University Announcements about COVID-19

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

April 1st has brought us the promise of spring with the warmth of sunshine, though there is still a chill in the air. There are few campus updates that I would like to share with you.

  • Over the past two weeks, departments across campus have heard from students and parents seeking answers regarding the question of room and board refunds. I anticipate sharing more information with you as we finalize the refund policy tomorrow or Friday.
  • Electricity will return to Wahlstrom Library and Carlson Hall likely by the middle of next week.
  • The Office of Advancement has decided to postpone the annual Day of Giving to May 28, 2020, and rename it “Day of Impact.” The focus of the Day of Impact is to connect the UB community and rally together to support our wonderful students. More information is forthcoming, but if you would like to be a part of this important effort as a Day of Impact Ambassador, please click here.
  • The Office of Admissions is hard at work following-up with prospective students following Sunday’s Accepted Students Day. Though it is still early with “national deposit day” on May 1, deposits for the incoming class of fall 2020 are strong and exactly trending with 2018 numbers. In 2018, there were 158 deposits at this time, compared with 84 in 2019, and 158 as of March 30, 2020.

Happy April Fool’s Day to one and all! I hope that each of us finds a reason today to smile and laugh despite these challenging times.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

I hope all of you are well and despite the concerning news from all directions, please keep your spirits up and know that you are in our thoughts on this last day of March. On Monday, I was speaking with my students and they all remarked about how they have more time now. They are spending those minutes being with family, reaching out to friends, thinking, reading, and meditating. I woke up today with a poem by Andrew Marvell running through my mind that I have not thought about in thirty some years:

Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

While the only sounds you will hear on campus will be from the birds calling to each other, everyone is working diligently from their home offices, dining room tables, couches, and kitchen counters. In the past few days, I have received several kind messages from students, alumni and parents, praising UB and telling me how much the UB means to them. Here is a lovely email from the parent of an incoming freshman who participated in Sunday’s Accepted Students Day.

Important updates:

  • Wahlstrom Library and Carlson Hall remain without power. The facilities team is working with electricians to solve the problem and bring the buildings back online. This is causing some administrative delays—we appreciate your patience as we work through this unanticipated challenge.
  • Connecticut’s hospitals, nursing homes, and medical facilities are in desperate need of medical volunteers. Governor Ned Lamont is urging anyone with experience in healthcare to register for the volunteer registry called CT Responds. Please click here if you would like to register as a volunteer.
  • Three teams of students participated in the AIS Analytics challenge this year. Two of UB’s student submissions were accepted into the finals, and one was awarded third place out of 35 submissions. Congratulations to the following students for their outstanding work:
    • Trang Nguyen
    • Max Gbormittah
    • Krina Sanjay Shah
    • Sanjana Marasandra Rangaraj
    • Tahseen Ahmad
    • Peipei Wu
    • Anand Mahant
    • Darshan Sheth
  • Thanks to the good work and collaboration of The Heckman Center for The Bridgeport Plan and Academic & Campus Technology Services, several paper forms were made electronic in an effort to ensure that students have access to and are able to submit forms that may affect their academic experience:
    Once a student completes a form, it will automatically route to the appropriate campus administrator for consideration, approval, or denial. These forms can be accessed in the UB Portal.
  • USA Gymnastics selected UB’s Becky Ferraro as its 2020 Assistant Coach of the year. This is wonderful news for Coach Ferraro and the entire Women’s Gymnastics program.
  • Since the announcement regarding the cancellation of an on-site commencement ceremony, we have received many questions from students that we have summarized into a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the UB website. This will also be shared directly with students who were pre-certified to participate in graduation. The Commencement Committee will be working with faculty and students to ensure that UB’s virtual ceremony reflects the important symbolism of the day.

 

Take care,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

The rapidity of change we have been experiencing borders on the surreal. Just a few weeks ago, no one had ever heard of the coronavirus; we are now a world overwhelmed by it. From the beginning of this crisis, UB’s first priority has always been the health and safety of everyone who is a member of our community. We were among the first institutions in Connecticut to go online with our classes, and to that end, have done everything up to this point to make the transition as manageable for students and faculty as possible. We have also just learned that one of our students, a commuter, tested positive for the coronavirus and we are notifying the appropriate agencies, faculty, and students to make sure they take precautions. Our prayers and thoughts go to the student and their family.

This unprecedented pandemic is creating a worldwide economic crisis. We are seeing a domino effect as institutions and businesses scale down, services are cut, stores are closed, travel is cancelled, and the stock market enters bear territory. We are all aware that UB has been under fiscal pressure for an extended period and the pandemic exacerbated the issue. At this juncture, it is unclear when the tide will turn. Making dramatic cuts now will enable us to continue our important work through this difficult period.

This month, 33 employees were laid-off. An additional 93 employees were furloughed with the intention that when we are able to rehire, they will be brought back. The staff and administration have all taken pay cuts, with the exception of certain individuals at the lowest levels. The cuts range from 13 to 26 percent. The decreases will begin at the next pay period. We are already seeing similar reductions by sister Connecticut higher education institutions.

With all of these measures in place, including renegotiating vendor contracts, reducing our facilities footprint, and closing buildings to save on costs, we are anticipating an operating deficit of approximately $12.5 million for the current fiscal year. Other Connecticut schools will also have substantive deficits. To accomplish our goal of a non-deficit budget by the end of the academic year 2021, we will continue to decrease costs and grow revenues.

