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Introducing CNS Connect and COVID-19 Recognition for Faculty and Staff

Introducing CNS Connect and COVID-19 Recognition for Faculty and Staff

Dean Goldbart alerted faculty and staff in the College of Natural Sciences to two new initiatives for employees, offering opportunities for recognition and connection.

​My highest priority as dean is maintaining the vitality of the many mission-critical efforts you as members of this community contribute to. All of you are a crucial part of how we deliver educational and research excellence now and into the future in Natural Sciences at UT Austin. Balancing care with our resources and the need to recognize and support our hard-working community, the Dean's Office is launching two new efforts.

Recognition for staff and faculty: Last week, President Fenves and Interim President Designate Hartzell outlined several measures our campus is taking in light of the global economic situation. This week the provost's office offered guidance to the colleges and approved a plan to allow colleges to provide modest college funding for one-time payments to truly outstanding performers in this challenging time.

Most years, fewer than 1% of our staff and faculty are able to receive awards through our staff and faculty excellence awards programs. I am mindful, however, that this year, many in our community are working harder than ever. I have set aside the maximum allowed under the provost's guidelines for one-time payments for individuals whose contributions have profoundly advanced our ability to respond to the COVID-19 challenges. Department and unit leaders will receive more details in the days ahead about our process for these awards, which will be in addition to our annual excellence program so that we can offer recognition for dozens more people than in ordinary years. These awards will be targeted towards individuals whose tireless and imaginative work in recent weeks is helping all of us through these unprecedented times. There are, doubtless, additional deserving people whom we will be unable to acknowledge in this way. Please know, however, that the college fully recognizes all of the contributions our staff and faculty are making.

Bridging distance with CNS Connect events: Like people everywhere, our Natural Sciences community is contending with significant changes in our work routines. I have spoken with many of you who, like me, miss the impromptu discussions after meetings, morning coffee rituals with coworkers and meaningful interactions afforded by a shared workspace.

With the shift to a virtual and remote workspace for many of us and all the challenges that entails, there are ways in which we need each other now more than ever. To create opportunities to maintain and amplify the social aspects of our community, the college is launching CNS Connect, a program that offers new ways to bridge our distance with regularly scheduled community events and support for teams. Life-hack webinars from UT experts like Dr. Kristin Neff, cooking experiences, book clubs and suggestions for teams are among the first offerings. I warmly encourage you to review our upcoming CNS Connect program, and watch for opportunities to sign up via the now weekly college newsletter.

In closing, I am grateful that the college has a solid foundation for coping with challenges and thankful, as always, for everything that you do to advance our work. The other leaders in Natural Sciences and I are committed to minimizing the impact of our current situation on the college's core mission and on all of you, the people who realize that mission.

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Thursday, 29 October 2020

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