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Published June 12, 2024

Two advisory groups work to guide UMN during COVID-19 pandemic

Student representatives, faculty and University officials are working to present solutions to the Board of Regents by June 1.
Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein
Image by Hailee Schievelbein

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein

Student representatives, faculty and officials from all five University of Minnesota campuses are working together in two advisory groups to provide recommendations to President Joan Gabel for the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. 

These recommendations will be presented to the Board of Regents by June 1 for approval. They will address specific questions sent to the work groups by Gabel to guide the University’s academic and financial decision-making in response to the COVID-19. Both advisory groups were created last month.

“What we will recommend will go forth to the board to the president,” said University of Minnesota-Morris Student Body President Sam Rosemark. “Upon approval, what we recommend will impact how the University starts planning and having discussions.” Rosemark is a member of the Academic and Research Planning Work Group. 

Specifically, the recommendations for the Academic and Research Planning Work Group will address enrollment, student outcomes, maintaining the University’s mission, and planning for academic and research strategies. The work group split into subcommittees to work on addressing each specific question in its charge letter

Gabel asked the Academic and Research Planning Work Group to think of ways to sustain the University’s “academic and research strengths.” She also asked the group to think of ways the University can continue its mission despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vice President for Research Chris Cramer and Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson are co-chairs for the Academic and Research Planning Work Group. 

By next week, recommendations will be drafted and members will consult with other University officials and student representatives to incorporate feedback, said Kriti Agarwal, Council of Undergraduate Students president and member of the Academic and Research Planning Work Group. 

“So we see our role as being one to provide principles that guide decision making and not necessarily very specific recommendations about individual programs themselves,” said Cramer. 

The Finance and Operations Planning Work Group is co-chaired by Brian Burnett, the senior vice president for finance and operations, along with Ken Horstman, the interim vice president for human resources. 

The work group will align recommendations with adjusting new tools and budget policies, new ideas for cost-saving measures, and outsourcing or insourcing options. In addition, the work group will conduct in-depth analysis in sub-teams for the next six months, Horstman said at a Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

“[The Finance and Operations Planning Work Group] is in the process right now of gathering ideas and discussing options that will save the institution money in a variety of ways,” said Horstman. 

Throughout the month, the work groups will meet on a weekly basis to communicate and work together in order to plan recommendations to present at the start of June. 

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