Feb. 9, 2021

Dear UAF staff and faculty,

Now that we are almost a year into COVID-19, we have learned many things. More importantly, we continue to learn, allowing us to better prepare for the coming weeks and months, and for the next academic year.

As we plan for more in person classes, we should be looking for the best of the ways we were before COVID-19 and the ways we have changed because of it. We won’t be the same, and we shouldn’t be. We should be better — better for the students who come from around the world to obtain their education at UAF (virtually and in person).

One thing we have learned for sure is that we don’t know when, or exactly how, COVID-19 will end — if it ever really does at all. The coronavirus’ adaptations may well mean that it is part of our lives for some years, but we have adaptations too!

We must take steps today to prepare for next semester when, hopefully, many students, faculty and staff will transition back to in-person activities. What kind of experience will our students want? What modalities have we learned that achieve learning outcomes better than before? What are some good ways to plan for more in-person classes and activities if the COVID-19 situation is better, worse or the same as it is today?

Our goal is to operate safely, while embracing the changes and opportunity to fulfill our core mission. Reopening UAF campuses for more in-person instruction, layered with safety measures, will help keep our university community vibrant and safe.

The university can be paradoxical. We lead cutting-edge research where things can change in hours or seconds. But we are also an organization that changes our processes with a great deal of deliberation and intent. We need both agility and deliberation to combat COVID-19 and be a vibrant center of learning. COVID-19 will undoubtedly be part of our operating picture for some time yet to come. As we remake our in-person experience, now more than ever, it is important to look ahead with resolve and determination. We make our future today.

Thank you for choosing UAF.

— Dan White, chancellor
facebook instagram pinterest twitter youtube