Nothing is the same. Yet the important things are still the same. The past few months have been intense, stressful and unsettling. Looking forward, I anticipate a long road ahead to get to whatever the new normal is going to be.
What is the same? The university’s mission remains as focused and clear as it’s always been:
- Care for the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and community
- Deliver a high-quality education
- Create new knowledge through research and discovery
- And engage deeply and meaningfully in the communities throughout Wisconsin as the Wisconsin Idea guides
Within the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) and the IT community at the university, our mission remains the same as well. We are a collaborative information and technology community working to enable innovation, support scholarship, and equip the university with high-quality, sustainable technologies and services. That is even more important now.
However, the context in which we work has changed dramatically. Most of us have worked from home for nearly two months, and the people who go to campus are working in nearly abandoned buildings. We are isolated physically. People are managing family care and home schooling, dealing with new forms of stress and uncertainty. Many in our community are not able to work. Others are very busy responding to the demands created by running a fully virtual university, managing remote delivery of courses and changes in research, supporting our faculty and students through these changes.
The past two months have been a time of response, dealing quickly and adeptly with everything that has been thrown at the IT community. While we’re still doing a lot of responding – wrapping up spring semester, planning for summer and fall, updating systems and infrastructure as needs demand – we’re shifting into the time of recovery.
Recovery is in some ways going to be harder than the response. It will take a long time, probably more than a year, to get past COVID-19. We will be physically distant for a while yet, still managing family care. Furloughs have been announced and we anticipate budget cuts, adding to the uncertainty and stress for many.
We will also keep focused and deliver on that core mission, enabling innovation and scholarship through high-quality, substantiable technologies and services. That is what we do, and we will keep doing it, effectively and skillfully. It will be difficult, but we’ve got this.
Within DoIT, we will manage this recovery period in a few ways. First, we were on track with priorities already: providing robust and secure IT infrastructure and services to support the mission of the university. We will make a few adjustments in projects to adjust to the new context.
Most obviously, many of us are working on instructional continuity and services to support remote work and learning, so other projects for these teams may shift. Most other work will continue on schedule. We will listen to university priorities and tweak our plans as needed to support them, though I expect these to be small adjustments given the quality of the earlier response.
Second, we will be as flexible as we can, respecting that many are juggling complex home lives. Some people will be reassigned to priority areas of work to help create the needed flexibility.
Finally, and most importantly, we will continue to be the best partners and colleagues we can be. Let’s take care of our university, our students, and each other.
Thrive. That’s the end goal.