With Gratitude

Dear Colleagues,

I write on behalf of Senior Staff to express our collective gratitude for your work this fall.

We went into the new academic year full of optimism that we had turned a corner in the pandemic. While we learned quickly that vaccinations save lives and prevent hospitalization, we also learned that vaccines do not entirely prevent the spread of COVID and that the pandemic will continue for at least somewhat longer. To be sure, the divide between our hopes and the reality is difficult to accept. And yet, despite this semester’s challenges, we have remained true to St. Lawrence’s spirit.  Together, we have persevered, supported each other, and grown in resilience. 

We write to you, our colleagues and our friends, to thank you. We thank you for carrying out our institutional mission in difficult circumstances. We thank you for teaching, mentoring, and guiding our students. We thank you for caring for our students by preparing their food, by keeping our facilities as free from germs as possible and by providing and maintaining a safe environment. And we thank you for doing these things at a time that is difficult for you, just as it is difficult for our students.

Although we are disappointed to cancel our holiday gatherings next month, we want to take a moment now, during this month of November, National Gratitude Month, to express our gratitude for your commitment to our students and our community during this particularly challenging year.

As a thank you for all your hard work, all employees will receive two gift certificates for $10 each, good at the Brewer Bookstore and Cafe. Please accept these gift certificates as a show of our gratitude for your good work. And we invite you to “pay it forward” by sharing one of the gift certificates with a colleague you believe deserves special commendation during this particularly difficult semester. 

We hope you enjoy having a coffee or a treat, or using your certificate toward a gift for a loved one. And we hope you likewise enjoy spreading gratitude around campus by choosing a colleague to recognize in turn. 

As an added acknowledgement of our recent challenges, I have provided the vice presidents with the leeway to keep the offices and programs they oversee closed for up to two additional days past the end of the usual winter break (Monday January 3 and Tuesday January 4), if doing so does not compromise the needs of the University or division. 

Non-union employees should stay tuned for further communication from their divisional vice president regarding these potential changes to the work schedule in early January. Although the University hopes to make these additional days available to union members where additional days away would not compromise the needs of the University or division, by law we are required to have conversations with bargaining unit leadership. The University will communicate with each union this week. 

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we hope that there are many areas of institutional operations where people may benefit from a small amount of additional downtime after the New Year, in recognition of the challenging semester we have endured together. 

With sincere appreciation and best wishes for the remainder of the semester,

Kate Morris, President
On behalf of Senior Staff

 **And now for the fine print: because the IRS considers the disbursement of gift cards to employees a form of taxable income, in addition to the gift cards mentioned above, you will see a $10 stipend added to your December paycheck. This stipend is added so that we can subsequently take out taxes due on the two gift cards and the stipends. Although convoluted, this approach allows us to make sure our gift to you is an actual gift.