Hilary L. Link – President
May 28, 2020 at 12:02pm
Dear Members of the Allegheny College Community,
Allegheny College plans to welcome our students, faculty, staff, and administrators back to campus in several months for the fall 2020 semester. It is our intention to fully reopen for on-campus living and learning accompanied by, and subject to, ongoing guidance from Pennsylvania state and federal officials and public health, epidemiological, and medical experts.
Returning to fall on-campus living and learning is guided by the following core principles:
- Prioritizing the health and physical and emotional safety of our campus community, while also recognizing the risks associated with reopening
- Creating meaningful partnerships to protect the health and safety of and ensure the short- and long-term resilience of our local community
- Maintaining our commitment to equity and diversity and to equal access for all students to the academic, social, and wellness (physical and emotional) resources available at the College
- Community engagement, transparency, and open communications
- Maintenance of the strong community ethos for which Allegheny is known. All members of our community will be asked to participate in mitigation and containment strategies — testing, isolation, tracing, behavioral and travel modifications — that prioritize the health and well-being of themselves and the entire community.
In mid-April, the Senior Leadership Team adopted a planning, operational, and implementation organizational structure to address the feasibility of resuming on-campus living and learning. This structure serves as the framework for conducting due diligence on the feasibility of reopening the campus. We have formed 12 groups to focus on specific operational functions of the College to ensure that we are prepared for a return to campus in the fall. These groups are charged with determining what needs to happen within their operational area for the campus to open safely, are led by a member of the Administrative Executive Committee (AEC), and include diverse representation of campus stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, and administrators) that form implementation teams. Operational groups also consult extensively with additional members of the campus community, as needed. The groups and their leads are:
- Health and Safety Equipment Needs: April Thompson, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students
- Campus Facilities: Linda Wetsell, Chief Financial Officer
- Employees/Staffing: Jen Mangus, Director of Human Resources
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access: Kristin Dukes, Dean for Institutional Diversity
- Academics: Ron Cole, Provost and Dean of the College
- Student Life: April Thompson, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students
- Athletics: Bill Ross, Director of Athletics and Recreation
- Admissions: Cornell LeSane, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions
- On-Campus Events: Phil Foxman, Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs
- Communication Strategy: Susan Salton, Vice President for College Relations
- Technology/Safety Projects: Rick Holmgren, Vice President for Information Services & Assessment
- Budget Planning: Linda Wetsell, Chief Financial Officer
These operational groups will be in regular communication with each other and will be implementing plans for distributing personal protective equipment; physical distancing and safety in residences, classrooms, dining halls, and offices; guidelines for employee return to work and accommodations for ongoing remote work; and technology needs in learning spaces and elsewhere across campus, among a range of other items.
We will continue to work throughout the summer and to update our community as details of our Return to Campus Plan are finalized. Circumstances and guidance surrounding COVID-19 continue to remain fluid, and thus we need to continually adapt our expectations and procedures. To guide us in this complex planning, we have formed the Allegheny College Health Agency (ACHA), which we will formally introduce to you in the coming days. The ACHA is co-directed by Professor Becky Dawson and Dr. Gabrielle Morrow. They will be sending out a number of health policies and protocols in the coming days, and they are already guiding our Return to Work plan effective July 1, when faculty, staff, and administrators return to campus after an extended period of working remotely. The ACHA will oversee extensive testing, contact tracing, and mitigation strategies for our community, and the agency will communicate frequently with the community in the coming weeks and months.
Changes to campus facilities to meet physical distancing and best practice de-densification guidelines, combined with other operational changes designed to help protect the health and safety of our campus and the Meadville community, are actions we must take to reduce the risk and exposure to the virus, prepare the College for the potential of any diagnosed on-campus cases, and plan for the possibility of a state and/or national resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
As the world grows in complexity, it needs the creative problem-solvers that Allegheny prepares — multidimensional thinkers who consider different viewpoints, integrate knowledge across disciplines, and collaborate across vastly different backgrounds and perspectives. These are the exact skills needed to solve the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic — which cuts across perspectives and expertise in community and societal health, equity and social justice, economics, and more — and are the same skills we have adopted to develop our Return to Campus plan.
The ongoing connection our community has sustained during these past few months continues to inspire me and provides great hope for our future. Allegheny College will continue to deliver on its mission to provide a distinctive academic experience to all our students. I appreciate your continued patience and supportive understanding as we work to provide a safe and productive fall semester for our community.
President Hilary Link