University News

University of New Haven Community Mobilizes to Address Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic

Since the University made the decision for students to finish the remainder of the semester remotely in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, students, faculty, and staff have come together to ensure a sense of continuity, support, and community.

April 3, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Maxcy Quad.
The University of New Haven community has come together to respond to the far-reaching impact of COVID-19.

Ian Maloney ’20 said it felt surreal reading the email from University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., informing the University community that – in response to the global coronavirus pandemic – classes would be held remotely for the remainder of the semester.

He felt conflicting emotions. He was sad not to be spending his last semester of college on campus, but he believed it was the best decision to ensure the health and safety of the campus community.

Within minutes of receiving President Kaplan’s message, Maloney, president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association, began drafting a letter of his own to his fellow students. He posted the message on Instagram later that night. Offering the USGA’s support, he acknowledged students’ disappointment but encouraged them to remain resilient and positive.

"I hoped students would read it and think, ‘It’s not just me, other students are struggling with this too,’" said Maloney, a criminal justice major. "I wanted them to know how diligent President Kaplan was in reviewing all of the information provided to him. I have a lot of respect for him and how he has handled this crisis. I also wanted to reinforce how strong our community is."

‘Everyone is pulling together’
Image of Becky Johnson.
Becky Johnson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

Maloney and the USGA have been working with the Graduate Student Council and the Division of Student Affairs to answer students’ questions and address their concerns. In response to requests from students, the Office of Residential Life worked with local health officials to create a voluntary program to enable resident students to return to the residence halls to retrieve their belongings. The University is continuing to assist students who have yet to be able to return home due to the pandemic.

On-campus resources, such as the International Services Office, the Accessibility Resources Center, Health Services, and Counseling and Psychological Services – including therapy dog Brue – have continued to serve students, connecting with them virtually. Marty O’Connor, the University’s campus chaplain, will host "Chaplain Chats" for students online.

"Everyone is pulling together and collaborating in an effort to ensure a seamless transition for our students," said Becky Johnson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. "We are thinking creatively to meet students’ needs and to keep them connected to the campus community and the staff."

‘The dedication has been incredible’

Departments such as the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Dean of Students Office, Graduate Student Services, and the Center for Student Engagement, Leadership, and Orientation plan to host a variety of events throughout the semester, and they are deciding how to move forward on a case-by-case basis.

Undergraduate and graduate admissions teams are working to host their many information sessions and other programs for accepted – and prospective – students virtually.

"The dedication of my Charger colleagues has been incredible as we protect the well-being of our campus community and ensure that our students are able to effectively continue their studies remotely in the immediate term," said Gregory Eichhorn, vice president for enrollment and student success, who has overseen a group of University senior leaders managing the University’s response to COVID-19. "Our first priority continues to be the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff while we endeavor to ensure the overall success of our students – in and out of classroom – now and in the future."

"We are also keenly focused on continuing to create innovative ways to communicate with the prospective students and their families in our incoming Class of 2024," Eichhorn continued. "We look forward to the opportunity to welcome everyone back to campus in the future and to continuing to enrich the experience of all of our students."

Image of Ian Maloney ’20 and Charlie.
Ian Maloney ’20 and Charlie.
‘The effort has been amazing’

Faculty and staff are making sure students continue to have the same meaningful learning experiences as they complete the semester remotely. Faculty have access to best practices in online teaching, IT assistance, and other resources online. The Center for Learning Resources is offering support virtually, as is the Office of Information Technology.

Image of Carol Koziatek.
Carol Koziatek, vice president of human resources.

"The University is maintaining high academic standards despite these unprecedented times as all courses have been moved online," said Mario Gaboury, interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. "Faculty members, department chairs, and all members of Academic Affairs are committed to facilitating the best possible course continuity and student success."

Most faculty and staff members are now working from home, but some departments are remaining on campus. Staff members from University police, facilities, and residential life have helped students who returned to campus as part of a voluntary program that enabled them to collect their belongings.

"On behalf of our students and President Kaplan, I would like to thank everyone for their efforts over the past few weeks," said Carol Koziatek, vice president of human resources. "Since our faculty and staff members have transitioned to working or teaching remotely, the effort has been amazing. We’re also particularly grateful for the dedication of the essential employees who continue working on campus."

‘Our community is strong’

In addition to supporting the members of the University community, the University is doing its part to support West Haven and New Haven first responders and healthcare professionals.

The University is donating personal protection equipment to regional emergency healthcare providers and is offering support to area foodbanks by providing donated meals and food.

Image of Ron Quagliani.
Ron Quagliani ’93, ’05 M.S., ’14 M.S.

"The University’s police and fire officers are also ready to provide support to our local police and fire departments should the need arise, and the University is opening its residence halls to regional public safety professionals, some of whom are moving into campus housing this week," explained Ron Quagliani ’93, ’05 M.S., ’14 M.S., associate vice president of public safety and administrative services and chair of the University’s incident management team. "All of these efforts, I believe, truly demonstrate the University’s commitment to serving the greater community during this time of need.

Ultimately, Maloney, the USGA president, has one message he wants his fellow students to hear: You are not alone.

"Our community is strong," he said. "We are resilient, we represent an absolutely incredible institution, and, for those of us who are graduating, we have a lot to look forward to as alumni.

"When writing my letter, my hope was for students to see that we are still united and that we will persevere in the most trying of times," Maloney continued. "I felt it was of the utmost importance for students to see their peers continuing to advocate for them and to feel connected in a time where we are being instructed to distance ourselves from one another in order to stay healthy."

Help University of New Haven Students Charge Ahead

We've launched the Charge Ahead Student Support Fund in an effort to raise financial assistance for our students for such necessities as remote learning technology, food, housing, medical expenses, and other emergency needs. Please click here to make a contribution that will assist those in our University community who need our support.