What else must we do? We will end employer contributions to UB’s retirement plan starting September 1, 2020. We are in discussion with faculty regarding salaries. Medical benefits will remain in place for both faculty and staff. I have asked the provost and deans to work with the appropriate faculty committees to consider discontinuing programs and eliminating faculty positions in accordance with the faculty handbook. As you are all aware, we possess a great deal of property, some 60 acres—but we are not considering selling any property at this time. We were in discussions regarding development leases that have been put on hold due to the financial and health crises.

This weekend was a busy one for the University. The Office of Admissions held a very successful virtual Admitted Students Day. By the end of the event, there were 15 deposits, 37 financial aid appointments, 64 academic advising appointments, and 25 registrations for the fall semester. We are on par with registrations two years ago, a strong performance. Admissions personnel will be contacting all registered prospective students to follow up, and will be sending names and phone numbers to faculty to contact students. This is very positive momentum as we move towards the summer semester, for which we have 119 students registered.

I want to express my appreciation to everyone as we work through this enormously challenging and frightening time. This is an outstanding and caring community, and I am grateful for all of the work that each of you do to make UB the special place that it is. By coming together, we will make our way through the difficult times ahead of us.

 

Stay safe and stay home,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

With the birds chirping, sun shining, and the daffodils in bloom, it is hard to process that this is an unprecedented time of global crisis where 160 million people in the United States have been ordered to stay at home. We are seeing all around us heroism and bravery in protecting peoples’ lives, limiting the spread of this terrible disease. Our expert and caring faculty have been extraordinarily innovative in immediately transferring to online technology for course delivery, and our students have been generous and adaptable. Members of the UB staff have worked tirelessly to keep support systems available, IT networks robust, and the facilities clean and protected.

The College of Health Sciences is conducting an inventory of supplies in the UB Clinics that can be donated to Bridgeport Hospital. Like most healthcare facilities, Bridgeport Hospital has diminishing supplies. It is UB’s civic responsibility to support the hospital’s important and life-saving work on behalf of the greater Bridgeport community. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you, all members of the UB community—both near and far—for doing so much, above and beyond, on behalf of this beloved University.

During this difficult time, it is critical that all of our students have access to the resources that they may need. The Hope Center at Temple University created a comprehensive resource listing to address the many concerns and issues facing students. We strongly encourage that you share these resources widely and with anyone who might need them.

I was relieved that the stimulus package passed the House of Representatives this afternoon. This is encouraging news for all colleges and universities in the United States that are facing unprecedented challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. As I learn more about how the stimulus package and its appropriations for higher education will effect UB, I will share it with you. As I have communicated in prior talks and messages, the University carried a deficit that I inherited. To that end, we have reduced our operating expenses, dramatically increased fundraising, and are seeing very positive trends from our ongoing admission efforts. The pandemic has not just made our operations more complicated, but also the operations of colleges and universities in Connecticut and around the world.

The number of registrants for Sunday’s Admitted Students Day continues to grow, exceeding all expectations and shattering UB’s records! As of this afternoon, there are 671 prospective students registered to participate. Congratulations to Vice President of Enrollment Management & Athletics Lou Izzi and the admissions team for their efforts. As a part of the virtual format experience, students will have the opportunity to hold meetings with members of the Offices of Financial Aid and Academic Advising to receive personalized advice, submit their deposit, and register for the summer or fall semester.

The Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC) is pleased to continue offering tutoring services in a virtual environment for all UB students. Students can access tutoring on two platforms:

  • e-Tutoring is an online platform offering tutoring in several subjects and writing support across all disciplines. Students can go to http://etutoringonline.org/ or log-in through the TLC’s website or portal page.
  • Students can also access tutoring and writing support through the online scheduling platform, ConexED. Tutors and writing specialists will now see students in a virtual meeting space. Students can view tutors’ availability and make appointments by going to the TLC website, the TLC portal page, or by clicking on the help button in any Canvas shell. As always, all tutoring services are free to UB students.

TwinklesOther important campus updates include:

  • The option of a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading policy is under consideration and being considered by the deans and faculty. A solution will be shared with the community as soon as possible.
  • Faculty, please take advantage of the opportunity to engage with our students on social media! The Office of Marketing & Communications sent an email to you earlier this afternoon with additional information about filming videos and sharing messages.
  • Marketing for UB’s summer session is well underway and was included as a wrap on yesterday’s CTPost paper edition. The Office of Marketing & Communications has my appreciation for their continued work to brand and promote the institution. Advertisement image link is available for your review.

Like you, my thoughts and prayers this week have turned to our brave healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic, as well as with the families of those affected by COVID-19.

With the weekend now upon us, my not-so-little-anymore puppy, Twinkles, looks longingly out the front window of my home, Waldemere, at the squirrels that she might be chasing and sticks she might be chewing. Twinkles and I wish you all a restful weekend. Stay safe, stay indoors.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

On this Thursday, we continue to hear news from Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont regarding emergency actions in place to maintain the safety of residents and support small businesses. Just this afternoon, Governor Lamont submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a presidential major disaster declaration due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the State of Connecticut. These effects surely cannot be understated—the pandemic has brought many fragile organizations to the brink. In fact, I learned this morning that the Business Council of Fairfield County, an organization committed to the economic development of Fairfield County, which I joined last month as a board member, will be closing. Unfortunately, its financial challenges were insurmountable in the current economic climate.

