COVID-19: CHRO email to OAs and classified employees on August 5, 2020

Subject: Engaging employees in fall planning conversations

Dear Colleagues,

The University of Oregon continues to make progress in planning for the safe return to some in-person instruction and on-campus activities this fall. The health and safety of our employees, students, and community members remains paramount to our planning efforts. To that end, we have established safety precaution guidelines for increased in-person, on-campus activities. While the university strives to make its vision a reality, we fully recognize that many UO employees continue to face uncertainties beyond the workplace.

It has become abundantly clear that a global pandemic knows no boundaries and the lines between personal responsibilities and professional obligations are increasingly blurred. Many of you are navigating uncharted territory as you juggle multiple roles often under one roof at the exact same time. I am continually impressed by the perseverance and compassion I have seen across our campus community, and at the same time, know that the demands many of you may be feeling take a toll. That is why university leadership is asking UO community members to take a moment to pause and reflect on what lies ahead so you can take inventory on what your world may look like, personally and professionally, as we move into and through the fall term.

I recently reached out to supervisors and asked them to proactively engage employees in a conversation about their personal and professional needs to identify resources and workplace solutions to help employees find work-life balance. Likewise, I want to encourage you to reach out to your supervisor to collaboratively discuss and explore options based on your personal circumstances. Now is the time to be creative and flexible as we seek out solutions utilizing all available options such as remote-work and flexible-work schedules. Together, you and your supervisor can seek a workplace arrangement that meets your and the university’s needs. I have included a list of resources at the end of this email that may help inform your discussions.

We fully recognize that many of our employees are working parents and the uncertainties for school-age children this upcoming school year presents unique challenges. Please reach out to your supervisor to discuss your needs and collaborate on a plan in light of recent k-12 school district announcements. Many departments have surveyed their employees to inform resumption planning efforts. If you need to update any information previously submitted to your supervisor or department, please do so without concern. Having the most up-to-date information about employee availability only improves the planning process. Connect with your supervisor to determine how best to proceed.

Finally, I want to reaffirm that we are in this together and reinforce key principles outlined in previous emails about employee engagement—take care of yourself and take care of one another. The combined strength we bring to our community and the power we hold collectively to face anything that comes our way. Taking a moment to remember and appreciate that we are part of a larger community is important. After all, ducks are part of a flock, and we keep our flock strong by taking care of ourselves and supporting each other.


Mark Schmelz
Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice President

Employee Resources