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CLA Alumni Among First to Respond to COVID-19 Needs

May 13, 2020

CLA alumni are among the leaders in finding solutions to challenges presented by COVID-19, from business to the performing arts. 

For example, David Batcheller (BA '05, political science) chief executive officer of global agriculture tech company Appareo Systems of Fargo, led efforts to step up to manufacture machines developed at the University of Minnesota to supplement hospital ventilators in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. “As a privately-held North Dakota based technology company who has the ability to do rapid proof- of- concept work, we have the fortunate ability to move incredibly fast, and we are excited to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Batcheller said.

Brad Price (PhD '14, statistics) is forecasting West Virginia’s personal protective equipment needs so the National Guard can properly equip its healthcare workers. Price and his colleagues at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University are using data to serve the entire state and make sure there are sufficient N95 masks, surgical masks, gowns, gloves and types of eye protection to go around.

During a January vacation in Hawaii, Jacqueline Beihua Tang (MM ‘99), renowned pianist and a piano professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and her family learned they couldn’t return to their home in Shanghai because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Because there were no travel restrictions in the United States at the time, they decided to stay in the U.S. and visit a place that Tang remembered fondly: the University of Minnesota. In typical CLA fashion, she turned the change of plans into an opportunity to help those in need. Listen to Tang’s inspiring fundraising concert.

And Anna Wienke (BA ‘01) operates Provision Community Restaurant, which serves meals on a pay-as-you-can basis. It’s innovative model—90 percent of the food used to create its nightly meals is donated—is based on the values of reducing food waste, fighting food insecurity, and providing community for people who are isolated. Upon the arrival of COVID-19, Provision began donating free bagged meals to anyone in their immediate neighborhood who needed them. 


This article is part of a series on CLA during the time of COVID-19.