COVID-19 task force updates campus, outlines upcoming work

EMU in fall

The University Task Force on Long-term Responses to COVID-19 provided the campus community with an update on its activities in a message to faculty and staff earlier this week.

University and UO Senate leaders appointed the task force in spring to provide advice to the president about how the institution should respond to financial challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis in the coming years. Since then, the task force has been learning about the history of major budgetary and structural changes at the UO and monitoring factors that could affect the budget, such as enrollment and state funding.

The task force co-chairs — Elliot Berkman, associate professor of psychology and University Senate president, and Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Phyllis and Andrew Berwick Dean of the School of Music and Dance — said in the campus message that with that foundational knowledge, the task force is now discussing the priorities, principles and values that will guide any recommendations created by the task force.

“We will refine our values and priorities as we continue to gather input from campus stakeholders,” the task force stated in the message. “Going forward, during the fall and winter and into the spring, we will engage stakeholders across campus in discussions that will help illuminate how UO can emerge from the pandemic with the full capacity to serve its mission.”

The task force included a number of example questions and a list of planned outreach efforts, including meetings with leaders of stakeholder groups, a survey of campus for individuals and groups and a suggestion box for additional ideas and suggestions from the university community. The recent wildfires, the Black Lives Matter movement and national conversations on race will also inform the task force’s work.

The university is expected to experience financial challenges for several years due to the decrease in enrollment and anticipated reduction in state funding from the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force, comprised of faculty members, staff and students, is charged with considering solutions to address those long-term financial impacts, in a manner that allows the university to continue to meet its mission and the evolving needs of the campus and broader communities.

A final report from the task force is anticipated to be submitted to the president in the 2021-22 academic year and will conclude the task force’s work.

For more information on the task force, visit the Office of the President website.

—By Jesse Summers, University Communications