Task Force on Fall Semester 2020 appointed by President Book

A 22-member group will create a comprehensive operational plan with the goal of resuming on-campus instruction and residence life.

Message from President Connie Ledoux Book

April 20, 2020

Dear members of the Elon community,

The coronavirus quickly changed our reality, and we have adjusted to new norms in our personal and professional lives. When news surfaced of the coronavirus in China last January, we considered the potential impact on Elon and our Winter term programs. Eight weeks ago, Elon suspended study abroad programs in Florence, Italy, as coronavirus storm clouds gathered over Europe. Four weeks ago, undergraduate remote learning began. Each were pivotal moments in an unanticipated and rapidly changing spring semester.

In the face of this challenge, my instinct is to draw inspiration from history. In a recent phone call to check in on my Mom, a retired nurse who trained at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, she recalled her generation’s response to the polio virus. “Time takes time, Connie,” she told me – a saying from my childhood and a reminder that we cannot make the clock move faster.

Elon’s history also provides inspiration about the university’s response to challenges and new-found strengths.

Our community values provide a bedrock of hope and encouragement. The relationships that tie us together have served us well as we connect online. Every day I hear stories of kindness and support from students, faculty, staff and our alumni. I see the positive spirit and teamwork on our WebEx screens. Transformative learning continues – I know each of us are growing in ways we hadn’t imagined.

Elon’s strengths have become even more clear over the past few weeks. Creativity and commitment to teaching excellence has empowered faculty who quickly adapted classes to remote instruction. Humble determination and hard work have been evident across all areas of the university as everyone pitches in to solve problems and keep care for students and student success at the center of our work.

Excellent planning has also been a hallmark of the Elon community and the months ahead call for our best thinking and the ability to adapt and change course as this unpredictable situation evolves. So today, I am announcing the formation of a Task Force on Fall Semester 2020, with the goal of resuming on-campus instruction and residence life. The intention is to create a comprehensive operational plan that is aligned with health officials’ guidance for phased re-opening of our nation and the eventual return to a more normal life.

I have asked President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert to chair the Task Force, comprised of faculty and staff leaders from across the university (listed below), including several members of the Emergency Operations Center who have been skillfully guiding our pandemic response since February. The health and safety of Elon faculty, staff, students, visitors and the broader community will be paramount to this work. We will support, to the fullest extent possible, a return this fall to Elon’s engaged and personal approach to teaching and learning as we implement significant modifications of the campus environment, daily operations and personal practices.

The Task Force will begin their efforts this week and I have asked Dr. Lambert to deliver their recommendations no later than the end of May so we can commence preparations. This accelerated planning effort will require the participation and support of the entire Elon community as the Task Force develops multiple scenarios for fall semester.  Look for details of the Task Force work on Elon’s coronavirus website. You will have the opportunity to contribute your ideas as the plan takes shape.

We will be grateful and relieved to come back together on our beautiful campus next fall, but it will not be life as usual. We will need to learn new ways of interacting with one another so we can control and eventually eradicate the threat of COVID-19.

Please know, that I am thinking about each of you and the challenges you are facing. I am grateful for your commitment to advancing Elon’s mission in important ways during this difficult time. While so many things associated with this threat have been beyond our control, I am confident we will emerge from this experience stronger, wiser and with a greater appreciation for the values and strengths that truly make Elon a remarkable place to learn and work.

With best wishes for your health and in gratitude for your contributions to our community,

Connie Book

Task Force on Fall Semester 2020


Leo Lambert, President Emeritus and Professor of Education

Project management
Mary Southern, Project Manager for Provost and Academic Affairs Operations

Scribe and administrative support
Kathryn Bennett, Program Coordinator / Program Assistant


Haya Ajjan, Associate Professor of Management, Gordon Professor in Entrepreneurship, Director Center for Organizational Analytics and Faculty Administrative Fellow

Dan Anderson, Vice President for University Communications

Ginette Archinal, Medical Director of Student Health and University Physician

John Barnhill, Associate Vice President for University Advancement

Kjirsten Durand-Johnson L’20, Elon University School of Law

Peter Felten, Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning, Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Learning, and Professor of History

Eleanor Finger, Assistant Vice President for Student Life, Dean of Campus Life

Tom Flood, Assistant Vice President of Physical Plant

Rochelle Ford, Dean of the School of Communications and Professor of Strategic Communications

Steven House, Executive Vice President

Jason Kirk, Associate Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies (Academic Council Representative)

Susan Kirkland, Associate Vice President for Business and Finance

Robbie Miley ’21, Executive President of the Student Government Association

Paul Miller, Assistant Provost for Academic Operations and Communications

Melissa Murfin, Department Chair/Program Director and Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies (Academic Council Representative)

Patrick Noltemeyer, Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Jana Lynn Patterson, Associate Vice President for Student Life, Dean of Students

Doug Purnell, Database Architect (Staff Council Representative)

Kelli Shuman, Associate Vice President for Human Resources

Jeff Stein, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships

Mike Ward, Deputy Director of Athletics

Christopher Waters, Associate Vice President of Information Technology and CIO

Randy Williams, Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence