Interview with Elizabeth Hartman, 01/18/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: All right. Okay, so I'm gonna go ahead and start. This is Grace Lim interviewing Elizabeth Hartman on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 for Campus COVID Stories. Campus COVID Stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

EH: My name is Elizabeth Hartman. That's E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H H-A-R-T-M-A-N.

GL: And now for the purposes of getting getting a good audio recording, tell us again, who you are and what your title is here at UW Oshkosh.

EH: Elizabeth Hartman, Executive Director Office of Economic Development. I'm also a lecturer in the College of Business and who knows what my title will be by the time this is all done.

GL: And before we dive into your Campus COVID Story, we'd like to get to know 00:01:00you a little better. Just tell us about where you grew up.

EH: Yeah, um, I came to Oshkosh in grade school when my dad joined the faculty at here at UWO. And before that I lived in Michigan while he was in grad school at Michigan State University and then in Fort Worth, Texas, when he got his first job at TCU. And I was here in Oshkosh, primarily, all the way through college, spent a semester in Atlanta when my dad was on sabbatical and such but for the most part, grew up here in Oshkosh, and then went to Madison for law school. I was there for about 10 years and then came back here in 2005.

GL: Your father was in which department? Tell us again.

EH: Yeah. My dad is E. Alan Hartman and he joined the faculty in 1976. And was 00:02:00dean of the College of Business for 14 years, and retired in 2014, I believe.

GL: And tell us again, where you earned your degree or degrees.

EH: Yeah, I got I got my undergraduate degree here at UW Oshkosh, and political science. And then I got a law degree from UW Madison.

GL: And how did you come to work here at UW Oshkosh?

EH: Yeah, so I actually started working as an ad hoc lecturer back in 2006 for what is now OCE. I also did some teaching for the political science department. And since 2013, I've taught for the College of Business. Because of my role in the community, I used to run an economic development organization, I did a lot of collaborative projects um here on campus with various folks. And I was hired by Chancellor Leavitt, in 2016, to join his office to help him get better 00:03:00connected to the business community. So I was initially a special assistant to the Chancellor for Business relations. And I also advised him on economic development because of my background, and we also were working on a big federal grant at that point. So I was also helping to, to get that accomplished. And so yeah, that was that's how I got here.

GL: Tell me, what does OCE?

EH: Oh. So the Office of Continuing Education, right. So that I think that's what they're called right now. Or did they change it again? I don't know. It's been like so many different things. Not sure. But, but yeah, that's where online and continuing education, right online and continuing education. That's what it is. So yeah, I used to- I taught online for them, initially.

GL: Okay. Alright, let's move to the early days of COVID. Do you recall the first time he actually heard about this virus?

EH: Yeah, I think it was, you know, in December of 2019, kind of when we all 00:04:00were hearing about the news from Wuhan. Kind of just in general, reading the news and talking to people.

GL: And what were you thinking about this at that time?

EH: Well, I was certainly worried about what was happening, you know, to the to the people in China, but I honestly naively thought it wasn't going to get here. I thought it was going to be like other viruses that we had seen, like MERS and SARS. And it was never going to make it to the United States. So I was concerned about what was happening over there. But I wasn't that worried about it getting here, at least initially.

GL: At what point did you think that this was something that we actually have to think about?

EH: Yeah, it wasn't too long that it became apparent, that it, that it was going to be a widespread problem and that it was going to get here and we were all going to be affected by it. It really started sinking in that it was different and I was I was pretty frightened about it. I remember in particular hearing 00:05:00about, you know, the doctor that kind of blew the whistle on, you know, COVID back in Wuhan, and basically told the world about what was going on. And then a couple of weeks later, he was dead from COVID. And I was like, holy cow, that's, you know, pretty frightening to think that that happened to somebody, I mean, he was like, in his 40s, or whatever. So it was, it was really scary. And, you know, I tend to be a cautious person in general, and I kind of stay on top of the news, maybe a little more than I really should. It's Oh, so I think I got, you know, I was, I was pretty concerned about it. And, and honestly, I, you know, it's, it was kind of personal for me, like, even from the beginning, because my great grandfather died in the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. And, you know, left my great grandmother with five kids, you know, my grandpa was just an infant at the time. So she had five young children, you know, she never remarried, she went to work, and you know, had to be very frugal to, you know, 00:06:00provide for the family. And I thought about her a lot, you know, during the pandemic about what she must have gone through, and then also really the effect on my family. You know, my grandfather was, I mean, of course, back in those days, he was the breadwinner, right? And he was, he was pretty prominent, and well known in the community already, and people were expecting him to be, you know, really successful. And I think about like, what effect that had, you know, on my family, and then through the pandemic, thinking about all the people that have been lost, you know, and all the families that have been affected, and how could have the cumulative weight of that on the world just seems sometimes really tremendous and sad.

GL: That's amazing about your great grandfather. Where was where was he living at that time?

EH: Yeah. So in, in Washburn, Wisconsin, so way up north.

GL: And did they leave records of this? Well, how did you know about this?


EH: Well, I knew about it from my grandmother, and or my grandfather, and my mother. I never met my great grandmother, she died before I was born. But my mother was very close to her. And so, you know, knew quite a bit about it. And my grandfather was never I, we had a very close relationship to all my grandparents, because they lived here in Wisconsin, too. They lived in Wisconsin Rapids, where I was born and where my dad was born. So we saw them a lot. And my grandpa was never shy about sharing things, you know, about his, his past and growing up, and, you know, growing up without a father, and, you know, and then he went and, you know, fought in WWII and was, you know, injured, got the Purple Heart. And, you know, he, I think there were a lot of things about his early upbringing that really shaped him, you know, to be the kind of person that he was, you know, he wasn't afraid to make sacrifices. He, he was always very frugal his entire life, you know, and, but very much believed in, you know, the 00:08:00spirit of family and community and was just a really cool person.

