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President's Welcome and Update

Dear Members of the University of Dubuque Family,

Before the spring 2022 semester officially commences, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of you into this New Year and to thank you for your participation in this Mission known as the University of Dubuque. Together, we have endured much change and challenge over these two years. It has been grinding, difficult, and, at times, even uplifting. I am very fortunate to be associated with such a fine culture and the people, working together, that facilitate the creation of that culture. I am also particularly mindful of our students as I write this brief note. This is the third academic year in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their educational experience. So as we, together, journey through this semester, let us continue to keep our Mission to students front-and-center of all that we do, and all that we attempt to do. We are a faith-based University of teaching and learning and, together, we will continue to have much to teach and learn!

Safe Return for Spring 2022
As we embark on this new semester, we are doing all that we can to normalize our campus experience. As you know, the Biden Administration, through OSHA and the CDC, has provided regular and often changing guidance as it relates to COVID-19 protocols and policies. Because we are a University that receives federal funding, we are required to comply with these policies. Candidly, it is frustrating and nearly impossible; but we must do our best. Updated guidance, including information on anticipated testing for unvaccinated faculty and staff, will be shared soon. Subject to the preceding four sentences, from day one, it has been our intention to provide our campus with the most freedom and options for personal choice while also protecting the most vulnerable members of our University community. We have done a remarkable job of navigating that regularly changing space. So, in a continued effort to protect the most vulnerable among us, face coverings will be required indoors at the University of Dubuque until further notice. We will keep this requirement in place until we get a firm read of our COVID-19 infection levels at the beginning of this semester and, no, there will not be mask police enforcing this policy. As we have previously, I know that each of us will do our best to respect the health and welfare of the most vulnerable among us. Based on previous experience, my expectation is that this requirement should be short-lived. When this requirement is lifted, as we have done since the beginning of the academic year, we will continue to strongly encourage the use of face coverings in most indoor venues.

Smeltzer-Kelly Student Health Center
I am really, really grateful for the Smeltzer-Kelly Student Health Center and for our colleagues that serve the Mission of the University through that important outreach. I want to encourage all students to take advantage of the services offered through the student health center whether that be vaccines, testing, check-ups, medication monitoring, assessments, or counseling. This is both a service and ministry. So, students please, take advantage of this wonderful resource and its wonderful people providing service for your care.

Custodial Services, Grounds, and Maintenance Personnel
I encourage you to join me in giving an extra word of thanks and praise to our colleagues who serve the University's Mission through Custodial Services, Grounds, and Maintenance. Like many places across the country, we are short on personnel throughout campus, and this is especially true in those areas. To serve this Mission, our colleagues are focusing their efforts on those areas which most impact students. Classrooms, residence halls, and gathering spaces receive extra amounts of sanitization and attention that, I believe, is one of the reasons we've been able to maintain an average infection rate of between 1.5% to 2%. And due to this shortage of personnel, offices will not be receiving daily cleaning as in previous years.

Closing Thoughts
Though it's still a little too early to tell, I have a sense that our campus community and LIFE sites will come back from this break excited to be together - but also with an understandable feeling of malaise. "This" has just gone on so long. When will we be able to get back to normal? These feelings and emotions will undoubtedly be compounded by the fact that we are in the beginning of another polarizing year of elections. Rhetoric will be inflamed, passions will be raw, and people will generally be tired and frustrated. I understand. But I also understand that we have a special purpose here at the University of Dubuque. As best we can, we are invited by God to prepare informed leaders to think critically and lead compassionately - both of which are qualities in short supply today. Though I want "normal" to return quickly as well, I also understand that we have prepared for such a time as this. So let's continue to be a place that practices kindness, patience, trust, thanksgiving, and forgiveness - abundant amounts of forgiveness. This epoch in our history will eventually pass and, more than ever, the world will need hopeful and purposeful servant leaders to show it the more excellent way forward.

Mancherlei Gaben Und Ein Geist (Various Gifts and One Spirit),

Jeffrey F. Bullock, PhD