Dan Larson: University planning in times of uncertainty

Jada Krening, News Correspondent

This Q&A is the sixteenth in a 19-part series, “19 COVID-19 Stories,” updated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, diving into the unique perspectives of the Corvallis community as they face COVID-19 and all its social and economic effects. 

Dan Larson has worked various positions at Oregon State University for the past twenty years. He currently serves as the university’s vice provost for Student Affairs and OSU’s COVID-19 response coordinator. 


How has your job changed since the arrival of COVID-19?

The work that I engage in remains consistent, yet instead of in-person meetings, much of my day is on Zoom. Much of my work right now, given my role as OSU’s COVID-19 response coordinator, is divided between leadership responsibilities for the Division of Student Affairs and my work guiding and providing leadership for a comprehensive university response to the pandemic. This includes coordinating cross-university planning with other response coordinators across the state, strategy development for operating the university within the requirements of Gov. Kate Brown’s executive orders and Oregon Health Authority guidelines, and leading the development of university guidance and communications. 


As an administrator, how has working to manage COVID-19 differed from outbreaks in previous years, namely the meningococcal B outbreak?

The nature of this pandemic has required an adjustment to almost every component of university operations, as well as development and implementation of comprehensive public health measures. Previous challenges such as the meningococcal B outbreak, while also being very serious, did not require major adjustments to overall university operations.


What has been the most challenging aspect of the COVID-19 outbreak for you, both as an individual and as an administrator?

Being able to fulfill community interest in having clarity on an uncertain future of the virus. We do our best to plan for various pandemic contingencies and scenarios. However, even with our community’s commitment to public health measures, and the prevention efforts we have in place, it is difficult to predict the path of the virus and the potential impact of a continued pandemic. 


What has been the most uplifting aspect of the outbreak?

I have been amazed at the level of contribution to Beavers Care from members of the OSU community.


Looking forward, what do you hope OSU students keep in mind?

The ability for OSU, and the Oregon communities in which OSU operates to resume in-person activity will be dependent on our level of commitment to public health strategies, such as wearing masks, keeping physical distance, minimizing gatherings, maintaining personal hygiene, among other measures. We need every student, faculty and staff member to keep themselves—and each other—more safe. This is a time for leadership from each of us, including our students. Let’s hold ourselves and each other accountable so that we can return our university community to campus. 

Was this article helpful?