GL: At what point at, at work, did you start getting word about COVID-19? You know? Yeah.

EH: Yeah, yeah, that's a good question. When I think I mean, I, I remember, you know, I was reporting to Bob Roberts at the time, who I still report to, you know, and he and I were kind of still meeting regularly, you know, through January and February. But, you know, he was, he was indicating to me that, you know, there was a distinct possibility that we were going to have some kind of shutdown. And then I remember the message coming out from Provost Koker, you know, kind of preparing all the instructors for the possibility that we would be, you know, moving to some kind of online format. So, I, I felt that come on.

GL: And then, when was the first time on you, did you get word that we were 00:09:00going to leave a week early for spring break? The same time everybody else did? Or did you get advance notice?

EH: You know, I really don't remember that. I think, if I had advance notice, it wasn't a lot.

GL: And what happened to your department at that time?

EH: Yeah. So, um, so obviously, that I, I have my economic development responsibilities, and I also teach, right, so I was kind of managing both sides of those things. You know, I, you know, I give a ton of credit to Bob for, you know, he was really an exceptional leader, really, right out of the gate with the, the pandemic and shutting down, you know, he met with everybody, you know, told us what was happening, what to expect, you know, gave us a heads up about, you know, furloughs and such. And, you know, and that certain people were going to be tapped to help, you know, because there was going to be a lot that was going to go into, you know, managing the pandemic.


GL: So let's backtrack a little bit. When you refer to the- your responsibilities in the economic development, what did that look like prior to COVID?

EH: Yeah, so um, so prior to COVID, kind of going back to like 2018-19, we were working on some fairly significant projects. And then economic development, unfortunately, we, I ended up spending quite a bit of time either shutting down programs or transitioning them off campus, because we were hit particularly hard by the Foundation, bankruptcy and kind of all the associated complexities of that. And so we went, you know, at, when I first started, you know, leading the economic development efforts, I think we had seven or eight FTE and several students, and then that got, you know, cut down considerably after that, and we still aren't really recovered. And I don't, I don't expect that we probably will ever get back to those levels, again, without some kind of significant grant 00:11:00help. So yeah, we were working on a lot of kind of neat projects, then we were kind of shutting some things down. And like, right before the pandemic, we were relaunching the Center for Customized Research, Research and Services. And that, you know, was primarily the unit that reported to me, and, and then Jeff Sachs, he and I, Jeff was the interim director at that point. And he and I also, were working on a study of kind of all of our outreach efforts for campus. And then I also was working on a project for Reeve Union and helping them with their strategic planning. So, I kind of was doing a variety of things like right before, right before the pandemic.

GL: Hold on. Can you hold one second, please? So, I kind of get this person off my um oh, shoot. I don't know how to stop the

EH: Is there zinging?

GL: Yeah, it's zinging, I don't know how to stop it.

EH: It might, if it's on my end, if anything comes up, I'll make sure that I 00:12:00that I get them off. I thought I turned off all my desktop notifications, but who knows? They seem to like magically come back.

GL: Exactly. Alright so, so part COVID, you were working on these big projects? And then how did COVID affect, you know, the projects you had been working on?

EH: Yeah, so well, certainly the outreach study, we kind of just put on the shelf. And in CCRS, as an outreach unit, right, you know, it's our, you know, CCRS really connects university resources to, you know, folks in the, you know, in the broader community, whether they be, you know, businesses or nonprofits or, you know, government, whatever with, you know, to help them solve problems, do projects, do consulting. So a lot of that came to a stop, right? Because people just weren't doing things like that. And so we had to think about, well, what, as a unit, what can and should we be doing, you know, during the pandemic, 00:13:00and one of the early things, and, you know, I give Jeff and his staff a lot of credit for coming up with the idea of doing a survey of the business community on how are the disruptions of COVID affecting you. And we ended up doing that survey for like 19 months, and WEDC used it, the Wisconsin Department workforce of development, workforce development, used it to make reports to the legislature on what was happening, because nobody else was gathering this data. I mean, we were the ones who were collecting up this information. And so because we had it, it got used a lot in various ways. And I know, you know, WEDC shared it with, you know, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies to kind of let them know what was happening here in Wisconsin, particularly to the business community, and use it as a basis for some of the grant programs that, you know, the WEDC came up with during the pandemic. So, I was really proud that, you know, we were able to kind of decide, you know, look at what our 00:14:00skill set was, what our purpose was, as a unit and how, how could we really help, you know, during the pandemic, and collecting and reporting that data turned out to be, you know, something really important that we were able to contribute. And that was, you know, really Jeff and, and his staff.

GL: Give me the last name of Jeff.

EH: Sache, S-A-C-H-E.

GL: Alright, going back to the time in March, where we all had had to go home, we were sent home. Do you recall what you did in your department, what you had to discuss with your team? And who was your team at that time?

EH: Yeah, so the team really was, you know, Jeff and the staff at CCRS. And yeah, and really, it was that the might Jeff and my initial conversation was just what I was talking about, how can we be helpful? What is it that we can do during this time period to help the university, the broader community, and, you 00:15:00know, even the state. And, you know, the department wasn't real big. And, you know, Bob really helped us manage, you know, how do we, you know, how do we talk to staff about what to do? Obviously, we all, you know, began working at home. And, you know, and Bob had a good system in place where, you know, we would do a weekly reports on, you know, here's what everybody's working on this week, and kind of, here's what we accomplished. And so, you know, we kind of kept good track of, you know, you know, what was going on with everyone. And, of course, it was, you know, very stressful for, for all of us, but I felt like, you know, we managed it as well as we could by trying to have that clear communication and staying in contact with each other.

