Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Dear Bruin Community:
When the COVID-19 virus spread into Southern California this spring, Chancellor Block and I commissioned the Future Planning Task Force, chaired by UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Dean Ron Brookmeyer, to advise UCLA leaders on our short-term response to the pandemic. That task force’s charge ended this summer, and I would like to thank its members for their excellent guidance on the transition to remote work and instruction, recommendations related to the ramp-up of our research enterprise, and help establishing instructional and operational plans for the fall.
As the pandemic has lingered, it has become clear that a longer-term approach to our response is warranted. Last month, we established a new advisory group — the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force — that brings together a broad array of voices from across our institution to counsel campus leaders on pandemic-related decision-making. The task force is co-chaired by Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck and Immediate Past Chair of the Academic Senate Michael Meranze.
The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force will continue to monitor and improve UCLA’s operational response to the pandemic, refining policies and procedures to mitigate the spread of the virus as we endeavor to bring more students, staff, and faculty back to campus. Notably, the task force will study how to prepare for and manage the periodic easing and reinstating of Los Angeles County public health restrictions that we will likely encounter in the future.
The task force also will examine how we can best serve our education, research, and public service mission in a virtual environment. While we hope to have additional members of our community on campus soon, we must recognize and prepare for the reality that at least some of us will need to operate remotely for many months. The task force will assess ways to capitalize on the benefits and minimize the burdens of remote work and instruction, taking up questions like how we deliver the best educational experience possible for students, manage Zoom fatigue, conduct virtual professional development for faculty and staff, and demonstrate our commitment to work-life balance.
Looking further into the future, the task force will help prepare for the sustained challenges and new opportunities that may exist when pandemic-related restrictions are lifted. When we emerge from this public health crisis, UCLA may operate in fundamentally different ways. In consultation with others across campus, the task force will determine what permanent changes might need to be made to campus practices and to consider how we sustain the unique value of a residential teaching and research institution in a new era.
The task force has a stated charge to incorporate principles of equity and inclusion into all of its work. We know that the pandemic has highlighted inequities within our campus community and we must be sure that our responses to it serve every Bruin well.
I encourage you to visit the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force website to learn more about this group. I also urge you to attend a town hall hosted by the UCLA Staff Assembly at 12 p.m. on October 28 to hear the task force co-chairs discuss their plans and goals.
As Chancellor Block said in a recent interview, this pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. We are living in extraordinary times, both in terms of the difficulties we have encountered as well as the ways in which we have stood up to such challenges. We have learned, adapted, and supported one another while simultaneously continuing our critically important work and pushing our institution forward. I am grateful to have a new advisory group in place to help us think strategically about what the future holds for our great university.
Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost