University Announces Task Force for Campus Reopening

The Return to Campus Task Force (RCTF) is charged with developing plan for gradual, safe return to SJU campuses


In an internal email to the St. John’s community on May 1, University president Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw announced the appointment of an administrative, “cross-functional” Return to Campus Task Force (RCTF). The RCTF was created to develop a plan for a “safe and gradual return” of students to campuses in the upcoming academic year following the move to remote learning due to COVID-19.

The initial priorities of the RCTF concern the areas of social distancing strategies, health and safety measures, outbreak response, communications planning and mental health counseling, according to the email. The University also wishes to develop contingency plans and work-at-home plans in the event of another major health outbreak.

The University and RCTF are hoping to have students and employees return to campuses beginning “sometime in the summer,” and noted that the return will be gradual and multi-phased, per the mass-communication. 

According to the email, President Gemepsaw expects the RCTF to submit preliminary plans to the President’s Advisory Council, Provost’s Deans Council, the Academic and Administrative Assembly as well as other constituent groups to seek feedback. 

The members of the task force come from critical administrative backgrounds in University operations, headed by Administration VP and General Counsel, Rev. Joseph Oliva and Academic Affairs VP and Provost Simon Møller. There are 13 additional members, including:

  • Kathryn Hutchinson, Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Chris Vaupel, Vice President for Advancement and University Relations
  • James O’Keefe, Vice Provost, Staten Island Campus
  • Brian Baumer, Associate Vice President for Campus Facilities and Services
  • Linda Shannon, Associate Provost for Administration & Institutional Accreditation
  • Mike Cragg, Athletic Director
  • Nada Llewellyn, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, Chief Diversity Officer and Deputy General Counsel
  • Anne Rocco Pacione, Chief Information Officer
  • Denise Vencak, Executive Director of Public Safety
  • Provost Faculty Task Force Members:
    • Gina Florio, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
    • Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Clinical Health Professions
    • Marc Gillespie, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences 

President Gempesaw encourages members of the St. John’s community to submit suggestions for return operations to any member of the task force. The work of the RCTF will be guided by federal, state and local guidelines and the recommended best practices to control the spread of the virus, according to the email.