Faculty-Staff Working Group on Fall Planning and College Finances

Dear Colleagues:

As we enter the last week of classes for the semester, I write to provide an update on the college’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and share plans for how we are organizing ourselves to address some of the longer-term implications of the crisis. 

Since March 13, when we announced that our students should leave campus and prepare to complete their courses remotely, we have found ourselves needing to move quickly to make decisions in response to rapidly evolving circumstances. These decisions have included, among others, changes to grading policy, planning for Short Term, adapting Commencement for the Class of 2020, the cancellation of summer programs, and arrangements for remote work and greatly reduced staffing on campus. In each case, we have worked hard to engage appropriate governance structures while also moving forward at the pace required. 

I deeply appreciate the engagement of faculty and staff across the college in helping us with decision making, and I am grateful for the flexibility with which everyone on campus has responded to adapt our practices in so many areas. 

With the most immediate decisions behind us, it is time to turn our attention to the weeks and months ahead. To that end, Dean of the Faculty Malcolm Hill and I have decided to form an ad hoc working group composed of faculty and staff to advise the two of us and senior staff on a set of institutional decisions that we will need to make over the next six to ten weeks to determine academic plans for the fall semester and manage college finances to address the ongoing implications of the pandemic.

The goal in forming this group is to bring faculty and staff together in a shared space for analysis and problem solving so that the college can make critical decisions in a timely manner while considering the effects of these decisions across the college. In forming the working group, we reached out to individuals with a range of disciplinary expertise and governance experience to achieve a broad representation. The group will be divided into two teams — one focused on Fall Planning, and the other on College Finances that will convene this week to organize their work. The membership of each team can be found here. We are in the process of creating a working group website that will provide information about the committee and allow input from interested individuals. 

With everyone in our community facing a range of new pressures and demands, I am grateful that so many faculty and staff have agreed to devote time and energy to this work. This is a critical moment for Bates, and we will all benefit from bringing together faculty and staff leaders to help us achieve decision making that is creative, rigorous, and humane.

Thank you, as always, for your patience as we work through the complex issues of the current moment, and please stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely, Clayton