Dear Members of the Fordham University Community,
As we all know, the 2019-2020 Academic Year was unlike any other in the University’s 179-year history. Therefore, let me begin this letter by thanking all of the members of the Fordham community for the extraordinary response you have made to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of your hard work, devotion, and creativity, we have been able to ensure that in spite of the disruption we experienced, our students continued to receive a recognizably Fordham education marked by our commitment to cura personalis. Words could never adequately convey how deeply grateful I am to all of you. Building on your hard work, I have outlined below our framework for planning the re-opening of the University.
Timing for Restart of Fordham’s New York Campuses
The restart of Fordham University must and will conform with the Governor’s plan to restart New York. As outlined in New York Forward, the State’s ten geographical regions will reopen on a region-by-region basis as each region meets the criteria necessary to protect public health. The Governor’s office has chosen to track a set of seven health metrics, each with a well-defined numerical threshold, to determine an overall daily score for each region of the State. Only when a region achieves a passing score on each of the seven health metrics outlined in New York Forward can it proceed cautiously in a phased approach toward reopening. As of this morning, nine of the ten geographical regions have been authorized by the state to begin the first phases of reopening. The state is committed to doing all it can to help New York City, the final region, arrive at the goal of reopening.
Guided by the directives contained in New York Forward and in collaboration with our local health department and regional medical providers, Fordham will establish a tiered system of safeguards including surveillance, modified operations, safe behaviors, and contingency plans that optimize the health and well-being of Fordham students and employees, as well as our local community.
The plan to restart Fordham will adopt a phased approach, beginning from our current phase where all but essential employees work remotely, to a final phase where the institution’s standard operations can once again occur fully on campus. It is not possible at this time to predict the dates on which Fordham will be able to proceed from one phase to the next. In preparation, Fordham is currently engaged in intense planning to be ready to implement a set of measures and protocols to safely restart all three of our New York Metropolitan-Area campuses when the time is right.
Preparing Fordham for a Restart
Earlier this month, to oversee and coordinate our plans for re-opening the University in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, I established a task force, consisting of a seven-person steering committee and thirteen working groups.
The members of the steering committee, which I chair, are:
- Jeffrey Gray, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs
- Martha Hirst, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer
- Dennis Jacobs, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
- Frank Simio, Vice President for Lincoln Center
- Peter Stace, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Strategy
- Marco Valera, Vice President for Administration
The members of the steering committee will oversee and coordinate the efforts of the thirteen working groups, each of which will be focused on a different aspect of safely restarting operations and welcoming students, faculty and staff back to campus.
The thirteen working groups are the following:
- COVID-19 Screening and Containment
- Facilities: Infrastructure and Sanitation
- Human Resources Considerations
- Residential Life
- Student Experience and Experiential Learning
- Intercollegiate Athletics
- Learning Spaces
- Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning
- Study Abroad
- Research Continuity
- Coordination with External Agencies
- External Events and Welcoming Guests
I am immensely grateful to the more than 160 faculty, administrators, and staff who have agreed to serve on these thirteen working groups.
Fordham’s planning efforts will be informed and guided by the following:
- Creating Safe and Resilient Campuses: Suggestions for Reopening and Reimagining Colleges and Universities in New York – a May 2020 report produced by The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in New York in collaboration with the State University of New York (SUNY) system
- Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- New York Forward – the governor’s plan for reopening the State of New York
- Several other reports and recommendations from professional societies
I began this letter by acknowledging the tremendous work that you have all done to sustain the University and its mission in a moment of unprecedented challenge. I close with a heart filled with gratitude for your generosity, your gritty creativity, and your deep devotion to our students. As we move forward, I assure you that our every action will be guided by three commitments: a commitment to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every member of our community; a commitment to sustain and nourish our distinctive mission-driven and mission-centric culture; and a commitment to doing all we can to prepare for a future filled with hope for Fordham.
Please be assured of my prayers for you, your families and all whom you hold dear.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J. A Message on Fordham Reopening from Father McShane