The number of students on campus remains consistent with the totals that I reported last Friday. We currently have 42 undergraduate students and 49 graduate students in apartments and off-campus housing. I have received some questions regarding whether or not members of our community have tested positive with COVID-19. To date, we are not aware of any positive cases. We are working towards further reductions in UB’s operational footprint based on sanitization progress, campus occupancy, shelter in place requirements, and the campus residential housing transition plan. I assure you that every day, work continues on campus to ensure that all spaces are safe and prepared for the moment when we can re-open our doors.

To our wonderful students, I cannot stress enough how much we miss you. Campus is all too quiet without the sounds of your voices and laughter. We are working to maintain our social media channels to stay connected with you during these challenging and unprecedented times. Each of you contributes so much to this special community—we are not whole without you.

Faculty, the Office of Marketing and Communications will be reaching out to you in the next 24 hours to provide more information about how you can share your messages of hope and inspiration with our students. Let’s show our students how much they mean to us—please get involved!

I know that there are important issues that our students, faculty, and staff would like to hear more about: room and board refunds, commencement, satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading policy, and more. Please know that we are working through these issues as quickly as possible and will have more information available for you in the days ahead.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quotation rings true as we navigate the endless news cycle, politics, and the funding that colleges and universities need to sustain operations and support students. While the stimulus package has not yet passed, the National Association of Independent College and Universities anticipates that it includes:

  • $30.75 billion for education
  • $14.250 billion for higher education, allocated based on a formula that offers greater support to institutions with greater numbers of low-income students
  • Half of the funding is intended for emergency grants for students and half for institutions

We are grateful for this initial relief for the higher education sector; however, the funding is inadequate to cover the losses felt on the UB campus. I will continue to work with our lobbying consortiums on these very important issues. If you would like to learn more about how the stimulus package effects higher education, please click here.

The commencement core team is actively working to develop an alternative, virtual experience for members of the class of 2020. All graduates will have the opportunity to participate in a commencement ceremony in December 2020 or May 2021. Staff, faculty, and students will be involved in the planning efforts moving forward, and more information will be shared in the days ahead.

Though our operations have moved to a remote format, for many across the institution, daily work and business continues without interruption. To that end, our important marketing, admissions, and finance institutional committees—reflective of UB’s commitment to shared governance—will be meeting next week. Additionally, the presidential task force will hold its second meeting on Friday to review and discuss issues of financial and operational importance.

This Sunday, March 29, 2020, the Office of Admissions will hold its Accepted Students Day in a virtual format. There are 540 prospective students registered for this event—a new UB record! Vice President for Enrollment Management & Athletics Lou Izzi and his admission staff have my sincerest gratitude for their outstanding work to recreate this special day under very difficult circumstances.

Stay well!

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

On this sunny, yet chilly day in Bridgeport, I joined fellow college and university presidents in Connecticut in a conversation with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal about federal funding for higher education. The amount that is being discussed is too little and not necessarily directed toward private institutions. The senator advised campuses and their communities to contact their federal representatives to advocate for support. I urge you to join me in raising your voice on behalf of UB:

  • U.S. Representative Jim Himes: 203-333-6600
  • U.S. Senator Chris Murphy: 860-549-8463
  • U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal: 203-330-0598

We continue to receive guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and the Connecticut Office of Higher Education that enables us to develop and communicate our contingency plans with students and employees. Please note these very important updates:

  • Remaining Federal Work Study funds will continue to be released to students as needed
  • Only student ambassadors and counselors will continue to work and be paid for their respective on-campus roles
  • Graduate Assistants will receive full funding on their awards

If you have questions or concerns about financial aid or student employment, please do not hesitate to reach out to them directly:

As I have previously shared, my administrative group and I have worked to eliminate the institutional deficit that I inherited in July 2018. After many months of budget reductions, vendor negotiations, and more, we have been forced to take more drastic action in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, all NCAA, East Coast Conference, and UB athletics events and championships were cancelled for the remainder of the academic year. Most student-athletes moved off-campus and athletics activities were cancelled until the Centers for Disease Control updates its recommendations regarding social distancing and limitations on gatherings of 10 or more. Unfortunately, many athletics personnel in the Athletics Department were temporarily laid off effective March 19, with some head coaches effective as of April 3. While we hope that these layoffs will be temporary and that staff will be called back by August 3, 2020 or sooner, everything will be dictated by our continued response efforts to COVID-19.

Each head coach will reach out to their respective student-athletes, as will Interim Athletic Director Kate Smullen, with additional information and instructions. Plans are in place to ensure that prospective and current student-athletes maintain continuous and direct contact with the UB during this time. Let me eliminate any potential for rumors now—there are no plans to eliminate athletics. It is a vital part of our campus and contributes to the richness of the UB student experience. We hope to return to normal once the pandemic subsides. Please do not hesitate to reach out to athletics@bridgeport.edu if you have any questions or concerns.

Finally, there was misreporting in the local media regarding UB’s relationship with our food service vendor Sodexo and we have asked for a retraction. Sodexo’s voluntary decision to no longer service Café Scribe and Fresh Tossed did result in Sodexo job losses. At this time, our redefined contract with Sodexo remains in place and they continue to provide dining services for UB in Marina Dining Hall for the remaining students on campus.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

Our second week of remote operations is now in full swing. With the new week comes new directives from Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, as well as even broader and more sweeping restrictions on what businesses and services are considered essential. Fortunately, higher education and its e-learning delivery were deemed “essential” in the state, and we continue to focus our daily efforts on educating and supporting our students in our virtual classrooms and beyond.