GL: What is your how's your work divided between your teaching and your work with um CCRS?

EH: Yeah, so teaching, I really do ad hoc, like I was teaching one class that semester. So it's not like teaching as a main thing that I do. It's kind of what I do on the side, my, my main role is my full time academic staff appointment. 00:16:00But I teach here and there as I'm needed, and I don't It's not like I have a regular appointment for teaching. It's just kind of as needed.

GL: Were you teaching in the March that spring semester?

EH: Yeah, I was. I was teaching essentials of law for business. So undergrads, big pit class. That was really interesting to transition online.

GL: How big was a class?

EH: I wanna say, like, I think that enrollment campus was 110. And we were in we were at the cap.

GL: Okay. All right. So you went home, you transition to home? Well, you know, some people were deemed essential to the operation of the of the university that they had to come in person and work in person. Were you among those that group?

EH: No.

GL: Were you working through the spring and the summer? Were you furloughed at 00:17:00all? Or.

EH: I, at first, it looked like I might have a, you know, kind of the whole summer furlough, but then because of my work on the Titans return, I, I got put on an intermittent furlough.

GL: Okay. All right. Tell me about your role in the Titans return.

EH: Yeah, so um, so initially, you know, this got to be a pretty big group. And we had a lot of really important work to do in a short time. So I think, you know, Chancellor, and Bob, in particular, both recognized and she recognized that there was going to be some need for facilitation that we, you know, in order to get every everybody hearded, and you know, in one direction we needed that they needed to have some help with that. And because of my background, doing mediation and facilitation, it kind of in a variety of contexts I was, I 00:18:00was tapped to, you know, come help out. And, yeah, it was really crazy. In fact, I went back and I looked at my notes that, you know, we got charged, I think, by the Chancellor on May 15. And then we began meeting on May 20. And by June 10, we had a draft plan. And so, and so we would have three hour meetings, you know, we'd bring in people from the outside, like, you know, Dr. Newman from Aurora came and talk to us. And so we'd bring people in, and we'd have discussions, and then we would have just kind of this robust talk. I mean, we would we, one of the things I will say is that there was a lot of planning that went into all of those meetings, as well as kind of the whole, you know, Titans return, the EOC, the implementation, everything was very well planned out, because people took a lot of time to think about what kind of structure do we put in place to make this work well? What kinds of things do people need to be doing you know, in 00:19:00meetings, in between meetings? You know, what kind of, you know, committee team structure do we have? What kind of resources do we need to give people to make sure that they can be successful? So I think that, that planning, I would really highlight, okay, wait a minute, someone came up on here for me. Darn it. All right. Maybe I can get those to stop now.

GL: Okay. Okay. Before we continue on, I just got to get these different groups straight.

EH: Yeah.

GL: You were asked to be on the Titans return team where or but you are on the EOC team. So.

EH: Yes, yep. So it started out as the recovery Task Force. That was what the very first thing was in May of 2020, where the chancellor said, we need a plan to reopen safely. It's your guys's job to come up with that. And so I began by facilitating that group And then from that that group generated the plan, the 00:20:00original Titans return plan in June of 2020. But then we had to figure out how are we actually going to implement this thing, right? So we put together then an implementation team, which was much larger, I want to say we had like almost 200 people that were involved between the, you know, we had like work groups, you know, for different, different areas. And so when you added up, kind of all the people involved in the implementation, there are about 200. So we were managing, not only kind of a committee of the leaders of those work groups, but then all those different workgroups were kind of feeding up through the implementation team. And so then those folks worked together kind of all through the summer of 2020, to really come up with the policies and procedures and, and really the operations for how we were going to make this happen. So the the plan said, this is what we're going to do. But then the implementation folks said, well, here's how we operationalize it on the ground. So then they worked all the way through 00:21:00that September, and then it transitioned into the EOC.

GL: I gotta admit, I'm getting a I think that EOC. You know, the chief has said that there was a version of the EOC prior to all this.

EH: There was that too. Yes. So there was a, there was the original EOC that and then they decided they didn't want to use that exact composition of people for the recovery task force that we needed some kind of different people from around campus to develop that plan. And so that original EOC, although some of those members kind of transitioned all the way through, it kind of has morphed over time.

GL: Okay. All right. Got it. So when the chief was talking about creating a team, I think it was 27 people, he was talking about the Recovery Tax force, right?

EH: Yes.

GL: Okay. Okay, perfect. All right. So you got you got, you got recruited?


EH: I got recruited. I did absolutely.

GL: To this to the recovery Task Force. And, and you met for many, many times to go over this, you know, I mean, how did that work? I mean, what did that what did those meetings look like?

