Update from President Kurt Dykstra, April 6, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

As we begin this Holy Week, I bring you greetings, well-wishes, encouragement, and … updates!

I hope and trust that our “new abnormal” is settling in for you – and helping us all cherish even more deeply the human connections that we normally share with one another.

Below is an email that, minutes ago, I sent to our students.  I encourage you to read it, too, as at least some of the information applies to us all.

Let me also offer a few additional “update items” that are relevant particularly to faculty and staff.  As always, in addition to keeping tabs on your email, our COVID-19 page (trnty.edu/covid19) remains the repository of all things coronavirus related.  It regularly is updated – and, I trust, always helpful to you.

The Vacation Calendar Remains Unchanged.
As you will see below in Section “I” of the email to our students, the academic calendar remains unchanged; so, too, is the overall work and vacation calendar.  That is particularly relevant to our schedule for this week, Holy Week.

Our “Work at Home” Situation is now extended Through the Month of April.
Last week, the Governor extended the “shelter in place” order through April 30, 2020.  That means, of course, that Trinity will do so, too.  If you have questions about this policy, please review my earlier message on this topic when the “shelter in place” order was first announced.

Also, a reminder:  If you do need to come to campus to retrieve materials, etc. you must first contact Campus Safety and co-ordinate your visit location and time with that department.  Campus Safety is responsible for ensuring that our buildings are secure.  Additionally, Campus Safety also has primary responsibility at this time for wiping down and sanitizing areas accessed by faculty and staff.  This, of course, is an important and vital task.  Our Campus Safety officers have done a marvelous job of patrolling the campus and now, in a very real way, serve as our front-line COVID-19 staff.  They often serve behind the scenes and always do so with distinction.  Thank you, Campus Safety!

Your Health and Welfare Matter!
For three weeks we have been fully into “COVID-World!”  Sometimes it seems as though it has been longer than that and other times, shorter.  As we move beyond the initial sprint of moving students out, transitioning to on-line learning, and working from home, let me encourage you to care for yourselves!  Do not hesitate to utilize your PTO during these “at home” weeks, even if that simply means taking a day of long hikes or bike rides, completing some serious spring cleaning, curling up with a pile of books and a pot of good coffee, or even enjoying an epic Netflix session.  Care for your spiritual, physical, and mental health – and, if this is your situation, cherish the time with your family.  (Leah and I have noted to one another that having our whole family together again has been an unexpected gift in all of this.)  If you have depleted your PTO and need a day to rejuvenate, please talk with your supervisor.  Trinity, the institution, cares for Trinity, the community.

Hiring Plans and CARES Act
These surely are unprecedented times, as even a cursory scan of the news reveals.  (I, too, am tired of the word “unprecedented” – but I use that word here because, well, it truly is the most apt descriptor!)  Trinity needs to be prudent in this uncertain season.

With the approval of the Board of Trustees, we have implemented a hiring freeze for all open positions.  Any exception to that freeze requires my written approval.  If you have particular questions about the status of a now-frozen open position, please speak with your divisional vice president and me.  As we get more clarity on the length and depth of the coronavirus’ effect on the economy and our industry, we will review this freeze policy accordingly.

Please also remember that we have put into place various other measures to better weather this storm.

Additionally, many of you have heard about the Paycheck Protection Program of the CARES Act (the stimulus package signed into law by the President on March 27).  Trinity’s Administration and the Board of Trustees have been following all of the regulatory scrambling on the eligibility requirements, program parameters, and application procedures for the PPP.  (If you are interested in learning more, both NAICU and our auditors, BKD, have good collections of helpful information.)  As more details are known and there is news to announce, I will provide an update on that program, our ability to participate in it, and what it all means for us.

• • • • •

Thank you for all that you are doing to serve our students, one another, and Trinity’s mission in this very challenging time.  This is not easy – but your efforts are making a difference.

Might I make a strong suggestion that you take time to participate in our virtual chapels on Wednesdays and Fridays?  (Details in Section III of the email below to our students.)  It is good to worship, to gather, and to take a break from our “sheltering in place” routines.  One of the things that I have appreciated about these chapels is that, similar to our in-person gatherings, Erin Pacheco encourages us to take time to enjoy coffee and fellowship together after the service is concluded.  We have wonderful tools to do this, even electronically and at a physical distance.  Let us commit to nurturing the community that has been a Trinity hallmark for generations.

In prayer for all of you.  Romans 12:12.

Kurt D. Dykstra, President

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