Thank you to everyone who attended the School of Medicine staff town hall on July 16. My goal was to initiate an important and ongoing conversation about your concerns and questions about returning to campus. Staff support for our education and research mission is essential, and your collective activities this past year allowed us to achieve far more than we might have thought possible when the pandemic began.
As a follow-up to Friday’s discussion, I want to offer a few comments, updates, and clarifications.
While I heard from many of you afterward, it probably will come as no surprise that the first email I received came from VP for HR Carolyn Gregory. She corrected me regarding the timing of the hiring and promotion freeze—it actually lifted July 1. I hope we now can quickly reduce the number of vacant positions within the school.
As important as it is to correct that inaccuracy, I also want to address a few other issues that appeared to emerge from the event. To be clear:
- The university does not expect every single staff member to be physically at the office every single day as of a specific date;
- That said, staff whose roles involve interactions with others—especially our students—should be regularly on campus no later than Aug. 23; and
- We expect the school’s individual departments and units to work with their staff and faculty to determine how best to fulfill that department’s responsibilities.
How will these points work in practice? As I said Friday, the default presumption should be that staff will be on campus by the start of the university’s academic year (Monday, Aug. 23). If individual staff members believe that they can fulfill their responsibilities to the university through a more flexible work arrangement, they should speak to their supervisors.
Supervisors, in turn, should consult with department and unit leaders to discuss how such adjustments might affect their areas’ ability to achieve their mission. School leaders will assess department- and unit-level approaches as part of the university’s review process; details on the latter should be released soon, followed by our own.
We also recognize that some staff members have unique situations that require individual consideration; such requests also should start at the chair or supervisor level, unless they involve accommodations for medical or religious issues, which fall under the Office of Equity’s purview.
I appreciate your patience and understanding as we adjust to yet another change among the dozens that all of us have endured since March of 2020. Please know that I very much value your efforts on behalf of the School of Medicine. We will get through this transition as we have so many others: by working together.
Thank you for all that you do,
Interim Dean, School of Medicine
Director, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director, National Center for Regenerative Medicine