The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Advisory Board met virtually on Friday, May 15.
Topics discussed at the meeting, which was conducted via Zoom, included a report by Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD, detailing the university’s plan for a gradual and safe “return” to campus by fall, UTHSC’s Fiscal 2021 budget, and an overview of the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chancellor Schwab said he is proud of how the faculty, staff, and students have responded in the face of the pandemic and expects what he called “the ramp up to the fall and the new normal” to be equally as successful.
A phased return to campus and full operation is being planned and general guidelines are being drawn. The guidelines include successful completion of mandatory online COVID-19 education for every employee before returning to campus, COVID-19 testing for cause, individual self-check criteria, mandatory social distancing and masks worn when on campus, working from home when possible, and efforts to minimize population density on campus with online classes and labs and simulation conducted in smaller sessions with social distancing and extended hours.
“We will maintain full operation while managing population density on campus,” the chancellor said. “We believe we can do that effectively.”
Board Chairman Phil Wenk, DDS, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee, thanked the administration and praised the university for “handling the challenge as well as you have.”
The board members approved a revised proposed budget for Fiscal 2021, which will be submitted to the UT President. They acknowledged that financial constraints as a result of the pandemic may mean they will have to revise the budget further.
College of Medicine Executive Dean Scott Strome, MD, reported on the university’s leadership in the battle against coronavirus. He cited the coronavirus resources website, the drive-thru testing site at Tiger Lane, the on-campus lab for analyzing COVID-19 tests, ongoing research to develop antibody testing and therapeutics to treat the virus, and messaging through the media to help the public understand the virus and react appropriately. He praised students, faculty, and staff across the colleges, who have been leaders in the pandemic response.
“It has really been a full-campus effort,” Dean Strome said.
“I congratulate you for what you did,” Dr. Wenk responded.
The advisory board meeting is available to view via webcast.