Friday, March 20, 2020

The COVID-19 epidemic is a challenge unlike any we have faced in living memory, and we will all be confronted by our own unique and difficult trials in the weeks and months ahead.

While it may seem like far longer, it was only 12 days ago that the first case of COVID-19 was identified in our state and 10 days ago that we announced a movement to online instruction. Since then, the world has experienced a change that will challenge each and every one of us as citizens of a global community.

University efforts to combat and respond to COVID-19 have so far been led by the Critical Incident Management Team, which has been meeting daily for weeks, and teams of dedicated faculty and staff all across campus that have been engaged on this issue since January.

Every UI organization has been affected by this situation, and University of Iowa Health Care in particular has taken on an enormous burden preparing our campus for these trying times. It is through the determined and conscientious work of many, many Hawkeyes—faculty, staff, students, and our health care workforce—that we are in a position to continue our teaching mission while protecting the health and safety of our campus and the wider Johnson County community.

Now the responsibility has expanded to each and every one of us to protect ourselves and those around us. Together we will beat coronavirus, and together we will bring life back to our campus. The immediate thing we can all do is to practice social distancing. But in our isolation, we must also think about the future. Please work with your team and supervisor to answer the following questions:

  • What can we each do to help our fellow students, faculty, staff, and community members?
  • What do we want our campus to look like when this crisis is over and science has found a solution?
  • What can each of us do to prepare for when our campus is ready to return to full operation?

You neither have to sit back nor feel powerless during this crisis. Talk with your supervisor: If your role allows, please volunteer to take on work that is more critical to the university’s functions at this time. You can do so via Employee Self-Service. And if you are able, consider donating blood at the DeGowin Blood Center.

Now more than ever, institutions like ours are key to the long-term future of our state, nation, and world. Addressing global challenges with fact-based solutions is at the core of our mission, and public research institutions like the University of Iowa can and must be in the vanguard of the long trek back to normalcy.

We have an abiding faith in all of you. We will beat this. Hawkeyes persevere.

Bruce Harreld, president
Montse Fuentes, executive vice president and provost