UCI Chancellor Gillman Talks COVID-19 Research, Testing, and Keeping People Employed During Pandemic

Orange County Business Council welcomed Howard Gillman, Chancellor of University of California, Irvine, for its first-ever virtual Chairman’s Leadership Breakfast on May 19. Interviewed by OCBC’s President and CEO, Lucy Dunn, Gillman answered questions about how UCI is leading the nation in collaborative, holistic health expertise as well as research, testing, vaccines and innovation in the face of COVID-19, plus “virtual” graduation for 2020. With 35,000 students and 20,000 employees, UCI is the second largest OC employer. 

Under Gillman’s award-winning leadership, UCI has been ranked in the top 10 of all public universities in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report, and during the pandemic, the university has led the nation in ground-breaking research on testing and vaccines to treat COVID-19.  

As one of the nation’s leading research universities, UCI has made strides in clinical trials for many different COVID-19 treatments, and continues to aggregate data on which interventions will be the most helpful, as well as understanding the virus itself for an eventual vaccine.

As the second-largest employer in the county, UCI has also led the region economically  in keeping a large majority of the workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. In a statement given April 2, Gillman announced the university would not be conducting any layoffs – related to COVID-19 or otherwise – through the fiscal year ending June 30. 

Discussing the reopening process, Gillman noted that the university’s research labs have already begun to reopen with regular health checks for employees and students, social distancing protocols, face covering requirements and more. These same guidelines will extend to the rest of the university as other departments start to reopen.

Gillman also noted that, even before the pandemic, the university has taught more undergraduate students online than any other UC campus, with very highly-ranked online programs. This has made the university’s transition to fully virtual learning easier during the pandemic, and will remain a benefit in the fall semester.

On why testing is so important, Gillman touched on the value of contact tracing, and how such tracking can help the region build a containment strategy for the virus and more quickly flatten the curve of infection. This requires people to get tested for officials to know who has had or has previously been in contact with the virus, and track its spread from there.

Finally, Gillman discussed the role that innovation and creativity will play in shaping the future of education, as well as the future of Orange County. As has always been the case for OC, business working with academia and government will allow for a stronger comeback, even with the enormous economic impact of this crisis.

For more information, contact Lauren Martin, OCBC Events Manager.


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