May 22, 2020
Dear Albany Law School Community:
I write regarding our plans—and our planning—for the fall semester. I start with the caveat that these are uncertain and unpredictable times, and much could change as the summer progresses. That said, I think it is important that we notify you of the decisions we have made, and let you know what we hope and expect will be in place for the fall semester.
In short, we are planning for flexibility. We plan to meet you where you are—where you feel safe, where you will thrive, where you will have the best possible learning experience under these unprecedented circumstances.
What does that mean?
We are planning an in-person option: providing as many residential courses as New York State and the public health situation will allow.
We have committed to providing a remote option: students will be able to attend all classes remotely if they so choose.
We are planning a hybrid option: students will not be bound to all online or all residential coursework.
In other words, our plan is to deliver an excellent, interactive legal education accessible to both in-person and remote students at the same time. This is a flexible, nimble approach that accommodates a wide range of needs. I am wholly confident that whatever option a student elects, our faculty will deliver an outstanding educational experience.
I am also optimistic about the current plan, our Plan A, which is in development. With Albany County reopening Wednesday, and the thoughtful work going into our planning process, I believe it is realistic to plan for in-person (albeit socially distant) classes in the fall.
Of course, the in-person option within our plan is dependent on the status of the pandemic. If the State of New York says we can open our doors, we will. We will do so safely, with measures in place to help maintain the health and safety of those who wish to be on campus. And we will do so empathetically, realizing that not all of our community members will be comfortable returning to New Scotland Avenue.
For those who are certain that distance learning is the right choice for the fall, you can choose that option now. For those wishing to talk through various possibilities, I and our other deans are always available.
We are actively working through details as well as contingency plans. For example, we need to decrease the density of our open spaces and classrooms. We need plans and protocols for testing and contact tracing. The needs are vast and varied, and we are taking them seriously.
I am grateful to my colleagues who have agreed to serve on our Return to Campus Task Force. Members of the task force, listed below in six subgroups, play a vital role. They are preparing formal recommendations on public health and safety, student life, infrastructure, academics, and other important areas, which I and the leadership team will use to assemble our final, detailed plan for the fall. I expect to deliver that plan no later than July 1.
Albany Law School Return to Campus Task Force:
Student Life: Deans Amy Mangione and Rosemary Queenan (co-captains); Professor Ava Ayers; Joanne Casey; Andrea Irizarry; Dean Troy Riddle; Professor David Walker.
Public Health and Safety: President and Dean Alicia Ouellette (captain); Dean Antony Haynes; Jeff Schanz; Bob Sears; John Springsteen.
Legal and HR: Sherri Donnelly and Victor Rauscher (co-captains); Professor Stephen Clark; Leslie Cunningham; Kaitlyn Lounsbury.
Infrastructure: Brian LaPlante and Victor Rauscher (co-captains); Professor Melissa Breger; Bill Purcell; Nina Roepe.
Academic: Deans Connie Mayer and Rosemary Queenan (co-captains); Professor Ray Brescia; Dean Joann Fitzsimmons; Dean Antony Haynes; Bill Purcell; Dean Troy Riddle; Tom Rosenberger; Professor Jenean Taranto.
Community Outreach and Alumni Engagement: Chris Colton and Jeff Schanz (co-captains); Ben Meyers; Geoff Seber.
Again, thank you for your trust. This community has overcome so many challenges. At every step, we have sought and considered your input, followed our guiding principles, and put our students first. We will do the same this time, and we will get there together.
All my best,
President and Dean