Planning for Fall Semester

May 6, 2020

Dear faculty, staff and students,

We are writing today to provide an update on our ongoing planning for fall semester operations. The planning process is wide-ranging and is deepening every day as we bring more faculty and staff onto the committees (described below) that are helping us envision what the fall term could look like. We aim to make key decisions in regard to fall operations by mid-June.

Guiding Principle

A single principle guides all of this work: to protect the health of our community. There are additional sets of principles that guide our plans for instruction and research. We are committed to upholding Berkeley’s excellence across all of our mission areas.

Scenario Planning

Because we don’t know what the spread of COVID-19 will look like over the course of the next few months, each committee below has been asked to develop plans for each of the following three scenarios for the fall semester:

  • Scenario #1: For public health reasons, the campus must continue with full remote instruction, and predominantly remote work being done in the operations and research realms.

  • Scenario #2In-person operations resume, with limits and restrictions imposed by public health authorities.

  • Scenario #3: Campus operations largely return to normal (i.e., mostly in-person), but wherever possible, will accommodate students, staff, researchers and instructors who need or prefer to operate remotely due to continuing pandemic conditions.


Each of the following committees has been charged with studying and making suggestions for a key area of campus operations. Each committee will be led by members of the Chancellor’s Cabinet and special advisors who will share their committees’ progress and recommendations during weekly Cabinet meetings. The Cabinet will use the recommendations to guide decision-making as we develop plans to resume operations in a way that maximizes community safety.  In addition, we will look for opportunities to incorporate the broad range of student perspectives. 

The current committees are:

  1. COVID-19 Public Health and Testing Advisory Committee Led by Nicholas Jewell, professor of biostatistics in the School of Public Health.

  2. Research. Led by Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz.

  3. Instruction. Led by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos.

  4. Student Engagement and Services. Co-led by Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Lisa Garcia Bedolla, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Oscar Dubón, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Cathy Koshland, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton.

  5. Housing and Dining. Led by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton.

  6. Operations. Led by Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher. There are three subcommittees within the Operations working group: Workforce, led by Vice Provost for the Faculty Benjamin Hermalin and Chief People and Culture Officer Eugene Whitlock; Events and External Relations; and Information Technology, led by Jenn Stringer.

  7. Athletics. Led by Director of Athletics James Knowlton.

  8. Financial Planning. Led by Vice Chancellor for Finance Rosemarie Rae.

  9. Communications. Led by Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Diana Harvey.

Again, all of this planning is being done with public health guidelines as our backdrop. We will proceed only with the guidance and express approval of local public health authorities.

We will continue to provide regular status reports about this critical planning process on the campus COVID-19 website, under the Return to Campus tab. In addition, our next Campus Conversations event on Monday, April 12 will feature Chancellor Christ, and we invite you to submit questions about the plans and structures we have established here. We’ll make every effort to address your inquiries on Monday’s webcast.

Thank you for everything you are doing to support the university’s mission and serve our students. It is indeed a challenging and uncertain time, and we have been so grateful for your commitment, as well as your patience and flexibility. What makes Berkeley Berkeley is not just our physical campus, or our history, or our traditions… above all else, it is our community. No matter what our fall semester looks like, we will remain strong because of the dedicated service of so many of you. 

Carol Christ, Chancellor
A. Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost 

This message has ben sent to all UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students.