Faculty and Staff

Important Information for Staff on the University’s Vaccination Requirement, Exemption Process, Return-to-Campus Work Date, and Philosophy on Continued Remote Work

All staff members are kindly asked to read this important message in its entirety. For ease of reference, the key information communicated in this message is as follows: 
  • Employees must submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination by August 2. 
  • Employees seeking an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement must submit an exemption request by July 7. 
  • Generally, UP staff will return to on-campus work on August 2. 
  • Some limited remote work for staff after August 2 will be permitted on an individual basis. 

Dear Staff Colleagues,

For several months, the University’s COVID-19 Steering Committee, Vaccination Task Force, Provost’s Council, and President’s Leadership Cabinet have been engaged in planning efforts as we prepare to return to our in-person campus environment for the Fall 2021 Semester. We thank the students, faculty, and staff who have contributed their expertise, insight, creativity, and dedication to this important work.

We also thank all UP staff members for their patience and understanding as these planning efforts have taken place. We recognize that the past several months have been filled with uncertainty, both personally and professionally. As always, we express our deep gratitude for the many ways in which you have continued to serve our community, especially our students, even while making sacrifices in your own lives.

We write to you now with important information on three matters: (1) the University’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement and exemption request process for employees; (2) our intended return-to-campus work date for staff who have been working remotely; and, (3) our philosophy on continued remote work. We acknowledge that this is a lengthy message. However, we have much information to share with you and we thank you in advance for reading this important email in its entirety.

Please know that further details on these and other issues will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead. The COVID-19 Steering Committee intends to hold a virtual town hall-style Q&A event shortly after the July 4 holiday, and a selection of FAQs will soon be available on the Pilots Prevent website. Once again, we thank you in advance for your patience as plans for the Fall 2021 Semester are finalized.

Vaccination Requirement and Exemption Request Process

On April 27, we announced that all University of Portland students, faculty, and staff will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or obtain an approved exemption. We made this significant decision because widespread vaccination of our campus community is essential to promoting the health of all who study, live, and work on The Bluff.

As a reminder, all University of Portland employees must submit proof of vaccination using this online portal no later than August 2.

UP employees seeking an exemption from the vaccination requirement for medical or non-medical (e.g., religious) reasons must submit an exemption request via this online portal no later than July 7. Requests will be reviewed as quickly as possible. We thank employees seeking an exemption in advance for their patience.

Employees residing in Oregon who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccination are encouraged to visit the Get Vaccinated Oregon website for information on vaccine availability. Employees who reside in Washington are encouraged to consult the Washington State Department of Health website for similar information. Further details on the University’s Vaccination Requirement Policy may be found here. Additionally, the University will soon launch a COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Dashboard that will allow all community members to view our campus’s vaccination progress. Additional details on the Dashboard will be shared as soon as they become available.

Employees who have further questions about the vaccination requirement and exemption process are encouraged to contact Human Resources at hr@up.edu.

Return-to-Campus Work for Staff Who Have Been Working Remotely

Since the onset of the pandemic, most UP staff colleagues have performed their work responsibilities in a primarily remote setting. During this time, they have demonstrated immense creativity and exhibited remarkable resilience in continued service of our students and our mission. Meanwhile, many of our staff colleagues have continued to work in-person on The Bluff. Our community remains deeply grateful for the commitment these employees have made to our operational continuity. Regardless of where staff employees have worked, all have made tremendous sacrifices throughout this pandemic. Their efforts are appreciated by our entire University community.

While the University has managed to operate effectively during the pandemic, it is important that UP return to its cherished, vibrant, in-person instruction, residence, and workplace environment. The key to our Catholic, Holy Cross mission and UP experience rests in direct engagement with one another as a collegiate community. The talents of our faculty and staff; the strength of our curriculum; the learning experiences we offer; the support we provide to one another; and the striking beauty of our campus are collectively most powerful when enjoyed first-hand and in-person. The in-person contributions of all community members will be of paramount importance as we bring our residential student body back and return to primarily in-person instruction this fall.

Thus, widespread remote work will conclude and staff will return to on-campus work on August 2. This date is informed by the time in which we anticipate all employees will have received a COVID-19 vaccination or been granted an exemption. This date is also informed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s recent announcements on lifting various health and safety restrictions.

Promoting the well-being of UP community members remains our top priority. Thus, we have established important benchmarks that must be met in order to return to on-campus, in-person work. Notably, we will require that at least 70% of employees will have confirmed their fully-vaccinated status prior to August 2. (This threshold is consistent with the State of Oregon’s plan to lift most restrictions once 70% of all Oregonians eighteen and older have received a first vaccine dose.) We also will work to ensure that all workspaces comply with relevant health and safety guidelines. Finally, employees who are working on-campus must comply with any masking, social distancing, and safety guidelines that are still in effect on August 2.

Prior to August 2, vaccinated staff employees are encouraged to consider partial returns to on-campus work so as to ease their transition from remote work. Such plans should be developed by individual employees with the approval of their supervisor.

Employees who anticipate being unable to return to on-campus work due to short-term extenuating circumstances should consult with their supervisor on temporary accommodations. These accommodations must receive the approval of a member of the President’s Leadership Cabinet or Provost’s Council. Employees with requests related to their individual or family medical conditions, disability accommodations, or other protected leave processes (FMLA, OFLA, etc.) should follow applicable University processes to submit their request to Human Resources by emailing hr@up.edu.

Employees who have further questions about the return-to-campus work date should first contact their supervisor, then contact Human Resources (hr@up.edu) if additional information is needed.

Philosophy on Continued Partial Remote Work 

The pandemic has shown that remote work could result in effective operations and offers some benefits to staff employees. In a limited format and if managed properly, individualized remote work arrangements that honor the University’s operational needs and commitment to the foundational community elements of our Holy Cross mission may be appropriate in some circumstances.

Thus, some limited remote work for staff after August 2 will be permitted on an individual basis. While a comprehensive Remote Work Policy has been prepared, we note the following general parameters that will guide our approach to remote work: 

  • Operational needs, job duties, job performance, and the importance of in-person interaction will be primary determinants in all decisions concerning remote work. 
  • Remote work will be limited to 20% of an employee’s full- or part-time regular employment. In some very special, extraordinary situations, especially in cases where it may lead to improved operations/efficiencies, this percentage may be increased slightly. Operational needs, team function/morale, and other considerations noted above still apply and employees may be asked to be physically present on-campus on any given day regardless of remote work arrangements. 
  • All remote work arrangements must be: (1) discussed and agreed to by the employee and their supervisor; (2) documented in writing using the appropriate University form; and, (3) approved by a member of the President’s Leadership Cabinet or Provost’s Council. 
  • In light of the University’s operational needs, remote-work days should be reasonably distributed throughout the work week. Likewise, conducting remote work on Mondays and Fridays will generally be discouraged. 
  • Remote work arrangements may be subject to geographical restrictions. 

Employees who are interested in learning more about remote work options are encouraged to review the full Remote Work Policy here. The Policy contains important details on UP’s approach to remote work that are not included in this message, as well as instructions on how to request remote work arrangements. A Remote Work Agreement Form for staff is forthcoming.

Employees who have further questions about remote work should contact their supervisor or Human Resources at hr@up.edu.

As we look ahead with hope to our new academic year, we pause once again to express our deep gratitude for you, the University of Portland staff. Throughout the past sixteen months, you have sustained our mission, kept one another safe, and served our students admirably despite many personal and professional challenges. We applaud your efforts, we offer you our unending thanks, and we look forward to the restoration of our wonderful, face-to-face community on The Bluff.