Jason Tavarez joined the Westmont community as director of institutional resilience in February 2020 and almost immediately began working to protect the college from the dangers of COVID-19.
“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 says. “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 re-open 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.”
“Jason jumped into the role,” says Doug Jones, Westmont vice president for finance. “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.”
When Tavarez arrived, he began updating the college’s pandemic plan and preparing for the fast-spreading coronavirus. “I also sent out travel surveys for students and employees as well as additional safety information for COVID-19,” he says.
During Potter’s Clay, Westmont’s annual service trip to Mexico, he researched the virus spread daily while in Ensenada, reviewing survey results and seeing 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. They decided to move to remote learning and get students off campus,” he says.
Tavarez has been coordinating Westmont’s COVID-19 response with Santa Barbara County’s “Stronger Together—Safely Apart” campaign.
Previously, he served as risk manager at Azusa Pacific University. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin before moving to California to earn a law degree from the University of La Verne College of Law.
Tavarez takes over for Troy Harris ’74, who worked at Westmont for 23 years before retiring. “Troy has created an amazing risk and emergency management department; it’s acknowledged nationally as a gold standard for colleges and universities,” Tavarez says. “The development of this program, the support of Westmont’s leaders, and the ability to create a team made this position enticing.”