Leading a university through a pandemic: the experience of the Universitat de Girona

The Universitat de Girona (Spain), like all higher education institutions across the world, has been forced to rapidly adapt to the expansion of the COVID19 pandemic and its consequences on daily life. The Spanish Government declared the State of Alarm on March 14th and has extended it until the 26th of April 2020. What will happen after the 26th of April is still very uncertain.

The leadership team of the Universitat de Girona (UdG), from the first signs of the crisis, has taken on a proactive role to ensure the continuity of the university activities in whatever scenario the crisis would lead to.

The first step taken was to create a Crisis Cabinet with members of the leadership (Vice-Rectors) and Heads of management, communication, international relations and occupational health. This Crisis Cabinet has the following functions:

  • Agree on decisions related to the impact of the COVID19 on the university community.
  • Coordinate the internal and external information and communications.

Additionally, this committee was responsible for identifying the different scenarios that the university would be facing and design appropriate responses to each of them. Six scenarios were identified:

Scenario 1. Preventive and reactive activity

Scenario 2. Reduction of the physical presence at UdG

Scenario 3. Suspension of teaching activity

Scenario 4. Universitat de Girona closes (all activity goes online)

Scenario 5. Prolonged closure of the UdG

Scenario 6. Return to the classroom activity

Each scenario has specific indications for teaching activities, research activities, student life and all the university services.

Returning to classrooms will not be immediate. UdG knows the constraints can last for weeks and can be prolonged for months, most likely until the end of the academic year and could even be beyond. This scenario poses prolonged confinement, so the numerous activities that UdG had already begun to establish remotely (teaching, research, services, and administration) will likely continue to be carried out non face-to-face for the next months. Therefore, the challenge is a major one: to turn what has been exceptional so far into usual. This will require a huge effort and commitment from all the members of the Universitat de Girona community.

In the Rector’s words “Running the University is our way of helping our communities; the way we claim we are a public service. Holding the institutions running under these difficult circumstances is the only way we have in order to show our contribution to society. First of all, we need to do this aware of our limits and our fragility. We have to recognize that this scenario poses unprecedented problems and we must deal with them with determination, but also with humbleness.”


More information can be found in the following link: https://www.udg.edu/en/acasa/Documents-oficials

Shared by: Alicia Betts

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing the experience and the organisation of UdG in this particular moment.
    It is so true the challenge you highlighted “to turn what has been exceptional so far into usual”.

    Thank you!

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