COO Update, September 2017
Many of you have been affected by Hurricane Irma and I hope you and your families are on your way to a full recovery from any impacts you may have felt.
I want to take a moment to commend our UF employees for their tremendous efforts to return our campus, academic calendar and athletic programs to normal. Significant recovery efforts are still underway across our state, and UF has been a part of that effort as well. Our preparation efforts were extensive and I’m relieved to say that I believe they paid off – in no small part due to the endeavors of our dedicated employees who worked tirelessly throughout Hurricane Irma and afterwards tending to the needs of our facilities and our campus community.
All in all, I believe we were quite fortunate in terms of the storm’s impact on our campus, likewise at our off-campus facilities located across the state. Importantly, no serious storm-related injuries involving our students, the emergency operations team, or other employees performing hurricane-related duties were reported.
A new “Aid-a-Gator” emergency funding program has been established to provide limited assistance to UF faculty and staff who are experiencing a temporary financial hardship due to the hurricane and its aftermath. To learn more, including how you can make a donation to help or to apply for assistance, visit http://hr.ufl.edu/aidagator.
Thanks to each of you for your support throughout this significant weather threat that is now a part of the University of Florida’s history. We made it through the storm and are now in a position to get back to the business of being a top 10 public university!
Despite the wet and windy start to the fall semester, there are still a number of exciting things going on in the UF community that I wanted to tell you about.
UF Human Resources’ Benefits Office has released ALEX, a valuable online tool to help faculty and staff explore the many benefits options available to them.
The Physical Plant Division has been rebranded and is now Facilities Services. We believe this new name and renewed focus will help our skilled workers continue to do their very best to maintain and improve the UF environment to ensure it is conducive to learning, teaching, researching and service.
I’m pleased to welcome the university’s new Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Russell Froman, to campus. Dr. Froman came from P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, where he served as Deputy Title IX Coordinator as well as an administrator over Student Life and Behavioral Support. Dr. Froman will lead the university’s efforts to prevent discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation and intimate partner violence.
UF’s Strategic Development Plan continues to move forward in exciting ways.
The recent Plaza of the Americas renovation is the first of several civic spaces we are creating around campus that will be comfortable, inviting areas we hope students, faculty and staff will want to return to time and time again. We have hired a great team of architects and consultants who are collaborating with our Department of Planning, Design and Construction to develop these spaces to be both unique and integrated into UF’s campus fabric.
In the spring, we announced the winners of more than $300,000 in research awards in community-related projects. I’m happy to say that this funding initiative is leading to further collaboration opportunities among faculty members in addition to those who were selected for this round of funding. We had a very productive meeting last month with about 50 UF faculty members who are all conducting research in the greater Gainesville community, and I’m optimistic about the great work that will come out of these collaborations – both for UF and for Gainesville.
We have some exciting news developing around new transportation options coming to Gainesville in the not-so-distant future and I will keep you informed of this joint venture between UF and the City of Gainesville as it develops.
Finally, the 2017 UF Campaign for Charities begins on October 2. I encourage you all to consider giving. UF employees can choose to support one or all of 97 charitable agencies. These agencies provide services ranging from shelter for the homeless – to environmental protection – to support for disease research – to protection for abused children. Since 1989, UF employees have given more than $22,000,000 to area charities through the UFCC and we hope to increase that total by another $1 million this year. For more information or to make a pledge, visit www.ufcc.ufl.edu.
Thank you for all you do to support UF as a preeminent university of which we can all be proud!
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer