Officials announced they will provide a two-day spring break for faculty and staff Thursday and Friday, citing “extraordinary” burdens brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
University President Thomas LeBlanc, Provost Brian Blake and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz said in an email to employees last week that they hope the holiday will help faculty and staff “refresh and replenish” following a difficult year grappling with the pandemic that moved classes online one year ago. The officials also encouraged managers to find “accommodations” to recognize employees with clinical or public safety responsibilities who need to work through the end of the week.
“You have responded to challenges with support and care for one another and an unwavering dedication to the work we do together,” the officials said in the email. “We recognize the past year brought extraordinary personal and professional strains, and it is important for us all to stop, exhale and recover.”
Employees have borne some of the financial impacts of the pandemic on the University, which has led to a $180 million annual budget gap. Beyond suspending most capital projects and enacting a pay cut for top administrators, officials temporarily stopped employee merit raises and some retirement contributions.
Officials reinstated promotion-related salary increases and base retirement contributions in January with a retroactive contribution for December, but many of the financial mitigation steps – including the suspension of matching retirement contributions – remain in effect.
“We are on the road to recovery and to a post-pandemic world, and we are sure to get there together with reenergized faculty and staff,” the officials wrote in the email.