Washington University begins planning for fall

fall on campus
Fall on the Danforth Campus. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

As the region, nation and world continue to navigate the evolving circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington University in St. Louis has begun mobilizing its efforts in preparation for the fall semester, according to Chancellor Andrew D. Martin. 

“As we all know, there are many uncertainties during this time that make planning for the future incredibly difficult,” Martin said. “However, based on the information that is currently available to us, I can say with confidence that we will have a fall semester at Washington University. We are squarely focused on understanding the steps we must take now in order to allow us to welcome students back and begin our return to normal operations. While there are still a number of unknowns, rest assured that however we proceed, we will do so in a smart, strategic way, with the safety of our community as our very highest priority. 

“We know the path to recovery will be long and challenging. There are no quick fixes here and we’ll need to rely on the same ingenuity that allowed us to respond quickly at the onset of this crisis — as well as guidance from our infectious disease experts and all available data — to inform our way back. We will tackle this next phase with the same determination that has served us well to this point. At the same time, we realize that the steps we take next are about much more than the university itself. We’re one piece of the regional and national solution, and we’re committed to doing our part to think, lead and do, whatever is required to contribute to the greater good. We really are all in this together, and this is our moment to unite as a community to find our way back from this unprecedented situation.”

To guide high-level decision-making, Martin has appointed a Fall Contingency Planning Committee (FCPC) focused on the educational mission of the university, to explore a number of scenarios to inform planning in critical areas including academic calendars, curriculum, residential life and resource management. The committee’s first priority will be to set a timeline for when decisions will be made and how those decisions will be communicated to the university community. 

Martin will serve as chair of the FCPC temporarily, until incoming Provost Beverly Wendland assumes her role July 1, at which time she will assume leadership of the committee. In addition to Martin and Wendland, other committee members are:

  • Eva Aagaard, MD, School of Medicine
  • Monica Allen, Office of General Counsel
  • Aaron Bobick, McKelvey School of Engineering
  • Rebecca Brown, Office of the Chancellor
  • Ross Brownson, Brown School
  • Legail Chandler, Human Resources
  • Carmon Colangelo, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
  • Heather Corcoran, University College and Sam Fox School
  • Kirk Dougher, Office of Student Affairs
  • James DuBois, School of Medicine
  • Julie Hail Flory, Office of Public Affairs
  • Ohad Kadan, Olin Business School
  • Amy Kweskin, Office of Finance
  • Steven Lawrence, MD, School of Medicine
  • Cheri LeBlanc, MD, Habif Health and Wellness Center
  • Jennifer Lodge, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Mary McKay, Brown School
  • Richard Payton, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration
  • Barbara Schaal, Arts & Sciences
  • Lori Setton, McKelvey School of Engineering
  • Jennifer Smith, Arts & Sciences
  • Nancy Staudt, School of Law
  • Mark Taylor, Olin Business School
  • Elizabeth Walsh, School of Law
  • Henry Webber, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration
  • Rob Wild, Office of Student Affairs

The committee will be staffed by Lisa Siddens, assistant provost for strategic projects and appointments.

“The work we are about to undertake is predicated on a paradox. With regard to education, the comparative advantage of Washington University is in-person, highly personal, and very interactive instruction,” Martin wrote in a memo to the FCPC. “I’m grateful for your leadership and participation on this committee, which will be integral in determining our next steps toward recovery.”

The FCPC expects to present a report to Martin and the Board of Trustees within the next several weeks.

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