Stronger Together

Spring 2020
Andy Brantley

Editor’s Note: When our editorial team began planning this issue in December, we set out to highlight some of the great work institutions are doing in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. Then, well, COVID-19 happened. Because the issue was nearly complete, we made the decision to proceed, but with a few changes. Knowing that most of our members are working from home and other off-campus locations, we opted to forgo printed copies and to share the content in digital format only. We also asked each of our authors to share a note about how the pandemic has affected them and their work, which we’ve included at the end of their articles. Although many of the programs featured have face-to-face elements, it’s the collaborations at the heart of these efforts that have had the most impact. We hope you’ll be inspired as you strive to sustain a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment regardless of physical distance. – Jill Thompson, Editor  

Stronger Together — A Message From
CUPA-HR President and CEO Andy Brantley

The COVID-19 crisis could forever change how higher education operates, including the duties and responsibilities of employees, and the positions needed to manage campuses with workforces more diverse than other employers across the country.

You and other higher ed HR leaders have had to make unprecedented changes to work assignments and work processes, like changing the definitions of essential and non-essential employees. These definitions may have worked in years past when institutions closed for a few days due to snow and ice, but they no longer suffice to help you meet the challenges of your campus and work with employees who are fearful for their health and safety. Another change higher ed HR faces is teleworking employees who are attempting to complete their job duties while caring for children who cannot go to daycare, teaching their children who must now be home-schooled, and addressing the other challenges created by this crisis.

How we manage the ongoing work that requires a physical presence on campus will also continue to change and evolve. Many of you are making difficult decisions regarding layoffs and furloughs and beginning to plan for how employees will return to their on-campus roles in a very different environment. I have talked with several of you who are involved in scenario planning for the fall semester and the next academic year. While there are many unknowns, plans must be put in place.

How we manage the ongoing work that requires a physical presence on campus will also continue to change and evolve.

Never has there been a more important time for CUPA-HR to rally around you to help you navigate the many challenges you face now and the challenges you will face next week, next month and in the months to come. Our government relations team in D.C. has quickly created and shared resources to help you navigate the changes brought by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, and they worked to impact the legislation as it was being written. Our team has also provided input to the Department of Labor staff as they created interpretation and guidance to help us implement the new laws.

I hope that CUPA-HR’s COVID-19 Resources page is already the go-to resource for you and other campus leaders. There were times during the last several weeks that we were making updates almost hourly. In fact, we totally redesigned the site as the important issues you were navigating emerged. We also created a special COVID-19 update email to send to you when we had new information or resources to share. These emails will continue for as long as necessary. Thanks to our incredible CUPA-HR team for so quickly and efficiently getting this info to you. I hope it has helped cut through all the noise.

As you can imagine, this crisis has also impacted CUPA-HR. The next year is going to be very challenging. But just like you, your CUPA-HR is strong. We have pivoted our operations to ensure we are focused on the challenges you face right now, and our work in D.C. and other CUPA-HR operations will continue to shift as we anticipate and respond to the new higher ed workforce challenges that emerge. Also like you and your colleagues, we are creating scenarios to help us plan for the next year. There are lots of unknowns, but there are two common themes to every one of our scenarios. One theme is that we will do everything in our power to represent you and create resources to help you during these very challenging times. The other theme is that we will continue to build and support our incredible higher ed community. HR can be a very lonely job. Please stay connected with CUPA-HR and your CUPA-HR friends and colleagues during this challenging time. It is so important for us to support each other now, more than ever.

Thanks again for the incredible work you are doing every single day. It is my honor and privilege to serve in this role. Your CUPA-HR national office staff, national board, regional boards and chapter boards are here to help you and to be the community that provides support and guidance during these very challenging times. We are stronger together.

CUPA-HR’s COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Resources

  • Emergency Relief Legislation
  • COVID-19 and Employees
  • Crisis Management and Business Continuity

OSHA COVID-19 Resources (CUPA-HR Compilation)

What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Coronavirus


The CUPA-HR office will be closed Fridays through August 20.