Message from the Provost / Faculty Guidance

To: Paul Smith’s College faculty
Delivered: March 10, 2020, at 1:53 p.m.

Dear Faculty

I hope you are all having a nice relaxing spring break. It was almost 60 degrees on campus yesterday, so it did feel like spring.

The current outbreak of Covid-19 in various parts of the world and some regions of the US is causing a great deal of disruption in higher education. It has even hit the media/psychological tipping point that Harvard is moving its classes online. Unfortunately, the virus is also driving people nuts. As responsible academics we have a duty to push back against panic, so try to help the students stay calm when classes restart next Monday. To be frank, this is not a simple situation medically or socially.

Here are some basic points:

  • PSC campus is open and we are not currently planning any shutdown. Note that this is good news.
  • But…this is a fast-moving situation. Please realize that anything the college announces is subject to change.
  • The state of New York has imposed certain mandatory reporting rules for colleges. You will likely be surveyed with questions about your recent travel and the like. Please respond to that request when it comes. Then if the information changes, please follow up with whomever is designated (for now me) to receive those updates.
  • What if you are sick yourself?
    • Yes, I know many of us have colds or other minor ailments. Take care of yourself. As you know, the big suggestion is to wash one’s hands frequently. You might want to get ahead of the curve planning how to do things online should you want to stay home for a few extra days.
    • If you have more serious concerns about your own health or possible exposure to Covid-19, I ask you to be sensible about this. See from the CDC with advice on what to do. Please also contact Sandy and your Chair so we can plan to cover your class (or help you do that yourself).
  • Some colleges are also banning travel. Here again we are taking moderate steps.
    • Local van trips are still fine and don’t need additional approval.
    • For planned travel overnight or for business/meetings please ask for review of the planned trip by your appropriate Vice President (for everyone in academic affairs areas that is the Provost).
    • For major student trips domestically or abroad, please work with me on next steps. For obvious reasons these are the most likely (although not certain) to be cancelled.
  • Far too many of us in higher education are talking about “business continuity plans” right now. Detailed plans are being developed for managing sick students on campus and what to do if PSC has to shut down face-to-face classes. In that unlikely situation all classes would have to move online. Our state and regional accreditors are loosening rules on this already. Catie Lalonde, Mike Beccaria and his IT team have been working with me to figure out how we could do this. Moving online in a rush would not be a simple, but I know everyone will pitch in to make sure our students are cared for.

Thank you all and stay well.

Nicholas Hunt-Bull, Ph.D.

Provost and VPAA

Paul Smith’s College

Key Contacts

Student Health Services
Abigail Fontaine, RN, BSN, Director
(518) 327-6349

Housing & Residence Life
Lou Kaminski, Director
(518) 327-6488

Campus Safety
Holly Parker, Director
(518) 327-6300

Emergency Management
Teresa Gay, Compliance Coordinator
(518) 327-6451