Commencement Ideas
Vassar is teeming with brilliant and creative minds, and as we come together as a community in support of the Class of 2020, we invite anyone with suggestions about what would make for an amazing commencement to send their ideas to CommencementIdeas@vassar.edu. Tell us what you think would make a great online commencement, and any thoughts you may have for celebrating this momentous accomplishment at a later date.

 

Updates

4/02/2020 - Important Announcement from the Office of Admission

Vassar College has modified its admissions policy, waiving a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores, President Elizabeth H. Bradley announced. Read more

3/26/2020 - A Message From the President

Dear all,

I am writing to provide more detail about conversations we have had with the Deputy County Executive regarding whether Vassar could accommodate patients in some of our vacant buildings, should the situation here in Dutchess County become dire.

The County approached all colleges in the area and asked if it could create a plan for potential use of some campus buildings if needed. At this time, this is a very remote possibility; our government officials are planning for the worst in order to be prepared. Much more planning would take place before this became a reality; however, our employees would not be expected to work in these buildings in any way, and we would work to ensure the areas housing and caring for patients were contained and properly separated from students and employees. The health and safety of our students and employees remain a top priority.

We have also made clear to the County that Vassar stands ready to help. We know the health and safety of the Vassar community are inseparable from the health and safety of the communities in which we are embedded. We believe that collaborative and creative resource sharing, as well as broad-scale cooperation, will be needed to meet the challenges presented to us by COVID-19 in our area, and Vassar must contribute its share. We have a 1,000-acre campus with many buildings currently vacant. We believe we can provide needed resources to our community, while still maintaining a safe environment for students and employees.

As you may have read, Dutchess Community College (DCC) has given permission for a very large dormitory to be used, with 457 beds. That will be the first step if needed.

If more beds are needed, other colleges may participate. At Vassar, this would likely be at the Walker Field House and possibly Alumnae House, both on the edges of campus, with separate entrances, and a substantial distance from students, faculty, administrators and staff.

Additionally, the County asked if dorms might be used. If we were to do this, any dorm selected would be completely empty, have a separate entrance, and be carefully managed to limit cross-contamination. The County has told me that the patients to be housed on college campuses would be recovering or mild cases only. If a plan to use Vassar’s facilities begins to develop, we will share more as we learn.

I understand this is a time of great anxiety for us all. Even in these times, however, we remain true to our core values. We are committed to being fully engaged in the larger community and helping our neighbors when we can. If the worst happens, and more hospital beds are needed, we will be ready to provide what is needed to both protect our students and employees and to help our surrounding community.

Thanks,

President Bradley

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
VASSAR COLLEGE
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
@EHBVassar

3/23/2020 - A Message From President Bradley Regarding COVID-19

Dear members of the Vassar Community,

I am writing to inform you that the COVID-19 crisis has touched the Vassar campus in a very personal way. We have just learned that a Vassar employee has tested positive for the virus. Following guidance from health officials and our protocol, we have immediately begun “contact tracing” to determine which staff, administrators, students, and faculty may have come in contact with this employee in the last two weeks. The employee is now self-isolating for two weeks, and will not return to work until cleared to do so.

This employee has not been on campus since March 15 and would not have been inside many buildings, so we are hopeful that risks to anyone else on campus is minimal. Because of privacy concerns, we will not be releasing the name of the employee.

On behalf of the entire Vassar community, I have offered this employee and the family our sympathy, and we are doing all we can to provide our support.

In the meantime, please make certain that you are practicing social distancing and good hygiene, as these are our community’s best defenses against this virus. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Thank you,

President Bradley

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
VASSAR COLLEGE
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
@EHBVassar

3/22/2020 - Important follow up re: NY Governor’s executive order

Dear All,

I am writing to clarify how the executive order issued by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday affects operations at Vassar. Based on the guidance we and other institutions of higher education in the state are receiving, Vassar is allowed to have employees on campus in order to support distance education; however, we must reduce on-campus staff to the minimum required to support it, and within that, only those whose duties cannot be performed off campus.

Therefore, only those employees who support distance learning, security, dining, and building/property maintenance (incl. custodial) and who cannot work from home should come to campus. Simply preferring to work from campus, even due to avoiding at-home distractions (e.g., children), is not an acceptable reason for coming to campus, according to the guidance we are receiving. As communicated on Friday, employees whose roles can be performed off-campus are required to begin “teleworking” as early as possible tomorrow (Monday).

If you are an hourly employee, please contact your supervisor to confirm what is expected of you under these new orders. If you are a supervisor of employees who are required to come to campus in support of the above-specified functions, please contact Human Resources to register those employees, so that we may track the college’s compliance with the orders: humanresources@vassar.edu or (845) 437-5820.

For anyone who must come to campus, please remember to take care of yourself and others. Wash your hands frequently, and avoid in-person meetings. If you are working in the same building as others, be sure to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet from others you may encounter.

