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Emory Principles for Decision Making and Fall Planning

Dear Emory community, 

At last week’s virtual town hall, we discussed some of the foundational principles that have helped shape the many decisions we’ve made in guiding Emory University through the new challenges of COVID-19. They affirm our commitments to compassion, honesty, respect and concern for the greater good, which are rooted within Emory’s long-standing values.

The principles include: 

  • Emory will continue to vigorously pursue our mission to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.
  • The health and safety of Emory’s students, faculty and staff is paramount in moving forward into recovery. We will make decisions based on the best medical, scientific and public health evidence and will be compliant with all federal, state and local laws and regulations and requirements of our accrediting bodies.
  • Emory will continue to provide excellent academic offerings, ensure student progress and protect our students’ ability to afford to attend Emory.
  • The ability of faculty, staff and students to conduct research and engage in scholarship will be fully supported. Interrupted and suspended activities will resume as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Decisions will be reached in the context of shared governance and through processes that are transparent and collaborative. They will be supported by the best available data and draw upon the considerable expertise and intellectual capital of the university.
  • Decisions will allow for flexibility to respond to rapid and perhaps unanticipated changes in circumstances.
  • Financial well-being will be assessed with respect to the short-, medium- and long-term impacts on our community and Emory’s financial health.
  • Cost reductions through efficiencies and discretionary spending will be prioritized so as to minimize the impact on employment or compensation of our employees. If reductions affecting employment or compensation become necessary, they will be done in a fair and equitable manner that protects the most vulnerable (lowest paid) populations to the greatest extent possible.
  • We will communicate the basis and rationale for decisions to our community.

While we have been called to make many decisions during this pandemic, one pending decision is the plan for reopening campus this fall. To that end, we assembled a Recovery Implementation Team that is using the principles above to outline solutions for a safe return to campus.

This process includes a thoughtful review of important elements, including availability for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing procedures, isolation of COVID-19 positive individuals, plans to maximize social distancing and protection for the most vulnerable or for those who could be disproportionately impacted on campus. We will need to have procedures in place to continue physical distancing, oversee cleaning processes, establish universal face covering protocols and adhere to infection prevention strategies to maintain the health and safety of the Emory community.  

Our planning scenarios outline options for both in-person and remote learning modules as well as a combination of the two and are designed to dynamically adapt to public health guidelines and safety recommendations. However, there are still many variables to be considered for a fall reopening and many questions that need to be answered before we can release a definitive plan. We will communicate a decision and share what this means for the Emory community once important information is collected and analyzed, and a plan is developed for our community. 

While we thank you for your patience and understanding during this time, we also charge the entire Emory community — faculty, staff and students — to be imaginative and innovative as we work on creative and flexible solutions to meet our collective needs. It is certainly in Emory’s nature to be optimistic, and it is through interdisciplinary thought and courageous action that we can keep our community safe and healthy. 


Jan Love, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Christopher L. Augostini, Executive Vice President for Business and Administration, Chief Financial Officer

Jonathan S. Lewin, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

Enku Gelaye, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life