A Message From President Standifird - Fall Planning

Dear Bradley Family:

After an unexpected turn to our spring semester, I’m sure all of you agree our ultimate goal for the fall is to have students and employees back on campus, while of course, keeping the health and safety of the entire Bradley family as our top priority. Although there are still many unknowns, we do know there is tremendous work to be done to make this happen by August 26 when the semester begins.

The Virus Response Team has identified four plans to guide our thought processes:

  • Plan A - Business as Usual
  • Plan B - Physical Distancing
  • Plan C - Regional Recurrence and/or Campus Occurrence
  • Plan D - Online 

We believe Plan A may be the least likely of the scenarios with so many unknowns.  Plans B, C and D allow us to imagine new opportunities for the university and to engage everyone at Bradley as a stakeholder in these efforts.  A return to campus creates a number of unique challenges. These are challenges we are prepared to embrace in order to remain leaders in student engagement.

To lead our return, the Virus Response Team has been renamed the Return to Campus team. This team will take responsibility for planning fall operations; it will also continue to monitor and plan for the immediate needs as a result of COVID-19.

The Return to Campus team members are as follows:

  • Nathan Thomas, chair – Vice President, Student Affairs
  • Dr. Stephen Standifird – President
  • Jeff Blade – Chief Financial Officer
  • Dr. Walter Zakahi – Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs
  • Erin Kastberg – General Counsel and Vice President, Legal Affairs
  • Renee Charles – University Spokesperson and Executive Director, Public Relations
  • Dr. Jobie Skaggs – Interim Associate Provost

Plan B — To be successful at physical distancing, it will take our entire university community working together. There will be three additional teams reporting to the Return to Campus team for this effort: Return to Work, Return to Class and Return to Engagement. (Please note the following items are a sample of the sub-committees’ efforts and do not comprise their entirety.)

  • Led by Erin Kastberg, the Return to Work team will focus on work schedules, employee social distancing elements and other short and long-term factors.
  • Led by Molly Cluskey, the Return to Class team will look at academic delivery, e.g., class sizes, classroom set-ups, hybrid delivery models and the academic calendar.
  • Led by Jon Neidy, the Return to Engagement team will work on physical distancing and other short and long-term factors outside of the classroom experience including, residence hall and dining accommodations, move-in and welcome week activities, use of common campus spaces and student organization activities. 

To meet these physical distancing goals, it’s important we centralize our decision making and communication. However, since it’s impossible for these groups to make every decision, they’ll empower decision making across campus to eliminate the appearance of working silos. The three sub-committee leaders, as well as Nathan Thomas, Jobie Skaggs and Renee Charles, will serve as the steering committee for Plan B.

The goal for Plan B is to create a model for the university to return to campus while keeping the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff at the forefront. Since there isn’t much time before fall, each team will create aggressive prioritized timelines so they can develop recommendations by June 12, 2020.

Team members will work from a set of determined physical distancing parameters and explore solutions within these frameworks. Since each committee’s work involves and informs the other teams, there’s overlapping membership; the chairs will coordinate their work with each other. 

Each committee will be comprised of faculty, staff and students. Additionally, each team may create its own subcommittees or identify content experts to address needs within their working group. For example, the committee that is examining clinicals, internships, student teaching, etc. will now report to the Return to Class committee. A communications committee has been formed with university communicators embedded within each of the working committees. These members will report to the Return to Campus team through Renee Charles.

Plan C — This will involve an intensive tabletop type exercise led by the Return to Campus team and will engage many of you across campus. One of Plan C’s elements is a campus occurrence of COVID-19 and how we continue quality instruction.

Plan D  — The Online Delivery Committee’s overarching goal is to support a sustained quality educational experience for our students. This committee will focus on increasing Bradley’s flexible educational delivery preparedness where online delivery is needed. The integration of online delivery could range from strategies to achieve Plans B and C, to the necessity to return to fully online. Advanced professional development training for our faculty, integration of enhanced virtual technology, and other creative tools will allow us to better adapt to this changing and unpredictable environment. The work of this committee, led by Jobie Skaggs, will strengthen each planning scenario.

Our new CFO, Jeff Blade, and I will focus on financial planning for the university. We’ll also have inputs from the Senior Leadership Team and President’s Advisory Board. Part of our planning will include centralized procurement of protection supplies, e.g., hand sanitizer and facial coverings.

As we work through the above scenarios together, I want to recognize the contributions of the entire Bradley family in helping each of us return to campus. I cannot say thank you enough for all you have done and continue to do. These are challenging times, but there are also opportunities for transformation. I have no doubt the university has a long and bright future ahead, one that ensures Lydia Moss Bradley’s enduring legacy.


Stephen Standifird
Bradley University