Open Campus Task Force & Guiding Principles

Open Campus Task Force & Guiding Principles

Last updated: January 7, 2022

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) in spring 2020. Current members include:

Barb Bresnahan, Chief of Staff, convener
Kristin Bruno-Bates, Assistant Director, Conferences and Events
Michelle Brisson, Dean, Student Engagement
Stuart Dezenhall, Director of Strategic Communications & Content
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
Sandra Jamieson, Professor, English
Jessica Lakin, Provost
Steph Mazzarella, Director of Student Engagement
Colby McCarthy, Associate Vice President, Scholarships and Financial Aid
Stephanie McCormick, Director of Facilities Operations
Frank Merckx, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Campus Life
Chekwube Okunowo, Student Representative
Meredith Palmer, Associate Dean of Administration
Christa Racine, Director of Athletics
Nate Roark, Student Representative
Tom Schwarz, President
Jill Shockley, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services
Shawn Spaventa, Director of Instructional Technology
Kathy Sutherland, Executive Administrative Assistant, President’s Office
Tammy Windfelder, Associate Professor, Biology

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:

This subcommittee of the Open Campus Task Force meets twice weekly and when conditions dictate to determine the campus alert level. The subcommittee may change the alert independently or in consultation with the University President. Read more about the status of campus operations during COVID.

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, 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

Status of Campus Operations During COVID

Drew University has established color-coded alert levels to indicate the operating status of the University during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is meant to inform the community about certain risks posed by COVID-19 and associated measures that will be implemented at each level. The alert levels are determined by the prevalence of the virus on campus, including positivity rate of on-campus testing and occupancy of isolation and quarantine spaces, as well as State and Local Health Department guidance.

As information about COVID-19 continues to evolve and local conditions continue to change, these alert levels are meant to be fluid to allow for appropriate campus responses. Though conditions external to campus may not be fully reflective in this color coding, they are reviewed routinely by members of the Subcommittee on Campus Operations and the Open Campus Task Force. Health Service is in regular contact with the local health department.

Each alert level includes and builds upon the established baseline public health measures as outlined in the Campus Health & Safety Guidelines.

The green (COVID normal) level indicates a very low prevalence rate of the virus on campus and allows for in-person living and learning with health and safety protocols in place. If the prevalence of the virus increases, campus operations may shift to the yellow (low alert) level, which would result in reduced density of employees on campus and reduced capacity for in-person living and learning with extensive health and safety protocols in place, or orange (medium alert) level, which may require a pause to in-person learning, a further reduction in the density of employees on campus, temporarily suspending some campus operations, and/or restricting movement on campus. The red (high alert) level is the most restrictive and could lead to extended virtual learning and business operations and/or campus-wide quarantine or closure. When practicable, the NJ Higher Education Restart “Stages” will serve as a guide for decision making. View the current campus alert level on Drew’s COVID-19 dashboard.

A subcommittee of the Open Campus Task Force meets twice weekly and when conditions dictate. The subcommittee may change the alert independently or in consultation with the University President.

Members of the Subcommittee on Campus Operations:
Barb Bresnahan, Chief of Staff
Stuart Dezenhall, Director of Strategic Communications & Content
Joan Galbraith, MSN, APN-C, Director, Health Services
Roger Knowles, Professor and Department Chair, Biology
Jessica Lakin, Provost
Frank Merckx, Vice President, Enrollment Management and Campus Life

Guiding Principles

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

Authentic Drew CommunityWithin the context of a healthy physical environment, we strive for an authentic Drew community experience of interpersonal interaction.
Healthy and Safe EnvironmentIn 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 GuidanceWe 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 ResponsibilityIn 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 ResourcesRecognizing 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 CommunicationA 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.