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Re-Imagining Fall Task Force

Dear colleagues:

Earlier this week, I shared how we are preparing for what’s ahead in the next phase of our COVID-19 response, including plans for a task force to re-imagine our fall semester. Today, I want to update you on that task force, its charge, and its membership.

Learning, teaching, and working through the COVID-19 pandemic have changed who we are as a Volunteer community. As we consider how to safely re-open our campus to students in the fall, we have many decisions to make. This has been a difficult experience, and we don’t want to lose the opportunity to re-imagine our campus given what we have been through and what we have learned. How we come out of this experience will define our future as an institution for years, if not decades, to come.

I have appointed a Re-Imagining Fall Task Force and charged it with making recommendations on the process for re-opening our campus to students and preparing our campus for their arrival. While it is likely that employees will begin transitioning back to working on campus sooner, the task force will lead our efforts in developing a plan for safely and effectively welcoming students back to campus. That includes planning for how to resume classes, activities, and operations under various scenarios for the fall semester as well as the impact on students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. The scenarios will be provided to the task force by the Emergency Operations Center, and the task force’s role is to envision the campus we want to be under each scenario.

COVID-19 has taught us many things, and one is that nimble, flexible organizations have the greatest chance of long-term success. How do we institutionalize some of the innovative practices developed during this crisis? How will increased flexibility improve our operations for the fall should there be a resurgence of COVID-19, as well as our long-term relevance and success? How can we design the delivery of curriculum that is flexible, uses multiple platforms, and provides challenging and engaging opportunities for students? I have asked the task force to be imaginative in their thinking and inclusive in their discussions to bring forward recommendations for temporary or permanent changes to policies, procedures, or operations.

I have asked the task force co-chairs to provide weekly updates to our senior leadership team and submit the group’s recommendations to me by May 18. The task force will rely on the services of the Emergency Operations Center throughout its work.

We are drawing on the significant expertise of our campus community for this comprehensive planning process. I appreciate the time these members are dedicating to such important work.


  • Co-chair: Steve Smith, Dean of Libraries
  • Co-chair: Ellen McIntyre, Dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences
  • Misty Anderson, professor of English and past president of Faculty Senate
  • Carol Andes, assistant director of marketing
  • Mark Collins, Distinguished Lecturer and director of technology-enhanced education in the Haslam College of Business
  • Frank Cuevas, interim vice chancellor for student life
  • Bill Dunne, professor and associate dean for research and facilities in the Tickle College of Engineering
  • RJ Hinde, vice provost for academic affairs
  • Sadie Hutson, professor and assistant dean of graduate programs in the College of Nursing
  • Veerle Keppens, Chancellor’s Professor and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mary Lucal, associate vice chancellor for human resources
  • Jeff Maples, senior associate vice chancellor for finance and administration
  • Todd Moore, professor and associate dean for graduate studies in the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Hollie Raynor, professor and interim assistant dean for research in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences
  • Tyvi Small, vice chancellor for diversity and engagement
  • John Stier, professor and associate dean of the Herbert College of Agriculture
  • Amber Williams, vice provost for student success

Six subcommittees will be chaired by task force members. The subcommittee chairs will form their committees and may populate them with both task force and non–task force members.

  • Teaching and Student Success, chaired by RJ Hinde and Mark Collins
  • Workplace Safety, chaired by Mary Lucal
  • Residence Halls and Student Spaces, chaired by Frank Cuevas
  • Research, chaired by Bill Dunne
  • Visitors to Campus, chaired by Jeff Maples
  • Engagement and Outreach, chaired by Tyvi Small

Advisors to the Task Force

  • Kathleen Brown, associate professor of public health and director of the Master of Public Health program
  • Nina Fefferman, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Spencer Gregg, director of the UT Student Health Center
  • Jon McCullers, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics and assistant professor of microbiology, immunology, and biochemistry at the UT Health Science Center; pediatrician in chief at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital
  • Vickie Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing
  • Marianne Wanamaker, associate professor of economics

Brian Gard, director of emergency management, will serve as liaison to the Emergency Operations Center.

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Donde Plowman