Thank you once again for your continued dedication and flexibility, which is so essential to the college maintaining continuity. During this time, please consider that the support services typically available to employees and administrative offices may be either limited or modified to enable compliance with these orders. Thank you for your understanding.

As a reminder, for information about other HR policy changes due to COVID-19, visit https://humanresources.vassar.edu/covid-19/. For more information about teleworking, visit http://go.vassar.edu/telework/. Continue to check the college’s COVID-19 website for updates: https://www.vassar.edu/coronavirus-updates/.

Best,
Carlos


Carlos L. García
Vice President for Technology and Human Resources
Chief Information Officer

3/21/2020 - Coronavirus Fraud Schemes

Cybercriminals will take any opportunity to increase their efforts to steal money and identities from individuals. During this public health emergency, there have been increased reports of new phone, email, and website scams that could lead to monetary loss, identity theft, data loss, or computer infection.

Some known examples of these threats are:

  • Online or downloadable maps of COVID-19 cases that are vectors for computer infection including malware, spyware, and ransomware
  • Phishing emails that pose as official notifications from NY State, the Red Cross, Federal Government, and other agencies
  • Emails with malicious attachments that purport to have updated COVID-19 information
  • Fake products or fake shopping links that will take credit card numbers and then use them fraudulently
  • Phone calls that offer various services or products related to COVID-19 that will ask for personal information or financial information
  • An increase in unsolicited marketing or sales emails, often selling questionable items or services

We recommend the following actions to keep your information secure and to assist the community in staying safe from online threats:

  • Report all suspicious emails, websites, or phone calls to catchoftheday@vassar.edu
  • Review our recommendations for safe computing. Remember, you can apply these to all of your devices.
  • Always check the “From” address and “Reply-to” address on all emails you receive. Be mindful of checking mail on mobile devices—tap on the sender’s name and their details to ensure the “from” address is valid.
  • Before you click, stop and think! Many malicious links are spread via social media. Think twice before clicking on links, especially if they are not easily traced to official organizations.
  • We recommend using multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your Vassar and non-Vassar accounts, wherever it is offered. If criminals do obtain your credentials, it provides an extra layer of security. Find out more at https://servicedesk.vassar.edu/solutions/571021-vassarone-setting-up-multi-factor-authentication-with-duo.portal
  • If you receive a suspicious phone call, ask the caller where they are calling from, and tell them you will hang up and call them back at their company’s official number.

References and additional information:

3/20/2020 - A Message from Carlos García Regarding the NY Governor’s Executive Order

Dear All,

I am writing in light of the executive order announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo earlier today. As you are likely aware, the edict orders “nonessential” businesses to close, effective at 8pm on Sunday, March 22. We have been in touch with our elected representatives for additional guidance, as it is currently unclear how much of the order pertains to Vassar College. Several have indicated that many, if not all, of the services we continue to provide on campus may be considered essential—food service, residential support, health, and safety functions are all permitted to operate, for example.

We continue to support the educational mission through distance learning and provide necessary services to those who remain on campus. We realize that hearing the news of this order raises questions, and we are doing our best to get those answers soon. In the meantime, please know that the state’s requirement is on Vassar, not on you as individual employees.

We have already made significant progress in reducing the number of employees working on campus each day. Given this new information, employees whose roles can be performed off-campus are required to begin “teleworking” as early as possible this Monday, whereas previously the telework program was optional.

If your role requires that you work on campus, the rotating schedules your units have been developing will help to keep density low, so that employees on campus are able to practice required social distancing. This includes personal hygiene (wash your hands, don’t touch your face) and, importantly, keep six feet between you and other individuals. Please take this seriously, and please alert your supervisor if you feel you do not have the flexibility required to practice responsible social distancing.

Finally, I want to take another opportunity to express deep gratitude for the dedication and flexibility that everybody has brought to each day of this fast-moving situation. Without our collective contributions, the college could not be successful adapting to the changes and maintaining continuity. Thank you all—and please watch for additional updates and guidance in the coming days.

For information about other HR policy changes due to COVID-19, visit https://humanresources.vassar.edu/covid-19/. For more information about teleworking, visit http://go.vassar.edu/telework/. Continue to check the college’s COVID-19 website for updates: https://www.vassar.edu/coronavirus-updates/.

Sincerely,
Carlos


Carlos L. García
Vice President for Technology and Human Resources
Chief Information Officer

3/19/2020 - Update from President Bradley on Distance Learning and Commencement

Dear all,

I am writing to update you with some difficult news. We had hoped to resume in-person classes after several weeks of distance learning; however, it is now apparent that no more in-person classes will be possible this semester. We have made the decision to continue our educational mission via distance teaching through the end of the semester.

