VP of research Bernhard: Information on research task force

Author: Andy Fuller

Dear Colleagues,

In their letter of April 28, Fr. Jenkins, Provost Burish and Provost-elect Miranda announced the formation of a Research Task Force to develop plans for reopening labs, libraries and studios. This Task Force will directly advise the Academic Year Continuity Working Group and collaborate closely with the Medical/Health/Operations Working Group.

The Research Task Force has a significantly expanded scope relative to the Research Laboratories Operations Task Force, which was formed to develop plans for ramping down research laboratory operations to hibernation state. The Research Laboratories Operations Task Force continues to develop plans for reopening the labs and will operate as a sub-task force of the Research Task Force.

The membership of the Research Task Force is

  • Bob Bernhard, Chair
  • Jim Brockmole
  • Laura Carlson
  • Tom Fuja
  • Mary Galvin
  • Margaret Meserve

The Subtask Force on Research Laboratory Operations membership will include Bob Bernhard, Jim Brockmole, Steve Corcelli, Melanie DeFord, and Mark McCready.

The Research Task Force anticipates considering the challenges to any of our research, scholarship or creative endeavors that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Among the topics on the draft agenda for discussion by the Task Force, in addition to lab reopening, are consideration of:

  • the reopening of the Hesburgh Libraries and other local libraries and archives,
  • the impact to the performances and exhibitions of artists and musicians,
  • national and international field-based research,
  • face-to-face human subjects research,
  • travel-based research such as that dependent on archival study of original materials.

Over the next several weeks the Research Task Force will be consulting with the Faculty Advisory Committee, the University Librarian, department chairs and others. We welcome your suggestions of other classes of scholarship that should be considered in our deliberations of how research scholarship and creative endeavor can ramp back up to a new normal.


For reference, here are the principles and assumptions under which the Research Task Force is working:

  • First, the safety of students, staff and faculty is our top priority.
    • The University’s Medical/Health/Operations Working Group is consulting experts and formulating a plan for reopening campus operations on appropriate timelines for each part of the University. Research perspectives are represented in the deliberations of the Working Group.
    • Research resumption will follow University guidance. 
      • We expect that University guidance will be informed by and be in compliance with State of Indiana and local government policy but will be made independently.
      • In general, we expect that the resumption of research will occur in phases.
      • We expect that restarting research, scholarship and creative endeavors will require significant health and safety protocols applied to faculty and students, and just as importantly, to support personnel, such as building services and shipping/receiving. Protocols will also extend to audiences, subjects and participants where applicable.  Under these conditions, research activities will not be conducted under normal conditions and not all research may be possible. 

Both Task Forces continue to do scenario planning and will update you on the status and progress of our efforts to resume research operations, including research labs. In the meantime, if you have specific questions, please contact any of the members of the Task Forces.

Thank you for your patience and dedication as we work through these uncertain times.


Bob Bernhard

Vice President for Research