As we’ve all experienced, COVID-19 has presented many challenges. Among these is our ability to meet and carry out the AgriLife mission through face-to-face events. Thanks to your swift work to respond to the needs of Texans, and adjust programing to meet individuals where they are via virtual offerings, our mission has not waivered. Your enduring desire to serve our stakeholders and the state of Texas is remarkable.
While we look forward to a time when we can gather again in person, we are painfully aware of the stark reality. I write to inform you today of the decision to suspend all face-to-face events for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Texas A&M AgriLife Research through the remainder of the year. This includes but is not limited to the AGLS Tailgate, Legacy and Leadership Banquet and face-to-face holiday programming. This extends to events scheduled in The Shirley & Joe Swinbank ’74 AgriLife Center, The Gardens at Texas A&M University rental spaces, and regional Research and Extension Centers. We are also strongly encouraging other AgriLife units to host events virtually when possible. This decision was not easy, but was made with the safety of our employees, attendees and communities across the state in mind. In evaluating scheduled events and in-person meetings, we encourage you to review the following:
Face-to-face gatherings, meetings and events:
All face-to-face gatherings, meetings and events for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Texas A&M AgriLife Research are suspended for the fall semester. This includes department tailgates, advisory board meetings, awards banquets, student welcome events, etc. We encourage all meetings to occur virtually. If necessity dictates an in-person format, the number of attendees must be no more than 10 with proper social distancing and face covering mandates observed at all times. If a meeting can be held with 10 people or less, we do encourage you include a virtual option to ensure information is available to all audiences. As we receive updated guidance on gathering limits, you will be notified via email or you can visit our web resource for COVID-19 updates.
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student groups and room reservations:
Student Activities has encouraged all student groups to meet virtually. We stand by this policy and advise that student groups related to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences meet remotely whenever possible. While we cannot prevent student groups from meeting in person, they will not be able to do so in AgriLife buildings. In the event an in-person component is required, University Center and Special Eventscan be consulted for available spaces.
Venue managers and building proctors:
We thank you for your continued flexibility during this trying time. As aforementioned, please note that classroom space is not to be reserved for student groups, third parties, or meetings over 10 guests with social distancing taken into account. This policy does not apply to classroom instruction for academic courses or venues generating revenue through facility rentals. If you have questions regarding your status in this group, please contact AgriLifeEvents@ag.tamu.edu.
Virtual meetings and events:
If your group needs assistance with producing a virtual event, we recommend you contact University Center and Special Events. This group can interface on a variety of platforms and assist with the technical execution of your event anywhere on the Texas A&M campus while providing real-time event assistance.
For individuals seeking alternative methods of delivery for traditional face-to-face meetings and educational programs, the Digital Education unit has put together a resource on best practices and tools that are currently supported by AgriLife.
Again, we strongly encourage meetings to be conducted virtually, but if an off-campus visitor is required at a mission-critical meeting, please utilize the form available on the AgriLife Administrative Services website. These forms are to be retained by each meeting organizer. For further questions, please contact Debra.Fincher@ag.tamu.edu.
COVID related event losses and entering into future contracts:
For those of you who are in the midst of cancelling events or planning gatherings for 2021 when safe to do so, we understand this can be an uncertain time. We certainly want to avoid any financial responsibility for services not rendered due to COVID related causes. If there are COVID related financial implications from an event that has occurred or has been cancelled, please let your business administrator know and they can assist with further guidance related to coding these losses appropriately.
In regards to entering into future contracts, AgriLife Rule 25.07 (AgriLife Research / AgriLife Extension) sets out when facility agreements need to be sent to the AgriLife Contract Office for review. However, if a department wants to send a facility use agreement for review before signing (even if it can be signed at the department level without the Contract Office’s review per Rule 25.07), you may do so by emailing the agreement to firstname.lastname@example.org. The standard facility use addendum is located at: AgriLife Research / AgriLife Extension. If a facility refuses to sign the addendum or requests revisions, please contact email@example.com before signing the agreement. Note that the contracts office cannot provide legal advice/interpretation of a signed facility rental agreement related to the department’s rights to cancel the contract or the financial implication (if any) associated with the cancellation.
While we long to gather in-person and host events, our desire to do so safely has driven this decision. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact AgriLifeEvents@ag.tamu.edu.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research