President Bob Iuliano addresses College employees about compensation, returning to campus for work, and his appreciation for their contributions during the pandemic.
First, let me begin with a heartfelt thanks for your tremendous contributions in helping the College through the pandemic this year. It’s been a time like no other, and so many of us were asked to go above and beyond our traditional campus roles. I know this year hasn’t been easy and that it’s weighed heavily on many of us. I am forever grateful for the great work you’ve done. I am increasingly hopeful that the coming months will present a renewed sense of normalcy and will allow us to get back to doing the things we most enjoy, both at Gettysburg College and in our personal lives.
For those of you who were at our in-person Commencement ceremony, you were likely reminded about what a return to that sense of normalcy can mean to the community. The energy and enthusiasm at the stadium was powerful, brought about in part by our simply being together in one place. As our festivities concluded, I saw graduates and parents embracing; members of the faculty and staff receiving Stoles of Gratitude; and a joy and camaraderie that has long been so synonymous with this special place. I hope that we will all carry these fond memories with us as we enter the 2021-22 academic year.
As important as expressions of appreciation are, I also recognize that the past year has been challenging to employees and their families financially. In acknowledgement of that reality, and the enormously good work you all have done to help the College through this unprecedented time, all benefits-eligible employees who have been employed with the College for six months will receive a one-time appreciation award in their July 30 paycheck. For full-time employees, awards will range between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on compensation levels.
As we look ahead to our next academic year, we do so with a careful eye on the financial context we have discussed as a community. The structural challenges I have noted remain, but the progress on the strategic plan and the discipline shown by the community this past year signal important and promising paths forward. As that work progresses, and as other financial variables come into clearer focus, the College will continue to assess the possibility of additional steps to improve our employees’ total compensation.
Returning to Campus
I next want to preview our plans about returning to campus, but before I get into those details, I want to remind you—and, candidly, to urge you—to take time off this summer. The two additional days associated with Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, together with the extended Thanksgiving break last fall, were intended to acknowledge the implications COVID has had on all of us. But there is no substitute for a more sustained break and the rejuvenation it can provide.
As you know, Human Resources has been collecting employee COVID-19 vaccination records. Both on campus and in the Adams County area, vaccination rates continue to increase. With vaccination efforts well underway, we will soon begin the process of asking employees to return to campus to work. Over the past 15 months, we’ve urged employees to work from home if they are able, but many of our employees—specifically those in student-facing and student support positions and in our facilities and dining areas—have been on campus for the past year. As we prepare for a fully residential fall experience, with our entire student body back on campus, it is important that we have our workforce back on campus as well.
Beginning today through July 30, employees working remotely are welcome to return to campus as they wish, adhering to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance. Then, no later than July 30, employees who have been working remotely will be asked to return to campus. These decisions are in line with the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance that states that effective May 31, 2021, all COVID mitigation orders regarding capacity and distancing will be lifted. Please note, employees no longer need to wear masks outside while on campus, but we are still currently requiring employees to wear masks indoors as they navigate through buildings or are in close proximity of another member of the community.
We understand that some Gettysburg employees have thrived in a remote or hybrid working environment. To that end, the College will conduct a broader review of our remote work policy beyond accommodations for individual needs. A working group will be formed to reflect on what we’ve learned this past year, listen to community views, and present a recommendation to me for a longer-term remote work policy. The group will start their work in July.
On behalf of the entire community, I want to acknowledge and to thank the staffs from Facilities, Dining, Public Safety, College Life, Health Services, and other departments that have been working on campus throughout the pandemic—and the many faculty members who did so as well. They navigated the special challenges of being on campus during the pandemic, and did so safely and with an abiding commitment to our students.
Again, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you for what you’ve done throughout this trying academic year. At their core, colleges and universities are simply a collection of people—people applying their commitments, their talents, and their good thinking to this College and our remarkable students.
Since joining this community, and vividly throughout the pandemic, I have been moved by you—the people who make Gettysburg College truly what it is. Thank you for all that you do and, most importantly, for who you are.