January 10, 2018
Dear Members of our Campus Community,
Our UC Santa Barbara family is united in sorrow by the events in our nearby community of Montecito this week, and the devastating losses inflicted by this tragedy. Our hearts go out to all of those whose lives have been forever changed by the Thomas Fire and, now, the flooding and mudslides in the fire-affected areas.
We are tremendously grateful for the heroic efforts of the firefighters, first responders, and so many others who are working to save lives and help our community. I would also like to thank our UCPD for immediately sending officers to help in Montecito.
Our campus is still returning to normal operations, with finals taking place the rest of this week and the winter quarter beginning on Tuesday, January 16. We recognize that some in our community have been affected by the mudslides, and many more are facing difficulties in traveling to campus due to the closure of the 101 freeway and other roadways. We are committed to accommodating and extending support to our students, staff, and faculty.
Students who are unable to get to campus for finals are encouraged to contact their professors directly. I thank our students, faculty, staff, TAs, and all of our community in advance for your flexibility, understanding, and resilience.
We are hopeful that the 101 will be reopened by Monday; however, we encourage students who are in the process of returning to campus for the winter quarter to check for the latest information on road conditions and plan accordingly. Government officials are currently recommending using Interstate 5 for those trying to reach the area, but it requires more travel time. Updates are being posted regularly at https://cad.chp.ca.gov/, www.countyofsb.org and www.readyventuracounty.org, among other sites. Above all, we want you to be safe.
We recognize the challenges faced by our staff and faculty as well. We appreciate the extraordinary efforts of our dedicated colleagues to keep our campus operating smoothly in the face of these challenges.
We are extending the paid emergency leave option implemented during the Thomas Fire and encouraging managers to exercise maximum flexibility for staff. Guidelines and additional information are posted at https://www.hr.ucsb.edu/news/
This tragedy affects all of us in many ways. If you need help, please reach out so we can support you. Counseling for students is available through Counseling & Psychological Services (http://caps.sa.ucsb.edu; (805) 893-4411). Counseling for faculty and staff is available through our Academic & Staff Assistance Program in Human Resources (www.hr.ucsb.edu/asap; (805) 893-3318).
Our absolute highest priority is the safety and well-being of all members of our community. Please feel free to contact me directly with questions or concerns.
Thank you for your compassion and support for each other and for our community during this difficult time.
Henry T. Yang