Throughout our deliberations, our top priority has been an abiding commitment to providing a meaningful educational experience while reducing the risk of COVID-19 among our community and beyond. It is frustrating and disappointing to have to do all this from a distance and forego the many important events that had been planned for this spring. At the same time, predictions for the massive incidence of COVID-19 are daunting. The path of this disease is not in our control, and we must take immediate and effective action to limit person-to-person contact. We will continue to allow students with significant hardships to stay on campus for the duration of the semester, but students will be required to self-distance or self-isolate, with only distant and online contact with others. Gordon Commons will be take-out only, and many buildings will be closed as Vassar will be operating with less than 25% of our full staff, following the executive order of our state governor. For students who have left belongings on campus, Dean Alamo will soon provide more information about how to collect or store your belongings. We know how stressful this is and we want to be sure you are able to retrieve everything that you left here and is valuable to you.

This news leads me to a more painful announcement, primarily for seniors and their families. After much reflection and consideration, I regret to let you know that we must cancel this year’s traditional commencement ceremony and graduation weekend. The degrees will be conferred, but we must delay the in-person ceremony and celebration, and we will plan for some type of commemoration at a later date—perhaps in 2021.

This has been a profoundly difficult decision to make. The collision of two significant, life-changing events—your college graduation and a global pandemic—have thrown these last months of the academic year into turmoil and disappointment.

Class of 2020, you deserve better. You have worked hard, and you are a fearless and talented group of gifted young adults who make our extended Vassar community proud. I know how devastating this news must be, to have this important moment that is meant to commemorate your hard work, dreams, and ambition taken from you when it is just within reach. Please take comfort in the knowledge that the friendships and bonds you have made here will weather the current storm and will ultimately be strengthened by your perseverance and shared sacrifices.

To your parents, I share in a deep sense of disappointment. I know watching one’s child cross the stage and receive that diploma is a cherished moment, one I have witnessed with two of my own children. But today, we are living in a difficult time in history, one that, while having taken away this one special day, can never erase the valuable accomplishments, inspiring dreams, and fierce determination your student takes into the world. I have delighted in knowing them during their time on campus; I will continue to learn from them in the coming weeks and months, and they will always be part of the wonderful community that is Vassar.

As I write, we are already hard at work on a plan for a virtual commencement, to take place this spring. Stay tuned for more details. We will explore the possibility of hosting an in-person commencement celebration for your class at some point in the future when the threat of COVID-19 is behind us. We look forward to hearing your ideas about what would make for a proper celebration and will be in touch for your input as planning begins.

I want to assure all students that the faculty, administrators, and staff are committed to you for the rest of the semester. In an effort to respond to directives from New York State and minimize the density of people on campus, we are working with a significantly reduced number of employees on campus. Our Dean of College areas (e.g., Career Services, Fellowships, Dean of Studies) will continue to support you in whatever ways they can online. The faculty, who are also adapting to being separated from you and the Vassar community, will also be available throughout the semester to advise and help you in the completion of your academic requirements.

To each and every student, I want to express my sincere gratitude to you and to the dreams you have brought to Vassar. You have made us who we are as a community, we look forward to working with you from afar for the remainder of the semester, and your impact will be felt here for years to come. Thank you for being part of this community and working so hard to make it even better. My heart is heavy imagining the campus for the next six weeks without you. I so appreciate the seriousness with which you are taking this, and the many sacrifices being made by all students, faculty, administrators, and staff to do what is right for the public’s health in this exceptional moment in history. Let us stay focused on the hard work that remains to be done, and when the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, we will find a way to celebrate together again.

Be well,

President Bradley

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
VASSAR COLLEGE
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
@EHBVassar

3/19/2020 - A Message From President Bradley Regarding Reunion

Dear all,

I am writing with some profoundly difficult news about Reunion this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must cancel the Reunion. I am so very sorry and disappointed, as I imagine you are as well.

New York State has been hit very hard with COVID-19 and experts predict it will only get worse from here. We have, by state mandate, kept only 25% of employees on campus, converted all classes to online, and canceled the in-person commencement ceremony. Given these extreme circumstances, we cannot prepare for and properly host reunion, and, most importantly, we do not want to risk furthering the pandemic and jeopardizing the public’s health.

Although we will be unable to welcome alumnae/i back to campus for reunion, we have been working closely with the AAVC and our team here on ways to keep our alumnae/i together even as we have to keep physical distance. A very special thanks to Steve Hankins ’85, P’13, ’17 and the AAVC Board for their leadership and encouragement during this crisis. Please stay tuned for follow up communications from your class leadership.

I want to take a moment and express my gratitude to the many alumnae/i and entire AAVC who have reached out to offer support. We have received so many kind emails, and I cannot tell you how much these have meant to me and to all of us, as we struggle to make the right decisions in these unprecedented times. Please know that we are deeply committed to keeping a strong connection between the campus and alumnae/i communities and remain forever hopeful that we will be together again soon, when the threat is behind us. Thank you for your support, and please be in touch with any questions or comments.

