Planning for Multiple Tomorrows

The Planning for Multiple Tomorrows (PMT) working group is comprised of students, faculty, and staff and tasked to consider a variety of scenarios, and offer new and creative ideas for how the College can continue to achieve its mission and realize its vision.

May 22, 2020

Dear Union College Community,

The Planning for Multiple Tomorrows working group had its final meeting this morning. We took a deeper dive into emerging scenarios and discussed the degree to which we could offer flexibility to students, faculty, and staff, while achieving shared goals. It is clear that whatever plan we adopt will require all of us to muster new levels of wisdom, empathy, and courage. I have confidence in our community, and know that Union will emerge even stronger.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

This video provides more details on where we are in our planning. You can find a transcript on the Planning for Multiple Tomorrows website.

Thank you for being part of these weekly updates. We appreciate all of the comments and ideas that you have shared with us at planning20-21@union.edu.

Regards,


David

Previous messages

  • May 15, 2020

    Dear Union College Community,

    The Planning for Multiple Tomorrows working group had a busy week with four well-attended town hall meetings and a community survey. We thank everyone who participated. Your questions, opinions, and ideas are extremely important and helpful. It is clear that we all desperately want to return to campus, and it is also abundantly clear that safety concerns remain at the forefront of planning. I encourage you to continue sharing your perspectives with PMT members directly, as well as by email with the group at planning20-21@union.edu

    CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

    This video provides more details on where we are in our planning. You can find a transcript here.

    We are all in this together, and it is a true pleasure working alongside you.

    Regards,

    David

  • May 11,2020

    Dear Union College Community,

    Please join President David Harris and members of this working group as they discuss the progress of the Planning for Multiple Tomorrows working group during a general and multiple topic-specific community-wide town halls this week. Participants will have the opportunity to offer feedback and ask questions.

    Town Hall - General Session hosted by President Harris
    Tuesday, May 12

    12:50 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

    Please click the link below to join the webinar:
    https://union.zoom.us/j/96714379613

    Topic-specific Town Halls - hosted by Planning for Multiple Tomorrows Sub-group Leaders
    Wednesday, May 13

    12:50 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

    Please click one of the links below to join the following sessions:

    To submit a question or comment in advance, please email: planning20-21@union.edu

  • May 8, 2020

    Dear Union College Community,

    I am pleased to share with you this week's update from the Planning for Multiple Tomorrows working group. We are working hard every day to understand how we can safely achieve our goal of having students, faculty, and staff back on campus.

    This video will provide more thoughts on where we are in our planning. I encourage you to continue sharing your perspectives with PMT members directly, as well as by email with the group at planning20-21@union.edu.

    On Tuesday afternoon, we will have a town hall for the community to share perspectives with the PMT and one another. Details will be sent in a separate email. I hope you will join us.

    Regards,
    David

  • May 1, 2020

    Dear Union College Community,

    We are now halfway through the term, and I think it's fair to say that this has been hard on everyone. It's uncomfortable. We are all operating under unfamiliar circumstances and feeling challenged in so many ways. Yet we continue to do the best we can under conditions that are largely outside our control, and are doing so with as much wisdom, empathy, and courage as we can muster. I continue to be impressed by the resiliency and creativity of our community.

    One of the most common questions we hear these days is, "When is this going to end?" We are all eager to return to our residential model. Answering this question is extremely complicated, as there are many factors to consider, much that is unknown or dynamic, and myriad organizations and individuals involved, including government agencies, public health experts, admitted and current students, parents, faculty, staff, and administrators.

    What is clear is that fall 2020 will look very different from fall 2019 across the country, regardless of whether colleges are online or residential. We expect that, at a minimum, governments will require some level of social distancing on college campuses. That which has been our greatest strength—bringing together people from around the country and the world to learn and engage in formal and informal settings—is now one of our greatest vulnerabilities. Moreover, because college campuses include many students, staff, and faculty who have COVID-19 risk factors or who live with people who have risk factors, when and how we resume residential education can have serious consequences.

    Every day I have the pleasure of deliberating with a diverse, dedicated, and creative group of faculty, staff, and students on the Planning for Multiple Tomorrows (PMT) Working Group. We are focused on how Union can best navigate these uncharted and changing waters, while pursuing our most important goals: safety, our strategic initiatives, and financial sustainability. It is stressful and difficult work. I can tell you that we do not yet have the answers, and as best I can tell from my reading and interactions, neither do leaders and groups at other schools, despite what some press releases imply. What I find most exciting is that our PMT group is already generating intriguing and promising insights that more than justify its creation. The power of diverse perspectives is clear yet again.

    You can expect to receive updates by every Friday until plans for 2020-21 are announced. There is now a Planning for Multiple Tomorrows website with information about the group, its progress, and some of the readings that are informing our thinking. If you have thoughts to share with the group, please send email to planning20-21@union.edu.

    Thank you for your patience and partnership. I remain confident that we will thrive in the days and years ahead.

    Regards,
    David

  • April 24, 2020

    Dear Union College Community,

    As we approach the fifth week of this unique term, I am reflecting on our accomplishments thus far, and how we will prepare Union to not only survive under these challenging circumstances, but to emerge even stronger.

    I continue to be tremendously proud of how our entire Union community has responded. I appreciate the difficulty and stress involved in taking our entire spring term online. This has not been easy; you have all risen to the occasion. Thank you for your courage and compassion during this difficult time.

    As part of our recent strategic planning process we identified the importance of becoming more comfortable being uncomfortable and embracing necessary change. We took pride in developing a strategic plan that harnessed Union’s unique assets and offerings and committed to a vision to develop students to lead in uncertain times. Now, sooner than expected, and in unanticipated ways, we are facing uncertain times as a society, an institution, and as individuals. We must prepare for multiple tomorrows. We must put innovative thinking into action so that Union can thrive not only in the coming year but also for the next 225 years.

    To address this challenge, I have appointed a new working group, Planning for Multiple Tomorrows (PMT)—comprised of students, faculty, and staff—which I will chair. For the next month, PMT will consider a variety of scenarios, and offer new and creative ideas for how the College can continue to achieve its mission and realize its vision. We have a compelling strategic plan to guide us. We remain committed to our core mission of offering a residential liberal education that emphasizes integration, innovation and reflection for every student. The focus will be on the 2020-21 academic year, but with an understanding that the coming year will have an impact on our longer-term success.

    The group’s charge is to recommend to College leadership solutions that will allow Union to:

    1. Safeguard the health and well-being of our campus community and surrounding communities.
    2. Complete an academic year while remaining true to the goals articulated in The Power of Union, and our vision of developing every student to lead with wisdom, empathy, and courage now and across multiple tomorrows. This includes the strong preference for resuming and sustaining our residential model.
    3. Ensure the short- and long-term financial sustainability of the College.

    After the PMT submits its recommendations to senior leadership, we will engage in a brief period of deliberation and consultation. We expect to announce 2020-21 plans in June.

    I have often remarked that Union College has weathered many storms over the past 225 years, as what happens in society almost always impacts colleges and universities. I thank the students, faculty, and staff who have agreed to join the PMT for their service. The wisdom, empathy, and courage they will exhibit, along with the partnership of our broader Union community, will ensure that Union thrives across all of the multiple tomorrows that await us.

    Best,
    David