A Message from Jeff Novak to Housing Staff

To all of our Housing employees,

If there’s one thing to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s just how quickly things evolve and change. The recent rise in positive cases on campus, particularly in our residence halls, is clear evidence of that. Our success during this challenging time depends on our ability to pull together and collectively commit to protecting our community. I have seen and heard our staff working very hard to protect this place that we and our students call home. You are at the front line of our campus response, and you are the example that the rest of campus is watching. Whether that is through on-campus work or the many of you who are in the trenches remotely, answering parent phone calls and emails and making challenging decisions day in and day out. I know this has not been easy. One thing that does not change is your dedication and tireless efforts these last few weeks.

When we think of our jobs, most of us likely have a different experience in mind. I understand we’ve asked a tremendous amount from you already, and the truth is, we may be continuing to do so for a while longer. However, while your job may at times seem thankless, especially in times like these, I want to assure you that your efforts are noticed and are appreciated far beyond what I can fully express here. They make a great difference to the experience of our residents and their families. Thank you for continuing to show up and be present.

There have been no easy decisions since this pandemic started back in March. UW-Madison wanted to offer the option for in-person instruction this semester because so many students were asking for it and prefer it over virtual learning. As we now face an increasing number of positive cases among our students, we have had to act quickly to make more tough decisions. Thanks in part to your action, we are now seeing promising declines in those case numbers again. Thank you for your flexibility, creative problem solving, and selflessness.

My visit to some of our residence halls and dining halls recently reinforced why I continue to love this work we do, even during these extremely hardest of times. Regardless of your position on our team, you likely feel stretched between your work duties and personal lives. There will be more difficult days ahead, but I am confident in our team and our ability to work through them together.

Thank you for everything you are doing for our residents and for each other. This semester will be one we all remember for the rest of our lives, and it is an honor to do this work with you all.

Jeff Novak
Director of University Housing