COVID-19: Campus impacts and responses

Two of UC Berkeley’s top leaders spent an hour Wednesday taking questions from students, faculty and staff about how the campus has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. (UC Berkeley video)

Chancellor Carol Christ has three priorities for UC Berkeley while it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic: protect the health of students, faculty and staff; maintain educational vigor and save as many jobs as possible.

Christ and Paul Alivisatos, the executive vice chancellor and provost, spent nearly an hour Wednesday discussing how Berkeley has dealt with one of the most tumultuous months in the 152-year-old institution’s history. The talk was part of Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19, a series of live online videos featuring Berkeley experts analyzing and discussing the worldwide impacts of the new coronavirus.

The two leaders pointed to a number of ways faculty, staff and students have responded to the pandemic and shelter-in-place, including efforts to quickly spin up robotic virus tests, produce hand sanitizer for those in need and find new ways to teach lab classes online.

But many questions remain, including when normal operations will return, what the budget outlook will be and what spring commencement will look like.

“The big questions about our budget are still uncertain at this point,” Christ said, pointing to declining revenue and a promise to avoid layoffs until the end of June. “The (new student) enrollments in the fall will determine what the budget impacts will be.”

Christ and Alivisatos promised to be transparent in their decisions, and follow the guidance of public health authorities. Still, Christ said she didn’t have any doubts about Berkeley’s future.

“The dominant characteristic of Berkeley throughout its history is resilience,” she said.

Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19, are a series of live, online events featuring faculty experts from across the UC Berkeley campus who are sharing what they know, and what they are learning, about the pandemic. All conversations are recorded and available for viewing at any time on the Berkeley Conversations website.