HR News

Important Update About Resuming On-Campus Work

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing today to provide an important update about our efforts to return faculty and staff, who have been working remotely, to working on campus.

While the pandemic is not over, we are seeing positive signs that a return to normal operations is in the not-so-distant future. This includes widespread access to vaccines, including on our campus, as well as significantly improved public health conditions. As of Thursday, 71% of our faculty and staff have already reported that they are fully vaccinated. Though circumstances can change quickly, in continuing our preparation for a fully in-person fall semester, we are asking our staff to transition back to on-campus working over the next eight weeks. If your work requires, you can and should return to regular on-campus work during this time and no later than Tuesday, July 6. We have asked senior vice presidents, deans and other unit leaders to develop and implement plans to help our faculty and staff transition back to in-person, on-campus working.

Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs)

We recognize that there may be some circumstances that require a limited number of faculty and staff to continue to work remotely for a short transition period. Please work with your supervisor and senior HR business partner to submit a request for a flexible work arrangement, which must be submitted and approved by your dean or senior vice president no later than June 1.

Visit the Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) webpage on the HR website for additional information about FWAs. Professional development sessions on FWAs may also be found on the Professional Development webpage. Individuals with specific questions should contact their supervisor, HR business partner or HR Shared Services.

Get Vaccinated          

Vaccines are now widely available across the country and here in Onondaga County. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please do so at your earliest convenience. As a reminder, any individuals accessing campus during the summer months must be vaccinated by June 1.

  • Schedule an Appointment at an Off-Campus Vaccine Clinic: Effective Thursday, April 29, New York State-run sites, including the New York State Fairgrounds will accept walk-ins without appointments. To schedule an appointment at an off-campus vaccine clinic with the county or for more information on locations without appointments, please visit the New York State COVID-19 vaccine website or the Onondaga County COVID-19 vaccine website.

Confirm Your Vaccination Status

  • Faculty/Staff: All faculty and staff must complete our brief COVID-19 Vaccine Status Attestation Questionnaire to confirm their vaccination status. Faculty and staff can also use the form to claim exemption from this requirement for medical or sincerely held religious reasons.
  • Student Workers: Student workers who have already received or will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at an off-campus site are asked to submit their documentation through the Student Patient Portal.

The past year been especially difficult. Through their tireless efforts, our faculty and staff have continuously confronted and overcome the many challenges we have faced as a community. I thank you for your continued flexibility, innovation and understanding.


Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer

Commencement 2021 Update

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families:

With 25 days until Commencement Weekend, planning continues in earnest as we prepare to host our students and their loved ones on campus. I am grateful to students who completed our survey to indicate whether they intend to participate in this year’s Commencement exercises in person. This step was necessary to help us determine how many ceremonies will be held to comply with New York State’s published regulations for end-of-year academic celebrations. These regulations, which we are required to enforce, dictate public health measures, such as stadium capacity, vaccination, testing requirements for entry and social distancing arrangements, to name a few of the factors that we balanced during planning.

With that in mind, I write today to provide an update on the schedule of ceremonies and to remind individuals who intend to participate about the vaccination/testing requirements for entry.

Confirmed Schedule of Ceremonies

Based on the student response and in compliance with New York State regulations, Syracuse University will need to host three Commencement ceremonies. The schedule is as follows:

Commencement Ceremony No. 1
Saturday, May 22, 2021
4 p.m. ET
Participating schools/colleges: All undergraduate students in the School of Architecture; College of Arts and Sciences; Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; School of Education; University College

Commencement Ceremony No. 2
Sunday, May 23, 2021
9 a.m. ET
Participating schools/colleges: All undergraduate students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science; School of Information Studies; Whitman School of Management; Newhouse School of Public Communications; College of Visual and Performing Arts

Commencement Ceremony No. 3
Sunday, May 23, 2021
3:30 p.m. ET
Participating schools/colleges: All graduate students

Commencement Tickets

As previously communicated, each graduate who has registered their intent to participate in person will be allowed to have up to two guests attend their ceremony. Tickets will be available for selection beginning on Thursday, May 6, at 10 a.m. ET. Graduates will receive a specific email with specific instructions to claim their ticket and two guest tickets. Following ticket selection, students will receive a confirmation email, as well as a ticket with their selected seating assignment and tickets and seating assignments for their guests.

As a reminder, per the New York State graduation guidance, all guests must comply with social distancing guidelines. Students will be seated on the field level of the stadium in three-person “pods.” Guests will be seated in audience sections of the stadium in two-person “pods.” Seating pods will be arranged to maintain 6 feet of distance between groupings. Empty seat buffers will be created at aisles. As noted above, seating assignments will be issued via the ticketing process.