State and national higher education lobbying groups are making every effort to advocate on behalf of colleges and universities for increasing appropriations in the Coronavirus Relief Package that is under negotiation in the Senate. While we are appreciative of the efforts being made on both sides of the political aisle, the funding proposed to support institutions is simply not enough. The National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities estimates that the direct aid that we would receive is less than 10 percent of what we have expended in response to the crisis: $6 billion out of a requested $60 billion. I spoke with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy over the weekend and shared details regarding how UB is responding to the crisis. I stressed that institutions face the all-important task of maintaining continuity for students, especially as they work to complete their degrees. I am pleased that our lawmakers are actively listening to our concerns in this very difficult time. As legislative decisions are made that affect all of us, I will continue to work with our elected officials to ensure that UB’s voice is heard.

I have received questions from many members of our community, as well as from those outside UB, regarding the various technologies in use by faculty in their efforts to bring in-class instruction online. Please see the attached letter from Chris Cassirer, vice provost for online learning, digital services, and strategic initiatives, that provides a great deal of information on this topic. I would like to reiterate his call for patience as the IT staff supports the transition to online delivery. Please prioritize and submit your requests of IT through helpdesk@bridgeport.edu.

Today, my students and I agreed to a fitness challenge—a 30-second plank each day—increasing the increment on Wednesday. I welcome you to join us in this fun challenge.

This week, in my messages to you, I will address topics such as room and board fees, graduate assistantships, work-study, and commencement.

Thanks to the Indian Student Association, I hope that you will enjoy this video from their recent Diwali celebration. Happy Monday to all!

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

Like everyone else at this moment, we are all experiencing feelings of anxiety, dislocation, and confusion. This week has felt like a tidal wave that has threatened to overwhelm us with new information and misinformation coming from various outlets without pause. First, I want to start with what is most important, and that is all of you. As you have been previously informed, the campus is now closed. We do not know when we will be able to reopen and return to some measure of normalcy. Residents of New York and California have been ordered to stay home, and in Connecticut, Governor Lamont has now done the same. This is uncharted territory, not just for the University of Bridgeport and higher education, but also for the world.

The closing of UB’s campus at 3 p.m. today in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic has meant that we have temporarily lost what makes us whole, and that is the onsite opportunity to enjoy, share, and educate. However, that does not mean that we cannot still have meaningful exchanges, learning spaces, and the ability to comfort each other. Thanks to the enormous efforts of faculty, staff, and students, we can maintain our connectedness and lines of communication. While we must maintain “social distancing,” we can still come together. Yesterday, I was part of a group of Connecticut presidents who all shared their challenges, concerns, and uncertainties. In this difficult terrain, we will find our way forward.

Currently, the number of students remaining on campus is under 100, primarily international: 42 undergraduates in halls and 51 graduate students in apartments and houses. To ensure safety and continuity of services, students will be moving into one building. The Office of Residence Life created an “express checkout” for students who are departing campus, though they can leave their belongings in this interim period. All residential students will be hearing from Dean of Students Craig Lennon today with additional instructions on the checkout process.

It has come to my attention that there was an unanticipated issue with the student email system and that many students did not receive my previous communications. All of my letters to the community have been archived on UB’s website and will be shared through social media. To ensure that everyone has access to all of the information that has been and will be shared, the best source is the UB website. I have also asked the administrative team to send all emails to Susan Andrews, vice president for marketing & communications, to add to our communications bulletin board regarding messages relating to the pandemic.

My office has received many emails and phone calls from students and parents regarding the cancellation of commencement. I certainly understand your disappointment. Commencement is my favorite day of the year, and last year’s ceremony on our beautiful campus was wonderfully joyous and celebratory with over 5,000 people in attendance. Over the past week, it has become clear that holding such an event would violate public safety. We will be meeting next week to discuss how we might hold an alternative event that will recognize our graduates. All graduates will be welcome to attend future commencements so they will take part in a wonderful public recognition of their achievements. Furthermore, all graduates can rest assured that they will receive their diplomas in the mail.

As a part of my ongoing discussions with college and university presidents across Connecticut, as well as state and federal officials, UB is working to determine the best way to address growing concerns regarding room and board expenses and refunds for students residing in the residence halls. With the unprecedented economic uncertainly facing so many across the United States, I recognize that this is a very difficult time financially for students and families. At this time, deliberations regarding the relief that UB is able to provide are still ongoing. Once a decision is reached, I will share it with you.

We have officially moved to remote operations. Though campus is closed for the foreseeable future, I want to assure our students that campus employees remain accessible both by email and phone. Several key departments will be staffed on a daily basis to serve our students, including Student Financial Services, HR/Payroll, and the Bookstore. The campus directory is an important resource to become familiar with in the weeks ahead and it can be found here. Should you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact president@bridgeport.edu and my office staff will direct you to the right place.

In a special shout-out to our student-athletes, I am sharing this footage of the UB women’s gymnastics team from a Division I competition that took place at the University of Arizona earlier this month. In the meet, UB came in third place behind the University of Arizona and The Ohio State University.

I will continue to be in touch with the UB community on a regular basis. Thank you to all for your support and all that you do for the institution. You have my very best wishes for a safe and restful weekend. Please stay inside!

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

The first day of spring comes with new guidance from state and federal agencies, as well as ongoing discussions with our higher education partners across Connecticut. Developments are coming fast. A prediction from J.P. Morgan Chase this morning anticipates that the U.S. GDP could drop 14 percent in the next quarter—steeper than the worst quarter of the Great Recession in 2008. All of us are facing unprecedented challenges. We are learning more about the actions and protocol that have been implemented by colleges and universities in response to the coronavirus, as well.