If you want to see the campus announcement about online classes and graduation ceremony, visit: www.vassar.edu/coronavirus-updates.

With a heavy heart,

Betsy

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
VASSAR COLLEGE
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
@EHBVassar

3/18/2020 - Additional Temporary HR Policy Changes Due to COVID-19

Vassar is offering an additional temporary accommodation, Childcare Leave, to support employees who are ineligible to telework but have difficulty meeting childcare demands due to school or daycare closures. In order to be approved for this modified leave, the employee’s supervisor will need to confirm that the employee is ineligible for teleworking. This leave option is available through April 30 (unless circumstances lead the College to extend it) or until the employee’s school district or daycare is open—whichever comes first.

Requesting Temporary Childcare Accommodation

Hourly-Paid, Benefit-Eligible Employees:
Submit a Childcare Accommodation Request to Human Resources.
Payment: Your first week will be paid from your own accruals. Thereafter, you will receive 60% of wages from Vassar College. You may elect to supplement the difference (up to 40%) with your “sick bank” (CWA, Auxiliary, Non-union Staff) or your own accruals.

Administrators (including hourly-paid Administrators):
Submit a Childcare Accommodation Request to Human Resources.
Payment: There will be no change in your pay.

Non-Benefit Eligible Employees with Regular Work Schedule:
Submit a Childcare Accommodation Request to Human Resources.
Payment: Your first week will be paid from your own sick accruals (if you have any). Thereafter, you will receive 60% of wages from Vassar College.

As a reminder, telework and other types of modified leaves are available during this time. Click here to view the leaves and to find additional information on the Human Resources website.

3/17/2020 – Latest Updates from President Bradley

Here are our latest updates:

  • Gathering size: The county guidelines limit gatherings to a maximum of 20 people, which we will implement effective immediately.
  • Dining: In light of the new county guidelines closing dining facilities except for take-out, all dining will be “grab & go” style.
  • Building closures: Details on which buildings will be open are subject to change. Please check the individual websites or our coronavirus updates page for the most up-to-date information; however, consistent with county guidelines, we have closed the athletic and fitness center (AFC), Walker Field House (including pool), and Kenyon Gym. The Libraries will close at 4:30pm and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at 5:00pm on Friday March 20 until further notice.
  • Social-distancing: We all know we should be doing it, but what does it really mean?
    • Maintain at least six feet between you and other people.
    • Do not be in a group of more than 20 people.
    • Enjoy the outside. With the weather getting warmer and the campus looking like spring, this is the perfect time to go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. But do this alone or with a small group, and keep six feet between you and the next person.
    • Give and receive love. Social distancing should not mean isolation. Humans are programmed to need each other, particularly in times of stress. While this is not the time for a group hug, remember you are cared for, that you are valued, and that you are loved. As social scientists know, even imagining a warm embrace can make a positive difference.
  • Distance Life Fitness Program. At this time, the Athletics Department is working to make access to a selection of Life Fitness classes available online. The department is also exploring other third-party platform options to bring to the community. Please stay tuned to the Athletics website and our coronavirus updates page for more information.
  • Returning Students. Some students have been allowed to stay on campus due to significant financial or other hardship associated with leaving (e.g., do not have a safe home to go to). Students who will be on campus as of March 23 are required to complete online surveys ahead of time to report where they have traveled, any exposures to COVID-19 they have had, and any current symptoms. Any students who have symptoms or have been exposed to confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be registered with Health Services and Residential Life and will be self-isolated—which means confined to a private room with private bath when possible with food delivered, and without physical contact with or presence of others. They may walk outside but may not interact with others. We understand these procedures to be consistent with the most current county health department guidance. Additionally, all students on campus will be asked to self-monitor daily for fever, cough, and shortness of breath and to seek immediate medical attention for any such symptoms.
  • Employees Who Have Symptoms or Have Been Exposed: If you are not feeling well or have been exposed to a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19, please contact a physician, and do not come to campus.
  • Telework. We have a Telework program that can facilitate you working off campus. You can request this through your supervisor. For more information, visit https://humanresources.vassar.edu/covid-19/
  • Coronavirus Updates Website. For up-to-the-minute updates please check our coronavirus website regularly https://www.vassar.edu/coronavirus-updates/
  • Volunteer opportunities in the community. Over time, volunteer opportunities to help in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County are likely to become available. We will keep you posted on these, which may include distributing food, providing transportation, or if trained, working with the medical reserve corps. More on this in the future.
3/17/2020 - Important Benefits Update for Vassar Employees

Aetna Meritain members: Beginning March 23, no-cost coronavirus testing

If you are on the PPO or EPO plans, your co-pay will be waived. If you are on the High Deductible Plan, the test and associated office visit will be zero charge to you even if you have not met your deductible.

