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Okay, so I've spent an hour reading through membership on these task forces. Probably around 40 institutions of various types. I was curious who was around the table, figuratively speaking. Of course, you can only glean so much from names & titles. But here are some observations.
First, a note on my methods. I read the lists and made some observations. The end.

So, no claims to be doing a systematic analysis over here. Time is scarce, people.
Okay, so my first observation is to be expected. The task forces are very top-heavy.

Primarily deans, VPs, provosts, directors, and so forth. Professors tended to also have administrative roles of one type or another.
I saw a number of committees where faculty representation was in the form of the faculty senate president.

There are many problems with having the faculty senate president as the primary voice for faculty. Too many to list.
Very few students and, again, students were often represented by someone from student government.

Exceptionally few graduate students. Not sure what that's all about.

There were exceptions. William & Mary and Wichita State come to mind as having many students involved.
The relative lack of faculty without administrative roles stood out to me.

It makes me wonder how many people on the committees are spending significant amounts of time in the classroom.

And how many of them feel comfortable challenging their leaders.
By the way, it can be super intimidating for students to serve on committees like this.

Can you imagine? It's you and 30 people with big titles. I've been on committees like this, and it's not easy to speak up.

So, props to the students doing this service.
One of the big things I wanted to see was the number of people with medical training or expertise.

The news is not good. Like, really not encouraging.

Those of you at colleges with medical schools are fortunate.
In some cases, it came down to a nursing faculty member, public health faculty member, or student health center director.

That's a lot of pressure on those folks, too.
I didn't see many task forces with contingent faculty, clerical staff, facilities personnel. Again, they very top-heavy.

Many did have staff senate representatives, and they could hopefully speak for some of the groups whose voices are left out of these decisions.
So, in terms of structure, many of these committees were big. Huge in some cases.

It was common for there to be multiple sub-groups, which were also often quite big.

That's a lot of people, perspectives, and information to manage.
Many were organized hierarchically, which isn't shocking. It's higher ed!

So, sub-groups sent their reports and recommendations up to the coordinating group, and they sent their reports up.

Anyone in higher ed can point to the pitfalls of a structure like this.
By the way, are all these task forces meeting by Zoom?

Seems like a stupid question, but managing all this at a distance just adds a layer of complexity and can make communication even harder.
I didn't look closely at the charge for task forces, but the charge matters.

If a committee was charged with coming up with recommendations for bringing people back to campus, the recommendations will focus on bringing people back and not alternatives.
So, what are some takeaways?

I'd seriously ask how many people on the task force are in a position to challenge or critique.

I've been in a room where a leader said something outlandish and realized I was the only one with tenure who felt comfortable pushing back.
There is a dangerous assumption in many higher ed orgs, which is that information and expertise bubbles up.

You've got the VP of a unit on the task force, surely they know everything.

I'd want to make very sure I have people with direct knowledge and experience in the room.
I feel silly even saying this, but...are there doctors and medical experts involved? How involved?

Maybe these folks are involved but their names were elsewhere. I just saw a lot of people who probably know a lot of useful things on task forces, but they aren't medical doctors.
I saw some task forces where undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty of all ranks were on every subgroup. That seems like a good approach.

And at least 1 institution had a higher ed faculty member! I'm biased, but institutions should tap their expertise.
I also appreciated the couple of task forces I saw that included representatives from the community or constituents external to campus.

Not like donors, but people living and working nearby. Also a smart idea.
Lots more to say on this, like the use of task forces and reports to project confidence and control.

But we'll leave it here. Thanks for reading!
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