As the calendar turns to May later this week, I know many of us are already shifting our attention to the fall and how we should be preparing for our students’ return. Many uncertainties remain, but let me be clear: Our strong preference is to return to in-classroom instruction and on-campus activities this fall, and to complete the full 2020-21 academic year on campus. I think we all recognize that many issues need to be resolved before we can realize that aspiration.
Thanks to your extraordinary commitment, sheer effort, and rapid pivot to online delivery and remote work, we have been able to continue offering strong academic experiences and student services. However, the return to on-campus learning is dependent upon government health and safety guidelines and how they are implemented — especially COVID-19 screening and quarantining capabilities — and the enforcement of personal protection practices.
Because of the many unknowns, we have established several planning groups to examine the range of options and contingencies in the immediate, short and long term. Our goal is to return Quinnipiac to a focus on advancing the University of the Future, with the benefit of lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis.
Four planning groups are guiding us through the phases of the coronavirus crisis, from response, to recovery, to thriving in the post-COVID world. Below is a brief description of each of these planning groups, emanating from both the administration and the Faculty Senate:
1. The COVID-19 Task Force, chaired by AVP Keith Woodward, has been meeting daily since January and continues to focus on anticipating and responding to immediate needs and actions related to COVID-19, with an emphasis on public health, safety and communications. The task force advises on university policies, services and operations, and health recommendations, working in collaboration with state and federal health officials.
2. The Fall 2020 Planning Group, chaired by VP Don Sawyer, is constructing various scenarios, options and contingency plans for the fall semester, from “business as usual” to worst-case scenarios. The planning horizon is roughly 4-8 months, with an emphasis on academics, student affairs, athletics and university operations needed to support both our academic and student mission. The planning group will offer initial planning scenarios at the beginning of May.
3. The Faculty Senate ad-hoc COVID-19 response committee, chaired by Professor Stephen Straub, will begin meeting this week and is a multidisciplinary team of faculty from across the university. The group was established by the Faculty Senate to ensure and advise on the quality of instruction and maintenance of curricular standards under multiple COVID-19 scenarios. The committee’s planning horizon is the next 4-8 months, with an initial brief delivered mid-May.
4. The Reimagining Task Force, chaired by Dean Chris Roush, will begin meeting in mid-May to re-imagine the four pillars of the strategic plan in a post-COVID world. The task force is composed of two subgroups (skunkworks) addressing academic issues and operations/services. The task force’s purpose is to continue advancing our strategic plan while exploiting what we’ve learned from COVID-19 about academic, operating and service models. The group’s planning horizon is 6-24 months, with an initial brief due June 15.
These are unprecedented times, for sure. That is why we’ve assembled such bright and experienced individuals to focus on the needs of today, through the next 24 months. I am certain that we will get through these uncertain and challenging times. Our recovery will be accelerated by planning with eyes wide open, with the best information available, and with anticipatory actions that prepare us well for the most likely contingencies. That’s how Quinnipiac will be positioned to excel and thrive as the University of the Future.
Thank you and stay healthy,
Judy Olian, President