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Fall 2020 Campus Planning

Chatham plans to be back together on campus in the Fall of 2020, with all aspects of the Chatham experience—from academics to athletics, housing and dining to events—operating under enhanced physical distancing and other changes. Please review the planning document and highlights, view the government planning guidelines, frequently asked questions and provide us your feedback and questions. Be sure to check back for updates over the coming weeks and months.  

Message from President Finegold

Chatham alumna Rachel Carson ’29 showed wisdom and foresight in raising our understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things on our planet, as displayed most acutely today with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The popular rallying cry during these times—“We’re all in this together”—underscores Carson’s thesis. 

If anyone still doubts that “we’re all in this together,” who among us has not been impacted by the coronavirus? Who among us does not know of someone who contracted the coronavirus or lost their job, either permanently or temporarily? Who among us doesn’t know what it’s like to not be able to do things we once took for granted? 

In the wake of the pandemic, I believe even more strongly that “we are all in this together.” I also believe more strongly than ever in the vital importance of the following:

  • Chatham’s Mission, with its focus on building a healthy planet and healthy people, and its commitment to preparing leaders who will solve the big problems and challenges of today and tomorrow (and a pandemic certainly qualifies as one);
  • Chatham’s work in our surrounding communities and the continued importance—indeed, urgency—of helping improve the quality of life in them, and
  • The value of being physically present on campus.

Although Chatham’s campuses are second to none in beauty and uniqueness, my yearning to be back on campus is not simply a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. Great value comes from being physically on campus—interacting and exchanging ideas with other people in the classroom, residence hall, dining hall, and athletic field; bouncing ideas off other people in the lab or in the library; or just hanging out on the quad with friends on a beautiful spring afternoon. These experiences are what most of us remember most fondly from our experiences as undergraduate or graduate students—even more than brick and mortar and idyllic campus settings. And for good reason: these are some of the time-tested ways that students learn and grow intellectually and personally. 

We’ve also learned a great deal more about COVID-19 since we were required to shut down our campuses in March. We now know that the data is showing that the coronavirus poses lower risk to individuals 25 and under, but that we all need to do our part to help protect those most at risk (the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, preexisting conditions or respiratory issues). And importantly, we’ve also learned much more about effective mitigation strategies that all of us can use to help reduce the spread of the virus. 

All of these factors are why Chatham is committed to joining the vast majority of our national and local peers who are planning to reopen their campuses in the Fall, now that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and our local governmental authorities have given us all the “green light” and guidance on how to reopen. That said, our return to campus is directed by our ability to mitigate risk to the extent humanly possible to ensure the health and safety of the entire Chatham community—students, faculty, staff and visitors.

The purpose of this Planning for Reopening Chatham” document and website is to describe our strategies for being back on campus, safely. It is not a task for anyone of us to shoulder alone, but each of us—student, faculty member, administrator and staff member—will need to do our part if it is to succeed. After all, we are all in this together. 

I look forward to welcoming you all back to campus in the fall. Until then, wishing you and your families the very best for the summer.

David Finegold