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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Details About the University’s “Work with Flexibility” Guidelines

 Dear Faculty and Staff,

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, learn, and work. Yet, this pandemic did not degrade our success or destroy our spirit, thanks to your dedication, flexibility, and determination to pursue excellence through the most uncertain and difficult times. We want to take a moment to acknowledge our employees who worked on campus during this period, for their dedication and commitment to our university mission and for sustaining our campus operations.

A lesson from COVID-19 is that work is not as much about where it happens. Work is first about what we do, followed by how, when, and then where.

Work. With Flexibility.

As we look ahead, we are pleased to announce new guidelines for the way we work going forward. Human Resources has created an approach called Work. With Flexibility. which provides systemwide guidance for legal and policy compliance, while allowing for local flexibility in its application. We developed this guidance over several months in collaboration with the HR community and senior leaders, and in consultation with University of Minnesota Senate governance groups, the General Counsel’s office, and others.

Our preliminary guidelines describe various options for flexible work, including full-time in-person, full-time remote, and a mix between the two. It addresses topics pertaining to working out of state, remote work for hourly workers, office technology, accommodations, and much more. Importantly, we will measure, assess, and refine the guidance over the next year by continuing to gather feedback from employees, students, and the HR community to maximize its effectiveness.

Planning for Returning to Campus

In the meantime, the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors will define how best to use this guidance to develop plans that meet the needs of their specific unit. Supervisors will evaluate all Work. With Flexibility. requests and make decisions that are in the best interest of the work they oversee, staying within bounds of the University and Chancellor/Vice Chancellor guidance.

Plans will be communicated to employees by July 19, 2021, and when possible, before that date to provide time for employees to make appropriate arrangements.

Employees should understand that although department leaders and supervisors are responsible for making final decisions about individual flexible work arrangements, they will do so by thoughtfully considering each employee’s perspective and unique circumstances. Indeed, with support from HR, supervisors will have the tools and resources they need to foster transparency, set clear expectations and ensure equity in the development of flexible work plans.

Resources to Support a Flexible Workplace

To learn more, please visit z.umn.edu/WorkWithFlexibility which houses information and resources, including the guidelines themselves, case studies of how they are already being applied in certain areas, an FAQ, supervisory training materials, and more.

Leadership and Talent Development in the Office of Human Resources developed resources to help supervisors build the skills needed to make these decisions and manage flexible teams. Training resources and other supervisory materials are currently available on the Work. With Flexibility. and at supervising.umn.edu. More information on supervisory training is forthcoming.

We recognize the incredible strength and patience you summoned during the past year as we navigated uncharted waters. Amazingly, we are entering new territory once again—a post-pandemic reality—that undoubtedly will require continued patience and agility, at least for the near-term. For that, we are grateful. We also are hopeful that this new phase brings great excitement for the future of work at the University.

For specific questions about the systemwide guidelines, please contact your supervisor or HR representative.


Lendley C. Black

Mark Yuran
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Campus Culture and Climate

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we come to the close of another academic year, I gratefully acknowledge your outstanding work through challenging times. I am always impressed and inspired by the dedication of this campus community. In the face of a pandemic, UMD students, faculty, and staff continued to excel as you adjusted to new ways of teaching, learning, research, and public service. Many thanks for all you do to advance the mission of UMD and the University of Minnesota.

This year also reminds us of how much work we have yet to accomplish. The tragic killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright, and the protests, public debates, and racial and social justice conversations that followed, call upon us all to renew our commitment to a safe and welcoming environment at UMD that stamps out injustices and insensitivities. That means making it clear that racism, sexism, and all other forms of hateful behavior have no place here.

That responsibility begins with me. Last July, I outlined seven diversity and inclusion action steps to spur change at our campus. As the embedded status reports reflect, we have made those actions a priority, from engaging Dr. Cedric Alexander on a campus-wide community policing conversation to hiring initiatives to curriculum reassessment to meaningful training initiatives. In March, I spoke frankly with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics about the need to work on culture. Indicative of my expectations, that memorandum details the steps being taken to not only deter bias and prevent misconduct, but also to inspire positive changes.

There is much more we need to do, and I need your help. As we join the rest of the country in examining the ways we have contributed to the problem, overtly or implicitly, I ask you to join me in contributing to the solution. Those of us who are supervisors are expected to lead the charge to stop all forms of sexual misconduct and to stop microaggressions, as well as overt forms of intimidation and abuse, that can seep into the workplace if those in positions of authority do not set the right tone. None of us can be bystanders to injustice. Please continue to advocate and promote gender equity by calling out and reporting sexist and other inappropriate behavior.

We will continue to provide our campus community with training, development, and programs to support and raise each other up. Do not treat training as simply a requirement to be fulfilled. Employ what you learn. Do your part to check insensitive comments and talk with your colleagues as to how we can improve. Report improprieties. And these efforts need to be continuous.

Before the end of May, all systemwide employees are expected to complete a required employee educational module titled Preventing Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, and Retaliation. The newly formed UMD Sexual Misconduct Prevention Committee combines the work previously performed by two separate groups (the Sexual Violence Response Team and the Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Dating Violence Committee) into one committee with a renewed focus on prevention.

There are a variety of other programs and activities occurring around campus to support us on this journey. We will continue to engage in ongoing actions and initiatives to improve climate and culture, and we are exploring others. There is not a single solution or action we can take to ensure a safe and welcoming climate here at UMD, it will require addressing this issue from all directions. But we will remain committed to that goal.