EH: Yeah, so we would meet, you know, the recovery task force would meet, you know, like I said, two to three hours each time. So, I mean, think about doing, you know, and, and we're doing this all on teams, right? And so we, so we're transitioning to like learning how to do this, you know, in a completely different way. So a lot of us, you know, had, you know, some learning curve on teams, and I want to, you know, UMC was great at, you know, getting us kind of all up to speed on how to use teams. And I had to do, I did a lot of reading on how to do like online facilitation, and this was kind of a whole new animal. And so yeah, the meetings would be, you know, we have all the agendas and everything 00:23:00for those meetings, and we, like I said, we're very careful on how we plan those out to try to, you know, get us to where we needed to be, because we didn't, we didn't have a lot of time, you know, to, to come up with this plan. And so it was, it was pretty intense those meetings could be I remember afterwards, just being exhausted, like mentally exhausted from, you know, trying to keep track of it all, you know, and that's, you know, and that's, you know, kind of getting into what, you know, what I do is, you know, my job is to, is to kind of hear everybody's viewpoints, you know, make sure that everyone has a chance to express their views, help people you know, to reach that consensus to keep track of like, various threads of conversation, because that's the thing, you know, like, once people get going, there's different threads, and you have to be sensitive to allowing those threads to kind of keep going because a lot of times, there's something really valuable that comes out of them. But by the same 00:24:00token, you can't let it get too far afield that you lose sight of where it is that you're going. So it's like a mixture of you know, you're hurting the cats, but you're also allowing some creativity to flow, right? So um, so that I it took me a while but I think I got to a point where I was able to balance that fairly well. So we would have but then once you do that, then you kind of have to keep track of all those different threads and be able to kind of tie them together and synthesize what it is that everybody's been talking about and say okay, this is what I'm hearing from what you're all saying and this is where I think we're going you know, am I right about this you know, anybody jump in, correct me, add whatever we need, you know, and then you know, kind of get that group to its consensus point and then okay, these are the decisions that we made and then we summarize them we communicated them and, and then ultimately with the Titans Return, it resulted in the data actual plan. And now for the EOC. It 00:25:00results in, you know, our recommendations that, you know, we make to cabinet as far as you know what we're going to do, you know, with managing the pandemic.

GL: I just want to double check on this that this is this group is the group that Chief Leibold said, we have two weeks, you have two weeks to come up with the plan. This is the group that had done all those tabletop exercises on scenarios is this the right one?

EH: Yeah. Well, so the recovery, the Recovery Task Force, yes is that group, but the membership of things changed, right? So there, so there's many people that were on the Recovery Task force that are on the EOC now, but it's not exactly the same.

GL: But I want to, I want to make sure that the group that you're talking about the who you were meeting three hours a day, coming up with these, you know, all these different threads and everything. And, you know, this is a Recovery Taskforce that you're talking about?

EH: Yes.

GL: Okay. Okay. All right. I just Yeah, cuz I, I didn't realize there were so 00:26:00many groups working, you know, on the same, I guess, the same issue.

EH: But it was, but it was serially, so. So it was the recovery taskforce first that came up with the plan, then the implementation team that implemented and came up with the policies, procedures, and operationalize the plan. And then the EOC, which now kind of monitors that, that plan. And then also, you know, provides those recommendations to cabinet. And there are some people that were on all of those, right. So, you know, Chief and Kim and I and Chad Cotti. And I'd have to go back and look, but there are several people that went all, I've got Chris Tarmann, I think Lori Welch. Kind of we, a whole group of us went all the way through, but it hasn't been exactly the same, you know, throughout the, throughout the whole process.

GL: Let's go back to the March, when you had to go home, you were teaching that 00:27:00one class. How did you how were you able to convert your class? How did that go into the online remote?

EH: Yeah, you know, it went for me, it went fairly well, because I had already taught online before. And so I already knew how to use Canvas very well, I was already even using Canvas in that class, because I use it to communicate even for classes that aren't online, I use it to communicate in between, you know, class meetings. And so I use the announcements feature, and then I have like a water cooler. So even if I'm not online, I always have something that's online. So for me, it wasn't, it wasn't as big of a transition, because I'd done it before. But it was a very large group to manage, you know, online, like there really wasn't any effective way to do discussions with a group that big. So I posted a lot of, you know, lecture material online, I recorded lectures and 00:28:00posted them and you know, and we just, you know, and managed questions and office hours and things like that online, and really just tried to muddle through the best that we could, right? I think that's kind of what we all were doing.

GL: At that time. I mean, were you able to relieve and concentrate on you know, the teaching and your other duties? I mean, what was your headspace like?

EH: Yeah, you know, that's a great question. And there's no doubt that was hard. You know, there was a lot of distraction. And, you know, my husband and I, early in the pandemic, were worried, you know, and we actually took our son out of school before they close to school, because he has asthma. And you know, and we were all the stuff that we were reading about people with underlying health conditions and asthma being one of them for, you know, risk of severe illness. We were really worried about him. And so we pulled him out of school early. And, 00:29:00you know, we were wearing masks very early on. My husband's sister's a nurse, and she sent us like, literally, like, right as we shut down like three days later, we had a box of masks of that she had made, you know, that were double ply that a filter in them. I mean, she was like, she was totally on top of it. And so we were, you know, we were wearing masks, we were socially distancing out in public, my husband was pretty much the only one that was going out. I, on the other hand, because I this is just where how I am, I was like, keeping track of I was looking at the DHS website every single day looking at, you know, what does the- what are the case counts? What's the trend? What are the pot what's the positivity rate? I was reading as much of the research as I could, you know, because to me, like being informed and educated kind of about what was going on was a way to help me reduce stress, but that also took up headspace. Right. So 00:30:00there's the worry. And then there's the trying to manage the worry. And then understanding that, you know, we had some important, you know, responsibilities, you know, to the university and the broader community, right? So I had responsibilities to my students, and I didn't want to let them down. But then also, you know, once we started the recovery task force work, it was, hey, this is something that's really important. And, you know, we have a, we have to spend some really focused time, you know, doing this, right.

GL: How old is your son?