Aetna Meritain members: Optum RX allows early refills, encourages home delivery

If you are on a maintenance drug, you normally have to wait until you have used 75% of your supply before refilling. Optum is temporarily waiving this restriction so that you can refill early if you are concerned about any upcoming quarantine. (Dispensing limits on certain medications still apply.) You can also switch most RXs to home delivery: log in to www.optumrx.com.

Use your telemedicine benefit

If you are a benefits-eligible employee, you have access to physicians by phone and can avoid the wait (and contagion) at your medical center. 1199/SEIU members: use TelaDoc via your medical plan. All others: use HealthiestYou by downloading the app or calling (866) 703-1259.

Fidelity and TIAA: Campus reps move to phone consults

You can still book appointments with Ted at Fidelity or Eugene at TIAA by clicking the “meet” link at the bottom of our retirement plan website. You’ll have a phone appointment rather than face to face. Note: both Fidelity and TIAA encourage you to “stay the course” and not react to the market slowdown by getting out of equity investments. Both advisors do recommend your using this time to evaluate your investment mix for your time frame.

3/17/2020 - Campus Building Closures Update

As of Friday, March 20, until further notice, the updated list of campus building closures includes: the Athletic and Fitness Center, Walker Field House, the Library, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, and Wimpfheimer Nursery School.

3/16/2020 - Vassar Students, Faculty, Administrators Brace for Some Big Changes


As the COVID-19 virus continued to change lives worldwide, Vassar’s Senior Officers were working with students, faculty, and administrators to prepare for the myriad changes triggered by the pandemic. Read more

3/16/2020 - Athletics and Fitness Center Closed Until Further Notice

In accordance with New York State mandates and in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, Vassar’s indoor athletic facilities (including the Athletics and Fitness Center, Kresge Pool and Walker Field House) will close at 8 PM tonight, March 16 and remain closed until further notice. More

3/15/2020 - Wimpfheimer Nursery School Will Be Closed March 16–20

Given heightened concerns regarding the continually developing situation surrounding COVID-19, the Wimpfheimer Nursery School will be closed March 16–March 20. We will continue to monitor and re-evaluate the situation as the week progresses.

3/15/2020 - New County Guidelines on Public Events or Gatherings

In accordance with new county guidelines, effective immediately all social, community, and public events or gatherings are limited to a maximum of 20 people.

3/13/2020 - Staying Healthy On Campus
  1. Stay informed.
  2. Recognize that everyone (including ourselves) is a potential source of the disease.
  3. Practice good health behavior as individuals and as a community.
  4. Contact Health Services or a physician if you have symptoms.
  5. We are keeping our areas clean.

Read the full message from President Bradley

3/13/2020 - Temporary HR Policy Changes
  • Optional Telework program. Beginning March 18, teleworking will be available to employees whose supervisor determines that, due to special circumstances, their role can be performed off-campus. This program will conclude on April 10.
  • Vassar’s leave policies are temporarily modified, effective immediately, to encourage employees to stay home when they are sick and to support employees who themselves or whose household members may be at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Available to employees through April 30.
  • Vassar Employee Guide to Teleworking

Read the full message from the VP of Technology and Human Resources

3/13/2020 - Important Updates for Students
  • Students who would have or had on-campus jobs this semester will still receive a paycheck.
  • Vassar is committed to making accommodations to ensure that you have the ability to earn the credits you would have earned under normal circumstances.
  • Residential Life is only able to facilitate the return of a very small number of items: personal identification (driver’s licenses, passports, etc.) and laptops w/chargers. No medications.

Read the full message from the Dean of the College

3/13/2020 - All Spring Athletic Events Cancelled

In response to the public health crisis concerning COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus), the Vassar Department of Athletics and Physical Education has cancelled all athletic events for the remainder of this academic year effective March 13, 2020, with the exception of selected events for teams still completing spring break trips. More

3/12/2020 - A Video Message from President Bradley

Dear community,

It is after much deliberation that I and the senior team—with input from faculty, students, administrators, staff, and alumnae/i—have come to the following difficult decisions about how to proceed at Vassar, given the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing. We know that circumstances may change, and we will continue to provide updates.

Therefore, effective March 23 through April 10, Vassar will move all classes online for distance learning, and where possible, employees will be able to work remotely. These efforts are being taken with the goal of reducing the probability of spreading COVID-19 on campus. After this three-week period, we hope to return to regular classroom-based learning again; however, we cannot predict the path of the pandemic, and we will reevaluate this decision by April 6.

Additionally, last night the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention designated continental Europe a Level 3 area. Consistent with our travel policy, we are working to bring all Vassar students currently studying there back to the United States.

Throughout our discussions, we took account of the variety of suggestions expressed by students and parents and we focused on our commitment to provide excellent higher education and, at the same time, mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and the related health risks that it poses to members of our community. We sought an approach that was consistent with our values, which include protecting all members of our community, with particular attention to those who are most vulnerable and may experience health, financial, or other hardships.

