Chancellor Announces Spring Planning Process

In a message to the campus community on Sept. 24, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy announced that the university is embarking upon an inclusive and deliberative planning process for the spring semester. Leading the planning process will be a Strategy Group co-chaired by Provost John McCarthy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Brandi Hephner LaBanc. This group will synthesize guidance developed by seven function-specific Working Groups and provide a set of recommendations to the chancellor no later than Oct. 21, informing the spring plan. 

That message is as follows:

To the UMass Campus Community,

Having transitioned to a mostly remote learning model for the fall and implemented extensive testing, quarantine and COVID-19 mitigation protocols on campus, we are now embarking upon an inclusive and deliberative planning process for the upcoming spring semester.

The health and safety of our community will remain our highest priority as we develop a sustainable blueprint for how to conduct teaching, research and scholarship under the difficult and evolving conditions presented by the ongoing pandemic. Based on what we have learned from the transition last spring, this semester so far, and from other institutions, we should prepare for the possibility that a portion of our teaching and learning will continue to be delivered remotely in the spring. However, we should also build the infrastructure to gradually repopulate campus and resume in-person operations as much as the public health situation permits so we can provide an immersive educational experience and bring back our displaced employees.

Leading our planning process for the spring semester will be a Strategy Group made up of senior campus administrators and co-chaired by Provost John McCarthy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Brandi Hephner LaBanc. The Strategy Group will include the chairs of seven function-specific Working Groups (outlined below) as well as the chancellor’s Chief of Staff, the President of the Student Government Association, the President of the Graduate Student Senate and the Secretary of the Faculty Senate. It will synthesize guidance developed by the Working Groups and provide a set of recommendations to me no later than Oct. 21, informing our spring plan. 

I am grateful for your support, understanding and deep commitment to UMass as we chart a course forward. I remain confident that upon our eventual return to normal operations, whenever that becomes possible, we will carry with us lessons learned from this crisis that will strengthen our teaching, research and engagement moving forward.


Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy


Spring Planning Working Groups

The Working Groups will focus on seven critical areas of campus operations. Students will be represented in the planning process through the 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate student seats allotted them on the working groups.   

1. Teaching, Learning, Technology and Student Success

Carol Barr, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Dean of Undergraduate Education, Chair; and Barbara Krauthamer, Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Vice Chair

This group is to plan academic course delivery: in-person, virtually, and a combination of the two. Areas of focus include identifying those courses where in-person instruction is essential, developing training to assist faculty with multi-modal delivery, addressing technology challenges identified during the spring and fall semesters, and addressing specific barriers to success experienced by low-income and other vulnerable students.

2. Research and Libraries

Mike Malone, Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, Chair; and Simon Neame, Dean of Libraries, Vice Chair

This group is charged with developing the plan to safely and effectively operate research and library spaces, as well as university owned, leased or controlled spaces such as field stations, farms, the UMass Center in Springfield and the Mount Ida Campus. The group’s focus encompasses all physical spaces, including laboratories, studios and performance spaces.

3.  Residence Life, Off-Campus Life, Dining and Student Engagement

Brandi Hephner LaBanc, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life (SACL), Chair; and Evelyn Ashley, Dean of Students, and Marcy Clark, Director of Assessment and Information Systems for SACL, Vice Chairs

This group is charged with building the engagement and residential plan that will be scaled depending on the level of re-population permitted in the spring. The plan will effectively engage our student community beyond the classroom, both on and off campus, and safely re-populate our residence halls. The group, mindful of the differing needs of all our students, will consider student safety, wellbeing, culture, behavior and holistic development.

4.  Communication

John Kennedy, Vice Chancellor for University Relations, Chair; and Anne Massey, Dean of the Isenberg School of Management, Vice Chair

The group will ensure that relevant information regarding all aspects of the spring planning process is shared effectively with campus and external constituents.

5.  Facilities, Finances and Human Resources

Andrew Mangels, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, Co-Chair; and William Brady, Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer, Co-Chair

This group will focus on analyzing and resolving the significant budgetary and human resources implications of the pandemic and its economic fallout.

6.  Public Health and Safety

Steve Goodwin, Deputy Chancellor and Chief Planning Officer, Chair; and Jeff Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health & Safety and Emergency Management, Vice Chair

This group will develop and execute the campus’s extensive COVID-mitigation protocols including viral testing, quarantine and employing the best science and public health information available to determine the optimal path to re-populating the campus. It will identify special preparations and changes in traditional social practices, instruction, recreation and athletics that will be required for the protection of our campus community.

7.  Athletics

Chair: Ryan Bamford, Director of Athletics

This group will focus on creating a safe and healthy competitive environment for our student athletes, and advise on participating in intercollegiate competition. The group will also consider the extent of fan participation, physically as well as virtually.