April 19, 2021

A Brilliant New Day

Dear colleagues,

COVID-19 has touched nearly every segment of our lives – changing the way we work, learn, play, congregate, celebrate, and show affection.

One thing, however, remained unwavering: our UCI spirit. While the world shifted, we remained resolute. In many important ways, we excelled. We rose above the pandemic to become stronger, leading our community through this crisis with high-quality instruction and life-saving research and health care. Our public health team guided us through protective measures, testing and contact tracing; faculty embraced innovative teaching and coursework, while their students persevered with remote study; researchers continued to unlock discoveries, including those that aided in the development of COVID vaccines and therapeutics; our staff quickly adapted, some donning masks to work on-site and others uprooting their offices to work from afar; and our health heroes delivered world-class yet compassionate care. I’ve never been prouder of our university and health system, and I thank every one of you for making UCI a leader in our community’s fight against COVID-19.

Now, as we look forward, that UCI spirit will be our guiding light. What we learned and practiced over the last 15 months will set the foundation for the years ahead. We are taking a long-term view, leveraging the lessons of the pandemic to create a better experience for our employees, students and patients. We’re reaching for a new day.

Our next chapter will focus on the needs of our community, utilizing innovative solutions to create a UCI experience that is more satisfying, productive and supportive. Many of us have enjoyed the benefits of remote work, collaboration and health care, while others long for greater in-person interaction. Tomorrow will bring us the freedom to have both – virtual and physical, remote and local, digital and analog – blended in a way that advances excellence.

I asked many of our leaders to seize this new day by imagining a structure that supports flexible environments for work, study and care. While the details are still under construction, the framework for our future stands on the following principles:

  • People first. The well-being and success of our people are always our priority. We believe that our future depends on building a community of diverse, talented and dedicated people who are able to contribute in a way that is satisfying and fulfills their lives. Technology is a powerful tool that helps us meet these goals, keeping us connected, supported and more productive.
  • We strive to create an environment that supports our best work. We recognize that each individual deserves a place to shine, whether it’s on a campus, in a classroom, at a medical office, or at a remote location. We aim to develop an infrastructure that helps you thrive, regardless of venue.
  • Quality will not be compromised. UCI is one of the top universities in the world, and continued preeminence is critical. While we must move forward with greater options for our students, employees and patients, our commitment to enhancing the value of the UC degree, addressing society’s grandest challenges through research and critical inquiry, and providing life-saving health care will never wane.

During the coming days and months, continuing through the summer in preparation for fall, you will hear more about our next steps. Some of the plans build on our pandemic experiences, such as a hybrid workplace and flexible coursework, while others may be completely new. The common thread is that our new day will be designed collectively for you, our community, our patients and our stakeholders.

As our plans take shape, we’re interested in your thoughts. Watch for an invitation to share your ideas and feedback on these and other issues through the Bright People, Brilliant Solutions program. I also invite teams within schools, departments, institutes, centers and offices to begin discussions about what this opportunity means for your particular locations and programs.

I look at the days ahead with enthusiasm and excitement. Our pioneering UCI spirit will lead us through a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to craft a more meaningful, fulfilling, truly brilliant future. I look forward to sharing this adventure with you.

Fiat Lux,

Chancellor Howard Gillman