As I noted in yesterday’s message, the course catalog is now available for students to review in their Student Planner and includes both summer and fall classes. These courses will be offered on-line if necessary or on site assuming that is possible at that time. Summer courses are an important way for students to maintain momentum and progress towards completion. Please contact Student Financial Services at sfs@bridgeport.edu to see if you are eligible for federal grants or loans to help fund your summer tuition. Despite the campus closure, The Heckman Center for The Bridgeport Plan will continue to provide tutoring services for students through e-tutoring and other technologies. Students may schedule tutoring sessions through the center’s website.

In keeping with the letter sent to me earlier this week by Student Government President Diter Bitri, I encourage students who are experiencing anxiety and stress to contact our Student Affairs staff, as well as Counseling Services. UB Counseling Services can be reached at 203-576-4454 or counselingservices@bridgeport.edu. Yesterday, a large number of students returned to campus to clear out their residence hall rooms, having further reduced the number of students living on campus. All remaining students have been in steady contact with Dean of Students Craig Lennon, and for those few remaining who cannot leave, UB is managing their accommodation to secure their health and wellness. Food service is continuing through our vendor, Sodexo, and it is operating a daily brunch and dinner as a grab and go service with additional features that students can bring back to their residences during off-times. We surveyed the dietary restrictions of the remaining students on campus and are tailoring the menu accordingly.

After much significant deliberation, and pursuant to the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control, UB has very reluctantly decided to cancel its Commencement Ceremonies scheduled for May 16 and 17, 2020. Please know that this was an awful decision to make. As a mother who has waited 23 years for my child’s graduation, which I expect will also be cancelled, I understand how disappointing this must be. As soon as we are able to open campus again, we will work with students to determine how best to (re)create their commencement ceremony. We are enormously proud of all of our graduating students. We understand that commencement represents the culmination of our students’ academic achievements and the many sacrifices that they made along the way. It also allows us to honor parents, partners, relatives, and friends who supported their student’s academic journey. Our concern for the welfare of students and families was the primary consideration. Our decision also follows similar actions taken by the Connecticut State College & University system and UCONN. I assure you that all spring 2020 graduates will have the opportunity to participate in a commencement ceremony in the future.

In recent days, I received requests for comment regarding UB’s response plan as well as the institution’s financial health. I was pleased to see our some of our efforts reflected in an article from today’s CT Post. I have been and will continue to be transparent about the state of the institution. In response to an inquiry today, UB provided the following statement, “Furloughs will be taking place. All buildings will be locked at 3 p.m. on Friday, 3/20/2020, excluding Campus Safety, Marina Dining Hall, and residence halls. We understand that on a global scale we are a very small piece of a much larger puzzle that is being forcibly and radically deconstructed; yet knowing that will not deter us from continuing to the best of our ability, in the midst of chaos, a path forward. To provide reliable information, promote transparency, and maintain safety, the president will continue to send email updates for the foreseeable future to all of the University’s constituencies.”

In concert with our state consortium of private colleges and universities, CCIC, I am sending letters to and speaking with our elected officials to advocate on behalf of our students and the destructive effect of COVID-19 on the higher education sector. For your reference, I have attached a letter that I sent to U.S. Senator Chris Murphy today. I will do everything in my power to advocate for UB and our students.

As I write this, campus operations continue to wind down—concluding with the institution’s full closure tomorrow at 3 p.m. Anyone needing access after that time must contact campus security. Please note that the UB Clinics dispensary will close at the end of the business day today.

I remain grateful for your understanding and patience during this challenging time.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

On campus today, we continued our preparations for campus closure in response to the additional information we have received regarding how the coronavirus is transmitted. Trending on social media at the present is an illustrative 2006 episode of Scrubs.

The coronavirus is an infectious disease that is quickly and easily spread by anyone. Age does not matter. Our best tool to combat the spread of infection is to practice a new default as an institution—namely, having as few people on campus as possible. With the health of the community at the forefront of institutional decision-making, faculty and staff who need to pick up materials from their offices are welcome to do so as quickly as possible. However, after 3 p.m. on Friday, March 20, anyone who must enter a building should contact Campus Security at 203-576-4913. More information regarding protocol will be forthcoming from Rob Schmidt, chief operating officer for administration and facilities.

Over the past week, I have been in daily contact with the Connecticut Council of Independent Colleges & Universities, our state lobbying consortium, sharing the actions we have undertaken on the UB campus. This afternoon, I spoke with Paul Mounds, Governor Lamont’s chief of staff, as well as Congressman Jim Himes. I informed them about the decisions UB has made, and they both were helpful—directing me to potential sources of state and federal support. I expect that I will be speaking with both of them frequently to keep them up-to-date. Tomorrow, I will participate in a call with the governor and the Department of Economic and Community Development to learn how the state is responding to the economic dimensions of this crisis.

As I have shared in previous letters to the community and during our most recent faculty and staff meetings, the Board of Trustees and administration have worked carefully over the past 20 months to reduce the institution’s deficit as quickly as possible. Our goal is to eliminate the deficit by the end of the 2020-21 academic year, or June 30, 2021. To achieve this, we have acted upon numerous alternatives to mitigate the fiscal situation, including dramatic reductions in spending and travel, as well as renegotiating vendor contracts. In view of our budget situation and now the pandemic, we must pursue the option that we tried desperately to avoid: a reduction in force. We took this last step reluctantly and only after considering every other option. These changes include lay-offs and furloughs. This is painful, unwelcome, and, unfortunately, necessary in order for UB to continue.

