Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dear members of the Department of Chemistry community,

During the last week our campus community has been turned upside down and called on rethink so much of how we conduct our business at the university. It has been amazing to witness how our department has come together to tackle the challenges before us. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to our amazing Professors of Teaching, Amanda Holton, Kim Edwards, and Renée Link. I have been inspired by their leadership, creativity, and patience as they have worked on the front lines to bring us elegant solutions to the complicated problems of shifting our entire teaching program online on very short notice. While the spring quarter will not proceed as we would have liked, I am very optimistic that we can make it a productive and worthwhile term for our students. I thank all the faculty, graduate students, and staff who are working hard to realize this goal.

In keeping with the guidance we are receiving from the campus administration and the Centers for Disease Control, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all of our spring events and seminars, including the department’s biggest celebration of the year, our annual Lee Event. The Lee Event is the one time when all of Chemistry comes together, which made canceling a difficult decision, but we know that doing so is the right thing to do given the circumstances. This will not stop us from finding a way to recognize the recipients of some of the department’s most prestigious awards; we will just have to use electronic means this year.

Our administrative and student affairs staff are working hard to transition to a remote working environment should the need arise. All administrative functions are continuing as normal and staff are able to switch to working remotely at a moment’s notice. I ask that you be patient with the staff as they make these transitions. Please be assured that the department office will continue to serve whether it is in a physical or virtual space. Under normal circumstances, our staff works very hard to make the department run smoothly. I applaud all of the staff members for working extra hard to deal with the additional demands that have recently arisen.

The safety of our staff, students, and faculty is of utmost priority. We urge everyone to take all precautions to guard against infection, and to stay home and seek medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms.

We are working on back-up plans in case of illness of faculty, teaching assistants, and staff.

With gratitude and best wishes, on behalf of the department,

Doug Tobias

Professor and Chair