Professional News

The Sacrifices of Our People

photo of Bowman the Wildcat at Wildcat Alumni Plaza wearing a mask during covid pandemic
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2020) In an email to University of Kentucky staff and faculty Thursday, Oct. 22, Presdient Eli Capilouto expressed concern and encouragement for the employees who keep the university moving forward during the pandemic.


Dear Campus Community,

The Fayette County School Board announced last night that it will continue at-home or non-traditional instruction (NTI) as the primary mode of learning for most students in public schools until the winter break. The hope is to open up to more traditional approaches in January.

To be sure, the school board and leaders made the best decision they could with the best information they have, all in the hopes of keeping everyone healthy and safe. However, we also know that every decision like this one — whether the school board’s to remain largely online or the university’s to re-start operations this fall — puts even more on the shoulders of those whose work and effort make it possible for our institutions to function.

I have had many conversations across our university in which faculty and staff have shared how hard they are working, both at home and at work. Please know how much I admire and appreciate the energy and effort our faculty and staff are investing into each and every day. Your resilience and resolve have made it possible for our students to learn, for vital research to continue and for life-saving care to be extended to those who need it most, while also doing all you can to support your loved ones and take the best care you can of yourself.

In the wake of last night’s announcement, I want to take this moment to remind supervisors, managers and unit leaders that the determination of our UK employees needs to be met in equal portions with an extension of grace and understanding.

Yes, work must continue. We have 33 days to Thanksgiving break and, while our results on campus continue to be promising, we know the virus is surging through much of the state. We must also commit to a sense of understanding and collaboration, as so many members of our community are struggling to balance the needs of work and life. We must find ways to be both committed and compassionate as a community — now more than ever. You already have shown that this is possible. Your commitment to each other throughout this challenging time fills me with hope.

I know what is being asked of you and each other is neither easy nor fair. Many of you are parents. You are trying to juggle the seemingly impossible tasks of parent, teacher, colleague and a million other roles that, even without a pandemic, placed strain and stress on you and your loved ones. Others of you have some or all of those roles and also, at the same time, are trying to care for loved ones, near and far, who are more dependent upon you now.

I wish I had a crystal ball that would allow me to assure everyone that all will be right in only a few more weeks. I do believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. A vaccine will be developed; we treat this insidious disease better each day, and we know the best prevention steps that work in mitigating COVID-19’s spread. What I do not know — what no one does — is when all of those positive developments will merge in such a way that our lives return to some sense of normalcy.

It will happen; we just are not there yet. It is one more reason that we must lean on each other even more right now, as a community that cares. And, to that end, I encourage all employees to take advantage of the mental health and other work-life resources available to you through UK Human Resources. Learn more here.

We will get through this together.

Eli Capilouto