The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed the following from Chancellor Michael Alexander to faculty and staff on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
Dear UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff,
I realize that not all faculty and staff were able to attend our most recent Coffee Break conversation. Since that event, I have been asked by some faculty to send a note to campus to ensure that everyone understood my viewpoints on a number of current topics. During this time, I know that communication is key and would like to do my best to reiterate the points I made during the Coffee Break and keep everyone informed. I want to make certain that we retain the atmosphere of trust and positive morale on our campus moving forward. It is vital to the short and long-term health of our institution. I also understand that the recent comments from UW-System have caused great concerns. I will also address those below.
1) The Blueprint put forward by President Cross and the UW-System has not been adopted by the Board of Regents. As such, they are only ideas that were introduced without plans for implementation. UW-Green Bay has a unique mission and vision and we will work with UW System to ensure that we are able to continue on our path to achieving it. The best thing we can do as a campus is to control what we can control, which is to do our best to achieve our mission, recruit and retain students, and be good financial stewards of our resources. To the extent we achieve those objectives, we place ourselves in the strongest position possible to support the faculty, staff, and students at UW-Green Bay.
2) I acknowledge the anxiety about the future of our university and the UW System. As you have already seen, we have taken steps to institute furloughs through this December to preserve our good financial position and mitigate the risks we face as a campus moving forward. We will do everything we can to ensure we retain the outstanding faculty and staff necessary to carry out our mission.
3) I recognize there is still a lot of uncertainty around the fall semester. Unfortunately, I do not see the uncertainty changing soon. However, we have announced our intentions to slowly reopen the campus on July 1 and to hold some version of in-person, hybrid, and online offerings for the fall. I am so appreciative of the tremendous flexibility you all have already shown in readying our campus for possible contingencies. We will use the Federal CARES Act funds to support our faculty and staff to be ready for the “new normal” in the fall. In my opinion, the greatest risk we currently face as a university is to not get this right. A significant drop in enrollment will leave us with no other option than having to make very difficult personnel decisions.
4) I understand that faculty and staff are concerned about their health and safety as we slowly reopen campus. The first priority we have as an institution is the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students. If you have concerns or need accommodations to the way you do your work due to conditions that put you or your loved ones at risk, please contact HR so that we can begin to sort out how to help make sure you feel safe in the workplace.
5) I am fully supportive of academic freedom. The content of every course is fully up to the person teaching it. In these extraordinary times, we must just be willing to adapt our delivery methods to current circumstances and as always, do all we can to give the best educational experience possible to our students.
6) I know the sudden transition to online instruction in March was a challenge for all faculty and staff. I trust faculty and instructors to recognize the unknowns ahead and structure their individual course syllabi to ensure they are prepared for potential shifts in modes of instruction. CATL will provide support to assist faculty in being ready for the fall. We cannot overstate the gratitude we have for our staff and their role in keeping the university moving forward during this difficult time
7) As I stated at the Coffee Break, “I work for you.” We value shared governance, tenure, and academic freedom. We are stronger when we are together and we want to support all faculty and staff to reach their pedagogical, research, creative activity, and professional goals. This in turn helps our students reach their goals and the university to excel.
8) I will gladly listen to any individual faculty, staff member, or any group on campus who would like to share concerns about any issues on campus. All campus leadership will continue to work with Shared Governance Units in addressing any concerns which may arise as we move forward in making UW-Green Bay successful. Each one of you is vital in fulfilling the mission of our university, and I know our campus is at its best when everyone is free to share their concerns and to advocate for working conditions that will make them healthier and more productive. We may not always agree on the best way to solve a problem, but I pledge to always listen to anyone’s point of view and do my best to explain the reasoning on how we are reaching decisions that impact the university.