EH: He was 11. At the time, he's 13 now, and just got over COVID. So yeah, so we spent so much time and effort trying to keep him protected throughout the pandemic. I mean, we got him, he got vaccinated as soon as he could, and we literally are about ready to take him in for his booster when he tested positive, you know, for COVID and picked it up at school. But the one good thing about having delayed him getting it is, interestingly, through the pandemic, his 00:31:00asthma got so much better. And I don't know if it, I don't know why, maybe it's because of puberty or whatever, because he went through puberty during the, during the pandemic as well. But as he has not had asthma symptoms, so I think for one thing that was good, and that, you know, that helped how he responded to the virus. And also, it's pretty clear, you got omicron, which is, you know, not affecting, you know, the lungs as much as you know, earlier variants, so, so I'm thankful that we were able to at least delay it until this point, even though I was very disappointed as a parent, you know, I felt I felt like I failed him, you know, that, you know, damn it, because I thought to myself, even old, you even over the break, I thought to myself, we shouldn't even send them back to school, you know, shouldn't even send them back to school. This variant is crazy. It's, you know, getting out of control. And then we did and he literally must have gotten exposed, like one of the, either the first day back or the second day back by another student whose parent was positive, and they didn't 00:32:00know it. And so, so yeah, so by that Friday, he was he was home with COVID. And of course, we were like I was at first I was panicked, just completely panicked. Because I didn't know you know, how it was going to affect him. And then as it became clear, he was recovering. It was like a huge sigh of relief, and then another huge sigh of relief when my parents didn't get it.

GL: Yeah. Oh, my goodness. So um, what was it like having him you know working at home? I mean, going to school at home remotely, and you working from home, too? And what's your husband also working from home?

EH: Yeah, yeah, we were all in. Yeah, my husband actually owns a contracting business. And of course, a lot of that, you know, came to kind of a screeching halt for a while. Later on in the pandemic, he was able to do some jobs, particularly outside. So you know, that kind of did start to, you know, recover a little bit. But we were pretty much all home. And so yeah, we did, you know, there was a lot to manage. And, and my mother in law also moved in with us 00:33:00during the pandemic, we actually we, we owned a house across the street, and we rented it to her. And she didn't feel comfortable with the way her roommate was managing the pandemic. Didn't think her roommate was being very careful. And so she felt more comfortable with us. So we just said, hey, just move in here. And so she moved in with us, too. And then we decided to sell both houses and bought another house. And then she moved in with us permanently. So we were managing trying to sell our houses buying a new house, her moving in, my son being home. It was a lot. There's no question. It was a lot.

GL: Alright, so what did you do? Tell us what on the the kind of work you did during the summer, you were working on the on the on the task force?

EH: Yeah. And that was that was primarily what I was doing. I mean, the recovery task force was just planning for it. And facilitating the meetings was pretty 00:34:00much a full time thing. I was also I was also helping, you know, Jeff, with trying to really plan a way through the pandemic for CCRS. You know, what is this thing going to look like going forward? How do we think the pandemic is going to affect economic development on campus? What some kind of advanced planning we can do for that? What kinds of grants might we want to be applying for? So I was still, you know, helping, you know, in that regard, but I would say, you know, the recovery task force was was a pretty significant responsibility. And, you know, and even so we had our regular meetings of that, but then we also had kind of the Chiefs group that would meet every day for like, an hour in the morning to talk about, okay, what do we need to be doing, you know, what's the next how are we going to plan for the next meeting? You know, what else is going on that we need to be mindful of? And that was, I think that was Chief and Chris Tarmann, and Kim and I and why am I forgetting that the 00:35:00he was he left during the pandemic, and I can't remember his name. And that's bad on me. But he was on it too. He was he was also on, he was the one that used to run the EOC. Ah God, I can't remember his name.

GL: So that group Chiefs group is only about seven people?

EH: Yeah. And that was just that was just his, he had just called a regular meeting of this group pretty much every day, you know, during the summer, we would meet for an hour in the morning, well, half an hour to an hour kind of depending. And then towards the end, we weren't meeting on Fridays, but it was kind of it was a very regular meeting where we were doing all kinds of all the advanced planning for the recovery task force meetings, as well as kind of talking through any issues and thinking about what was next, you know, or whatever, whatever issues there were for that particular that particular week.

GL: So you came up with the plan, and we were a, it was implemented. Tell us 00:36:00about the fall 2020, were you teaching that time?

EH: I did. I was teaching. And so that was interesting, I had a high flex class that I was teaching. So I was both, you know, in person and online at the same time, which was a really, which is really difficult. I'm sure you've heard, you know, you taught to so you know, you know what that's like, I mean, it's not the easiest format to be able to be doing both of those things at the same time. So that so that was, you know, clearly challenging. And, you know, and I was, you know, I was still I was, you know, still facilitating the EOC, and had a couple of other economic development projects I was working on at the time, and looking at looking out for some grants, trying to trying to help the unit and bring some money into the university, and we're still working on that.

GL: So what was that like for you? I mean, when you saw the campus was being opened up? I mean, you know, what were what was going through your mind?

