President’s Letter

This document constitutes Montclair State University’s overall Restart Plan and related policies for the Fall 2020 semester. Given the many unknowns and continuing uncertainties attendant upon life in the COVID-19 era, any plan for the fall can only be based on our best assessment of what the next six months will present. However, the principles and goals underlying the Plan are clear and immutable. Our responsibility, as New Jersey’s second largest university and as an important public asset of the people of New Jersey, is to do our absolute best under the circumstances to provide our students with a rigorous and meaningful higher education and to enable them to continue to make good progress toward the acquisition of their degrees. Our responsibility is to enable the continuance of the important research and scholarly activities of the University. And our further responsibility to all our students and our fellow employees, is to provide that education and research in a manner that is sensitive to the health and safety of the University community during the changing conditions of the coronavirus pandemic.

These responsibilities are critical because universities are much more like hospitals than like entertainment venues. Lives actually depend on the services we provide. Hospitals save their patients from the diseases, physical disabilities, and deaths that come from lack of adequate health care. Universities, and particularly public universities, save their students from the economic and social disabilities, disparities, and injustices that come from lack of adequate education. The research done in university settings is applied in hospitals and in many other places in society to contribute to the saving of lives and natural and urban environments in many ways.

The work of this University is very important, and this Plan will help guide that work, but this Plan is not, and cannot be, written in stone. We will continue to learn as we go; circumstances will evolve, and we will amend and improve the Plan as necessary. I am very grateful to the many, many people who have been working diligently, putting in long hours over long days, to provide the information and ideas and to take the actions necessary to the production of this Plan. Every single unit of the University was engaged in some aspect of Plan development, from faculty work on instructional plans to University Facilities work on physical plant modifications, cleaning, and PPE procurement, to IT work on technology for faculty and students, to Student Development and Campus Life work on the housing and feeding of students, and many more contributions too numerous to mention.

In addition to all the critical content guidance from the various University units, the President’s Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Related Planning provided scientific and professional advice to inform the development of this plan. Members included: Co-Chairs, Dean of the School of Nursing Dr. Janice Smolowitz and Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics Dr. Lora Billings, Associate University Counsel Maria Anderson, Assistant Director of Environmental Health and Safety Gena Coffey, Lt. Tim Fox of University Police, Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Dr. Scott Herness, Director of the University Health Center Dr. Patricia Ruiz, Associate Vice President for Enterprise Application Services Donna Sadlon, and Professor of Nursing and Director of the Graduate Nursing Program Dr. Joan Valas. That group put in many hours and days in service to the University, reviewing the scientific literature, tracking the actions and planning at other universities around the country, analyzing governmental regulations and guidance and focusing on the application and relevancy of all that information to this particular University environment, and reviewing all the specific plans that form the body of the overall Restart Plan.

I am also very grateful to the teams of people from each of the colleges, schools, and administrative units, as well as the University Senate and the Student Government Association, in all well over 100 people, who read the various elements of the Plan under the pressure of a short timeline and offered their suggestions to help assure that it would be clear and useful to members of the University community.

When all is said and done, our success in achieving our goals for the fall 2020 semester will depend not just on this Plan, but, to a much greater degree, will depend on the constructive will of all of the members of the University community to work together to meet our responsibility for the education of our students, our responsibility to do all the things (the wearing of masks and all the tasks outlined in the Plan) that will help keep each other safe, and our responsibility to be effective short-term stewards of the long-term asset of this important University whose future now rests in our hands.

President Susan A. Cole
July 13, 2020

Last Modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2020 7:26 pm