Colgate University Plans for Fall 2020

Back to Updates & Messages: COVID-19

Dear Colgate Faculty, Students, Staff, and Alumni,

After much deliberation, and in careful consideration of the most rigorous scientific guidance available, upon recommendation of a University task force charged to review fall academic and residential options, Colgate University will return to in-person instruction this fall with a number of important new health and safety protocols in place.

The semester will begin on August 27, as originally planned, but this fall will not be a typical one. Our plans for in-person instruction will require a shared commitment to new guidelines that have been designed to protect our community’s health and safety. Faculty, staff, and students will be required to agree to a Commitment to Community Health that sets forth, in detail, new behavioral expectations for everyone returning to campus. 

This decision to return to in-person instruction is also contingent upon approval of our plans by the State of  New York State. Further, COVID-19 must be under sufficient control in central New York for the region to remain in Phase 4 of reopening at the time of student arrival, an additional requirement for Colgate to open fully for in-person instruction.

It is important to state that opening at full capacity is not without risk. The Task Force on the Reopening of the Colgate Campus, along with the staff of the University’s Emergency Operations Center, is therefore developing a comprehensive series of plans to help mitigate transmission and impacts related to COVID-19. We have built-in flexibility to permit faculty and students to continue remote instruction if desired or needed. Further, the University has prepared for the likelihood of new cases of COVID-19 presenting on the campus by identifying student isolation and quarantine spaces. 

No plan, regardless of how comprehensive, will be 100-percent effective in preventing new cases of this disease. However, through testing, physical distancing, wearing of face coverings, good hygiene, and expanded cleaning protocols, we can all help to mitigate its spread. 

We are also prepared to respond rapidly to the ever-changing conditions on the local and national level. If the need arises, Colgate will be nimble in implementing plans for a potential safe and orderly closing of campus should that be required. 

As we embark upon this path forward, we will not have immediate answers to every question. And in the weeks ahead we will continue to refine and fill in our reopening and operational plans. In spite of the challenges we all face, we look forward to welcoming our students, faculty, and staff back to campus. Efforts to secure your wellbeing will continue, but the success of the academic year will depend on our ability to share fully the responsibility for each other’s health and safety. 

I offer my deep gratitude to the task forces for their countless hours and thoughtful deliberation. I also appreciate and count upon the patience, flexibility, and active engagement of the campus and local community. 

We will host a series of town halls for faculty, staff, students, and the Hamilton community to keep all members of the Colgate community apprised of the latest developments, share additional information, answer questions, and address concerns. 

For more information, please visit You can also submit questions to

I encourage you to read our new public health commitment documents carefully. Understand their letter and their spirit. This year, we will prove that we are a thoughtful, caring, empathetic community, dedicated to each other and to our University’s mission.


Brian W. Casey