Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book has appointed a task force to create a comprehensive plan to resume on-campus instruction and residence life for fall semester 2020. The Task Force will recommend several options to return 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 health and safety of all members of the Elon community and neighbors will be paramount to the work of the Task Force.

Task Force Charge and Timeline

In full consideration of the consequences and challenges of the global pandemic, Elon University is planning for the operation of Fall Semester 2020 with the intention of resuming on-campus instruction and residence life. These plans will be created within the context of health officials’ guidance for phased re-opening of the nation’s economy and return to a more normal life.

Our goal is to support, to the fullest extent possible, Elon’s engaged and personal approach to teaching and learning. At the same time, it is paramount that we identify and implement significant modifications of the campus environment and daily operations and personal practices to ensure the health and safety of Elon faculty, staff, students, visitors and the broader community.

To achieve these goals, this task force will create a comprehensive operational plan that includes a broad range of mitigation measures and contingency plans.

The Task Force recommendations will be delivered to President Connie Ledoux Book no later than May 27.

Task Force Updates

May 7: Invitation to faculty and staff to attend a May 13 Campus Conversation

TO:      Elon University Faculty and Staff

FROM: Ginette Archinal, Peter Felten, Jason Kirk, Leo Lambert, Jana Lynn Patterson, Jeff Stein and Randy Williams

DATE:  May 11, 2020

RE: Campus Conversation and Brief Update from the Fall 2020 Task Force

We write to encourage your participation in Campus Conversation on Wednesday, May 13 at 1:00 p.m. at this WebEx address: https://elon.webex.com/elon/onstage/g.php?MTID=ec4a3ee8c3ab3b061fe0dabebf20ea463. (The password is Phoenix.)

Our work to date has been informed by dozens of student, faculty and staff consultants who have joined the three Task Force working groups, bringing a wealth of disciplinary and pedagogical perspectives and administrative and student support expertise. We are also grateful to knowledgeable community partners from Cone Health, Alamance County Health Department, the Town of Elon and Lab Corp who are advising us. A complete list of consultants can be found on the Task Force website https://www.elon.edu/u/task-force-fall-2020/. Wednesday’s Campus Conversation will be an important opportunity for us to hear more ideas from the Elon community.

We are on track to deliver our report and recommendations to President Book by May 27. Our goal remains to develop a plan to resume on-campus instruction and operations this fall, while at the same time anticipating many modifications to our schedules, practices and personal behaviors to protect the health and well-being of all.

Here are some major points guiding the thinking of the Task Force to consider prior to the upcoming Campus Conversation:

  • Our Honor Code will hold extra special meaning this fall. The values of honesty, integrity, responsibility, and respect will guide how we must function as a community in the era of COVID-19.
  • We will be called upon reimagine many dimensions of campus life for the fall. The classroom, lab and studio experiences will have to be creatively rethought. Major campus events, such as convocations, will have to be reconceived in new formats. Even College Coffee will be restaged with health in mind.
  • Elon faculty and staff will be called on to rise to a challenge of historic proportions. All of us must summon our creativity and flexibility to maintain the high standards for engaged learning for which Elon is renowned.
  • Fall 2020 will be a time of focus. Relationships with students and high-quality teaching will be our highest priorities. This will require an extra degree of intentionality.
  • Much specificity will be added to our plans over the course of the summer months. Processes for COVID-19 testing and tracing, for instance, will be different in August than they are presently, and we will adjust our plans accordingly.
  • Effective communications with new and returning students and their families this summer will be key. A new website, Ready and Resilient, will be the hub of these communications, and many faculty and staff voices will be tapped to deliver key messages.
  • Elon is partnering with Duke University, Wake Forest University, and Davidson College to share the work of our respective Task Forces on opening our campuses for fall 2020. This will be a helpful forum for sharing ideas and best practices.

In sum, fall 2020 is going to be different in many ways. But as President Book has articulated, the members of the Task Force are united in the view that all of the work and energy expended over the next several months will prepare us to reunite, in person, as the extraordinary campus community we all cherish.

If you cannot join the Campus Conversation on Wednesday and have ideas or concerns to express, please speak to or e-mail a Task Force member or consultant, or submit your idea or concern via our website: https://www.elon.edu/u/task-force-fall-2020/.

We send every good wish for Reading Day and the final examination period and our sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the privilege of working alongside such extraordinary colleagues each day.

May 7: Task Force schedules Campus Conversation for May 13

Dear faculty and staff colleagues,

The Task Force on Fall Semester 2020 invites you to join us for a special Campus Conversation on Wednesday, May 13, 1:00-2:00pm, in WebEx (log-in instructions were sent via a facstaff email on May 7).

President Book appointed this Task Force to recommend several options to return 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 health of all members of the Elon community and neighbors will be paramount to the work of the Task Force.

During the May 13th Conversation, we will begin with a brief overview of the Task Force’s guiding principles and assumptions about the Fall 2020 Semester. The Task Force’s Working Group on Instruction and the Classroom, Lab, and Studio then will describe the primary models for the academic calendar and modes of teaching/learning in fall 2020. We then will break into small groups for focused discussions of key topics or possible scenarios for the semester. You will choose which small group to join. Task Force members will take notes during these conversations to gather your insights and questions, and we will follow-up with a simple survey immediately after the Campus Conversation to collect any additional thoughts you have to offer. Your comments will inform the Task Force’s plans and recommendations.

Early next week we will send an email with details about the topics and scenarios for small group discussion so you can plan to attend the one that is of most interest to you.

