Spring planning developments

Message sent on October 7, 2020

President Bob Iuliano informs the campus community about recent developments in the college’s spring planning process.

Dear Students,

I write to share with you how our plans for the spring are developing. Before that, though, I want to convey how deeply I appreciate your resolve, particularly amid the challenging transitions we have asked of you. Please know our entire community is here to help, and we hope you will let us know if there is anything we might do to support you as this semester continues moving forward.

Over the past few weeks, I have engaged in small- and large-group listening sessions with students, parents, and alumni. Our goal through these sessions has been to provide additional context for our decision to de-densify campus and to answer your questions. I hope that those who attended found the conversations beneficial. Those dialogues, and your ideas, are helping to inform our strategies for the rest of this semester and as we set our sights on the spring. I also heard from students and parents alike about their desire for more regular updates, and I am writing, in part, in that spirit—and also simply to extend my hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy as the pandemic continues to affect so many aspects of our lives.

During the listening sessions, two questions have arisen most frequently: What are the College’s plans for the spring? And, when might we expect that decision?

While we have not yet formed any definitive judgments about the spring, we know our families need to make plans for the upcoming semester. To that end, we are intensively engaged in addressing critical questions that will guide our planning. As we did with the fall, the health and safety of our students, our aspiration to be together on campus, and the path of the virus will all inform our decision-making. As I said during the parent listening sessions, while we fully understand your desire to know the College’s plans, when we announce our spring plans we want to be as certain as we can about our decision, understanding that planning during a pandemic presents numerous challenges.

I can say now that we intend to welcome back to campus as many students as we responsibly can in the spring. To inform how we do that, we will send out a survey to all students in the coming days to better understand their preferences for the semester ahead. Additionally, among other steps, we are:

  • Comprehensively reviewing our COVID-related processes and policies, including studying the approaches taken on other campuses, to ensure that we continue to employ the best practices for higher education.
  • Examining new means of testing, including rapid testing, wastewater testing, and pool testing.
  • Paying careful attention to how our de-densified campus is operating and the overall student experience.
  • Studying public health guidance on the special risks that flu season brings to this pandemic.

In the meantime, we are actively expanding the College Life Advisory Council. This group of students normally advises the administration on issues relating to student policy. The Council will be expanded to include a representative group of students to provide input and feedback on a number of issues related to COVID-19 and particularly for the spring semester. Additionally, and in response to the request for more communication, the College will hold weekly Zoom sessions for any member of the campus community to attend. We may not always have new information to announce, but I hope that during the sessions we can answer questions that are on your mind. The first meeting will be October 13 at 4 p.m. If you are interested in attending the session, please email Pam Eisenhart. Future Zoom session dates can be found on the President’s Office website.

When our fall semester began, we stressed that we are Better Together. At its heart, this is a phrase rooted in supporting and uplifting one another, even in the most challenging of times—times like these. With students both on campus and remote, I believe these two words take on special meaning. They are a call to remain connected although we are apart and they give us something greater to aspire to as we confront the obstacles before us and find strength in each other.

Thank you for all you are doing to care for one another and for our community.


Bob Iuliano