Dear Bruin Community:
The widespread return to campus that will take place this month offers us a moment both to recognize the great strides the UCLA community has made in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to acknowledge the enduring challenges and uncertainty ahead of us. As we enter this new phase of our pandemic response, we write to share several updates regarding the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force, the group that has served as UCLA’s main advisory body on pandemic-related decision-making since last summer.
Having completed his one-year appointment, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force Co-Chair and Professor of History Michael Meranze — who was also immediate past chair of the UCLA Academic Senate in 2020-21 — will be stepping down from his role on the task force to return to his scholarly work. We are grateful to Professor Meranze for his thoughtful and collaborative leadership, and in particular for his ability to assess issues through the perspectives of UCLA’s varied constituencies.
In Professor Meranze’s place, the Academic Senate has recommended Professor of the Institute for Society and Genetics and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics Megan McEvoy to serve as co-chair of the task force. Professor McEvoy, who was chair of the Academic Senate’s Undergraduate Council and a key member of the task force’s Education Work Group this past year, has graciously agreed to serve in the role. She joins co-chair and Vice Chancellor for Administration Michael Beck at the helm of the task force.
Aside from this leadership transition, other components of the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force are changing as well. With many of the task force’s recommendations and plans now established and being implemented across campus, only two of its original work groups will continue into the fall: the Infection Control and Operational Response work groups. These entities will help us monitor emerging variants and refine policies and procedures to mitigate the spread of the virus on campus.
We would like to extend our deep gratitude to all of the faculty, staff and students who served on the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force and otherwise played a role in developing and enacting UCLA’s COVID-19 response plans over the last 18 months. In particular, we note the successful collaboration between the Academic Senate and UCLA administration — a testament to the value and effectiveness of shared governance.
While there is certainly more work to be done, we look forward to the academic year ahead of us with high hopes.
Gene D. Block
Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost