SUNY Oneonta Releases Draft Re-opening Plan, Names Community Liaison

pink flowers and SUNY Oneonta sign

Draft Re-Opening Plan Announced

On Monday, Nov. 16, the SUNY Oneonta’s COVID Response Team shared its Draft Re-opening Plan: Spring 2021 with college employees, students and parents. More than 50 faculty and staff members, administrators, students and other stakeholders contributed to the plan, which focuses on several key areas:

  • communication;
  • facilities and dining;
  • health and safety;
  • learning and instruction; and
  • student development.

The full document is on the college’s COVID-19 website. Leamor Kahanov, the college’s provost and co-chair of the COVID Response Team, stressed that the draft plan, though well developed, is not final.

“Along with everyone directly involved in this effort, we recognize the complexity of spring planning and expect that our draft will remain a living document that may change,” said Kahanov. “We view this as an iterative process and look forward to hearing thoughts from across campus.”

She pointed out that the COVID Response Team is already developing additions in the form of appendices that will be incorporated into the draft plan by Dec. 10, when the plan is due to SUNY.

To discuss the plan, the COVID Response Team has scheduled two virtual town halls on Wednesday, one for employees and another for students and their parents. Kahanov said she anticipates a lively conversation.

“The COVID Response Team hosted town halls earlier this month that were extremely engaging,” said Kahanov. “Now that we’re one step closer to spring taking shape, it’s important for us to reconnect with employees, students and parents.”

The COVID Response Team also posted to the COVID-19 website a Retrospective on Fall 2020.

"As an institution, we needed to thoroughly review these last few months in order to move forward,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration Julie Piscitello, who serves as the  COVID Response Team’s other co-chair. “We spent a lot of time dissecting the college’s outbreak. The lessons learned have shaped our thinking about how to approach next semester.”  

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig offered his comments. “I thank Acting President Craig and his team for the increased focus on off-campus safety, community relations, and student engagement found in the SUNY Oneonta Spring 2021 Plan. Increased structure for off-campus life, coupled with a reduction in on-campus capacity, provides additional assurance for the health and safety of both students and our year-round residents,” said Herzig. “The recent open communication and sense of partnership we have experienced give me increased confidence for the coming year. I look forward to working together to make 2021 a healthy and productive year for all members of our Oneonta community.”

New Community Liaison Appointed

Dr. Franklin Chambers

One change in the college’s COVID-19 response was implemented Nov. 16. Acting President Dennis Craig announced the appointment of Dr. Franklin Chambers to the newly created position of vice president for external affairs. Chambers currently serves as vice president for student development, a role that Dr. Bernadette Tiapo, the college’s chief diversity officer, will step into on an interim basis.

Craig said this move would strengthen the college’s focus on off-campus student life and its response to COVID-19 in the broader community.

“I understood early on in my tenure here that local elected officials and civic and business leaders view SUNY Oneonta as a valuable community partner. Now, Dr. Chambers will build and attend to the connections that make SUNY Oneonta among our region’s most unique assets,” said Craig.

Craig added that, in addition to liaising with community members, Chambers will extend strategies and best practices currently employed on campus to better engage the college’s off-campus students. He specifically cited enhancing COVID prevention and screening efforts and creating structured experiences for students who live in the City of Oneonta on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the semester.

“I am grateful to Dr. Chambers for accepting this critical assignment that will benefit students and bring the college and its constituencies closer,” he said. “As the challenge of COVID-19 continues to unfold, it’s increasingly important that all of us in Oneonta face it together.”

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