Update from Dean of Humanities, David Schaberg during COVID-19 Campus Closure

Published: April 3, 2020
On behalf of the UCLA Division of Humanities, I trust that you and your loved ones are safe and well during these unprecedented times. You may already have learned about the measures UCLA is taking to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on campus. I write today to share our progress, our plans, and our gratitude with you as we move forward together in this rapidly changing new reality.

Our first priority is to protect the well-being and safety of our Bruin family while ensuring that students can finish their courses and degrees. Over the past few weeks we completed a transition to remote teaching and learning, with all but essential staff now working off campus. While our activities have slowed as thousands of us adapt to these extraordinary circumstances, we have worked diligently to provide a sense of stability and continuity. Our mission in the humanities—to put the human being at the center of our endeavors—is more critical than ever during this crisis. We believe our collective creativity, intellect, and compassion can make a profound impact in the challenging months ahead.

We have already begun to see this impact in the lives of our students. When the need to transition to remote learning became clear, UCLA College Dean and Vice Provost Patricia Turner initiated the Bruin Tech Fund to offer emergency grants of up to $1,000 to students who may not have at home the technology needed to access classes remotely, such as up-to-date computers or Wi-Fi. Deans across campus have allocated over $500,000 from our budgets in support of this initiative, and we have raised over $150,000 in generous donations from the community. I am thrilled to report that more than 40 grants were approved on the first day the funds were offered, providing immediate relief to our students.

Meanwhile, our more than 350 faculty members, specialized lecturers, and dedicated staff have responded with characteristic resilience and resourcefulness. While remaining flexible and sensitive to one another’s needs, we are learning to thrive in our new digital space. A cohort of faculty in the Department of English are working with the Digital Humanities program to create a virtual media lab where faculty and students can share projects, articles, and resources. The lab will not only house coursework in English, but also serve as a forum for discussion on how we can navigate this changing landscape. I myself am teaching an undergraduate course this quarter on organizational analysis and leadership that will include guest speakers and will encourage critical thinking about organizations’ responses to the pandemic. I have had to reconsider some elements of the class in order to adapt it for remote learning, while maintaining the core social elements we experience when we gather. I am confident that even with the constraints of safe distancing we can achieve a true sense of collaboration and community.

We could not have made this rapid transition and taken these remarkable steps without all of you. I am deeply grateful for the support, encouragement, and generous spirit of our humanities community. Thank you! Please know that you and your loved ones are always at the forefront of our thoughts as we find new ways to work together and lift each other up during this challenging time. I would welcome hearing from you  if you have questions or concerns or would simply like to connect and share ideas. Thank you so much for being a part of our Bruin family, and please stay safe and be well.

David Schaberg
Dean of Humanities
Professor of Asian Languages & Cultures