To allow for ease of entry, guests will be assigned a specific gate and arrival time for entry. This will allow for socially distanced entry and compliance with all entry requirements.

To our faculty and staff who plan to attend one or all of the Commencement ceremonies: please be advised we are working on a registration system for you to indicate your intent to participate and submit your proof of vaccination or testing.

School/College Convocations

All school and college convocations will be presented virtually at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 22, and recordings will be posted online so that graduates and their families can watch them at a later date if needed. More information about how to access the virtual convocations will be shared in the coming weeks and can be found on the Commencement website.

Pre-Event Testing/Vaccination Compliance

New York State has mandated very specific guidelines related to stadium entry and participation in the Commencement exercise, for all graduates, guests and participants. The state requires that anyone accessing the stadium for Commencement must comply with one of the following options:

·       Proof of completed vaccination; specifically, on the day of the event the individual must provide documentation indicating that at least 14 days have passed since the individual received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or at least 14 days have passed since the individual received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. We strongly encourage guests to seek out a vaccination as it is the most reliable pathway for entry into the stadium.

·       Proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR-type test, administered within 72 hours of the event.

·       Proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen-type test, administered within six hours of the event start time.

Please plan ahead to ensure your compliance with New York State’s venue entry requirements. All graduates and guests are responsible for complying with state regulations for entry to the stadium. Anyone who plans to attend the ceremony and who cannot provide proof of COVID vaccination should ensure they have access to testing services capable of returning a test result within the window of time required by New York State (72 hours prior to the event for a PCR-type test; six hours prior to the event for an antigen-type test).

To support a safe and efficient entry experience into the stadium, we will establish a pre-event compliance station that will open on campus beginning at noon ET on Thursday, May 20. At this station, students and guests can have their COVID-compliance documents verified in advance of the weekend’s Commencement activities, and be issued a unique pass allowing for significantly expedited access to the stadium on the day of Commencement. If your travel plans allow you to take advantage of this service, we strongly encourage you to consider pre-verification. All guests who are not pre-verified will be required to have their vaccine or testing documentation reviewed and approved on-site at the stadium.

All of us at Syracuse University are very much looking forward to celebrating our graduates’ achievements alongside their families, our faculty and our staff. We appreciate your continued patience as we implement a Commencement plan that aligns with New York State requirements.

To learn more about Commencement 2021, please visit There you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions.


Steve Bennett
Senior Vice President for International Programs and Academic Operations and Chief of Staff, Academic Affairs

FSA Updates for Faculty and Staff: Now Cover PPE, 2020 Deadline, Increased Contribution Limit for Dependent Care

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) offer a great way to save money by allowing you to contribute pre-tax dollars into an account that you can use to pay for eligible health and dependent care expenses.

Effective immediately, personal protective equipment such as face masks and hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) purchased to prevent the spread of COVID-19 now qualify for reimbursement from a Health Care FSA. Purchases made as early as Jan. 1, 2020, are eligible for reimbursement with proper documentation.

As a reminder, if you had a Health or Dependent Care FSA through Syracuse University in 2020, the deadline to submit eligible expenses for reimbursement is April 30, 2021. Any unused funds from 2020 will carry over to your FSA for use in 2021. Unlike prior years, there is no limit to the amount you may carry over from 2020.

As previously announced, faculty and staff have new options in 2021 that provide additional flexibility in managing FSA elections. Besides the carryover of all unused funds from 2020, other options include:

  • Carryover of all unused FSA funds from 2021 to 2022;
  • Mid-year FSA election changes allowed without a qualifying event; and
  • Maximum contribution to a Dependent Care FSA in 2021 increased from $5,000 to $10,500 per household.

Faculty and staff can contact HealthEquity/WageWorks at 877.924.3967 (TTY: 866.353.8058) or HR Shared Services at 315.443.4042 with any FSA-related questions.

Important Update for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

The American Rescue Plan Act has allowed the University to offer eligible faculty and staff an expanded option for managing their 2021 dependent care expenses through their Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Effective immediately, employees have the option to increase their 2021 Dependent Care FSA annual contribution from $5,000 to $10,500 per household, and from $2,500 to $5,250 for individuals filing separately.

This option is in addition to the FSA options previously announced, including the ability to carry over all unused Dependent Care and Health Care FSA funds to the next year and to make mid-year election changes without a qualifying event. Additional details regarding the changes to 2020 and 2021 FSAs can be found on the Human Resources FSA webpages.

To make a change to your Dependent Care FSA contribution for 2021, contact HR Shared Services at 315.443.4042. For any FSA-related questions, contact HealthEquity/WageWorks at 877.924.3967 (TTY: 866.353.8058) or HR Shared Services at 315.443.4042.

