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Fall Semester Considerations

May 11, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I write concerning the planning process for Fall semester. Clearly, we have many variables to consider in our decision-making. Ultimate choices about the Fall will not be made until June 30 at the latest, as we still lack full information as to what a safe, productive campus environment will look like. We are working hard, especially with our infectious diseases experts in the health sciences, to gather and refine as much relevant data as possible.

Along with other members of the senior leadership team, and in full collaboration with President-Designate McInnis, I am eager to learn what issues you believe need to be considered as we step toward a decision about the Fall term. We have already identified a series of principles (about which more below) to frame our thinking, and we welcome your input and advice.

The health and well-being of our community, our pursuit of adequate, reliable testing for the COVID-19 virus and its antibodies, and the establishment of effective social distancing protocols must stand at the center of any actions we take. We are, as well, always dedicated to continuing our excellence in education, research, scholarship, and art-making; promoting an accessible academic environment for everyone; maintaining the success and upward social mobility of our students; fostering and ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion; embracing the traditions and wisdom of shared governance practices; and cultivating a vibrant and nurturing institutional culture. In addition to these core values, we must (to my mind) consider the following operational realities:

  • The challenges of ensuring staff, faculty, and student access to safe workspaces and residence halls, and to necessary information technology;

  • The obligation of facilitating the continued success of Stony Brook University Hospital and of Stony Brook Medicine in serving all our patients;

  • The interruptions, occasioned by the emergency, in our scholarship, research, and art-making missions – and the imperatives of recovering from them;

  • The need to reconfigure our student success and retention efforts in light of social distancing practices;

  • The increased demand for instructional training and support in a new and rapidly evolving teaching environment;

  • The continuing impact of the pandemic on enrollment trends and on course modalities;

  • The potential obstacles now facing our international students with respect to visa processing and travel;

  • The financial and budgetary implications of our plans, especially given the fact that revenues are, and will continue to be, considerably reduced and costs are high and rising;

  • The expectation that many of our facilities will be physically reconfigured in conformity with infection control protocols;

  • The requirement that all our decisions be aligned with policy guidance from SUNY and Executive Orders from the Governor of the State of New York.

Please give these matters some thought. If you wish, please click here to share your ideas and suggestions.

I am very grateful for your input and help.

With my best wishes and warm regards . . . Michael

Michael A Bernstein, Ph.D.
Professor of Business, Economics, and History
Interim President