Open Letter from the UGA President

We are re-publishing a letter from University of Georgia President Jere Morehead to the faculty, staff and students, as a public service.  We publish it without comment. –The Editors.

To:  UGA Faculty, Staff and Students

From:  President Jere Morehead

Welcome back to campus, class and your office after our extended time away because of weather.  The return to routine is welcomed for most of us.

I want to express appreciation to those who worked, despite the weather, to keep our operations in good shape and to keep our many important efforts from losing momentum.  At the core, of course, is the academic enterprise.  We know many students used the extra time to good advantage to study course materials, prepare projects and remain prepared to return to class as soon as possible.  Faculty members began work immediately adjusting syllabi to assure that course materials are delivered both completely and with the quality we all expect.

While we weathered the storm, some of our students were in New York City capturing a national championship!  The team from the UGA School of Law won the 64th Annual National Moot Court Competition, the oldest and most prestigious moot court competition in the country.  Congratulations to our team of third-year law students Steven L. Strasberg, Benjamin W. Thorpe and Emily K. Westberry.  Mr. Thorpe was named the competition’s best oralist.

Faculty from the Terry College presented the Albany Economic Forecast event as scheduled on Thursday, and throughout the state, UGA continued to serve our many constituents.

On campus, many operations were kept going through efforts of our faculty and staff.  I cannot mention them all here, but we all recognize the excellent efforts of our Facilities Management staff, who kept the buildings operating, campus roads scraped and the sidewalks and steps as clear as possible throughout the week.  Many FMD staff, and personnel from other departments who needed to be on campus this week, stayed in the Georgia Center, whose staff maintained their high standards of service throughout.

Our housing and food services personnel continued to serve our on-campus student residents.  Residence Life staff are our staff who “live where they work.”  Housing desks continued to be staffed 24/7 to meet residents’ needs.  Food services served 33,675 meals to meal plan students while the university was officially closed.  I know we all express to them our appreciation for the extra efforts they took to do so.

The Police Department patrolled and secured the campus under difficult circumstances, watching for any dangers and taking many opportunities to help persons in need.  Research personnel attended to projects that required ongoing monitoring and direct involvement in critical steps that could not stop for the weather.

Across the wide variety of university functions, staff telecommuted from home and kept their jobs up-to-date and operating well.  There were many offices where I’m sure the clients with whom they work were not even aware we were officially closed.  The Boyd Data Center staff worked 24-hour shifts, traveling to campus to make sure all the IT systems, networks and other services remained available to support the many faculty, staff and students who were working from home.

I know UGA staff members are pleased that the payroll office worked throughout the week to assure this week’s payroll was processed on time.  The Human Resources staff continued to counsel clients on health insurance issues, and the architect’s office continued to administer construction projects that proceeded apace even while the campus was closed.  I know of any number of meetings held by teleconference; notable among them is the ConnectUGA project team keeping our implementation of the Banner student information system on track.  Our Public Affairs staff maintained a current UGA home page throughout, providing vital information to the university community regarding our closure.

I realize that in mentioning these few, I am leaving out many.  There are just too many to single out in this brief message.  But I want all of you to know – faculty, staff and students – how much I appreciate the efforts of those who did not take the snow days as a day off, but instead stepped in and worked hard to keep UGA from losing momentum because of the weather.  Our modern technology was a wonderful aid in allowing us to do so, but it is only an aid to the fundamental dedication of so many who worked to keep our energetic and vibrant community going in the face of such a challenge.

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