Students are expected to delay their return to campus and participate in distance learning from their off-campus locations; however, students who are registered to be on campus during Spring break may stay on campus if they choose to and participate in distance learning from their campus location. If being off-campus presents a significant financial or other hardship, students may make a Request to Reside on Campus through the Office of the Dean of the College. The Request to Reside on Campus is due by Saturday, March 14 at midnight ET, and students will be told whether the request has been approved by end of day on Monday, March 16. An email from Dean Alamo will follow this communication with specific references to the institutional support resources available to students through the Dean of the College area including guidance about personal belongings.

  • Distance Learning: Our faculty are dedicated to pursuing Vassar’s educational standards during this difficult time. Faculty are working on additional details about their courses, including how course materials will be made available, and more updates from the Dean of the Faculty will be forthcoming.
  • Graduation: We are committed to making certain all seniors who complete their coursework graduate on time. Our deans and our faculty will work with students on individual plans as needed to accomplish this.
  • Tuition and Room and Board: Vassar will credit what a student would have paid for room and board during the time that the student is not able to be on campus. Vassar will not be refunding tuition, as our classes will continue.
  • Employees: Beginning March 23, a temporary “Telework” program will be available for those employees whose roles and responsibilities allow for working from off-campus. We are also working on temporary changes to the college’s leave policies to support employees with higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. In the coming days, Human Resources will communicate with employees about how to participate in these programs.
  • Athletics: Following their spring break travel schedules, we are suspending all regular season winter and spring-sport competitions until April 10th. This includes competitions for the following teams: baseball, men’s volleyball, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s rowing, men’s and women’s rugby, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s track and field. Student-athletes on these teams will be permitted to return to campus should they opt to do so to continue practice activity in the hope of resuming games on April 10th. This college will re-evaluate this decision by April 6.
  • Student Employment: We are exploring ways to provide alternatives to students who are off-campus during this time and who are therefore unable to perform their on-campus jobs.
  • Special Circumstances: We have set aside resources for students who want to return home and who have significant financial hardship.
  • Health, Mental Health, and Advocacy Services: All student counseling and support services including the Counseling Service, Health Promotion Education and Support, Advocacy, and Violence Prevention (SAVP) will continue to operate, although these departments may shift the way in which they deliver their services. The Vassar Health Service will be open and available for appointments or consultation.
  • On-Campus Dining: For students on campus, Gordon Commons will reopen on Saturday March 21 at 11:00am, with all food served; no self-serve stations will be available during this time. Please refer to the dining website, dining.vassar.edu, for up-to-date hours and locations.
  • On-Campus Events: In-person events are suspended until April 17; organizers may conduct them online (our Computing & Information Services team will be available to help). We are suspending all gatherings of more than 50 people, effective immediately.
  • Other Facilities: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, the Thompson Memorial Library, The Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve and the Wimpfheimer Nursery School will remain open. [Update on 3/15/2020: Wimpfheimer Nursery School will be closed March 16–20]
  • Admission Visits: We have suspended all admission-related campus visits and our Admitted Student Open House events. These cancellations include all daily campus tours, information sessions, and admitted student overnight visits.

The decision to reduce activity on campus was not an easy one to make; however, it was a measure that we took to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. At the same time, I am aware that living through times of uncertainty such as these can make us anxious about the future. We are not alone. Colleges and universities are working hard to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. I am comforted by the many communications I have received from students, parents, alumnae/i, and colleagues—who are ready to support our community and its mission through these challenges. Vassar is a courageous and fearlessly consequential community and we will get through this.

Thank you for your support.

3/12/2020 - A Message From the President

Yesterday (3/11/20), we accidentally published a video publicly that had not been intended to be released until after we had notified our community of our decision to move classes to distance learning for a period of time. We removed the video as soon as we learned of the mistake, but not before some people had seen and downloaded it. We apologize for this mistake, which we know caused undue confusion for some of you. Please know that was never our intention. This is a stressful time for us all, and we are sorry if we added to that.

3/11/2020 - Admission Cancels On-Campus Visits and Admitted Students Days

In response to growing concerns regarding COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), Vassar College has made the difficult decision to suspend all admission-related campus visits and our Admitted Student Open House events. These cancellations include all daily campus tours, information sessions, and admitted student overnight visits. While there are no known cases of COVID-19 on the Vassar campus, this decision prioritizes the safety of our community and also protects the health of the communities beyond our campus.

We want to assure prospective students and their families that being unable to visit campus will not have any impact on a student’s future application to the College. Vassar’s selection process is holistic and student-centered. We do not take into account “demonstrated interest” such as campus visits.

