VandenBosch: Updates on campus operations as of 3/16/20

This message was sent to all CALS faculty, staff and graduate students on 3/16/2020.

In the midst of unprecedented changes to our standard operational practices, I want to thank you for your ongoing patience and highlight current priorities for college activities. We will all have to continue to be flexible as priorities change with the changing overall status.

We encourage all departments and centers to begin to implement plans to work remotely, where telecommuting plans have been put into place. While there remains some time to do this in an orderly manner, please take the steps needed to conduct operations with as little face-to-face contact as possible. This may include new developing telecommuting agreements, where possible. Employees and graduate students who have questions about what is appropriate should consult their supervisors for guidance.

This week, our highest priority is to prepare to deliver courses by alternative methods so our students can continue their learning.

Our research mission continues but we must all recognize the potential for disruption. Investigators should take the time now to consider what can be done remotely, such as preparation of manuscripts and grant proposals, or postponed, versus what is essential to continue. CALS will provide guidance to PIs in subsequent email. Departments and centers should review their continuity of operations plans (COOPs) and individual research groups should also plan and prepare for impacts. PIs should develop individual lab COOPs and a template is available. These plans will be collected by departments and centers.

With the guidance for employees to work remotely whenever possible, many administrative offices in Ag. Hall will not have in-person staffing. I encourage you to contact college administrative employees through e-mail or phone since many of them will be working remotely. Despite that, all essential CALS administrative functions will continue, including business services and human resources, where we continue to receive additional guidance.

  • For those of you who expect new employees to begin in the coming weeks, please continue to make the best plans possible to welcome and on-board them. This may mean setting them up for remote work.
  • Searches critical to ongoing operations will continue, although part or all of the process may occur via distance technologies. Please consult with CALS HR in defining “critical” searches.
  • This is performance review season, and we will allow employees and supervisors to conduct these conversations via distance technologies (e.g., telephone, Webex).
  • As always, the Office of Employee Assistance is available to all employees.

At this time, we believe facilities projects will continue to move forward. However, we do expect work and interactions to change as contractors also respond to COVID-19.

Important university updates continue to be posted at We are using the eCALS website as a hub to post and collect college communications that are also being sent via e-mail. We established a list of event cancellations in eCALS.

I know the current situation creates confusion and frustration, especially due to imperfect and changing information. However, I expect as we settle into new patterns of working and social distancing over the coming days, we will be able to focus more on our most important educational, research and outreach activities. The mission of CALS and the work of all of you remains just as important as ever. Please continue to take care of your health and support others.

Dean Kate VandenBosch