May 21, 2020

To Faculty and Staff Colleagues:

As New Jersey begins the gradual process of reopening, I want to assure everyone that our senior administration continues to plan for the safe return to campus of employees currently working remotely. We await further State guidance, which will allow us to plan the date of that return and provide you all with as much advance notice as possible.
In my last communication, I detailed the current plan for the Black and Orange staggered work schedule, which would be implemented upon our eventual return in anticipation of the need to limit the number of employees on campus on a given day. As I also stated, we will continue to work remotely through at least Friday, June 5, when Governor Murphy’s current executive order expires. As promised, I will write again on May 29, when I hope to have a clearer sense of the timeline for our return.  
For now, however, I want to share more information about the extensive efforts we are undertaking to ensure that all necessary protocols and resources are in place on campus for the health and safety of faculty, staff, and, eventually, students. For the past three months, our Pandemic Response Team under Co-Chairs, Director of the Counseling, Health & Wellness Center Dr. Jill Guzman, and Director of Public Safety and University Police Charles Lowe, has provided excellent leadership and advice to me and the Cabinet to help guide our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the co-Chairs and select members of that group have turned their attention to the important work of preparing the campus and all of us for a safe and productive return. Operating as the Re-Opening Preparedness Committee, their charge is to make sure that the protocols and practices we develop, such as the Black and Orange schedule, and the related resources we acquire, whether Personal Protective Equipment or facilities equipment, adhere to State and federal guidance and are consistent with best practices for the health and safety of the University community.
As senior administrators continue planning for a variety of potential scenarios for the Fall semester, this committee will also support those efforts, so that whatever plan we implement will be supported by the best science and official guidance available. Future communications from Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Bolyai will provide more specific details about protocols and equipment so that we all fully know what to expect when we return. 
It is my expectation that both the group that is working on scenario planning and the Re-Opening Preparedness Committee will be consultative in their approach with faculty, staff, and student leaders as we move forward. 
The members of the Re-Opening Preparedness Committee are:
  • Jill Guzman, Co-Chair 
  • Charles Lowe, Co-Chair
  • Susan Astarita, Registrar, Enrollment Management
  • Becky Baird, Director of Residence Life
  • Jonathan Lincoln, Associate Provost for Curriculum and International Education, Academic Affairs
  • Denise Robinson Lewis, Director of Human Resources
  • Jim Shelley, Director of Physical Plant Operations & Custodial Services
  • Mary Beth Zeman, Senior Director of Public Relations, Marketing & Public Relations
  • Steve Sondey, Director of Purchasing (Consultative)
I want to thank Dr. Guzman and Director Lowe for their steady leadership under very trying conditions and thank all the committee members for their continued good work. I know that they share my commitment and that of everyone in the senior administration to making sure that we are all prepared for a safe and productive return to campus and that the campus is, in turn, ready for us. I am excited for that day, and I look forward to seeing you all again outside of a computer screen.
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD