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New task force on long-term response to COVID-19

Dear University of Oregon community,

We all recognize the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on both the University of Oregon and the national higher education landscape. The simple truth is that the coronavirus is an invisible disruptor that suddenly and harshly threatened what has been the UO’s foundation for nearly 150 years—the ability to fulfill our mission of excellent teaching, research, and service as a residential campus.

We know there will likely be drops in enrollment and state budget cuts that will create real financial challenges for the UO. It is too soon to know whether it will be a sharp but short-term hurdle that we must find a way to overcome or a systemic recalibration of the way the UO operates. Ultimately, the scope and duration of the financial and operational challenges posed by COVID-19 will be revealed in the coming weeks, months, and years.
To help the UO address the challenges, we are announcing the creation of the Joint UO Senate/Administration Task Force on Long-term Responses to COVID-19. This joint task force, which is advisory to the president, will review data on university operations and revenue projections, engage campus stakeholders, seek input and feedback, and use this information to analyze proposals, develop and consider strategies, and provide advice for long-term planning.

The 16-member task force is broadly representative of units across campus, including faculty, deans, classified staff, officers of administration, and a student. The group will begin meeting in June and be co-chaired by Elliot Berkman, Associate Professor of Psychology and Senate President-elect, and Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Dean of the School of Music and Dance. The full charge and membership of the task force are posted on the president’s website.

What we cannot do is sit idly by and wait for budget cuts or other impacts to happen to us. Ensuring the UO is poised to meet these challenges means we must do all we can now to look around corners, anticipate problems, develop scenario-based solutions, and proactively seek innovation. One thing we all agree on is that the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the University of Oregon are not going to be solved by any one person or group of persons. We must leverage the collective wisdom, creativity, and intellectual horsepower of our entire campus. Our intention is that this joint task force is a step toward doing that.

Thank you.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law
Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President
Elizabeth Skowron
Professor of Psychology and UO Senate President
Elliot Berkman
Associate Professor of Psychology and UO Senate President-elect


Elliot Berkman (co-chair), College of Arts and Sciences, Associate Professor of Psychology; University Senate President-Elect
Sabrina Madison-Cannon (co-chair), School of Music and Dance, Phyllis and Andrew Berwick Dean and Professor of Dance

Bruce Blonigen, College of Arts and Sciences, Dean and Professor of Economics
Liska Chan, College of Design, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture; Clark Honors College, Associate Dean for Faculty
Robin Clement, Lundquist College of Business, Director, Master of Accounting Program; Academic Director, Sports Product Management; Robert and Lois Braddock Distinguished Senior Instructor
Nicole Dahmen, School of Journalism and Communication, Associate Professor, Honors Program Coordinator
Judith Eisen, College of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Biology
Larissa Ennis, University Advancement, Government and Community Relations, Associate Director of Sponsorships and Community Relations
Kent McIntosh, College of Education, Philip H. Knight Chair and Professor of Special Education and Clinical Sciences
Terry McQuilkin, School of Music and Dance, Instructor of Composition; University Libraries, Music Services Department, Access Services Specialist
Michael Price, College of Arts and Sciences, Senior Instructor of Mathematics, Assistant Department Head
Gerardo Sandoval, College of Design, Planning, Public Policy and Management, Associate Professor
Doneka Scott, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Success
Melissa (Lisa) Redford, College of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Linguistics, Department Head
Jennifer (Jen) Reynolds, School of Law, Associate Professor; Faculty Director, Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Center

A student will also be part of the task force but has yet to be chosen. More information will be available for students, undergraduate or graduate, interested in serving on the task force.


  1. AnotherClassified 05/14/2020

    A/the Classified Staff member is eluding me in this announced list.

  2. Elliot Berkman 05/14/2020

    Terry McQuilkin is classified staff and has represented classified employees in the UO Senate as recently as last year. Also, as a joint Senate/Admin panel, we will be reaching out to all the constituencies in several ways including through the elected representatives on the senate. Next year the classified staff Senators are Jay Butler, Stephanie Prentiss (also SEIU Pres-elect), and Theodora Ko Thompson. There will also be CS representation on the Senate Executive Committee. Please bring any thoughts or concerns you have to any one of them or to me.