EH: Yeah, I was, I was, I was confident in our plan, you know, you know, one of 00:37:00the things I would say about Chief in particular is, he was also really an exceptional leader through this, and, and I really shouldn't, you know, and I thought about this, I really shouldn't call out anybody on the EOC, because they all have been really fantastic. And each have, you know, contributed immensely to, you know, our success as a campus and managing this pandemic. But one of the things I would say about Chief is that he was always confident in the team and the plan, and the university and always was like, we can do this, you know, and, and that helped me feel confident about, you know, because I had some trepidation about going back and teaching in person, I really did, you know, and, you know, obviously, at that point, we didn't have vaccines yet. And so, you know, I'm wearing my KN95, and, you know, being as far away from people as I possibly can, and I remember when the first time one of my students tested 00:38:00positive, I, you know, I was really terrified, you know, and watching every day for any sign that I had symptoms. And then as we got kind of, as I got through that, we started seeing more of the data on transmission, and the way that we manage the pandemic, on campus as well. You know, I was really encouraged by that. In fact, I was, and I know, you have a question about what we were proud of. And I can talk more about that. But one thing that I was very proud of was that we manage the pandemic so well, you know, here on campus. When you look at all three campuses, when you look at what was going on in the communities, our our case, you know, count and transmission, we just didn't have it. We you know, it early on, right? When we came back, we had some cases, and that very quickly ramped down because we were doing all the right things, you know, we were, we came up with a plan where we follow the data and the science, we follow the 00:39:00recommendations of the CDC, we watched, we had a relationship with public health, we were talking to our healthcare partners regularly. Chad Cotti was awesome about, you know, keeping up on the latest research and letting us know, kind of what was going on out there. And so we came up with this plan that was science led by science led by data, you know, and, you know, and in Chief, you know, with his confidence in our ability to do it, you know, I really, I, although I had that trepidation, I felt confident and as time went on, and we saw that the plan was working, that confidence really increased and I started to be less worried about, you know, our ability to manage it as a university, as well as our ability in general, you know, to manage the pandemic, although I would say I think we've done a better job.

GL: What do you why do you think that is? I mean that, you know, UW Oshkosh and 00:40:00I think Green Bay were the only UW campuses that did not close for at least some part during the fall of 2020.

EH: Yeah, I think it just it all goes back to the beginning. You know, it was, you know, it was good leadership, but it was really good planning, you know, thinking through things really carefully, trying to put the right people and the right kind of teams in place to manage it. And really relying on that data, and that science and doing all the things that we knew from a public health perspective, that would work, you know, planning for isolation and quarantine, doing the contact tracing, doing the testing, having social distancing, requiring masks, all the cleaning that, you know, Frank and his, you know, crew did, making sure that we that people were complying, you know. Buzz I can't imagine, I can't imagine all the stuff that she had through through this with 00:41:00compliance, but really, you know, good leadership, good plan, good execution, having good people involved in all of it. And, you know, really being one of the things I think about is we were really kind of the beacon for good policy and behavior during the pandemic, right? We really tried to model what it was that was right, what was the right thing to do? And, you know, I don't want to, you know, get into any of the politics of anything, but obviously, that played a role for a lot of people, you know, and, you know, I was also I was also really happy about the support that the administration gave to the EOC, as well as the support that UW System gave, you know, to all of the universities. So I think, you know, there's definitely something to be said, for that as well.

GL: What would you say were the biggest challenges that you encountered as an 00:42:00instructor and as a member of the RTF? And the EOC?

EH: Yeah. So, um, yeah, I thought about this, you know, I think managing fear initially, you know, personally, and understanding that the university community had fear, you know, and so how do we, how do we manage that? And I think, you know, the way through it really was to, you know, rely on that data, that evidence that science and to regularly be communicating what it is that we were doing, why we were doing it. And so I give, you know, Peggy, and UMC a ton of credit for that, too, you know, they were like, constantly on top of it, there was that, you know, really continual clear and confident communication that was that was coming out of UMC. So I think, I think both of those things, both of those things helped, you know, with managing fear. And, you know, overcoming that uncertainty, you know, we initially, we we didn't know, if it was going to 00:43:00work, you know, we put this plan together, we felt confident in it, but we didn't know if it was going to work. But every day that we saw things working, the more confident we got, and we were like, we've got this, we can do this. And so and we got more confident in each other I think also as a committee. You know, one thing, one thing I would say is, I think that EOC has, has become a really well functioning group, you know, we we coalesced really nicely. I think we've, we've gotten bonded through this experience, you know, of managing all of this really difficult stuff together. So I think, you know, we've gotten to the point where we're pretty good at it, you know, we're pretty good at what we're doing. And I think we feel confident in what we're doing. And so, managing that uncertainty got certainly better over time. And then, of course, you know, like I said, I think as far as challenges, you know, just dealing with everything 00:44:00that everybody was dealing with, you know, having a kiddo at home, you know, doing online schooling and, you know, just all the, you know, all the various, you know, mental distractions that the, that the pandemic created, as well as kind of your practical, you know, complications in your life, you know, that, you know, that clearly was challenging, you know, for everyone.

GL: When you were teaching were you getting feedback from students about you know, how they were varying and the time of COVID?

EH: Yeah, sometimes, um, you know, I would, you know, I occasionally get emails or messages on, on Canvas from, from students on how how things were going and there you know, I would periodically get stuff with you know, hey, you know, my, my mom's immunocompromised and you know, I'm not going to be coming to class at all. And you know, I appreciate the hi flex option and um, you know, so there 00:45:00were definitely, you know, students who got it some who were concerned about it some who were less concerned. And, you know, I always had pretty good mass compliance in my classes. I, I, I mean, I insisted upon it, but they also were, you know, pretty good about it. And, you know, definitely heard some, you know, some fear and frustration from them. But I think they held up pretty well, really better than I, I might have expected, but, you know, kids, they're resilient.

GL: Of your 100, 100 some plus students, how many actually showed up in person?

