July 30, 2020

Good Morning:

I hope you and yours are enjoying the waning days of summer as we gear up to return to campus in just a few short weeks. We will continue our remote work until I communicate with you again on August 5 th . 
As many of you read, NJAC made the difficult decision to cancel fall sports with the hopes that we might be able to provide some competition opportunities for the teams in the spring. Spring opportunities for fall sports will be determined by guidance from the NCAA and our own assessments of facility usage and staffing. However, I am committed to making it happen if it is safe to do so. I am sure you can imagine how disappointing this is to our student athletes, especially our seniors. I hope that we all work to engage them when they return to campus, knowing that their typical athletic routines have been disrupted, along with changes to their academic plans. They need our support.
I have been informed by the State AFT Leadership of a concern regarding the signing of the Pioneer Pledge by our local AFT members. The University will continue to explore its legal options going forward. It is disappointing that a request to affirm our care for each other was responded to in this manner, but it brings to light the work we need to do around accountability for all, which I hope will strengthen our shared caring for one another, something so essential these days. 
On Tuesday, July 27 th , Governor Murphy added Illinois to the list of states for which New Jersey requires a 14-day self-quarantine. I was in Chicago, taking a furlough day and some vacation days when this decision was announced. I promptly returned to New Jersey to begin my self-isolation and filled out the voluntary travel survey. This rapid change in events will require me to miss being physically present for the Black Graduation Celebration, as well as two of the three days of our in-person Commencement ceremonies scheduled to be held on Wightman Stadium the week of August 10 th . I am terribly disappointed, as Commencement is my favorite day of the academic year, and I was so looking forward to our multiple ceremonies. However, in the spirit of shared sacrifice, we must all do our part to keep each other safe. 
Additionally, the State of New Jersey remains in Stage 2, and we are working through requesting waivers for in-person classes for some of our 1000-level classes, should we remain in Stage 2 at the beginning of the semester. All 2000-, 3000-, and 4000-level classes will start the semester online, should we remain in Stage 2. We will need to make some decisions soon about how to begin the semester, depending on how the State fares in new cases over the next several weeks. I promise to give you at least a week’s notice before any changes to our plans. 
Thank you for all you are doing during these incredibly complex times.
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD