Words of Thanks, Encouragement and Support for Staff and Faculty

UVA Engineering Staff and Faculty:

We are nearing the end of another whirlwind week. We all hoped to have reached a plateau in the disruption to our personal and professional lives, but have not yet reached it.

There have been many challenges. UVA made the transition to online instruction and directed that we scale back to essential research activities on Grounds. On Monday, the governor of Virginia urged all residents to stay home, closed PreK-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year, and ordered many businesses to shut their doors until further notice. All of these actions clearly are the right things to do, but they add additional uncertainty to our lives. Many of you, including parents of school-aged children and those caring for elderly or sick relatives, spent this week juggling work and new levels of worry in a way you could never have anticipated.

We’re writing today to thank, encourage and support all of you.

We know that you are doing your best to carry on the mission of the school and University under these extraordinary circumstances, and we are so proud of the things you have accomplished in a breathtakingly short period of time.

You helped our students move to online instruction; set up mechanisms to assist them with special learning and technology needs; implemented virtual support structures for students; figured out how to temporarily close offices and labs or scale back to essential activities; and made your own transitions to remote work. On top of all that, many of you found ways to help others, through activities such as donating protective equipment, helping colleagues learn new technologies, or sharing ideas on social media.

This is why #WeAreUVAEngineering, and from our hearts, we say thank you.

We encourage you to be even more flexible and forgiving with yourself and others in the coming weeks. We know engineers and the staff members who work with engineers are driven to do good, but many of us have a lot on our plates right now. Look for ways to make your own and others’ work lives less stressful, such as minimizing meetings and postponing non-urgent tasks. We should not try to move all of our activities online; rather, evaluate each activity and only continue the most critical ones online. Some things just do not need to get done.  

Finally, we’ve developed two new opportunities to support each other and stay connected as a UVA Engineering family, in addition to the news digest you have received via e-mail many days, the blog, the novel coronavirus resources web page and the #WeAreUVAEngineering stories people are contributing on the blog and social media:

  1. The UVA Engineering Virtual Water Cooler – Faculty and staff are invited to join our new UVA Engineering Water Cooler, a casual chat in Microsoft Teams. It’s voluntary. You can join by contacting Elizabeth Mather for the link. Just like when you talk in person with co-workers around the water coolers and microwaves in the break rooms on Grounds, you can chat here about a wide range of topics, from the cool new app that fooled your kids into doing schoolwork to the recipes helping you use up all the stockpiled food in your pantry. Got a tip for when colleagues can find toilet paper at Kroger? Share it here.
  2. Staff and Faculty Zoom Chats – Just like we do periodically in the Rodman Room, we are inviting staff and faculty to join us for a series of hour-long Zoom chats with the deans. We’re scheduling the following sessions as a start, and we will add more depending on demand. We will limit the attendance for each session to around 20 people to allow dialogue. We ask you to choose only one session to allow maximum participation opportunities for others. If you would like to participate, e-mail Lisa Meadows with the date you would like to attend:

Staff Chats

Tuesday, March 31 – 11 a.m. to Noon

Wednesday, April 8 – 1-2 p.m.

Faculty Chats

Friday, April 3 – 3-4 p.m.

Thursday, April 9 – 10-11 a.m.

If you have other ideas for how we can support you in the coming weeks, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Together we will come through these challenges stronger than ever.

Thank you for all you are doing.  All of our best to you.


Craig H. Benson, Dean

Pamela M. Norris, Executive Dean

Michael J. Todd, Executive Associate Dean and Chief Operations Officer