Open Campus Task Force & Guiding Principles

Open Campus Task Force & Guiding Principles

Last updated: August 14, 2020

Drew’s Open Campus Task Force, made up of members of senior leadership and the campus community, was born of the group that worked diligently to bring the University into Drew Virtual Time (DVT) last spring. Current members include:

Barb Bresnahan, Chief of Staff
Kristin Bruno-Bates, Assistant Director, Conferences and Events
Fredrick Fuest, Trustee Representative
Joan Galbraith, Director of Health Services
Ryan Hinrichs, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies
Verna Holcomb, Manager, Technology Communications and Training
Louise Hood, Assistant Vice President, Advancement
Jessica Lakin, Provost, convener
Steph Mazzarella, Director of Student Engagement
Colby McCarthy, Associate Vice President, Scholarships and Financial Aid
Alex McClung, Director of Institutional Research
Stephanie McCormick, Director of Facilities Operations
Frank Merckx, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Affairs, convener
Meredith Palmer, Special Assistant, Legal Affairs
Tom Schwarz, Interim President
Jill Shockley, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services
Shawn Spaventa, Director of Instructional Technology
Kathy Sutherland, Executive Administrative Assistant, President’s Office
Kristen Daily Williams, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing

The charge of this group is to provide leadership oversight and logistics for the reopening of campus and supporting operations related to it, to facilitate decision-making, and to communicate decisions and plans to the Drew community. Accordingly, there are several working groups devoted to planning and process-making for specific areas. The progress made in the working groups is brought back to the Task Force so that our fall reopen plan benefits from a “hivemind” approach: subject matter experts develop plans in working groups, which are brought back to the Task Force for decision-making, knowledge sharing on cross-functional possibilities, and an overall collective understanding of how each piece fits together. To facilitate knowledge sharing and understanding, each working group includes some members of the Task Force; those representatives may or not be the group convener.

The key working groups are:

Develop a plan to maximize meaningful in-person instruction for the fall semester while maintaining safe physical distancing. Identify courses from across the curriculum for priority use of on-campus classrooms, laboratories, and studios. Ensure maximum flexibility for students and faculty to pursue and deliver educational goals even if they are not able to be on campus or participate in in-person instruction. Determine the technology required to allow for real-time participation of students and faculty who cannot make it to campus to engage in on-campus classes.
Ryan Hinrichs, Dean of Arts & Sciences–elect, convener

Determine how to bring the community back to campus safely. Continue the established relationship with local and state health officials, offering best practices on health and safety. Develop a plan to identify, test and isolate sick students working with the local health department to do contact tracing to minimize spread of illness on campus. Modify operations of Health Service to meet needs of students while ensuring safety of staff and students (includes expansion of telehealth and electronic medical record capabilities; separation of well and sick in-person appointments; monitoring supply of PPE; etc.). Work with the Counseling Center as they implement measures for mental health and wellness.
Joan Galbraith, convener

Examine all campus spaces so that they may be utilized safely and appropriately for the central focus of academic delivery through using technology, distancing and other interventions. Work with other subgroups so that guidance for optimal operation in a safe and healthy manner is established.
Jill Shockley, convener

Determine housing plans for the fall semester based on forthcoming state guidelines and changing conditions for our students around New Jersey and the globe. This will include establishing repopulation of the residence halls based upon guidance and best practice for returning students and the yet-to-be assigned new first-year and transfer students.
Michelle Brisson, Dean of Student Engagement, convener

Determine how to ensure that dining services meet campus needs safely and appropriately, which may include changes to dining plans, food offerings and operational hours.
Frank Merckx, convener

Determine how to ensure athletes’ safety and a return to conference play within NCAA DIII, Landmark Conference, and state guidelines.
Christa Racine, Director of Athletics, convener

Continue to implement cabinet decisions on staffing designations. Work with the facilities group to assign office space. Draft Open Campus guiding principles and create a rubric around those guiding principles.
Louise Hood, convener

Develop policies and secure procedures for employment in a safe environment. Implement a student employment program to enhance opportunities and ensure the best student experience.
Colby McCarthy, convener

Model revenue and expenses with associated budget forecasts for a variety of possible scenarios. Includes two subgroups that focus on insurance and small business administration.
Jill Shockley, convener


Guiding Principles

The Open Campus Task Force and key working groups are guided by the following universitywide principles:

Authentic Drew Community Within the context of a healthy physical environment, we strive for an authentic Drew community experience of interpersonal interaction.
Healthy and Safe Environment In accordance with guidance from the CDC, national student health organizations, and state and local health departments, we implement practices to support physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions, diagnosis, contact tracing, and isolation practices, and we provide educational resources to support community-members’ responsibility to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Attentiveness to Evolving Governmental, Association, and Health Guidance We monitor, consider, and adapt to external requirements and guidance from federal, state, and local entities, associations, and authorities, including athletic associations and conferences, with the goal of providing an authentic Drew community experience within the context of the guidance and requirements.
Personal and Institutional Responsibility In implementing these principles and associated practices, Drew University remains committed to uphold its community standards for health and safety, instructional quality, and interpersonal support for others, while flexibly balancing the community’s collective needs. As a community, we are individually and collectively responsible for supporting and achieving these standards. Members of the community are expected to commit to practices to keep themselves and others safe.
Stewardship of Financial Resources Recognizing that financial resources are seriously strained in the COVID-19 environment, we will especially prioritize expenses with a focus on health, core educational activities, and positioning for a sustainable Drew University post-COVID-19.
Clear and Open Communication A cornerstone of a healthy and thriving community is communication. This is especially important in times of challenge and change. The University will continue regular and accessible communication about its decisions and practices designed to ensure a healthy and authentic community in the COVID-19 environment. 


We continue to make headway on our planning for the fall reopen. In the meanwhile, should you have any questions, please email our Drew Virtual Time inbox at We’ll keep using your concerns to shape our planning and the FAQ.