January 6, 2018

Dear Members of our Campus Community,

As our campus returns to its normal vibrancy following the extraordinary events of December, I want to extend a warm welcome and best wishes for the new year to our entire UC Santa Barbara community.

I am grateful to our faculty, staff, and students (and parents, too!) for your patience as we determined how best to manage the final exam period given the rapidly changing conditions of the Thomas Fire. I appreciate all of the concerns, suggestions, and input you have shared with me. I am also grateful for all the work you have done to prepare for 2018. First and foremost, we are offering support to help our campus community through next week’s final exams, from January 8 to 12, and the adjusted winter quarter that will begin on January 16. Some information about the postponed finals, including answers to frequently asked questions on topics such as financial aid, visa status, course prerequisites, DSP accommodations, and more, was distributed in December and can be found at http://info.sa.ucsb.edu/finalspostponement. Departments, deans, advisors, counselors, the Financial Aid office, and the Registrar’s office will have additional information.

These changes have created challenges for students, faculty, staff, TAs, and all of us. We will continue to work together to address these challenges, and I thank each of you in advance for your understanding, resilience, and flexibility as we experience the longer-term academic and administrative impacts of the fire. Please do not hesitate to let my office know of questions or problems that arise as we move forward, and share your input as well.

We have been working diligently to ensure the safety of our campus and prepare for the return of our students and the resumption of full operations following the Thomas Fire. Our dedicated staff have cleaned campus roads, walkways, bikeways, plazas, and other areas, and will continue to take additional actions. With the return of normal air quality over the break, we were able to open building air intakes to circulate fresh air throughout building spaces, and we deployed mobile air scrubbers to assist in removing ash and smoky odors. We have begun the replacement of air filters in buildings across campus and will continue until all filters have been replaced.

If you have questions or concerns about the clean-up efforts, please feel free to contact my office, or our Director of Facilities Management, David McHale (dpmchale@ucsb.edu). Director of Residential Operations Brian Graham (brian.graham@ucsb.edu) is also available to answer questions specific to cleanup in student housing.

I am enormously proud of our campus’s efforts throughout the fire. Many staff, students, and faculty worked long hours, opened their homes to evacuees, and volunteered their time. Our campus hosted a Red Cross emergency shelter that provided housing, food, and comfort for hundreds of evacuees. Our campus also provided overnight accommodations for more than 100 out-of-town law enforcement officials who were called in for fire support. Our UCPD worked overtime to support the Sheriff’s Department and other local law enforcement, while continuing to ensure the safety of our campus.

I want to extend my sincere, enduring thanks to everyone in our community for providing support to those in need during this difficult time. Our thoughts remain with all who suffered significant losses. We are tremendously grateful to the firefighters and first responders who worked so hard to prevent further loss.

The Thomas Fire and our collective response reflected the commitment of everyone at UC Santa Barbara to supporting one another. As we move forward in the weeks and months ahead, we know this commitment and spirit will help us to become an even stronger community.

With heartfelt appreciation,

Henry T. Yang