Flexibility and Creativity to shape our Future

By Office of the President

Wednesday, 04 29 2020

Members of A&M-San Antonio Community:

Our campus continues to exhibit the flexibility and creativity that allowed us to successfully transform the spring 2020 term. As state and local officials initiate efforts to ease COVID-19-related restrictions, the A&M System is also considering various scenarios and operational plans for the fall 2020 semester—certainly, with conditions and caveats we could not have imagined possible prior to this pandemic.

I continue to be confident in the capability of our campus leaders to navigate a still uncertain future, while protecting the health and safety of the university community. My continued discussions with various governance groups keep me informed about matters of importance to our university community and will likewise inform our plans for reopening. The campus community has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to improvise and that will serve us well as we rise to meet the challenges ahead of us.

Today, in an effort to help us be as fully prepared for the future as possible, I am launching two efforts to address planning and preparedness for a gradual return to on-site operations and for a fall semester for which we have no precedent:

  • Campus Reopening Task Force: This short-term task force will consist of a subset of the COVID-19 Risk Management Group and include other subject matter experts and functional area and governance group representatives. In accordance with A&M System guidance and consistent with the Governor’s directive of April 27, 2020, A&M-San Antonio will reopen to on-site staff work in three phases, beginning May 18. The task force will advise on our reopening plan and deliver its recommendations to the Office of the President by May 8. As we plan and prepare for a gradual return to on-site operations for staff, we will remain in operation with essential personnel only on campus through May 15; guidance about phase one of the reopening will be provided after the task force completes its work and prior to May 15.
  • Blueprint 2020: Preparing for Fall – A safe and healthy campus: Blueprint 2020 is an initiative led by the Division Vice Presidents to develop a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan to safely return to in-person delivery of academic programs and student support services in fall. Convened by the vice presidents, four subcommittees will inform the plans for meeting the instructional and operational challenges for fall 2020, with an emphasis on protecting the health and safety of the campus community and supporting students’ academic success. The group is also charged with contingency planning, to prepare for the possibility that public health conditions may limit our ability for in-person delivery of courses. I anticipate receiving recommendations from this group in late May and announcing tentative fall plans in June.

You can expect your divisional vice president to schedule a Q&A session to address your questions and concerns about the efforts outlined above.

One unfortunate certainty during this time is the impact of COVID-19 on the fiscal health of businesses and organizations—and higher education is in no way immune. As we strive to provide the best academic experience possible for our students during this challenging time, we must also prepare for the realities of the fiscal impact of COVID-19. Last week, I met with the University Resources Commission and shared preliminary information about our FY20 and FY21 budget scenarios, as well as several necessary fiscal strategies already implemented to mitigate the budget shortfall that may result from the pandemic’s likely impact on the economy and on enrollment.

We know that COVID-19 and its impact will remain with us for the foreseeable future. Our campus will continue to adapt to maintain the health of our students, faculty, and staff. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now, that I know better, I do better.” While none of us would have asked for the lessons learned by experiencing a global pandemic, I am confident that we will be stronger and better as a result of our collective efforts in the face of daunting circumstances. As always, I welcome your suggestions and insights; please do not hesitate to reach out. 

Stay well,

Cynthia Teniente-Matson