You can learn more about the Task Force, including seeing lists of Task Force members and of the many consultants to the Task Force’s 3 working groups at https://www.elon.edu/u/task-force-fall-2020/ You also can submit ideas and suggestions to the Task Force on that site.

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday,

Leo Lambert, chair of the Task Force
Jason Kirk, co-chair of the Working Group on Instruction and the Classroom, Lab, and Studio
Peter Felten, co-chair of the Working Group on Instruction and the Classroom, Lab, and Studio

April 27: Update from President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert on the Task Force on Fall 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I write with an update from the Task Force on Fall 2020, which held its first meeting on April 23. President Book charged us to recommend several options to “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 health and safety of all members of our community and neighbors will be paramount as we develop various scenarios and anticipate contingencies that may occur.

In elaborating on her charge, President Book asked us to bear in mind the six features of Elon’s ascent that scholar George Keller identified in his book, Transforming a College: 1) quality everywhere; 2) expert planning; 3) attention to people; 4) a distinctive niche in the landscape of higher education; 5) financial acumen; and 6) excellent marketing and communications.

As we begin our work, we imagine the contemplations of students, faculty, staff, trustees and community members who stood around the rubble of Old Main following Elon’s great fire of 1923. Like our predecessors, we are called to preserve and protect the best of what an Elon education is about, and yet to summon our imaginations to think about new beginnings—in ways of being together, teaching and learning as we emerge from a global pandemic. The Phoenix spirit will prevail today as it did in 1923.

The unknowns before the Task Force, and all of us, are many. But we are certain the 2020-21 academic year will be different in significant ways. In good ways, it may be more focused. Some campus activities may have to go on hiatus for a time, and other ways of gathering groups of people together will have to be creatively rethought for the health and safety of all. Our goal is to protect our teaching and learning mission and to ensure it remains relationship-rich, personal and deeply humane. Faculty and staff will invent new ways to approach engaged and experiential learning and those practices may even continue beyond next academic year. As higher education nationally begins to write a new chapter, I believe we will look back on 2020-21 as a year in which we at Elon did our finest work together.

The task force has been organized into three working groups:

  • Instruction and the Classroom, Lab and Studio
  • Health and Safety
  • The Campus Experience, Alumni, and External Communities

Instruction and the Classroom, Lab and Studio

Peter Felten and Jason Kirk are co-chairing this working group, which includes Haya Ajjan, Rochelle Ford, Steven House and Paul Miller. They have already assembled a team of 20 consultant colleagues to bring additional disciplinary, pedagogical, governance and leadership perspectives to their work. This working group is considering various models for organizing fall semester (including contingency plans for each model), means to reduce people density in instructional spaces, modes of hybrid instruction that might make sense in specific circumstances (such as faculty with vulnerable medical conditions), and new means of support for teaching that the university should anticipate. Dr. House will take special responsibility for coordinating with study abroad/study away programs in the Global Education Center and serving as a liaison with graduate programs, including the School of Law.

Health and Safety

Ginette Archinal, M.D., and Jana Lynn Patterson are co-chairing this working group, which includes Tom Flood, Susan Kirkland, Patrick Noltemeyer, Melissa Murfin, Kelli Schuman and consultants to be determined. This working group will focus on all medical, health-related, and safety issues regarding COVID-19 throughout the Elon campus, including the School of Law. The purview of this working group includes testing and tracing protocols, setting social distancing recommendations (including maximum attendance at campus events), preparing Health Services and Counseling Services for the COVID-19 era, PPE purchasing, planning for continued campus sanitation, planning for isolation quarters for COVID-19 positive students, interpreting CDC, Federal and State guidelines, and making recommendations about the establishment of new COVID-19-related policies and protocols.

The Campus Experience, Alumni, and External Communities

Jeff Stein and Randy Williams are co-chairing this working group, which includes Dan Anderson, John Barnhill, Eleanor Finger, Douglas Purnell, Mike Ward, Christopher Waters, and consultants to be determined. The purview for this working group relates to the many dimensions, activities and facilities of campus life outside the classroom, including Belk Library, orientation, residence life, dining, athletics, alumni and parent programs (including Homecoming and Evenings for Elon), admissions, meetings of advisory boards and councils, and coordination with the Town of Elon and the City of Burlington.

The goal of each working group is to provide a comprehensive set of recommendations and scenarios for the fall 2020 calendar as part of a Task Force report to President Book by May 27. She will then consult with campus governance groups, including the Board of Trustees, prior to making her initial set of decisions. This is an accelerated timeline, but there is great urgency to our work, since many details will take time to implement and communicate to our community.

How You Can Be Involved

The Task Force has already received many fantastic ideas and suggestions, so keep them coming. You will soon be receiving information about a special website through which you may contribute ideas, which can be addressed to any of the three working groups or the Task Force as a whole.

Last Friday, Academic Council supported the moving of the May Campus Conversation from May 1 to a date (or dates) to be determined so that the Working Group on Instruction and the Classroom, Lab, and Studio can solicit your reactions to some of their preliminary ideas. When those dates and times are announced, please participate in that important conversation.

I send my personal best wishes to each of you as we complete this very busy, stressful and most unusual semester and admire the extraordinary efforts you have undertaken to support students.

Best,

Leo

Leo M. Lambert
President Emeritus and Professor

April 20: President Connie Ledoux Book appoints a Task Force on Fall Semester 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
President


Task Force on Fall Semester 2020

Chair 
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

Members

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

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, Class of 2021, 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