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The Path Forward: Messages

UD Path Forward Task Force Plans for Fall Semester, Follows Guiding Principles


University of Dayton President Eric F. Spina has created the new UD Path Forward Task Force to advance and refine options and plans for safely reopening the campus this fall.

Spina charged the task force to bring together working teams of faculty, staff, administrators and external experts to evaluate projections about the impact of the pandemic, public health considerations, and make recommendations to enable the University to reopen and safely educate students, facilitate research, and engage with external communities.

The task force is chaired jointly by Paul Benson, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs; Andy Horner, executive vice president for business and administrative services; and Bill Fischer, vice president for student development; and will include working groups focusing on specific areas.

"This move elevates the importance of the excellent work that has been led since the outbreak of the virus by Robin Oldfield, assistant vice president for audit, risk and compliance and chief risk officer; and Dr. Mary Buchwalder, medical director," Spina said. "The task force expands and provides executive-level leadership for the critical, broad-based work that will touch every aspect of the University as we move toward reopening campus this fall."

Four "critical path" working groups are focusing on developing recommendations for critical areas of University operations including academics, students, preventive measures and infrastructure and operations. In addition, seven return-to-operations working groups are focusing on implementing plans and campus operations in the context of the pandemic. The number and character of these​ ​groups will be fluid and flexible as issues and planning evolves. 

The task force does not have a precise timeline given the uncertain, evolving nature of the pandemic, but will aim to make high-level recommendations by early June to allow for broader consultation, exploration and refinement of initial options. Their work will be guided by a set of principles that University leaders have been following when making decisions about challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. These principles are:

  • The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are the top priority.
  • The future of the University of Dayton as a Catholic and Marianist research university is paramount, and major decisions must take into account its long-term financial sustainability and educational mission.
  • Our responses must prioritize the academic needs of our students and ensure continued distinctive excellence.
  • The University must be mindful and supportive of our community partners and external constituents, including our research partners and alumni, and continue to value our role as an anchor institution in Dayton.
  • The University is committed to open communication, transparency and principles of shared governance.
  • We will work toward on-campus instruction in the fall by exploring scenarios with public health officials that cultivate safe, healthy behaviors with the understanding that complete elimination of risks is highly unlikely. We recognize that solutions may affect the academic calendar, our physical spaces, the working environment, and expectations of each of us.
  • We are committed to creative, collective innovation, and agility in problem-solving and addressing the new challenges created by the pandemic, especially if new outbreaks of the virus occur.

University leaders are planning for opportunities for the University community to engage with the working groups, and more information will be shared in the near future. Questions about the task force or ideas for reopening can be sent to


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