EH: Well, I did it. So when I taught in the fall, I did not teach that class, I taught a different class that had a, I think, I think I had maybe 30 people enrolled. And that was entrepreneurship. So I teach a couple of, you know, kind of, I have my economic development classes that I teach. And then I have my law classes that I teach, which kind of reflects kind of the, my, the trajectory of my career that I kind of do, you know, things in both of these areas. So I was 00:46:00teaching entrepreneurship that fall. And initially, I had maybe 10 to 12 students who were coming fairly regularly for the first few weeks, and then that started to drop off. By the end of the semester, I didn't. And I pretty much told people I said, If only one or two of you are going to come, I am, I'm not going to come and teach in person, because then it's diminishing returns for all of us, right? Because it's, it's either better to be totally online or totally in person when you're trying to do both at the same time, it's just so hard to manage that I think the experience just as diminished, right? So by the end, you know, by the last few weeks, we were we were only meeting online.

GL: Yeah, I had that issue. But then I had a couple of students that my class was the only in person class and they just, they're just so tired of their dorm. And I said okay, come on in. But then it was hard, because I felt like I was only engaging with the students I could actually see on the camera, and I had to 00:47:00stay in front of them. And I'm engaging with the students in my classroom.

EH: Yes, yes. I, I thought the same thing.

GL: Alright, so um, so fall 2020. We were back. What were you thinking then about, you know, the virus in general? Was there a sense of optimism, optimism, or?

EH: Yeah, at first, I would say when we first came back, there was some trepidation. And is this plan going to work? Right? And then, you know, we, we started to see a little spike in cases. And it was like, oh, crap, is this going to spiral out of control, right. And then as we started to see it go down, it was that increased confidence that we could do it. And then as we started hearing about the vaccines, I was very, I was relieved and a lot more confident that we were going to get to, we were going to get to the end of this, whatever the end means, at some point.

GL: And then the spring 20 2021. What, you know, what were you doing with the 00:48:00EOC at that time? Were the RTF RTF still in existence at that time?

EH: No, that was just so the RTF, really, in June, when we delivered our plan, they were done. And then the implementation teams took over for the summer, and then in the fall, that transitioned into the EOC, fall of 2020. And so that's we've been operating under the EOC construct, you know, really, since that time, and that's been pretty much the same people all along. So spring, we were feeling really good. In fact, we were thinking at that point, maybe we're going to be able to disband the EOC maybe by fall, we're going to be maskless, you know, maybe we'll be back to normal operations. Because here, you know, we're thinking, you know, people are going to first of all people are going to get 00:49:00vaccinated, right? And that, you know, and, and that, of course, turned out to not work out as well as anybody would have necessarily expected, right? And and then we started to see, you know, then we started to hear about the Delta variant, right? And, and we knew there was a lot more concern then that things were not going to be what we thought they were going to be, you know, coming back into the fall, and, you know, and, and then, and then we think things are getting better. And the we have Omicron and it's just, it's funny, we were talking about, we're talking about do we have lifetime appointments to the EOC. And if I put that I put that in the chat this past week. I said, does this mean we have lifetime appointments to the EOC. This is as close to a federal judge as I'm ever going to get.

GL: I remember in the summer, maybe that we were we got to go maskless if we 00:50:00were, we were vaccinated. Do you remember that conversation and the EOC saying, we can do this? Walk me through that.

EH: Yeah, I do. And it was, it was liberating. And it was because I mean, we were we were following what we were seeing, right? We didn't, at that point, there essentially was no COVID on campus, right? I mean, we just didn't, we didn't have the cases at that time. And we had, you know, we knew we had some vaccination, you know, that was happening, and, and we felt confident that we could do it, you know, for people who were vaccinated. And yeah, that didn't last though, right?

GL: Do you recall how long we were? You can tell me later if you can look.

EH: Yeah, I can look it up.

GL: And then, you know, just just try to remember what happened in the meeting, when somebody who suggested that, hey, we can do this, we can take our mask off. 00:51:00And describe to me what that he said he was liberating. But describe, I don't know if you remember at all.

EH: I don't. I mean, I remember the meeting where we discussed it. And we had when we well, I remember the meeting where we decided it, but we probably had several discussions, because that's usually how things happen on the EOC. We like, we start with an idea and we kind of let it percolate. And we have a couple of discussions, we circle back people think about it, and then we and then we say yep, this is something that we want to recommend. But yeah, I don't know if there was any one person that suggested it. I you know, a lot of it, suggestions come from a lot of different people in the EOC. You know, like, it's not always Chief or Kim or Chad, although often it is, it can be other people too, that say, well, what, you know, hey, I was reading about this, what do we think about that? Is there you know, based on what we're seeing in the data, do we want to think about this? You know, and so there are suggestions that come kind of, from, you know, all different places on the EOC. And then we, you know, 00:52:00we batted around. And we, we we see how it feels, and we try it on and think about it and you know, and then make decisions.

GL: Do you remember the meeting where the decision was to put the masking back in place? Do you remember that meeting?

EH: I don't know if I remember the meeting in particular. But I know that there, it's it's funny, you know, because the the EOC has gone through so much, right? You know, and we've had this these times where we're like, we can lift restrictions, things are looking good, you know, maybe we can disband the EOC. Maybe we're going to be more back to normal operations. And then the you know, what hits the fan again, and we're all back to alright, you know, and Chief, you know, a lot of times is like, hey, everyone I know, you know, we've really kind of slogged through all of this. But and we're all tired, and we're all frustrated. But we got to get through this, you know, and so it's a lot of times 00:53:00it's a step forward, and two steps back, you know, it's just, that's just kind of the way that it's been throughout the whole pandemic. And I think we've just all learned to roll with it.

GL: I realized that I only have like five minutes left on this, will they would they cut me off?

EH: I don't know, I don't think they'll cut you off. I do have an EOC meeting, but I don't think there's I can tell them. I'm going to be a little bit late. That's okay.

