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Updates on Student Housing, On-Site Work and STAR Awards

August 23, 2021

Colleagues,

I wanted to take a moment to recognize the tireless work invested by our Division colleagues to secure housing for hundreds of UC Merced students. The challenge triggered by construction delays at the Merced Station off-campus apartment complex called for big decisions and immediate action in a small timeframe. Division staff members met the challenge with professionalism, compassion and unparalleled teamwork. Ensuring every Bobcat who needs a place to live has a home – even if it’s a temporary one – has meant unlocking a cascade of logistical puzzles, from securing spaces at nearby hotels to creating hundreds of keys for on-campus rooms.

Division colleagues in Housing, Dining, TAPS and Procurement have led the way and worked with Residence Education, the Students First Center, POPD and others across the campus community to ensure our students are taken care of. As a result, more than 1,900 students moved into residence halls last weekend, with more arrivals expected between now and the first day of in-person instruction on Aug. 30.

On behalf of the entire Division and, indeed, the entire campus community – thank you.

Now, two other subjects I want to address:

Return to On-Site Work: Because of the housing issue, the start of in-person instruction was delayed, but only by a few days, from Aug. 25 to Aug. 30. The Division’s phased plan for the return to on-site work remains on schedule, with staff employees expected to increase their time on-site from 20% to 40% (over a two-week period) starting today, Aug. 23.

I know some of you are hesitant to increase your on-site time due to the elevated health measures seen on campus and across the U.S. because of the coronavirus’s Delta variant. But I want to emphasize that members of the campus community have done an incredible job of protecting each other. According to current data, 83% of staff and faculty are fully vaccinated. For resident students, the number is about 91%. That’s an amazing response.

Yes, the corresponding vaccination rate for Merced County is about a third of those levels. But the university’s location, set apart from the surrounding community, plays to our advantage. Please keep that mind – and please continue to support each other by following guidance on face coverings and physical distancing. And be sure to read the Do Your Part Digest email each Friday for the latest information.

On a related note, we tracked down answers to your questions that we were unable to fully address during the DFA Open House in July . A list of those answers can be found here .

STAR Awards: After a year’s absence because of the pandemic, the annual STAR (STaff Appreciation and Recognition) Awards have returned. The awards recognize extraordinary contributions above and beyond an employee’s established day-to-day job responsibilities. Employees can be nominated by a supervisor, manager or department head. This PDF provides more details about the DFA STAR Awards process. For DFA employee nominations, please submit completed individual or team nomination forms todofa@ucmerced.edu no later than COB Friday, Sept. 10.

Be well,

Kurt Schnier, Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer