Thanks to Penn Staff for the Past Semester and Thoughts on Planning for the Fall
May 20, 2020
With the spring semester and Commencement now behind us, we wanted to reach out to every member of the Penn staff to offer our profound thanks for the extraordinary job that all of you have done in helping the University navigate the enormous challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are blessed at Penn to have the finest, most resourceful and dedicated staff of any university in the country. Every day our hearts swell with pride when we see firsthand the work that staff have done to keep the University operating in the midst of this pandemic. In just a matter of days you were able to depopulate the campus, assist students in returning home and care for those who couldn’t, help establish classes online, quickly adapt to telecommuting, continue serving our patients, and carry on all of the functions of the University.
It was a Herculean effort, made possible only by your commitment to do the best for those we serve.
You were able to do this while simultaneously handling the many personal and family challenges brought about by the pandemic, often serving as tutors for children and caregivers for loved-ones, while also being mindful of your own personal safety. That you have done this all with such grace and selflessness is a testimonial to the character of the people we work with every day at Penn.
As we now look ahead, we have formed a Recovery Planning Group that is examining the different scenarios for how we might offer education in the fall and restart our research enterprise. Their work is driven by our strong commitment to ensure the safety of everyone in the Penn community. We all want to return to normal campus operations as soon as possible, but government directives allied with health considerations may necessitate delaying various features of normalcy for some period of time. We are confident we can begin a phased process for reopening labs that can begin soon. In planning for the fall for our students, we are considering a range of scenarios. Whatever decision is ultimately made, it is clear that even if students return to campus, the needs for social distancing will necessitate many changes, including remote instruction for some of our courses.
The challenge that Penn faces in the coming year is unique in its nearly 300-year history. Despite the significant financial impact this pandemic has had on the University, please know that we are deeply committed to doing everything possible to support our faculty, staff, students, patients, and all who are part of the Penn community. Navigating the year ahead will require all of us to be creative, flexible and resolute. With the best staff and faculty in the country, we are confident that Penn will lead the way forward.
Our thanks to all of you who are part of our Penn staff for everything you do and for what we know will be exceptional achievements in the year ahead.
Amy Gutmann, President
Wendell Pritchett, Provost
Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President
J. Larry Jameson, Dean, Perelman School of Medicine and Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania for the Health System