President Mark Schlissel has formalized a new advisory and coordinating body to support the health of the university community during the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing a 15-member COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee.

In a July 15 message to the University of Michigan community, Schlissel announced the committee will be responsible for the timely triage of information, coordinating key U-M offices and providing expert advice and recommendations to university leaders on the public health response to the pandemic across the university.

It will be led by Robert Ernst, associate vice president for student life and executive director of University Health Service.

Photo of Robert Ernst
Robert Ernst

“We know that COVID-19 is going to be with us for at least the next full academic year and quite possibly even longer. The COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee will support the health of the university community during this pandemic,” Schlissel said. “I’ll be working closely with the committee in its role as a resource to support the ongoing design and implementation of public health and safety measures and policies.”

The committee will aim to tackle different objectives across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, such as providing recommendations on virus testing and serology, contact tracing, disease quarantine, disease surveillance, person protection equipment practices and personal behavior guidelines.

Ernst will lead the effort taking on additional duties as director of the COVID-19 Campus Health Response. He will be responsible for organizing and convening the committee. In his role as a physician on the Ann Arbor campus, Ernst has been at the forefront of the response to COVID-19.

“My experience with COVID-19 is drawn from the winter term as UHS effectively responded to an outbreak of cases on campus associated with students just after returning from spring break. We navigated that uncertain time through successful partnerships across the university,” Ernst said.

“The team assembled to oversee the campus health response in the fall fortunately includes a number of campus leaders involved in the management of the initial wave of cases and subsequent important planning efforts that followed.”

In addition to Ernst, the COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee includes:

  • Angela Beck, associate dean for student engagement and practice, School of Public Health.
  • James Behm, executive director of enterprise application services, Information and Technology Services.
  • Andrew Burchfield, director of emergency management, Division of Public Safety and Security.
  • Sarah Daniels, associate dean of students, Office of the Vice President for Student Life.
  • Amy Dittmar, senior vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  • Dana Elger, senior public affairs representative, Office of the Vice President for Communications.
  • Preeti Malani, university chief health officer.
  • Emily Martin, associate professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health.
  • Lindsey Mortenson, medical director, University Health Service.
  • Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, interim director of the office of Services for Students with Disabilities, Office of the Vice President for Student Life.
  • Danielle Sheen, executive director, Environment, Health & Safety.
  • Emily Stoneman, director of Occupational Health Services.
  • Riccardo Valdez, director of Clinical Pathology, MLabs.
  • Laraine Washer, medical director of infection control, Michigan Medicine.

Additionally, the committee will design and implement public health and safety measures and policies, analyze data and serve as a resource to schools, colleges and units.

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