The coronavirus pandemic has been at the forefront for Jason Tavarez ever since he joined the Westmont College community.
Mr. Tavarez, who was named director of institutional resilience at Westmont in February, began updating the college’s pandemic plan and preparing for the coronavirus soon after arriving on campus. He sent out travel surveys for students and employees, along with additional safety measures for the novel virus.
He was taking part in Potter’s Clay, the college’s annual service trip to Mexico just a month into his new role. During his time in Ensenada, he researched the novel virus’ spread on a day-to-day basis, while also reviewing survey results and examining how other schools were responding to the pandemic.
“By midweek, I was able to participate on a call with the executive team and discuss what Westmont could do,” Mr. Tavarez said in a statement. “They decided to move to remote learning and get students off campus.”
Mr. Tavarez has been coordinating Westmont’s response to the pandemic with Santa Barbara County’s “Stronger Together — Safer Apart” campaign.
“My biggest concern has been keeping the coronavirus off our campus and doing everything we can, as a community, to keep our remaining students and employees safe and COVID-19 free,” he said. “My main course of action has been leading our Situation Readiness and Response Team and providing updates to prepare for the return of students to campus. Governor Newsom’s six-part plan to reopen California has provided a glimmer of hope, but as we gear up for the fall, we’re taking into account that the virus may still be threatening us all.”
Doug Jones, vice president for finance at Westmont, said in a statement that Mr. Tavarez “jumped into the role” shortly after arriving on campus.
“Important conversations with the Global Travel Advisory Group about current and upcoming international trips, coordination of the annual property and liability insurance renewal process, and a weekend in Ensenada with the Potter’s Clay core team are just a few of the important things that filled his first few weeks,” Mr. Jones said.
Mr. Taverez formerly served as risk manager at Azusa Pacific University. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin before moving to California, earning a law degree from the University of La Verne College of Law.
He takes over for Troy Harris, Westmont Class of 1974, who worked at Westmont for 23 years before his retirement.
“Troy has created an amazing risk and emergency management department. It’s acknowledged nationally as a gold standard for colleges and universities,” Mr. Tavarez said. “The development of this program, the support of Westmont’s leaders, and the ability to create a team made this position enticing.”