Dean Martinez on College Operations March 16-27

This email is a follow-up from the announcement by President Fenves earlier about campus operations beginning tomorrow, Monday, March 16. To provide clarity, and following the spirit of President Fenves’ message:

  1. The University of Texas at Austin campus is continuing its essential operations and core functions.
  2. Wherever possible, staff who can and who have the adequate technology resources to work remotely are expected to do so.
  3. Departments and units are expected to maintain minimum in-person staffing in all work groups necessary for business and operations in the context of the campus being open.

Here, I provide more specific information about how the College of Education will conduct business during this temporary period of time. At this point, our expectation is that these plans will be in place for the next two weeks, before classes resume on March 30. You will soon be receiving additional information about remote and/or in-person work expectations from your chair or unit director.

Our overriding focus continues to center on ensuring, as effectively as we can, the best outcomes possible for all of you and for your students as we respond to the situation and serve UT’s academic, research, and service mission. We consider all faculty and staff positions in the college as essential in supporting this mission.

I want you to know that I understand you are receiving a tremendous amount of information in a relatively short period of time. Some of the messages may be supplanting other messages, and/or may not provide the complete information you need. I know this can be frustrating. These are challenging times, and we are all learning as we go. Please keep in mind our guiding leadership principles as we adapt to the situation:

  • Make data-informed, common sense decisions that are focused on doing what’s best for our community. We will encounter many situations where we have to make quick choices without sufficient guidance or policy precedence. We will follow all guidelines where they exist and do what is right when the guidance is limited.
  • Give grace to one another. Be caring and empathetic. It is reasonable to assume that everyone is doing the best they can to support our community, even as we make mistakes or have to walk back from a decision to respond to changing needs.
  • Be adaptable. Things will continue to change. Some of the plans we are making right now will most assuredly change as conditions unfold and as we learn more. Flexibility is essential.

An overview of the College of Education plan is below, and was developed yesterday in consultation with the college’s leadership team.

  • College Dean’s Team: Among my leadership team (dean and associate deans), one or two of us will be on campus at all times during normal business hours; others will work remotely when not on campus. In addition, there will be administrative support (rotating across a small pool) in the Dean’s Office during normal business hours. Other administrative personnel who work directly in the Dean’s Office will work remotely.
  • Department Chairs: Across departments, chairs will continue to maintain a normal campus presence but will incorporate teleworking where possible. During normal business hours, we will ensure that at least one chair is present at all times. The Dean’s Office will serve as backup for any major decisions that must be made in the event a chair is unreachable.
  • Departmental Staff: Each of our five departments will have one to three on-site staff members present during normal business hours, depending on the size and needs of the department. The staff members who fill this role may rotate. All other staff who are able will work remotely, and we are preparing additional support resources and guidance for them to do so.
  • Research Centers: In most cases, staff members in our research and outreach centers are equipped and able to work remotely as needed. Unit directors will move as many staff members to teleworking as possible. In some cases, all staff in these centers will telework.
  • Development: All development staff will work primarily remotely.
  • Student Affairs: From March 16 to March 20, all academic advisors and related administrative staff will telework. All staff members who are not on personal leave will be available for remote advising and will be teleworking. From March 23 to March 27, there will be one academic advisor present in the office each day, with a rotating schedule. Other advisors will telework and advise students remotely. There will be one front-office staff present in the office every day, and other administrative staff will telework.
  • Business Affairs (includes business, finance, and human resources): For the period of March 16 to March 27, there will be one staff member present in the office to perform duties and complete transactions that must be handled in person. All other staff members will telework. On occasion, these staff will need to come to campus to pick up or process paperwork, but this should be minimal.
  • COE Research Administration: Our college-wide research support unit staff will work remotely. All meetings and consultations with faculty (including those related to grant submissions) will be conducted remotely. During the week of March 23, one of these support staff may need to work on campus at various times to support the onboarding of a new employee in the unit.
  • Office of Communication: This unit will use discretion regarding when a staff member needs to be present in the office during normal business hours; the remaining staff will telework.
  • Information Technology Office: From March 16 to March 20, this unit will likely have the majority of staff working on campus to facilitate transition to teleworking and online course preparation activities across the college. These staff members will exercise social distancing practices. After March 20, staff members will begin to shift to more teleworking, with two to three staff members likely to be on campus at any time to field on-campus IT issues.
  • Office of Instructional Innovation: Staff members in this unit are already hosting online workshops for faculty and staff who will be working remotely. In the next two weeks, they will have one staff member present in the office, and the remaining staff will work remotely.
  • Education Services: All staff members will telework, unless there is a need for a staff person to come to campus to handle a specific issue.

All of you will be receiving two additional emails later today:

  1. An email from your chair or unit supervisor with specific information about how your work group will handle staffing and what you, personally, will need to do on Monday, March 16; and
  2. A college-wide email with details about teleworking resources, including a Zoom training for staff that will be hosted tomorrow by our Office of Instructional Innovation, and expectations for employees while teleworking.

Additional Resources

For questions or concerns that cannot be addressed through the channels listed above, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Frequently check the university COVID-19 (coronavirus) resource page.

As you can tell, a tremendous amount of planning effort is taking place. Many of us are being asked to do things for which we may feel minimally prepared: teaching classes online, working to maintain progress on research during partial closure situations, trying to conduct normal duties from home, etc. Please know that I am so grateful for the work that is being done by each and every one of you. Your passion and dedication are what will get us through these coming weeks. Thank you for all you do.


Charles Martinez