‘Build Your Financial Know-How’ Wellness Workshops Offered to Faculty and Staff in May

A new financial wellness workshop series for faculty and staff will be offered virtually through Carebridge, the University’s faculty and staff assistance program, in May. The series will provide a practical approach to enhancing your financial aptitude while focusing on actions you can take to protect your finances.

Coping with financial challenges can increase personal stress, and if not managed correctly, result in costly mistakes. Becoming more conscious about your financial wellness starts with building your financial know-how. No matter what chapter of your life you are in, you can always begin, change or improve your financial story.

The workshops will be available as webinars and cover the following topics:

  • Tuesday, May 4: Managing Your Personal Finances
  • Friday, May 7: Gaining Control of Debt
  • Monday, May 17: Developing a Savings Strategy

Each workshop will be offered at three different times on the same day, 9 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. ET, so you can attend at a time that is convenient for your schedule. Visit for more information and to register.

With questions or if you require accommodations to participate, contact Human Resources at 315.443.4042 or

Pfizer Vaccine Appointments Available for Friday, April 16, at the Barnes Center

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The Barnes Center at The Arch continues to distribute the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, or if you haven’t made an appointment, please take action today. We have a number of open appointments for Friday, April 16. Take action! Sign up for your vaccination today!

Friday, April 16, Appointments Available!

Here’s how to sign up:

·       Students: Please make your appointment now through the Student Patient Portal.

·       Faculty/Staff: For faculty and staff interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on campus, we ask that you complete this online form at your earliest convenience.

·       Confirming your Appointment: The Barnes Center staff will contact you via text or email to confirm your vaccination appointment. Please keep your cell phones and devices on hand so the Barnes Center staff can easily reach you.

Submit Proof of Vaccination

As a reminder, if you received a COVID-19 vaccination at an off-campus vaccination clinic but haven’t submitted proof yet, please do so immediately:

·       Students: Students who have already received or will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at an off-campus site, we ask that you submit your documentation through the Student Patient Portal as soon as possible.

·       Faculty/Staff: The Office of Human Resources is asking faculty and staff to complete a brief COVID-19 Vaccine Status Attestation Questionnaire to confirm their vaccination status. Faculty and staff can also use the form to claim exemption from this requirement for medical or sincerely held religious reasons.

Thank you for your continued adherence to public health guidelines and for making a vaccination plan to support our community’s well-being.


Syracuse University Public Health Team

Important Public Health Update: Barnes Center Will Pause Distribution of J&J Vaccine

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

A short time ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a temporary pause in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA indicated that this recommendation is being made “out of an abundance of caution,” to allow for the opportunity for experts to review the cases of six individuals—out of the nearly 7 million who have received the J&J vaccine to date—who developed a rare type of blood clot shortly after being vaccinated.

Given the FDA’s announcement, effective immediately the Barnes Center will suspend the distribution of the J&J vaccine until the FDA issues additional guidance based on its ongoing review. At the same time, following consultation this morning with the Onondaga County Health Department, later today the county will provide the Barnes Center with a supply of the Pfizer vaccine so the University can continue to provide on-campus COVID-19 vaccinations to students, faculty and staff. Later today, we will provide an update with additional relevant information about the evolving J&J situation and our transition to the Pfizer vaccine.

Finally, for those with a vaccination appointment today at the Barnes Center, your appointment will likely be rescheduled. You will be contacted directly by the Barnes Center to update your appointment date and time. If you have an appointment tomorrow, please plan to attend as scheduled to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

There continues to be widespread scientific support that broad vaccination is the safest and most effective way to mitigate exposure to and the spread of this communicable illness. I urge you to visit the CDC website or the FDA website to learn more about the process by which vaccinations are reviewed and approved. The University will continue to monitor this developing situation and share the most up-to-date, pertinent information as it becomes available.

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

1,600 Doses of Vaccine Now Available–Register Today!

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues:

On Wednesday, April 7, Syracuse University will begin administering the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccination on campus to interested students, faculty and staff. We have received an initial allotment of 1,600 doses from New York State and Onondaga County. We expect to receive more doses in the coming days and weeks and will notify our community as they become available.

Pre-Register for On-Campus Vaccination Appointments: For faculty and staff interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on campus, we ask that you complete this form at your earliest convenience. Barnes Center staff will begin contacting students, faculty and staff who pre-registered to receive a vaccination through the University to schedule their appointment. This notification will be done via text or email. Important request: We ask that you keep your cell phones and devices on hand so the Barnes Center staff can easily reach you.

You will receive frequent updates from the Public Health Team about vaccine availability as we continue to receive additional doses. Please be sure to register as soon as possible. A widely vaccinated community is key to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Syracuse University Public Health Team

Public Health Advisory: COVID-19 Cases on the Rise

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

Over the last several days, our campus surveillance testing has identified a very significant and troubling increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases among our students. This afternoon, we will report 44 new COVID infections on the COVID dashboard. Based on case investigations and timing, the data strongly suggests that the current surge of infection largely stems from off-campus parties and gatherings that occurred last weekend.

