First and foremost, we want to thank you for your commitment to Seattle U and your hard work in keeping the university operational during the unprecedented past 15-plus months. A special thank you to all our essential workers who have been present on campus during this time.
As previously announced, we are looking forward to fully opening our campus and welcoming students for the fall term. It is important to note that Seattle University and all higher education institutions in Washington are awaiting guidance on the fall from Governor Inslee, which we expect to be issued soon. In the meantime, with COVID-19 vaccines readily available and K-12 schools reopening in the fall, it is prudent for us to move forward in our planning with the understanding that our efforts will be informed and guided by requirements and recommendations from the governor, public health officials and regulatory agencies.
Flexible Work Options for Fall
The emergency workforce requirements we put in place in March 2020 for staff to work remotely full-time (except for essential workers) will no longer be in effect come fall. Working in a full-time remote capacity will only be available in certain roles where in the judgment of the university it is not necessary for the role to be performed in-person or on-site to be effective. An example of this might be colleagues in the Information Technology Services division. In addition, the university will provide workplace accommodations as needed for individuals with underlying medical conditions or disabilities. Accommodations could include use of private office space where possible, provision of additional PPE, change in shift assignment, continued remote working or personal leave time. Staff should contact HR directly to discuss workplace accommodations.
While working remotely full-time will not be our primary mode of operation in the fall, we recognize that many staff roles are amenable to some degree of remote work and that many colleagues have expressed a preference for doing some of their work virtually. A task force (listed below) has been created to develop criteria and guiding principles for flexible work schedules for the fall.
Upon publication of the approved workplace flexibility criteria, each work unit will be asked to develop a staffing plan that takes into consideration state requirements, service to our students and the need to support our staff and offer flexible work options where and when possible. Area leaders will approve the staffing plan prior to implementation.
More information on staff planning for the fall will be shared in the coming weeks. Here is a summary of the process.
- June: Taskforce develops fall staffing proposal, including criteria and guiding principles for remote work options, for Cabinet approval
- July: Supervisors receive tools, meet with direct reports and create department plans for area leaders’ approval
- August: Begin phasing in fall staffing plans by work unit
- September: Complete phasing in fall plan for staff by work unit
The transition to in-person operations for the fall will be a significant adjustment for all of us. Please know that the task force and the university are committed to a plan and process that addresses to the greatest extent possible the needs and concerns of our staff.
Review of Flexible Work Options for Long-term
In addition to developing a staffing plan for fall, the university will undertake a review of options for flexible staffing in the long-term. All our planning for the coming months and beyond will continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our campus community.
In responding to the pandemic, we have demonstrated a strong institutional capacity for flexibility and working virtually. At the same time, we know that for many aspects of university life, there is no substitute for being, working and interacting in-person. As we plan for both the short-term and the long-term, it is important that we strike the right balance of in-person and remote operations to best meet the needs of our staff members and the responsibilities we have to our students and one another as colleagues.
Vaccinations are Key
Vaccinations are a critical component of our planning and, as announced today, faculty and staff are required to get vaccinated for the fall. Please complete your vaccination as soon as possible and submit verification by attesting to your vaccination status through the Safe Start registration no later than Sept. 6, or Labor Day. (More than 50 percent of faculty and staff have already registered their status.)
In the coming weeks, we will continue to share updates on the university’s opening plans. We will also update our polices to reflect the latest requirements as they become available. We thank you again for your work on behalf of Seattle University and its mission and look forward to seeing you on campus and welcoming our students in the fall.
Timothy P. Leary, Executive Vice President
Campus Opening Co-Chair
Shane P. Martin, Provost
Campus Opening Co-Chair
Workplace Flexibility Taskforce
- Michelle Clements, Taskforce Co-leader, Human Resources
- Leann Wagele, Taskforce Co-leader, School of Law
- Maggie Ricketts, Project Leader, Human Resources
- Brittany Goff, Student Financial Services
- Carol Lwali, Career Engagement
- Dawn Madore, Facilities
- Diane Fishel-Hall, New and Continuing Studies
- Dion Wade, Campus Services
- Eunice MacGill, General Education
- Kent Koth, Center for Community Engagement
- Jan Hartley, Lemieux Library
- Joelle Pretty, Student Academic Services
- Madhu Rao, Albers
- Mallory Torgerson-Preuitt, Undergraduate Admissions
- Morgan Frost, ITS
- Paige Powers, Human Resources
- Rosie Sabaric, Marketing Communications
- Travis Nation, ITS