December 14, 2020
To: University Community
From: Ralph W. Kuncl, President
Subject: Our Reorganized COVID-19 Response for the Current Phase of the Pandemic
Because I am a physician as well as your president, you can imagine that the health and welfare of each of you weighs on me.
As the first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine start to roll out across the country, we are starting to envision the end of the pandemic with increasing anticipation, even if our vision of the future is cloudy. At the same time, the number of cases are setting record highs in California and across the country. It is essential we maintain our vigilance in protecting ourselves and those around us from the virus over the next months while we simultaneously hope the pandemic gradually draws to a conclusion. Our collective challenge is how to return to full on-campus employment, partial or full in-person residential experience in the College, and the fullness of our mission as a liberal arts and professional/graduate university.
Today, I am writing to announce the reorganization of our pandemic response teams to meet this challenge: a new COVID Task Force will lead the effort, supported by a COVID Operations and Implementation Working Group. This streamlined, coordinated structure will help us to be as effective as possible, while enhancing communications within our University community. The strategy and policy decisions ahead of us are vast, and they are critical for the health and safety of our University community.
This reorganization is based on what we have learned these past six months through broad consultation with many constituencies and thanks to previous work completed by the Emergency Planning and Preparedness Team, the Return to Campus Committee, and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Spring Semester Strategy Group.
The Task Force, which will meet once a week or more frequently, will focus its work on safe reopening and the management of COVID-19 on all our campuses and within all the University’s schools and units. Primary responsibilities will include policy, planning, protocols, procedures, and priority-setting.
I have asked Vice President for Administration Michelle Rogers to chair the Task Force, with administrative support from Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Finance/CFO Felicia Edwards. Other Task Force members are:
The COVID Operations and Implementation Working Group, reporting to the Task Force, will focus on operations and implementation of the University’s plans. Representatives will meet weekly to provide project updates and discuss items related to operations and planning within their respective areas. Working Group representatives are responsible for collaborating with others within their units to deliver on their action items; this may include the creation of sub-groups that align to business operations.
For consistency and coordination, Michelle will also chair the Working Group with administrative support from Felicia. In addition to a representative responsible for COVID testing administration (yet to be determined), other Working Group members are:
Management of individual COVID cases or clusters will be handled by a separate process and team that will provide weekly reports to the COVID Task Force Chair.
You can see that the issues related to the COVID pandemic, as it pertains to all of our campuses, are complex. Every matter focuses toward the center of this “Venn diagram” of task force complexities, and Michelle Rogers, as the COVID Task Force Chair, will bear the responsibility for all of it; she is totally entrusted to be responsive to your needs.