We also know that activities—from extracurricular engagements to standardized exams—have been interrupted in many communities. These interruptions are not limited to any one area, nor are they likely to cease anytime soon. We are extremely mindful of the global effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, and will take them into account as we review applications in the next admission cycle.

We are sorry that we will not be able to welcome you to our campus in the short term, but we hope to see you in the future. In the meantime, you can still get a sense of our community through our digital resources:

3/10/2020 - Event Limits Initiated

Beginning 3/11/20, all events sponsored by external groups of more than 100 people are cancelled until further notice. At this time, we are not setting limits on the size of events sponsored by and for the Vassar community.

3/10/2020 - Planning for Distance Learning and Remote Work

Planning is currently underway for implementing distance learning (which could occur on or off campus) and remote work. We recognize this is very complicated and will have different implications for different people in our community. Our goal is to facilitate the best possible learning atmosphere for everyone. We will provide an update on this later in the week.

3/07/2020 - State of Emergency Declared in NYS

On Saturday, 3/07/20, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York State to help New York more quickly and effectively contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. At this time, there is no change to Vassar’s operations. The College continues to monitor the situation closely. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date information on Vassar’s programs and procedures.

3/06/2020 - Campus Protocols Initiated
  • High intensity protocol for cleaning heavily trafficked areas of campus has been initiated
  • We have temporarily suspended Student EMS from 03/23–04/13/20 (EMS is already off duty during breaks). We will re-assess the need to close for the rest of the semester the week of 04/06/20
  • The College is working on a plan for distance learning, should some students or faculty members not be able to attend class or should there be a need to make all classes remote

Travel Policy Updates

Vassar’s Travel Policy.

Domestic Travel

As of 3/12/2020 Vassar College is suspending all college-sponsored out-of-state domestic group travel.

International Travel

As of 3/19/2020 Vassar is requiring the immediate return of all students participating in study abroad in any location to return to their home residences due to the U.S. Department of State raising its global Travel Advisory to level 4.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Students

When spring break ends, will students be permitted to return to campus?

Students are expected to delay their return to campus and participate in distance learning from their off-campus locations. Students who are registered to be on campus during Spring break may stay on campus if they choose to and participate in distance learning from their campus location.

How long will it be before Vassar returns to regular classroom-based learning?

We had hoped to resume in-person classes after several weeks of distance learning; however, it is now apparent that no more in-person classes will be possible this semester. We have made the decision to continue our educational mission via distance teaching through the end of the semester.

Are any options available for students unable to go home to stay on campus?

If being off-campus presents a significant financial or other hardship, students may make a Request to Reside on Campus through the Office of the Dean of the College.

The Request to Reside on Campus is due by Saturday, March 14 at midnight, and students will be told whether the request has been approved by end of day Monday, March 16.

If students wish to leave campus but do not have the funds to get home, will the college provide funding?

We have set aside resources for students who want to return home and who have significant financial hardship.

What if students do not plan to return to campus but have some belongings they wish to retrieve?

Currently, the office of Residential Life (reslife@vassar.edu) is only able to facilitate the return of a very small number of items: personal identification (driver’s licenses, passports, etc.) and laptops w/chargers. Please note we cannot legally ship medication. That said, if your medication is still at the Post Office, they can forward your packaged medication to where you are.

If you need to refill your medication and your insurance will not cover your new prescription, consider downloading the Good RX app. The app offers discounts on prescription drugs, even without insurance.

Will I receive a room-and-board credit for the time I was not on campus?

Students who left campus housing prior to the end of break (even if your belongings remain on campus) will receive a refund of room-and-board charges on a prorated basis for the weeks remaining in the spring semester. This will be based on the amount that a family has contributed to the cost of education with a minimum refund of $1,900. If you have not already done so, please fill out the Confirmation of Residency Status form.

If I stayed on campus after break but have since moved off campus, will I receive a refund of room and board?

If you had originally stayed on campus and then decided to move off campus before the end of the semester, please contact Dean Inoa (inoa@vassar.edu).You will receive a prorated credit based on the timing of your departure and your family’s contribution to the cost of education. The minimum refund amount will be adjusted for the time you spent on campus after the end of break.

I lived off campus but have since moved home. Will I receive a credit for the unused portion of the meal plan?

Off-campus students who moved home will receive a prorated refund of the off-campus meal plan. If you have not already done so, please fill out the Confirmation of Residency Status form.

Will I be charged tuition for the time I was not on campus?

Vassar will not be refunding tuition, as our educational services will continue unabated.

How will students be able to take classes?

All classes will take place online through April 10. This includes for the small number of our students who cannot return home because of financial or other demonstrated hardship.

How will the distance learning classes compare to regular classroom-based learning?

Our faculty are dedicated to pursuing Vassar’s educational standards during this difficult time. Faculty are working on additional details about their courses, including how course materials will be made available, and more updates will be forthcoming. Learn more about distance learning.

Will seniors be able to graduate on time?