  3. Jack Straw Man 05/14/2020

    I worry that this task force will be overtaken by other admin actions that are being pursued independently of faculty oversight. For instance, Bruce Blonigen’s plan for a School of Languages and Global Studies that dissolves language departments should rightly be put on hold and considered only as part of whatever this task force concludes. But instead he’s trying to get it put into place before fall term starts. Tireless efforts by dozens of language program faculty managed to get the Senate to accept a Notice of Motion regarding this, which may result in some faculty input into the plan – but why is it being floated at all, when Pres. Schill himself is saying that this faculty-led task force should be the one deliberating such processes?

    If that’s too wordy, try this: the task force needs to make sure that nobody drinks its milkshake.

  4. LawSchoolPayUp 05/14/2020

    Why are we constantly reminded that Schill is a “Professor of Law”? The Provost is also still a tenured prof, right? Where’s his extra line with the title?

  5. cdsinclair 05/15/2020

    I just sent this to Senators:

    Dear Senators:

    I would like to propose a motion where we strike “UO Senate” from the name of the “Joint UO Senate/Administration Task Force on Long-term Responses to COVID-19”. Why?

    1. While Senate leadership may represent the body, they should not make decisions for the body. No committee or task force should be given the imprimatur of the Senate without a vote. The statutory faculty have delegated much of their power to the Senate, but the Constitution is clear that power cannot be delegated further. Thus, the Senate President and VP do not have the authority to establish a committee in the name of the Senate.
    2. Committees that meet in secret erode shared governance. Why? The President can now claim that he has consulted with faculty governance upon making a controversial decision. The minutes about such discussions, alternative approaches, even who was there for the discussions would be secret. The Senate lending their name to the committee will make it more difficult to potentially push back on ideas that come out of this task force.

    Senate leadership, please consider this notice of motion.

    If Senators are interested in reconfiguring the membership or charge of this committee I would be happy convene a group of Senators to make proposed changes. If there is enough interest I would be willing to collect suggestions and put forward a motion that changes the charge, membership or rules of the proposed task force. Please let me know if you are interested.

    Thanks for everyone’s hard work on the Senate this year!

    • uomatters Post author | 05/15/2020

      Hi Chris, I’m interested. Bill Harbaugh

  6. New Year Cat 05/15/2020

    Plenty of people on this committee. Why not add a *second* classified staff member, specifically from housing, facilities, or food service? They would have the intimate knowlege of some areas of campus which it appears might be lacking in other members of the committee, and in any case might have excellent contributions to make.

  7. uomatters Post author | 05/15/2020

    The Senate already has a Senate Budget Committee, co-chaired by Elliot, with administrators as ex-officio members. It is charged with almost exactly the same responsibilities as this new task force. Why create a new group?

    Defined by UO Senate Bylaws:

    5.4 The Senate Budget Committee reports to and acts at the direction of the Senate. It is charged with informing the Senate and advising the University President and administration about university financial matters, including budgetary policies and decisions, and long-term financial strategies. In fulfilling its charge, the Senate Budget Committee shall review budget reports submitted to the UO Board of Trustees and obtain pertinent data from the university administration. The University Administration shall provide all financial information requested by the Committee in a timely fashion.

    The Senate Budget Committee may initiate the study of financial issues and make recommendations to the Senate for Senate action.

    The Senate Budget Committee may establish working subcommittees.

  8. cdsinclair 05/16/2020

    To the extent Senate legislation carries any force, Senate leadership may want to look at

    This legislation requires Senate committees (including ad hoc committees) to have open meetings.

    One playing lawyerball might argue that since this is a joint task force it is not subject to this legislation, but the fact the FAC, a similar confidential advisory group to the president, required a later legislative carveout ( to be confidential suggests the intent of the legislation would cover the current task force.

    My understanding is that the charge, makeup and membership of the task force was not discussed by the Committee on Committees. A CoC with a deep bench would know applicable legislation dictating Senate committees (and likely would have recommended a vote by the full Senate). The Senate coordinator should have flagged this as well.

    The last Senate meeting of the year is usually awards, election of the new VP and passing of the gavel. Will there be a spot on the agenda for some business?

  9. Terry 05/17/2020

    The page (on the Office of the President website) announcing the Task Force does list me with my SOMD (NTTF) appointment listed first, my UO Libraries (classified) position listed second. Actually my FTE in the library is 80% whereas my SOMD FTE is 20%, and my voting constituency has always been classified staff. But, in response to the comment by New Year Cat: Yes, I think it would be great to have another classified staff member on the task force.

    • Compulsory Pessimist 05/18/2020

      No offense Terry, but NTTF and Classified needs are so very different that “it’d be great to have another classified staff member” is an incredible understatement.

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