Take care of yourselves, but let's also look ahead

Faculty and staff, I hope that each of you is safe, that your loved ones are safe, and that your house is (mostly) ok. I hope you finally sleep tonight without being awakened by blaring emergency alerts or general anxiety. For those who stayed, I hope you can quickly find a way to get to a place with power and internet and the sweet blessings of air conditioning. For those who left, once we’re allowed to move around, we can help each other check on your homes.

Please check in – with your supervisor or department chair or dean. We want to know that you are ok. I had hoped that we could connect people with extra rooms with those of you who suffered damage, but given the power situation, we’re all disrupted. Let us know how bad it got and how we might help each other. We know that some of you lived far closer to the center of the storm. We know that some of you farther away had the bad luck of a tree that fell in the wrong direction. And we know that all of you have gone through too much.

Personally, I think we should all take a few hours to drown in self-pity, for the exhaustion and unfairness of it all. Another hurricane, and in the midst of a global pandemic. My nine-year-old daughter declared it “unacceptable,” and is having some serious conversations with God. 

But after we wallow for a bit, we pull it together – as we must. Our students come from all over the country and the world, and some will be worried about what they’ve gotten into choosing our glorious and frustrating city. Worse, some of our students undoubtedly lost their family homes (as have some of you) and will be struggling. We cannot let this derail their lives. We have to be there for them and for each other.  

Please take this week to focus on taking care of yourself and your family. We will begin work (and teaching) virtually soon thereafter. We hope not having to worry this week about work will also give you some time to get organized and be in a place from where you can communicate. I also want to assure all of you that everyone will get paid per usual this Friday, so please take that worry off your plate.  

For anyone determined (or forced) to stay, we are also working on powering the library with generators as a place with internet and air conditioning where you might work.

For faculty, the Provost will be in touch with the details, but we need to start teaching virtually by Monday September 13th. We can make up for those missing two weeks by adjusting the fall schedule (canceling fall break, extending the semester by one week, and possibly a few Saturday classes). But we just can’t leave students hanging for longer than that. We hope you can get to a place of comfort and internet shortly to make that possible. And my hope is we’ll be back in person shortly thereafter.

For staff, take this week to get situated and then we will also begin to work virtually (something we’re all too good at now) after the Labor Day holiday, so Tuesday September 7th. If your circumstances won’t make that possible, reach out to your supervisor so we can help.  

And for all of the “essential employees,” who have yet to stand down, we are so grateful. To those who guarded campus, cared for and fed our students huddled in the residence halls, communicated constantly to worried parents, handled countless administrative tasks, and those now quickly repairing damage – and for the leadership team that has held post – we owe you so much, especially the chance to rest soon.