Coronavirus campus restart

Reopening Wayne State University

In May 2020, Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson established a committee composed of university leaders, faculty and students to provide ongoing input on health and safety policies and procedures for the Wayne State University community.

Guiding principles

Policies were determined based on a number of factors, including the latest medical data; local, state and federal guidance; and the unique considerations of operating a university in the heart of a major city. The committee was guided by the following principles:

  1. Safety first: This remains our top priority, and we will continue to be governed by sensible safety precautions and direction from state and health authorities.
  2. Continue the academic mission of the university: Teaching, learning and research will, where prudent and possible, shift back to former operations, though they will incorporate new learning where applicable. We may need to change the way we operate in some cases, but we will not compromise the quality of our education and research.
  3. Hold students, faculty and staff harmless to the extent possible within budget realities.
  4. Incorporate learning from the shutdown: While the constraints imposed upon the campus and operations were difficult, WSU responded quickly and effectively. The actions taken in response to the shutdown have yielded lessons and opportunities that can help us reimagine and reposition the university for the future.

Goals

  • Welcome the community "back to campus," while providing information on new policies/procedures to ensure both safety and our ability to serve our mission.  
  • Re-energize the academic mission of teaching, learning and research.
  • Return the campus to as near to normalcy as possible, while continuing to prioritize safety.
  • Implement necessary adjustments based on budget/financial realities.
  • Adjust policies/processes/procedures to accommodate new learning.
  • Ensure preparedness for future events.

Subcommittees

  • Academics/teaching and learning: Considering campus health and educational priorities, determine how to safely reopen and conduct in-person classes in the fall while ensuring social distancing.
    • Chair: Darin Ellis, associate provost for academic programs and associate vice president for Institutional Effectiveness
  • Research: To review and update operational processes and procedures to ramp up research activities being developed for each element in accordance with directives from the Governor of the State of Michigan and university policy as the governor provides clearance to do so.
    • Chair: Steve Lanier, vice president for research
  • Finance and budget: The finance committee is charged with the development of broad strategies to address the university's financial challenges in the immediate, short and long terms. The committee will define the processes to identify, develop and evaluate specific financial strategies and action plans with engagement and collaboration from other university stakeholders.
    • Chair: Rebecca Cooke, interim vice president for finance and business operations, treasurer, and chief financial officer
  • Campus health: To monitor emerging evidence regarding COVID-19 and provide advice to each of the subcommittees to ensure that decisions and procedures related to restart are based in science and current data. To develop a public health plan including strategies for testing, symptom management, mitigation and education in order to support the health and safety of the campus community. 
    • Chair: Laurie M. Lauzon Clabo, dean, college of nursing, and chief health and wellness officer
  • Facilities: To enhance existing processes and procedures to provide and ensure a reliable, safe and sustainable environment for the entire campus community.
    • Chair: Rob Davenport, associate vice president, Facilities Planning and Management
  • Housing, dining and campus retail: Determine and implement best practices to create safe and welcoming environments to support a successful fall semester consistent with the overall teaching and learning strategy on campus.
    • Chair: Tim Michael, associate vice president for student auxiliary services and chief housing officer
  • Athletics: To recommend policies, procedures and best practices to position the university to begin and to initiate athletic activities that include: conditioning, practices and competition that minimizes health and wellness risk to student-athletes, coaches and staff, and the public.
    • Chair: Rob Fournier, director of athletics
  • Computing and information technology: Create a plan with contingencies for supporting the university's full range of activities during the 2021-22 academic year. Technology must be planned for a range of options and combinations. Issues to consider include: potential of hybrid teaching, teaching delivery style, testing/assessment, student life/co-curricular activities, advising and academic support, incoming classes, student and faculty research, and continued administrative support.
    • Chair: Rob Thompson, chief information officer and associate vice president for Computing and Information Technology
  • Human resources: To develop a plan to bring employees back to a safe campus to re-engage in on-campus operations in an effective and efficient manner. This plan will use a phased-in approach and will incorporate (1) best practices, ideas, and information from a cross-section of faculty and staff throughout the campus community and (2) data from various thought leaders in industry and government.
    • Chair: Carolyn Hafner, associate vice president for human resources