Week of April 20, 2020

Campus Update

Sent: April 22, 2020

Audience: Employees

To the Dickinson community:

I miss seeing all of you and I look forward to the day when we are back together. I hope you are healthy and staying safe.

I am sure you are wondering what is next in Dickinson’s COVID-19 response. While much is still being worked out, I want to share what we know now and provide a timeline on when we will have more information.

Please mark your calendars for another virtual employee session at noon on May 11. Send any questions you may want me to address to employeequestions@dickinson.edu by May 5 and I will do my best to address all of them.

Committees formed to focus on future

We don’t yet know what the fall semester will look like. We are preparing for many scenarios, including being open as usual and having to offer classes remotely. In recent weeks, I have formed two ad hoc committees to address different scenarios for what may happen in fall. One is the Fall Reopening Committee, which will look at several potential reopening scenarios that run the gamut from in-person classes and a typical semester to one that must be completed remotely.

The Fall Reopening Committee is chaired by me and includes:

  • Russ Bova, professor of political science and international studies
  • Dee Danser, assistant vice president of compliance and chief of public safety
  • Cathy Davenport ’87, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions
  • Don Domenici, executive director of the Wellness Center
  • Karen Faryniak ’86, chief of staff and secretary of the college
  • Angie Harris, associate dean of students
  • Kendall Isaac, general counsel
  • Lorelei Koss, professor of mathematics
  • Connie McNamara, vice president of marketing & communications
  • George Stroud, vice president for student life and dean of students
  • Neil Weissman, provost and dean of the college.

A second committee, the Ready for Fall Academic Working Group, will guide preparation for possible remote instruction, partial or full, in the fall. The committee will make recommendations on pedagogy and technological tools, help design faculty development, and consider implications of online instruction more generally. Members include:

  • Noreen Lape (chair), associate provost and director of the writing program
  • Kirk Anderson, assistant professor of educational studies
  • Donna Bickford, director of the Women’s & Gender Resource Center
  • Chris Bombaro ’93, associate director of information literacy & research services
  • Anthony Cervino, associate professor of studio art
  • Erin Diaz, associate profesor of Spanish
  • Tiffany Frey, assistant professor of biology
  • Catrina Hamilton-Drager, incoming senior associate provost; associate professor of physics & astronomy
  • Jacob Jacob, visiting international scholar in international studies
  • Pat Pehlman, director of academic computing
  • Melissa Wehler, instructional design specialist

The Budget Working Group, formed earlier this year, will continue to meet. All three committees will be in regular contact and working along parallel paths.

Our current status

While many uncertainties remain, here’s what we do know:

  • Our transition to remote learning—while challenging and not without difficulties—has gone well. I applaud faculty and students who are working together to make it a success.
  • We have about 140 students on campus, and I thank the dining, facilities and student life staff members who are making sure those students are as comfortable as possible.
  • We currently have more than 400 students enrolled for the incoming class of 2024. Given the current circumstances, we have extended the enrollment deadline to May 15.
  • Our Day of Giving was an inspiring success. Dickinsonians near and far made 3,000 gifts totaling more than $1.3 million. Over $670,000 went to our Emergency Response Fund to assist students with needs and cover costs we incurred through our coronavirus response.
  • Summer classes will be offered remotely.
  • Our holiday schedule for the coming year has been approved and is available here.
  • We will also hold May faculty meetings; more information will be forthcoming shortly.

We don’t know yet whether July summer camps for Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet or the Center for Talented Youth will be held on campus. We expect to find that out early in May, and that will help us make decisions about summer staffing.

Because of all the unknowns, we do not know when we will return to campus. I expect to be able to provide more detailed information during the virtual event May 11. Our Board of Trustees meeting will be held at the end of this month, and we will review potential paths forward with them. By mid-May, I expect that we will have more to share with all of you.

I simply can’t imagine a better community with which to work through these issues. Your positive spirit, focus on our students and flexibility has been inspiring. Thank you all for your commitment. I will provide regular updates as we move forward. Please stay safe, and I look forward to seeing you soon.


Margee M. Ensign