Pardee RAND's Response to the Novel Coronavirus
Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation
March 25, 2020 (originally posted March 13)
Pardee RAND and the RAND community as a whole are taking numerous proactive measures in response to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local public health agencies.
RAND's vice president of operations is encouraging staff to work from home when feasible. In response, Dean Susan Marquis sent a note to Pardee RAND students, faculty, and staff.
"The good news is that the RAND community is coming together and doing all possible to prepare for and respond to a rapidly changing and unprecedented situation," she wrote. "Be patient with each other, even when ... the dean gives you the 40th reminder about washing hands and wiping down the desks. And, please watch out for each other. Our society is already increasingly isolated and a pandemic requiring social distancing and self-quarantine is stressing to all. Check in on your fellow students if you haven’t heard from them. Reach out if it is all seeming a bit too much. Time to express the care we all have for each other."
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs Angel O'Mahony has been working closely with Registrar Alex Duke to ensure an appropriate and effective offering of classes for the spring quarter. Pardee RAND has long had a distance learning option: an active video conferencing platform for professors who may be offsite for work-related travel.
“In a society where individuals feel increasingly isolated and alone, we need community and we need each other. The school is being creative in providing that community in new ways and is prepared for a range of contingencies as the situation continues to evolve.”— Dean Susan Marquis
Planning for these circumstances has been aided by the significant expertise of Pardee RAND faculty and the RAND research community. Pardee RAND has long engaged faculty who are experts in the areas of emergency preparedness and public health preparedness, and several of our alumni have gone on to positions in epidemiology and public health research.
For incoming students, one major change concerned the upcoming admitted students' Preview Weekend.
Assistant Dean for Admissions Stefanie Howard explained to the newly accepted students of Cohort '20, "The risks associated with travel from around the world seem too great and we would not wish for anyone to feel uncomfortable with their travel or find themselves in the unfortunate situation of not being able to return home."
Instead, to accommodate travel concerns and restrictions, the school offered its first-ever Virtual Preview Day on March 20.
Howard said she knows how important it can be for admitted students to come see the campus, talk to people on the ground, and weigh important decisions about their future here at Pardee RAND. "I want to make every opportunity available to you to help you make the best decision for you," she said to them in an email.
She said, "We had panels on the academic program, on-the-job training, and the transition to the first year of the program with current students; discussions with faculty who teach first-year courses and offer career services; and the opportunity for admitted students to meet one-on-one in a video conference with their researcher match-up."
The Dean announced one additional event update March 25: the school's biennial Commencement and Alumni Weekend has been postponed until September 11-12. (Further information on the school's response to the pandemic will be posted here as events develop.)
As Marquis told the Board of Governors, "We are all feeling uncertain about risks and what we should do as our communities, our nation, and the world wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic. There is a critical need for all of us to take the precautionary steps that can limit the spread of the virus. We are balancing appropriate caution with the negative effects of overreacting, while putting the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff first and not forgetting our mission and purpose."
She added, "We have been reminded that in a society where individuals feel increasingly isolated and alone, we need community and we need each other. The school is being creative in providing that community in new ways and is prepared for a range of contingencies as the situation continues to evolve."
— Monica Hertzman