Dear Faculty, Staff and Administrators,

We are all looking forward to the day we can return to campus and resume our diverse and robust activities in their fullest possible form, having taken the difficult but necessary steps this spring to curtail the proliferation of COVID-19. We are, of course, encouraged and hopeful that the current trendline continues, including the decrease in hospitalizations and new cases in New York. We fully expect New York State will continue to honor its public mission with empathy and acumen as we all make the careful transition from crisis intervention to sustained crisis management and to the safe resumption of economic and personal activities. 

The superlative efforts we made to personally connect with students this semester underscore how intrinsic face-to-face interaction is to the Siena experience, whether in classrooms, around residence and dining halls, in the chapel, or on the playing fields. Therefore, our contingency plans for the fall preserve as a top priority the in-person dimension of a Siena education, without compromising the safety of our community and the health of the broader public. We fully intend to enthusiastically welcome our students on campus as scheduled in early September. However, we must account for the possibility of less positive scenarios.

Governor Cuomo outlined a phased approach to reopening New York in his daily address Sunday, indicating schools would be included once we reach a “full Phase 2”: the opening of certain essential businesses. All organizations must develop plans for re-opening that detail changes necessary to daily operations to conform to anticipated state guidelines. 

Many of us are eager to know when and what this phased opening will bring, especially for residential colleges like Siena. While we have every intention of returning students to campus in the fall, prudence dictates that we plan for other contingencies should we be unable to resume residential life and in-person studies. As noted in last week’s community email, a cross-functional Recovery Task Force has engaged in intensive discussions and planning over the past month to prepare for the 2020-21 academic year. 

The Recovery Task Force divided into divisional and departmental working groups to examine the various re-opening scenarios through the lens of academic affairs and programming, student life, enrollment, finance and administration, athletics, mission, and general College operations. The working groups proactively identified the tasks necessary to successfully execute all courses of action and their corresponding impact. After quantifying projected enrollment and budget implications, establishing timelines and identifying key decision points, our primary/preferred plan and two possible contingencies were identified, and these three will be presented at our May 5 Community Conversation.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for Siena College. Our hearts and prayers are with those grieving the loss of friends and loved ones, our brothers and sisters stricken with this disease, and those on the frontlines selflessly risking their own lives in service to the common good. The sacrifices we are all making are saving lives and will enable Siena College to thrive in the future.


Margaret Madden, Ph.D.,

Interim President

Chris Gibson '86, Ph.D., 

President-Elect, Chair of the Recovery Task Force