In addition to UB, every institution, government, and country are facing enormous challenges. To quote Winston Churchill, we are living in the midst of “a measureless and perpetual uncertainly.” These are frightening and trying times. To address the challenges facing the institution, with the support of the Faculty Executive Committee, I have convened a task force composed of students, staff, administrators, faculty, alumni, and trustees. The task force will work in partnership with the senior leadership group and the Board of Trustees to share information and discuss plans as we navigate through the next few months. Thank you to the following individuals for their involvement:

Students:

Myranda Burkit ’21, student
Kevin Cano ’21, student

Faculty:

Elena Cahill, director of the Trefz School of Business; College of Engineering, Business, and Education
Maria Gherasimova, PhD, associate professor of Physics & Chair of the Department of Physics; College of Arts and Sciences
Terence Perrault, professor of Clinical Sciences, School of Chiropractic, College of Health Sciences

Staff:

James Lehman, DC, director, Community Health Clinical Education, College of Health Sciences
Linda Paslov, EdD, interim director & coordinator of the dual enrollment program, School of Education; College of Engineering, Business, and Education

Trustees:

Bob Berchem, chair of the UB Board of Trustees
Art Landi ’74, trustee

Alumni:

Barbara James ’74, ’77, alumna and trustee
Gordon Stier ’77, alumnus

Despite this difficult news, I wanted to provide an update regarding admissions. We have 3,404 domestic freshman admits, on pace with last year. Deposits are ahead of the previous two years. We have a record of 400 students registered for Accepted Students Day on March 29, which will now be delivered in an online format. The Office of Admissions has my gratitude as it continues to be focused and proactive in connecting with prospective and admitted students in its ongoing effort to achieve enrollment targets for fall 2020.

Registration for summer courses will begin on March 29. In the weeks ahead, we will determine if it is safe to have classes on campus this summer, or if they will be online. This summer, there are a number of interesting courses being offered on topics that include the history of jazz, perspectives of happiness, and more. In total, UB will offer more than 200 courses during two summer sessions, with the first session beginning on May 4. We are also launching a fully online Master of Public Health degree, taught by real-world practitioner and experts, with six start dates and seven-week terms. The first start date is May 11 and students are enrolling. The summer course catalogue is being finalized, and once it is available, we will share the link with you.

Until tomorrow, please stay home and stay safe.

 

Sincerely,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Effective immediately, UB’s main campus and the Waterbury Center will conduct all classes through virtual instruction methods for the remainder of the semester.

All UB policies are still in effect in the virtual classroom.

Specific concerns should be addressed to your faculty advisor, clinical coordinator, school director, or dean. Students who would like additional advising services should reach out to Academic Advising Services in the Heckman Center for The Bridgeport Plan.

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

Today marks the conclusion of UB’s second day of online instruction. I remain grateful to our faculty, staff, and students for their adaptability and cooperation as we navigate this new environment together. To ensure that all faculty and students are prepared with essential information on how to use Canvas and other online instructional technologies, several trainings sessions have been recorded and shared on the UB website: https://acts.bridgeport.edu/support. Early feedback about the training sessions is positive, and the academic technology support team is working to make edits and new recordings available as needed.

UB and its senior leadership team continuously monitors updates and developments at the state, national, and international levels. Institutional decision-making is aligned with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization, as well as our elected officials. In this time of uncertainty, we are affirmed in our belief that the health and wellness of our community is of paramount importance, and we will take all necessary actions to ensure that our community is not compromised.

Therefore, effective immediately, all UB courses will be held online for the remainder of the semester. This decision does not come easily, but it comes with the support of the faculty and Board of Trustees. Today, the Faculty Council passed the following resolution: “The Faculty Council fully supports the administration’s decision to hold classes online this spring, and summer if necessary, in light of the evolving coronavirus epidemic.” I am grateful to Faculty Council for their continued leadership on behalf of UB and its students. Students who left belongings on campus will have the opportunity to retrieve them. More details will be forthcoming from the Division of Student Affairs in the coming days.

We recognize that many students with clinical or lab requirements will be unable to complete these course and program requirements. Students in laboratory-based courses will continue to work with their instructors to satisfy most of their course requirements online. Instructors will communicate with their students to devise individual plans to complete any remaining laboratory work after the end of the semester, if necessary. Some programs, specifically in the College of Health Sciences, are reviewing if clinical options such as telemedicine and virtual clinical education may replace clinical hours. Also, some programs are revising their curriculum to complete theory courses at this time and meet the clinical competency requirements once students can resume their clinical rotations. School directors are in constant contact with program accreditors to ensure that we are meeting all requirements. Specific concerns should be addressed to your faculty advisor, clinical coordinator, school director, or dean. Students who would like additional advising services should reach out to Academic Advising Services in the Heckman Center for The Bridgeport Plan.

While campus operations will be reduced for the remainder of the semester, our core institutional functions and educational mission will continue with the least amount of disruption possible in the midst of a very turbulent time. President Trump has announced that gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided for the next fifteen days, and the CDC recommended that all gatherings of more than 50 people be suspended for the next eight weeks. Please be assured that our students, the few remaining on campus as well as those on-line and offsite, will be cared for by the residence life and student affairs teams and that the institution will continue to be well-protected by campus security.

The deans, supervisors, and directors will be meeting with staff tomorrow to determine who will need to remain on campus for operations and services and who will be working from home. Staff and faculty may pick up any items they will need until Friday, March 20, at 3 p.m. At that time, the University will commence a lockdown and anyone needing admission to a building should contact Campus Safety for entrance. We are planning to reduce our facilities footprint to promote safety, and Rob Schmidt, chief operating officer for administration and facilities, is directing our on-site housekeeping and cleaning crews to thoroughly clean and sanitize offices and buildings upon their closure. This proactive approach ensures that campus operations will resume smoothly and efficiently when UB reopens.

