The UCD Governing Authority (GA) is to meet this Thursday using video conferencing tool Zoom. In a historic first, the 37-member committee will meet virtually, providing video or audio access for all governors who are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 12-member University Management Team (UMT) have also held daily online meetings throughout the current university shutdown.
The GA has just seven scheduled meetings throughout the academic year, with two more meetings scheduled for May and June. The UMT usually meets every two weeks, but since the government shut all Irish universities to combat the spread of COVID-19, the UMT meets daily using video conferencing software.
UCD Bursar David Kelly, a member of the UMT, has said that the Zoom conferencing software “is working very well,” going on to say that “things are moving so rapidly, each day brings a new set of circumstances that we have either planned for or need to plan for. Decision making is made easier with regular meetings.” Kelly also added that the university is “waiting on government guidance for what is planned for next week and beyond.”
Both the GA and UMT make up the lead decision-making bodies within the university. The GA is responsible for voting on university policies, strategy, financials, corporate governance developments and a range of significant university matters. The UMT is primarily responsible for managing the resources of the university such as financial, capital and human resources, as well as developing a university strategy, which must be approved by the GA. The UMT were responsible for the recent decision to increase on-campus rents by more than 12% over the next three years.
It is understood that university management have recently focused a great deal of resources in ensuring the smooth running of online teaching and learning at UCD. On Monday, following a two-week break, students began the final stretch of the trimester through the online learning system “Brightspace.”
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced on Tuesday that universities, schools and crèches will remain closed until at least April 19th. Outdoor gatherings have also been limited to a maximum of four people unless individuals belong to the same household. Non-essential businesses are also now closed.
UCD President Andrew Deeks has said in his President’s Bulletin last week that the potential long-term impacts of COVID-19 for UCD could be “very serious” and have a severe impact on the university’s commercial activities. The President has appealed to recruitment staff to ensure international students, who make up over 20% of UCD’s annual income, attend the university next year. Deeks has also postponed the appointment of new academic staff under the Ad Astra Fellow scheme.
The UCD campus is currently operating under “out-of-office” protocols, resulting in heightened restrictions on staff and student present on campus. The university’s libraries are also closed until further notice.
Updates on the COVID-19 university shutdown will continue over the coming weeks…
Conor Capplis – Editor