GL: Just Just tell me, um, how has your how has COVID changed the way you do your work? I mean, we talked a little bit about the way you teach. I mean, you're you're I mean, do you have a regular job anymore? I mean, you your job has morphed.

EH: It has. It has. It's um, so I think a couple of things. One is, you know, pre pandemic, we were already trying to figure out how economic development was going to work on campus, right. And so there's been some ways that that has 00:54:00changed, I think through the pandemic, because of my work on, you know, Recovery Task Force and EOC and whatever that there have been, kind of certain skill sets that I have that have kind of become apparent. And so I've gotten pulled into some different things. As you know, I'm working on strategic planning and, and some other things. You know, Bob's had me work on a lot of compliance stuff and policy related things. And so yeah, it's I think it's still morphing.

GL: And then, you know, we talked about the vaccines and yesterday, do you see it getting us getting back to normal? What does that look like to you?

EH: Yeah, that's a great question. I don't think we're ever going to be back to pre pandemic normal. I mean, I think that that like any other major disruption, you know, like 911 I mean, we are we changed after 911, things were different, right? I think we're, we're gonna all be you know, forever changed by by COVID in some way or another, not only behavior, but maybe, you know, attitudes. And, 00:55:00you know, I think about my kiddo, and you know, how's this, you know, you think about how you know this, when you're only 13 this is a bit, two years is a big part of your life, right? You know, how, you know, how's this gonna affect him, him long term? So yeah, but I, you know, like, I'm not getting rid of my mask at any time anytime soon, you know, and I think that's going to be a regular thing going forward. And I think we've all gotten better about being mindful about germ transmission. And I don't think that that's necessarily a bad thing. You know, that's happened. But I don't, I don't think we're gonna get back to anything that's really normal. But, um, but I do think it's gonna get better.

GL: And what has living and working during the time of COVID taught you about yourself?

EH: Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. Um, and I did think about this one 00:56:00a little bit. And, and I think it's maybe more of a general comment about, you know, all of us that, that we're pretty resilient. And, and we're pretty adaptable to change and to bumps in the road. You know, unfortunately, we've seen I think both the, the good and the bad sides of human nature throughout this whole thing, right? You know, so there's certainly been selfishness and ignorance, and, you know, the spread of misinformation that have all been, you know, really negative. But then there's also been, you know, these great examples of, you know, people coming together, and people doing the right thing for each other, and that, that sense of community and caring for you know, each other. So, so I've been, I've been encouraged. While I've been discouraged about some of the bad things, I've been encouraged to see that there's still a lot of, you know, a lot of goodness out there.

GL: Do you have anything else you'd like to add that we haven't touched on?

EH: Um, see, I did, I think I talked, I wanted to talk about things that I was 00:57:00proud of, you know, so, you know, really, you know, proud of the university, the EOC, you know, that we let data and science gather, you know, lead our way we, we planned carefully, we thought we thought carefully, you know, and we helped the community, right, one of the things that was really well, that I was really proud of us that we help the community. You know, we we, we offer testing and vaccines to the public, you know, and, you know, we partnered with, you know, health care providers to make those things happen. You know, like I said, we tried to be that beacon, that example of good policy, good behavior, so I was really proud of us, you know, for that. And I, you know, I'm, I'm proud that I was just able to be a part of it, that I was that I, they feel like I was able to help in some way, you know, many of the members of the EOC, COVID, they deal with, you know, in there as on top of their regular jobs, right, where they have 00:58:00a significant responsibility for pandemic management. For me most of my work, you know, at least through the EOC, I did, probably, I had a lot more on my plate during recovery and implementation, but for EOC now, mostly, what I do is plan for the meetings and run the meetings, right? So, so even though that's, you know, certainly important, I don't, I get to, I walk away after that, and I don't have like this whole big, you know, pandemic response responsibility that so many of the other people on the EOC do, you know, and I just, I have so much respect for everybody that's on the EOC. And I'm thankful, you know, not only to have been able to help, but to be able to work with just a really good group of people that I've really come to respect and, you know, truly, like, you know, I, one of the things I've seen is, you know, we've done a lot of, there's a lot of humor in the group, you know, there's a, you know, there's people rib each other about stuff. And so, you know, it's good to see that, you know, even through 00:59:00really tough times that we've been able to, you know, have some fun and enjoy it in, in the way that we could, right.

GL: I'm gonna throw a question that you that you, you asked other people. You know, and this is going to possibly bring me a damper down. I mean, what, during the time COVID I mean, since from the very beginning of our March 2020 through now what, you know, what were the things that kept you awake at night?


Oh what kept me awake at night? Well, initially, it was certainly fear. I would say now, what keeps me awake in general is the proliferation of misinformation in general is just cancerous to our whole society. And if we don't get a hand on it. I don't know where we're going, but it ain't anywhere good.


GL: Yeah. The chief had said, when he gathered the people together, you know that he challenged all of you and to think about this historic time that we're living in, and that so many people have gone through UW Oshkosh and nothing as impactful has ever hit people until really now. And that there might not be trophies or mementos or something like that, that was state that you guys did something to help but in the back of your mind, that you should be very proud. And that you had something to do with this, you know, bring us back safely. Yeah. And I, I, I want to thank you for that. You know, I think that, you know, the work that you guys did behind the scenes was something extraordinary. And, 01:01:00and I have to say, I didn't know about all the work that had been done, but I am truly grateful.

EH: I appreciate that. I like I said, I really, I was proud and happy to be able to help you know, I think everybody needs to, you know, find a purpose during really difficult situations. And this was part of you know, my purpose, feeling like I could help.

GL: Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to campus COVID Stories at UW-Oshkosh.

EH: Thank you, Grace. Thanks for you doing this important work.