Return to UNI Steering Committee Announcement

Dear UNI Community,

This past semester has marked one of the most challenging in our university’s history as we protected the health and safety of our community during a global pandemic. We transitioned from 90% in-person to 100% online instruction in a week. Students managed significant disruptions in their living and learning environments, and our faculty and staff stepped up to maintain the personalized touch that defines a UNI education. You should be proud of what’s been accomplished to keep our community together.

This semester reinforced the profound challenges we can overcome, and the opportunities we can seize, when we work as a community. While university leaders are continuing to lay ground for a safe return to campus in the fall, it’s time for us to come together again to plan for the return of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors in the fall semester and beyond.

Today, we are pleased to announce the formation of the Return to UNI Steering Committee. The steering committee will work across divisions to determine how the university can return to on-campus operations while prioritizing the health and safety of all members of our community—employees, students, patrons, and visitors. The steering committee will coordinate the work of seven subcommittees in the following areas: (1) teaching and learning; (2) research and scholarship; (3) student engagement; (4) housing and dining; (5) facilities use; (6) employee health and safety; and (7) community engagement and outreach.  The steering committee will also coordinate with health officials to assure operational plans in each area align with best practices in protecting the health and safety of our community. The committee will provide recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team to inform division- and institution-level scenario planning to ensure actions are integrated and coordinated across the university, maintain a focus on student success, and minimize risk to health and safety of our campus and surrounding community.

The Return to UNI Steering Committee will be chaired by Patrick Pease, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. The UNI Steering Committee Central Command members also include:

  • Marty Mark, Chief Information Officer
  • Shelley O’Connell, Executive Director of Student Health and Wellbeing
  • Joseph Rayzor, Director of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety
  • Amy Petersen, Chair of the Faculty
  • Cassie Mathes, Director of University Relations

The UNI Steering Committee Subcommittee Chairs are:

  • Teaching and Learning: John Fritch, Dean, College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences
  • Research and Scholarship: Jennifer Waldron, Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation and Dean of the Graduate College
  • Student Engagement: Jamie Butler Chidozie, Director, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
  • Housing and Dining: Nick Rafanello, Director of Residence Life
  • Community Engagement and Outreach: Randy Pilkington, Director, Business and Community Services
  • Facilities Use: Theresa Westbrock, Dean of Rod Library 
  • Employee Health and Safety: Michelle Byers, Director, Human Resource Services

Please join me in thanking the Return to UNI Steering Committee members for their leadership and service to the community. And thanks to each of you for the care, patience, and flexibility you continue to show your students and colleagues. It is because of your dedication to the campus community that our university remains strong.

Panther Proud!
Mark A. Nook
President