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Update on Planning for Fall 2020 Semester

May 29, 2020
Re: Update on Planning for Fall 2020 Semester
To: Faculty, staff, students and parents
May 29, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
I want to update you on our ongoing planning for fall semester. Our planning process is wide-ranging and is deepening every day as we bring more faculty and staff into the workgroups that are helping us envision what the fall term could look like. We intend to make key decisions about fall operations by June 15 and will share them with this community as soon as possible.
One rule guides all this work: minimizing risk to our community. There are additional sets of guidelines that shape our plans for instruction and research, including our Principles of Community and the University of California’s Principles for Responsible Operation . We are committed to upholding UC Merced’s excellence in teaching, research and public service, in line with the historic mission of the university.
Because we don’t know what the spread of COVID-19 will look like over the next few months, each workgroup below has been asked to develop plans for each of the following three scenarios for the fall semester:
  • Scenario 1: For public health reasons, the campus continues with full remote operations, including remote instruction, research and staff work.
  • Scenario 2: Some in-person operations resume, with hybrid remote/in-person instruction, critical research that cannot be conducted off campus, and more staff on campus to support instruction and research, considering limits and restrictions imposed by public health authorities and best practices.
  • Scenario 3: Campus operations largely return to normal (i.e., mostly in-person), but wherever possible, will accommodate students, staff, researchers and instructors who need to operate remotely due to continuing pandemic conditions.
Each of the following workgroups has been charged with studying and making recommendations for key areas of campus operations. Each workgroup is being led by senior administrators who share their progress and recommendations during thrice-weekly senior leadership meetings. Campus leadership will use the recommendations to guide decision-making as we develop plans to resume operations in a way that maximizes community safety.
The current workgroups are:
  • Return to Operations Contingency Planning. Subgroups include:
  • Research, led by Vice Chancellor Sam Traina and Vice Provost/Dean of Graduate Education Marjorie Zatz.
  • Instructional Resilience Planning, led by CIO Ann Kovalchick and interim Vice Provost/Dean of Undergraduate Education James Zimmerman.
  • Curriculum Administration, led by Dean Betsy Dumont.
  • Student Relationship, Access and Success, led by Assistant Dean Alisha Kimble and Student Affairs Chief of Staff Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht.
  • COVID-19 Testing through Student Health Center and Contact Tracing, led by Director of Medical Education Thelma Hurd and staff physician Michelle Brinkop.
  • Financial Impacts, led by CFO Michael Riley and Associate Provost Kurt Schnier.
  • Keeping Student Employees Working, led by Payroll Director Michelle Snyder and Office of Leadership Executive Director Brian O’Bruba.
  • People First, led by Associate Chancellor/CDO Dania Matos and Dean of Students Jonathan Grady.
  • Use of Stimulus Funds – Direct Aid to Students, led by Vice Chancellor Charles Nies.
  • COVID-19 Archiving, led by University Librarian Haipeng Li.
Two other workgroups — on potential use of our facilities by external agencies in case of crisis and on planning summer academic sessions — have largely completed their tasks.
Again, all this planning is being done with public health guidelines as our backdrop and risk mitigation as our priority. We will proceed only with the guidance and express approval of local public health authorities.
We will continue to provide regular status reports about this critical planning process on our COVID-19 website .
Thank you for everything you do every day to support our students. It is a challenging and uncertain time, and I have been grateful for your commitment, as well as your patience and flexibility.
Nathan Brostrom
Interim Chancellor
This is an important message from UC Merced. Please share with colleagues who may not have ready access to email. If you require a Spanish translation, please email .