Ralph W. Kuncl
“The University will experience more financial stability and a greater ability to withstand crises because of its expanded endowment,” says Kuncl of the ambitious $200 million Forever Yours campaign, which is almost complete. Here, a musical tribute at Homecoming and Parents’ Weekend kicks off the public phase of the campaign.
Hunsaker Scholarship Prize. The scholarship is awarded annually to a select number of exceptional and entrepreneurial incoming students from diverse backgrounds who will become leaders in society and will follow the Hunsakers’ example by giving back to their communities and the University. OT: What will the long-term impacts of the campaign be—in 20 or 30 years? RWK: The University will experience more financial stability and a greater ability to withstand crises because of its expanded endowment. And the person who will break the Hunsakers’ record gift to the University could be a Hunsaker Scholar.
COVID-19 and the Redlands community OT: It has been quite a year, with the pandemic and all that’s involved in responding to these once-in-a-lifetime circumstances. As an M.D., how did you approach the problem of keeping the University community safe? RWK: As a medical professional, I was earlier than most in January 2020 in seriously considering that COVID-19
OCH TAMALE SUMMER 2021
could become a pandemic. After all, in my academic and medical career I had lived through six of the worst pandemics in history: Hong Kong Flu of 1968, HIV/ AIDS of 1981 to present, SARS in 2003, H1N1 Swine Flu of 2009, and Ebola and Zika of 2014. In mid-February 2020, I put together a team to convene and take charge in case the “novel coronavirus” became a public health emergency; I knew we would need to make critical decisions on supplies, communications, and procedures if a pandemic emerged. I had hoped we were overpreparing, but unfortunately, these turned out to be necessary precautions. Throughout the pandemic’s duration, our University community’s health and safety, as well as that of our friends and neighbors, were my highest priority. I always quoted the most authoritative medical sources (that’s the “Fauci effect”) and tried to use common sense. OT: Could you describe the impact of COVID-19 on the University? RWK: COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our operations and every member of our community. Yet, we have continued
“The University’s role as an anchor institution in the community really stands out,” Kuncl says of U of R’s response to the pandemic, which included a vaccination clinic (shown here), COVID-19 testing center, food donations, and a walk-in medical clinic for the homeless.
COCO MCKOWN ’04, ’10
to pursue diligently our goal of delivering a personalized education to our students. Professors, students, staff, and alumni have risen to the occasion by being adaptive and creative. In addition, the University’s role as an anchor institution in the community really stands out. This included donating more than 13,000 pounds of food for those in need; partnering with Loma Linda University to open a walk-in medical clinic for the homeless; working with the County of San Bernardino to provide a COVID-19 testing center; and collaborating with Redlands Community Hospital to launch a vaccination clinic on the Redlands campus. We prayed for health and safety. But I believe in action: as the late Congressman John Lewis said, “When I pray, I move my feet.” OT: In 20 years, what do you think the effects of the pandemic will be? RWK: Unfortunately, human memory means many of us will have comfortably forgotten lessons learned, just like the 1918 influenza pandemic. Some things, like wearing face coverings and hosting virtual conferences, will remain part of our culture. However, the spirit with which we met the