Virtual town halls address student, employee questions about return to campus

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis hosted virtual town halls for students and employees recently to answer questions related to UIC’s Circle Back to Campus Plan for fall 2020.

About 225 students participated in the virtual town hall Aug. 6, and more than 1,300 employees attended the virtual event Aug. 11. The student town hall is available on YouTube, and the employee town hall will be available next week on the UIC YouTube channel.

During the Aug. 6 town hall, university leadership provided updates and answered questions from students via Zoom. Panelists included Amiridis; Susan Poser, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Rex Tolliver, vice chancellor for student affairs; John Coronado, vice chancellor for administrative services; Dr. Richard Novak, professor and head of infectious diseases; and Wasan Kumar, president of Undergraduate Student Government. Oscar Rodriguez, associate vice provost for academic and enrollment services, moderated the panel.

Panelists addressed issues related to health and safety, academics, campus life, and more.

“This is a unique situation — this is something that none of us has experienced in our lifetimes,” Amiridis told students. “I have a lot of empathy, especially for the freshmen. I know that this is not how you were imagining your first year in college. If it is any consolation, the only thing I can tell you from my own experience is that overcoming difficulties makes you much more resilient later in life.”

“This is a pandemic, but I feel confident that we’ve created a safe academic environment for our community,” Coronado added.

Joining Amiridis, Coronado, Poser and Tolliver in the employee town hall were Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs; Joanna Groden, vice chancellor for research, and Dr. Susan Bleasdale, associate professor of clinical medicine and medical director of infection prevention and control. Theresa Mintle, interim vice chancellor for public and government affairs, moderated the panel.

Panelists addressed issues related to health and safety, facilities and parking, the employee experience, campus research, teaching resources, and more.

During the Q &A session, faculty and staff asked questions ranging from transportation and parking to wellness and mental health. The campus has resumed transportation services and buses and shuttles are now running on a revised schedule and with reduced capacity that follows COVID-19 safety guidelines. Individuals who may need to drive to campus occasionally may benefit from the new Value Card Parking Program. Additionally, if you are seeking wellness or mental health services, there are a variety of resources available for students and employees.

“I want to start by thanking you all for the efforts that you have made over the past five months to keep UIC going and fulfilling our mission of education, research and engagement in Chicago,” Amiridis said. “The overall response has been remarkable, and it wouldn’t have happened without the contributions from everyone that is involved in the university.

“All of our efforts over the last five months have been guided by two principles: How can we best fulfill our mission and continue to serve our students and our patients and cover their needs and at the same time how can we best protect the health and safety of everyone involved?”

Answers to frequently asked questions related to UIC’s return to campus for fall semester are also available online.

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