January 19, 2021 - Faculty and staff, welcome to the spring semester

Dear UMSL Faculty and Staff,

Welcome to the spring 2021 semester. I hope that you kicked-off the semester by joining our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance yesterday. Thank you to the planning committee, sponsors and those behind the scenes for organizing this inspiring event focused on coming together for social equality. If you missed the live stream, a video is now available online.

As we begin a new semester and a new year, I continue to be thankful for the collaborative efforts each of you have made to ensure the on-going health, safety and well-being of our community as we fulfill our mission to transform lives. With the promise of vaccination distribution in our region on the horizon, know that our Unified Command pandemic response team will keep you updated on the phased distribution process for our region. And, of course, we ask that you continue to promote and model the safety expectations outlined on our Start Safe, Stay Safe website.

As was shared last Friday, our budget situation continues to show improvement and we are now able to discontinue temporary pay reductions effective February 1. This is a direct result of the hard work everyone at UMSL has contributed to reach a sustainable budget. We have also benefited greatly from the state releasing funding that was previously withheld as well as federal stimulus funding that helped offset additional expenses incurred from the pandemic.

However, we must remain careful stewards of our resources and continue to focus on increasing recruitment and retention across the university. If you’ve not yet done so, please take a moment to provide your feedback on the draft Strategic Enrollment Plan by January 31. This plan is a living document that will be reviewed on a quarterly basis to determine potential changes in objectives or actions as well as additional investments based on enrollment growth and return on investment.

Lastly, I am excited to share the inaugural recipients of the UMSL Hero Award – an award that highlights the often-unseen heroic efforts of our university’s staff and faculty as they transform the lives of those in our university community and beyond. Congratulations to our inaugural UMSL Heroes:

  • Sylvia Harris, assistant director of academic advising and student services, College of Arts and Science;
  • Roger Kujath, custodian, Maintenance Operations; and
  • Vinita Allee Henry, clinical professor and director of clinical operation, College of Optometry.

These three individuals were selected out of dozens of nominations for their above and beyond efforts. I hope you will take a moment to read about their work to elevate our university community on UMSL Daily and I encourage you to nominate fellow colleagues for this monthly award.

I wish you all success this spring semester. Please stay safe, stay connected and continue to transform lives.


Kristin Sobolik
University of Missouri–St. Louis