Page 28 - Campus Technology, October/November 2020
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FEATURE > Emergency Response
CT: With such a large team and a lot of moving parts, how do you prioritize your tasks?
Monday: The core group, that EOC, is in the center, if you will — let’s call it the heart of the operation. There is a regular communication cycle where the leaders of those 19 work groups are interacting with the Emer- gency Operations Center, at the most acute time on a daily call. As we look at different times where we can mobilize up or mobilize down, that may go to every couple days. And then we are documenting, we are producing daily reports, and at the same time we’re having regular check-ins with a communications group as well as what we call the President’s Leader- ship Team, which is a group of about seven people who directly report to the president, along with the president.
The EOC then moves information up: If they can’t make the decision, they’ll push that to me as the one who’s most responsible, working with them on a day- to-day basis, and then if that decision needs to rise to the level of the President’s Leadership Team we’ll bring that to the President’s Leadership Team, which has met as frequently as every day to as less frequently as twice a week since we’ve been mobilized fully in late March/ early April.
CT: Can you share some of the specific challenges or decisions that you’ve had to make along the way?
Monday: In March is really where we were moving so rapidly, and the information — a lot of us say every
day, another day we get is another day of information. It’s another day of data, it’s another day we can be most informed about how to respond and how to best position us to not only overcome the pandemic, but to figure out ways to accelerate out of it as well. Those early decisions about how quickly we moved in the course of less than 24 hours, to think it was going to be x and it turned out to be y, we moved online to our online learning, we made a decision that we had to “stand down” the housing and dining and other com- ponents of the campus, how our faculty [moved online] and how we supported them in moving to an online course delivery — that was the March/April.
As we moved to April and May and June it was a complete focus, all-hands-on-deck of building a good process and making sure the key information was moving up and down that communication tree. We did another unique process: Sometimes in these responses you can get an element of groupthink. We tried to break out of that mold and we set up three scenario planning teams of folks who had not been involved in any of the EOC actions at that point, each one of them led by a tenured faculty member of the university, who brought together about six, six to seven, maybe as many as 10 people who looked at scenarios of how we would reinvent operations or be fully online. So, stress testing the system, bringing that information up.
Specifically, some of the toughest decisions were related to where we were in March and April, when we had very little intelligence and scenario informa- tion. And then as we moved through the process, a lot
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