Finally, please know that I always welcome your suggestions and recommendations. As I mentioned in the memorandum to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics: “Our culture cannot be changed quickly, nor can the progress we have made to date be seen as ‘solving’ an issue. We are committed to working with you, day in and day out, to seek prevention, transparency, and justice that makes our community stronger together.”

Thank you for joining me in this most important of University missions.


Lendley C. Black

Monday, April 26, 2021

Reminder: Faculty, Staff and Years of Service event - April 28, 2021

 Dear Faculty and Staff,

Please join us for the Faculty, Staff, and Years of Service awards ceremony. Faculty and staff award winners from both 2020 and 2021 will be honored. You can find those names listed here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
3:00 - 4:00 pm

Awards include:
John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising (System Award)
Undergraduate Faculty Advisor Award
Graduate Faculty Advisor Award
Tezla Teacher/Scholar Award
Outstanding Staff Awards
Outstanding Staff Team Award
Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching
Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Research/Creative Activity
Faculty & Staff Years of Service Awards for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40+ (2021 only)

Please register at z.umn.edu/facstaff2021 and join us in celebrating the accomplishments of our UMD employee community!


Lendley C. Black

Friday, April 23, 2021

Correction Regarding the Senior Advisor to the President for Native American Affairs

Correction to yesterday's message regarding the Senior Advisor to the President for Native American Affairs.

Last week, the University announced Karen Diver, Director of Business Development for Native American Initiatives at the University of Arizona, as a finalist in our search for the University's inaugural Senior Advisor to the President for Native American Affairs. Ms. Diver addressed her vision for the University of Minnesota and answered questions from our community in a public presentation last week. Please take a moment to provide your feedback on her candidacy, as your voice is critically important to the role and our work as an institution. The deadline to provide feedback to the Search Committee is Monday, April 26.

Thank you and we apologize for any confusion.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Updates: Vaccines, Sr. Advisor to the President for Native American Affairs, International Travel

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I have just a few brief updates for you today.

Vaccine Availability
All Minnesotans age 16 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This news brings optimism for summer gatherings with family and friends, followed by a successful return to more typical in-person operations in the fall.

Locally in Duluth, both Essentia Health and St. Lukes have available access to the vaccine. As well, this list of weekly St. Louis County vaccine registration links is updated regularly. In the meantime, we must also continue the preventive measures we've embraced. We will continue to wear face coverings and rely on testing, physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings with those outside of our immediate family or friends, and staying home if we feel ill.

Find COVID vaccine information on the Safe Campus vaccine page. The UMD Safe Campus website continues to be a good source of information for campus-related pandemic information.

Senior Advisor to the President for Native American Affairs
The search committee for the University's inaugural Senior Advisor to the President for Native American Affairs recommended Karen Diver, Director of Business Development for Native American Initiatives at the University of Arizona, as a finalist. We will share a link to Karen's public presentation next week when she will address her vision for the Office of Indian Affairs at the University of Minnesota. As part of her presentation, Karen will also address questions from the University community. If you would like to propose a question for Karen to address, please submit your question online.

International Travel
The restriction on University-purpose international travel remains in effect until April 30, 2021. (Note: This restriction does not apply to personal travel.) Depending on the public health situation and guidance from state and national health experts, the restriction may be extended into the spring or early summer. An exception process for faculty, staff, and graduate students who must travel internationally as part of their University research or scholarship remains available. A similar exception process is now available for undergraduate students planning essential University-purpose travel to lower-risk international destinations (defined by University policy as those designated by the U.S. State Department as Travel Advisory Level 1 or 2). Guidance on international travel is available from the U.S. Department of State.


Lendley C. Black

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Derek Chauvin Trial Verdict

 Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Today’s verdict by the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial is an important step in the history of social justice in this country. I ask everyone on campus to take this moment to recommit to social justice and to working to end systemic racism.

We hope that the jury’s verdict represents a measure of accountability and comfort for George Floyd’s family, his loved ones, and the communities that have been impacted by his tragic death — and perhaps a welcome departure from instances where there has been no accountability at all. These tragedies stand as a stark reminder that no matter how much progress we may feel our society has made, we are still far from being a truly equitable and just nation.

I want to point out that today’s verdict does not eliminate or end the trauma that many members of our campus community continue to experience, particularly for those of us who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color. Please know that UMD is here to support you.It’s important that we bring compassion and grace to our interactions. I ask each of you to find ways in which you can hold space with students, colleagues, and peers in your part of campus, to listen deeply and support one another.

We all have roles to play in maintaining a respectful and safe campus environment. If you experience or witness any incidents that undermine or damage a safe, respectful, and diverse campus environment, please report the situation.


Lendley C. Black

Monday, April 12, 2021

UMD Statement About Daunte Wright Shooting

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I would like to echo the words from University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel and the email you received from her about the fatal police shooting in Brooklyn Center last night. As she stated and I wholeheartedly agree with, “Black members of our community face circumstances that put their lives at risk every day. This must stop, but will only end when each of us accepts that we all have a role to play in building a more equitable, safe, and welcoming community.”

As our campus community and our society continues to grapple with these painful realities, you may find yourself feeling discouraged and exhausted. It is a long and difficult road, and one that seems to be full of obstacles as these events keep happening. It is critical that we maintain our commitment to do all we can to address structural and systemic racism and rely on each other to persevere.

The events of last night combined with the ongoing trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin create a confounding space, with numerous uncertainties. While many things are outside of our immediate control, we can support each other, listen to each other, learn and grow, and take action in our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and peaceful responses.

I’d like to remind you of the support resources available and encourage you to engage these resources as needed.As always, if you experience or witness any incidents that undermine or damage a safe, respectful, and diverse campus environment, please report the situation
Lendley C. Black