Dear University of Portland Students, Faculty, Staff, and Parents,
I write to provide you with an update on the University of Portland’s ongoing response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. I recognize that this communication is lengthy. However, it contains critically important information and I thank you in advance for reading it in its entirety.
The health and safety of UP community members remain our top priorities. Since the onset of the outbreak, leaders from across campus have continuously evaluated and implemented measures to promote the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Their goals have been threefold: (1) reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure among community members; (2) assist community members who have been impacted by the outbreak; and, (3) promote continuity of our University’s academic programs and operations. Throughout our University’s decision-making process, we have considered guidance from public health authorities, members of our Health & Counseling Center team, and best practices in higher education. We have endeavored to make decisions that are data-informed and consistent with our mission. I want to thank all across campus for their tireless, timely, and transparent efforts in responding to this challenge.
In recent days, with the continued spread of COVID-19 in the United States (including in the Greater Portland area), we have determined that additional steps are now necessary to accomplish the three goals stated above. I note that no member of our University community has tested positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, we believe that the following actions are prudent in light of recent local, state, national, and global developments.
Transition to Online Instruction: The University will initiate a transition to online instruction. This transition will occur as follows. Beginning Monday, March 16th, all face-to-face classroom instruction will be suspended. No classes will be held on Monday, March 16th, and Tuesday, March 17th, in order to allow for faculty online class preparations and student travel. Beginning Wednesday, March 18th, all courses will begin to be held online until further notice. Provost Thomas Greene will send guidance later today to all students, faculty, and staff concerning implementation of this transition. Additional academic updates, as well as information on the resumption of in-person instruction, will be provided as appropriate.
Student Room and Board: We encourage students to return to their permanent addresses while this virtual learning environment is in effect. We appreciate that, for many students, returning to their permanent addresses may present a significant hardship. Other student may have specific, compelling reasons to remain on the UP campus. Residence Halls will remain open and key services, including on-campus dining, will be available. Vice President for Student Affairs Father John Donato, C.S.C., will send guidance to students later today regarding further matters relevant to services and support.
Faculty/Staff: For now, the University campus remains open and will operate under a normal schedule for faculty and staff, including business functions and employee working hours. Vice President for Human Resources Sandy Chung will send additional information on flexible work options in the coming days, and Provost Thomas Greene will have further information for faculty members.
Large University Events: In accordance with recently-issued directives from state and local authorities, several signature University events which attract large crowds will be canceled. This includes, but is not limited to, Founders’ Day, the Scholarship Luncheon, Weekend on The Bluff, Rock The Bluff, the “We Are Portland” Student-Athlete Awards Dinner, and the Hawaiian Luau. Attendance at UP on-campus athletic events will generally be restricted to student-athletes, officials, essential staff, and credentialed media; however, all are encouraged to visit the University’s Athletics webpage for further details. Individuals with questions about whether a particular event has been canceled should contact event organizers for further information. At present, there are no plans to cancel the University’s Commencement Exercises in May.
Small Events, Gatherings, and Lectures Sponsored by Departments, Clubs, and Organizations: Smaller events, gatherings, and lectures sponsored by departments, clubs, and organizations will be canceled or postponed until further notice. Smaller events may be allowed to take place on an exceptional basis with advance written approval from the Provost and/or a University Vice President.
Travel: All University-sponsored and/or -reimbursed travel must either be canceled or postponed until further notice, unless a written exception is granted by the Provost and/or a University Vice President. This does not apply to community members who are currently abroad and are traveling back to the United States. Personal travel to international locations is strongly discouraged.
The above-referenced communications from Provost Thomas Greene, Vice President for Student Affairs Father John Donato, C.S.C., and Vice President for Human Resources Sandy Chung, as well as additional information concerning the University’s COVID-19 response, will be posted to the University’s coronavirus webpage as it becomes available. We appreciate your patience and flexibility as resources are added to this webpage over the course of the coming days.
These are difficult times, and I invite you to join me in praying for all who have been impacted around the world by the COVID-19 outbreak. I also ask that you join me in praying for our University of Portland community and for all who labor in support of the safety and well-being of our Pilot students, faculty, and staff. I am confident that through action, resilience, and God’s grace, we will emerge from these present challenges.
As a University guided by the Congregation of Holy Cross, we are called to be people “with hope to bring.” May we now unite in a spirit of hope and an abiding confidence in the value and indispensability of our sacred mission.
Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C.