UB has offered the use of the unoccupied residence hall, Bodine Hall, to Bridgeport Hospital to accommodate hospital staff housing. Today, a team from the hospital will be visiting Bodine to view the space to make observations and evaluate this possibility. I would like to thank our faculty and staff who have already volunteered to help. During this difficult time, it is critical that we support one another and work together for the common good of our community. We are committed to the health and welfare of our campus and the City of Bridgeport. I will keep you apprised of developments in my future messages to you. I encourage you to continue to review the University’s efforts at www.bridgeport.edu/coronavirus.

Thank you for all that you do for UB. We will move ahead together.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear Campus Community,

I hope that you all had a safe and healthy weekend. In my ongoing effort to keep the UB community informed regarding the coronavirus situation and relevant campus news, I write to you today with the latest updates. We are all experiencing shock about how fast our world has changed over the past few weeks. Here at UB, we are determined to continue the semester for all of our students.

Currently, we have 143 students living on campus. Eighty-seven students are undergraduates. Graduate students are located in housing near campus or reside in university-owned apartments. I wish to thank Craig Lennon, Rob Schmidt, and their staffs in supporting all of our students during this challenging time. Food service is available on campus for our students. All of our students, both on and off campus, are encouraged to reach out to their faculty, our advising center staff, and our counseling staff for the support they may need during this difficult time.

Provost Healey, Dean Lennon, and I greatly appreciate the positive feedback received from a March 15 letter from Diter Bitri, UB’s Student Body President and a current student in my class. In his letter, under consultation with his constituencies, Diter references the commitment and thoughtful decision-making of the University in this unsettling and unprecedented situation, and we are most appreciative of the confidence placed in us by our students. We will continue to work together to ensure the health and safety of all members of our community, strive to meet student needs as proactively and responsively as possible, and focus on minimizing disruption in the delivery of our academic programs. The Provost’s Office continues to work closely with the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) concerning key academic matters. Vice Provost Chris Cassirer and his IT staff are here to provide support for all faculty who are offering online instruction to keep the academic program moving forward without interruption. This morning, at exactly 9:30 a.m., I gave my very first online class and was so glad to see the faces of my students. The Deans are currently working through the various arrangements that will need to be made to cover clinicals and labs for affected students. More information from them will be forthcoming. The University will be flexible and work with one goal in mind—to best accommodate all of our University of Bridgeport students.

The University has offered Bodine Hall, a currently unused residence hall, as a temporary facility to help Bridgeport Hospital with the predicted overrun of hospital beds in the upcoming days and weeks. The State of Connecticut along with New York and New Jersey, announced today, a collective regional approach to limit crowd capacity to 50 people for the next eight weeks. In keeping with this new directive, a number of UB events are postponed, including Faculty Research Day and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Northeast Section Conference. In place of the on-campus Accepted Students Day planned for March 29 and the Admissions Open House on April 26, we are creating a virtual event with videos to replicate, as closely as possible, the in-person experience for admitted and prospective students. According to the State of Connecticut’s website, the three governors also announced that restaurants and bars that serve food will temporarily be required to move to take-out and delivery services only. Bars that do not serve food will be required to temporarily close. These measures will take effect at 8 p.m. tonight. The website also stated that the governors will temporarily close movie theaters, gyms, and fitness centers, and similar public workout facilities and studios.

I have received many inquiries from parents and students concerning spring commencement. As the parent of a graduating senior, believe me, I understand why this is so important to both the student and their family. For the first time in several years, my son will be living at home as he completes his last trimester of college online. As of now, here at the University of Bridgeport, no decision regarding spring commencement ceremonies has occurred. Please stay tuned as additional information becomes available.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Dear College of Health Sciences faculty and students,

The clinical programs in the College of Health Sciences that are able to provide alternate methods for clinical education, including the School of Nursing and the School of Chiropractic are excused from clinical rotations for one week, beginning on Monday, 3/16/20.

The programs that have had sites closed to students, including the School of Naturopathic Medicine, Fones School of Dental Hygiene, and the Acupuncture Institute are excused from clinical this week. We will assess clinical experiences for these areas on a weekly basis moving forward.

Students in clinical programs, including the Physician Assistant Institute that require direct patient care or external medical laboratory rotations (Medical Laboratory Sciences) as the only option may request a temporary release from clinical assignments by contacting the program’s Clinical Coordinator. We will assess the clinical education for all the programs further next week.

If you have any questions, please contact your Clinical Coordinator or email me at capapp@bridgeport.edu.

 

Sincerely yours,

Carol Papp, Dean
College of Health Sciences

Dear Campus Community,

I hope this email finds you both safe and well amid ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. Today the campus was quiet and calm with a thick fog in the morning that cleared in the afternoon.

Currently, we are not aware of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 within our community.

The University continues to monitor the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) websites and other relevant resources for updated information. For more information at the state and local level, visit the state of Connecticut’s website at www.ct.gov and the city of Bridgeport’s website at www.bridgeportct.gov.

As a reminder, beginning this Monday, all classes will move from the classroom to virtual instruction until at least Friday, March 27, 2020.

Please visit the University’s COVID-19 website for regular campus updates on the coronavirus situation.

