approved). Please contact your instructor if you have specific questions about your course. 

With the current COVID precautions, we will implement some further adjustments to our campus operations. 

  • We ask all of you to stay at home as much as possible and limit your movement and interactions with others. 
  • The library will close and change to mail delivery or pick-up service of materials through the Darland mailroom starting this Saturday. Watch the library website for more information. 
  • Housing exterior doors will remain locked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, starting on November 26 and extending through the remainder of the fall semester and winter break. Housing and Residence Life will move back to step one of the Sunrise plan effective Sunday, November 29, with one exception. During the duration of the current pause under the Governor’s executive order, step one will not include indoor recreational facilities.
  • RSOP programming and facilities (including the fitness center, gym, and pool) will be closed for use at the end of Friday, tentatively reopening January 4. The Rental Center (for outdoor recreational equipment) will remain open for curbside pickup. We encourage you to stay active and healthy on your own, to include taking advantage of RSOP’s virtual offerings.
  • Children's Place on campus remains open and is compliant with the Governor’s current orders. Preschool in the Park (Chester) remains closed (and has been since early fall).
  • Tweed Museum of Art is closed and Glensheen Mansion will close starting Saturday.


Also, just a brief reminder that COVID testing is available through your healthcare provider, community testing sites, UMD Health Services (for UMD students, by appointment), and through our mail-in saliva testing program. The mail-in saliva tests must be requested by December 17. 

Honoring Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, and we acknowledge that the University of Minnesota Duluth is built on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of Indigenous peoples. It is important to acknowledge the peoples on whose land we live, learn, and work as we seek to improve and strengthen relations with the tribal nations of Minnesota. Through a collaborative effort and with endorsement by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, we are pleased to share our land acknowledgment

I also want to recognize and thank our Native American students, faculty, staff, and community members for their many contributions to the University. We will continue to meet, collaborate, and consult to ensure that we are increasing access to all aspects of higher education for our Native American students, staff, faculty, and community members and fulfilling our mission to serve all people of Minnesota.

Thank you for your continued support of UMD and to all members of our campus community. 

Sincerely,

Lendley C. Black
Chancellor