We are committed to making certain all seniors who complete their coursework graduate on time. Our deans and our faculty will work with students on individual plans as needed to accomplish this.

Will students be paid for their campus jobs?

Vassar is committed to assuring that our students who would have or had on-campus jobs this semester will still receive a paycheck. We understand how important student employment is to our community—whether it helps pay for books, a winter jacket, or a portion of tuition. We also know how much pride many of you take in your campus jobs, whether you are a research assistant, a student photographer or one of the friendly faces that greets us all at the AFC.

Given the extreme circumstances in which we find ourselves, we will continue to pay all students who have or would have had an on-campus job for the spring semester. Payment will be based on the average hours you have worked so far this semester up to the maximum they can earn for the year. If you can perform your work remotely or on campus, continue to do so, we need you. Please touch base with your supervisor for details.

We know the disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak have been significant. We hope that knowing you will continue to have income for your campus job will be one less source of anxiety and help make a decision to return home, where possible, easier.

When will students be allowed back on campus?

Please monitor the Vassar College COVID-19 website for updates.

 

Alumnae/i

What is the status of Vassar’s regional and club events?

Due to concerns arising from this unprecedented health crisis, all Vassar regional gatherings scheduled for this spring are cancelled until further notice. This includes events organized primarily by the College, or those organized by volunteers. This applies to club events and class mini-reunions. Notices will be sent to individual registrants regarding each event currently on the calendar. Vassar in Nashville, originally scheduled for the first weekend in May, will be rescheduled for a future date.

Will Reunion be held this June?

Reunion 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Please check our Reunion website for further information and updates.

What about the upcoming Vassar Travel Programs?

We sincerely regret that we have had to cancel the upcoming Vienna-Austria trip in April, and will be closely monitoring international developments regarding all subsequent trips. Individual travelers will be personally notified.

Will Founder’s Day be held on May 2, 2020? Is it open to alumnae/i?

There will not be a Founder’s Day this spring.

Can alumnae/i visitors come to campus?

Regretfully, we do not encourage visitors to campus at this time.

What can alumnae/i do to help?

Many of you have asked this question and have proposed wonderful and creative ideas for the AAVC and College to consider. Thank you! Please know that we read every single email and message we receive. Stay engaged. Send us your ideas on creating community in this time of heightened anxiety. Let us know how we can help reach out to members of your class, region, and affinity groups. While we know physical distancing is important, social isolation is not! If you feel inspired to offer support to our students while they are taking remote classes, reach back on VassarNet, and connect with them. Students will feel reassured hearing your voices.

Finally, we have established an emergency fund for students who are in need. Gifts to the Vassar Student Support Fund will help support students with unanticipated travel and other expenses during this difficult time. We thank you in advance for your generous gesture of support.

 

Employees

Please see the FAQs for the Telework Program and Accommodation Leave Requests.

 

General

What is the status of previously scheduled campus events?

In-person events are suspended until further notice; organizers may conduct them online (our Computing Information Services will be available to help). We are suspending all gatherings of more than 20 people, effective immediately.

What does Vassar’s change to remote learning mean for employees?

Beginning March 18, we will implement a temporary “Telework” program for those employees whose roles and responsibilities allow for working from off-campus. We are also working on temporary changes to the college’s leave policies to support employees with higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. In the coming days, Human Resources will communicate with employees about how to participate in these programs.

 

Services

Will there be dining services for students who remain on campus?

For students on campus, Gordon Commons will reopen on Saturday, March 21 at 11:00am, with all food served; no self-serve stations will be available during this time. Please refer to the dining website, dining.vassar.edu, for up-to-date hours and locations.

Will any health services be available to students?

All student counseling and support services including the Counseling Service, Health Promotion Education and Support, Advocacy, and Violence Prevention (SAVP) will continue to operate, although these departments may shift the way in which they deliver their services. The Vassar Health Service will be open and available for appointments or consultation.

What buildings or other resources at Vassar remain open?

Gordon Commons (open only for take-out food), The Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve, Skinner Hall, the Chapel, the Bayit and the Muslim Prayer Room remain open at this time pending further review.

Will Vassar’s office of admission be scheduling campus visits?

We have suspended all admission-related campus visits and our Admitted Student Open House events. These cancellations include all daily campus tours, information sessions, and admitted student overnight visits.

Resources

For general questions or comments about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), please call 845-437-5800 or email health@vassar.edu.

Hygiene

Take steps to protect yourself and others:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

If you have cold-like symptoms, you can protect others by doing the following:

  • stay home while you are sick
  • avoid close contact with others
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • clean and disinfect objects and surfaces

Non discrimination

Creating and sustaining a welcoming climate requires mutual respect for all. This means that discrimination and harassment are not acceptable at Vassar College.

For general questions or comments about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), please call 845-437-5800 or email health@vassar.edu.

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