 

Be well and have a safe weekend,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Beginning Monday, March 16, UB’s main campus and the Waterbury Center will conduct all classes through virtual instruction methods until at least Friday, March 27, 2020.

All UB policies are still in effect in the virtual classroom.

For ADA accommodations, contact Student Accessibility Services at (203) 576-4454 or accessibilityservices@bridgeport.edu.

Dear Members of the University of Bridgeport Community,

Yesterday, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont declared a state of emergency aimed at containing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The University of Bridgeport is unwavering in its commitment to the welfare of its campus community, following its established emergency protocol in light of this global health crisis. The University published its guidelines for the community to follow. Please visit https://www.bridgeport.edu/coronavirus for information regarding resources, FAQs, and more.

A task force composed of senior leadership and health professionals from across UB has been continuously monitoring the situation. The institution is working closely with state health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that all precautions are in place to ensure the safety and health of our students, faculty, and staff, while continuing to pursue our educational mission.

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 exposure at UB. In an abundance of caution, we are taking the following preventative measures. Effective immediately and until at least Friday, March 27, 2020:

  • Students may not return to campus following the conclusion of Spring Break. All students who reside in the residence halls must leave. If you remained on campus during Spring Break, you must move out by noon on Friday, March 13, 2020, and bring any materials that you need to complete your coursework. In recognition of the difficulty that this poses for some students, those who wish to remain on campus shall email Dean of Students Craig Lennon at deanofstudents@bridgeport.edu. Decisions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Beginning on Saturday, March 14, 2020, all in-person classes at the Bridgeport and Waterbury campuses will be moved online or provided through other means of instruction.
  • Students enrolled in an internship, externship, clinical experience, or other experiential course are permitted to continue consistent with the policies established at their respective sites. Please consult with your faculty member, school director, or clinical coordinator if you have questions or concerns regarding how to proceed.
  • Employees who are assigned to external sites via UB partner institutions are permitted to continue consistent with the policies established at their respective sites. Please consult with your supervisor if you have questions or concerns regarding how to proceed.
  • Campus offices and buildings remain open. All employees (staff, administrators, and faculty) shall continue reporting to campus unless you are among an identified elevated risk category. Any need for an exception must be communicated to your immediate supervisor.
  • All UB-sponsored travel is cancelled. We strongly discourage personal domestic and international travel by students, faculty, and staff, except for the purposes of students returning home.
  • All University events are cancelled unless otherwise communicated to its participants. We are in concert with the City of Bridgeport’s guidance on mass gatherings.
  • The UB Clinics will be closed for patient visits until further notice.

The task force will continue to closely monitor the situation. The status of planning and activities for the following week will be communicated by email, the website, LiveSafe app, etc. every Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Like you, I am deeply troubled by the fear, devastation, and loss caused by COVID-19, in the region, United States, and world. Counseling services will remain available to students. Faculty and staff are able to access UB’s Employee Assistance Program.

The situation is changing rapidly. You will receive regular communications in the days ahead. I appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to keep our community safe and healthy in light of this global pandemic. Please continue to monitor https://www.bridgeport.edu/coronavirus for updates.

Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time.

 

Sincerely yours,

Laura Skandera Trombley
President

Beginning Monday, March 16, UB’s main campus and the Waterbury Center will conduct all classes online or through other alternative methods of instruction. More information to follow later today.

Dear UB Community:

This is an update to the message sent on February 3 regarding the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. At this time, there are NO suspected cases on our campus or in the Bridgeport area.

Spring Break is upon us and for some that means travel. We are aware of reports that the coronavirus has spread to other countries and continue to monitor the situation. We ask that anyone traveling outside of the U.S. for Spring Break, please report it here.

If you choose to travel, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom, before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

At this time, the CDC has only recommended screening for individuals returning from China and South Korea. However, as the situation evolves, the University of Bridgeport may need to screen individuals returning from other countries in accordance with updated CDC Travel Guidelines.

We encourage students who are concerned that they may have had close contact with an ill person who is experiencing flu-like symptoms to visit UB Student Health Services from 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. When Health Services is closed, students should contact AMR through Campus Security at 203-576-4913. Faculty and staff should consult with their primary care physician for advice and guidance.

To learn more about the coronavirus, please visit the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO). We will continue to communicate with the entire campus community if and when CDC guidelines change.

We wish you a happy and healthy Spring Break.

 

Craig S. Lennon
Dean of Students

Jacklyn Obeng
Director of Student Health Services

April Vournelis
Executive Director of Security

Janice N. Faye
Clinical Services and Operations Administrator

Dear UB Community:

We are writing today to provide a brief update on the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak first identified in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) has put measures in place to prevent further spread of the virus. There are no cases of 2019-nCoV currently reported at the University of Bridgeport.

UB Student Health Services is urging anyone who has traveled to China in the past two months, or has been in contact with anyone who has traveled recently to China, and is experiencing any of the below signs and symptoms to call or come to Student Health Services or report to the nearest hospital:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

To learn more about the coronavirus, please visit the CDC.

We encourage students who are concerned that they may have had close contact with an ill person who is experiencing flu-like symptoms to visit UB Student Health Services from 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. When Health Services is closed, students should contact AMR through Campus Security at 203-576-4913. Faculty and staff should consult with their primary care physician for advice and guidance.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update as needed.

As a general reminder, it's the flu season! Please do not forget to wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizers. Also, remember to cough or sneeze into your sleeve.

We wish you a happy and healthy spring semester.

 

Craig S. Lennon
Dean of Students

Jacklyn Obeng
Director of Student Health Services

April Vournelis
Executive Director of Security