Our public health professionals are extremely concerned with the current situation. Yesterday alone, we moved more students into isolation housing than was typical of an entire week during the fall semester. If this pace and scale of new infection continue, the University will have no choice but to implement additional and likely dramatic preventative actions, designed to break the current chain of transmission and spread among our student population. I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that all members of our community act now to undercut the current outbreak. Specifically:

1.   Stay Vigilant: Follow these simple steps: 1) Wear your mask, always! 2) Keep your distance. 3) Do not gather in groups larger than 10. 4) Avoid travel outside of Central New York. 5) Monitor your symptoms and stay home if you feel ill. 6) Participate in testing and contact tracing procedures immediately and honestly. 7) Adhere to all directives from state and local authorities and the University. These actions are simple and selfless and keep you and those around you safe.

2.   Get Vaccinated ASAP: As of Tuesday, April 6, all individuals living in New York over the age of 16 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Put simply, vaccination is the best protection against the spread of COVID-19. A widely vaccinated community safeguards the health, wellness and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and helps our University return to more normal operations. Please visit the New York State COVID-19 vaccine website or the Onondaga County COVID-19 vaccine website to schedule your appointment at your earliest convenience when you are eligible. Important reminder: Many of our students, faculty and staff are likely eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination right now due to other eligibility categories, such as preexisting conditions. Please review all other eligibility categories to determine if you can schedule your appointment ahead of the April 6 vaccination expansion.

3.   Sign Up on the Vaccination Waitlist: As a reminder, Onondaga County occasionally has extra doses available during their clinic days. For that reason, the county has created a waitlist for individuals to sign up to be notified on short notice, if/when extra vaccine is available. Those who sign up on the waitlist will receive an email notifying them of extra doses and allowing them to register for an appointment. If you are interested in being included on the county’s vaccine waitlist, visit the county’s Extra Dose Vaccine Waiting List page.

The University has petitioned New York State to allow us to hold on-campus vaccination clinics to expedite the vaccination of our community, including students. We are currently awaiting a response from New York State. Until then, securing vaccination appointments through the state and county, combined with good public health behaviors, is the most immediate path to address our current situation.

I appreciate that for many of us, watching or reading the news is generating a sense of relief and optimism that the end of the pandemic is in sight. While I share that optimism, the fact is that COVID remains a real and present risk to our staff, faculty and students. Please do everything in your power to keep yourself, those around you and the broader Central New York community safe and healthy.

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

Update on Syracuse University Employee Eligibility for COVID-19 Vaccine

Dear Faculty and Staff:

We are writing to share important information related to COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and access. Under current New York State guidelines, most all Syracuse University employees (who live and work in New York State) are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes all faculty and staff working in-person on campus, as well as those working remotely because they are not vaccinated but who plan to return to work in-person once vaccinated.

Additionally, both the Onondaga County and New York State Fairgrounds COVID vaccination sites report having available appointments for eligible individuals. The county and state websites update regularly so please check often until you can confirm an appointment.

We strongly encourage any Syracuse University employee who intends to be vaccinated to make an appointment as soon as possible. Like the flu and other communicable diseases, vaccination is the best protection against the spread of COVID-19. A widely vaccinated community safeguards the health, wellness and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and helps the University return to more normal operations.

Vaccination Instructions and Next Steps

Please follow these simple steps to coordinate your COVID vaccine:

  • Make an appointment: Visit the New York State COVID-19 vaccine website or the Onondaga County COVID-19 vaccine website to identify an available time that works for you.
  • Complete the two forms provided in your confirmation email: After you schedule your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email. This email will contain links to two forms: 1) a screening and consent form that will need to be printed and completed and 2) a form attesting to your eligibility status. The attestation form will provide a “Submission ID,” which you can show on your phone when you arrive at the vaccine clinic.
  • Provide proof of eligibility upon arrival: Please bring with you proof of employment, such as your SU I.D. card and paystub. You should also bring with you your driver’s license or government-issued identification card.
  • Bring your insurance card: You will be asked for insurance information, but the vaccine is free and there will never be a charge to you. This information is for administrative use only. You do not need to have insurance to get the vaccine.

Please note: the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require a second dose, which will be scheduled during your appointment for the first dose. The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

In addition, we strongly encourage you to closely review all other eligibility categories for your family and dependents who may currently qualify for the vaccine.

We appreciate your ongoing commitment to our community’s health and wish you well as you pursue your COVID-19 vaccination.


Syracuse University Public Health Team