Recovery Task Force

The Simmons University COVID-19 Recovery Task Force's six subcommittees analyzed a variety of factors related to when and how we can safely return to our campus and how to create the most meaningful and engaging online campus as possible.

Planning Process Timeline

Planning stages: Stage 1, Now through July 1: Summer and reopening plan; Stage 2, Jul 1 - Aug 15: Fall planning; Stage 3, Aug 15-Oct 15: Fall execution and spring planning; Stage 4, Oct 15-ongoing: Ongoing future planning

Guiding Principles

Throughout the decision-making process, the Task Force has committed to evaluating all options through the lens of the following guiding principles:

  • Put the mental and physical wellbeing and safety of community members FIRST; continue to follow state, city, and public health guidance
  • Ensure equity and fairness in opportunity and experience
  • Maximize student engagement, ensuring a quality Simmons experience for all students
  • Prioritize degree completion, progression, and optimal conditions for learning and teaching
  • Consider quality of life and campus experience under COVID constraints
  • Minimize risks and exposure of faculty, staff, and students on a de-densified campus
  • Reduce infections and risks from overlap with seasonal flu by starting the semester on February 1 and eliminating Spring Break
  • Preserve financial stability and long-term sustainability

The Steering Committee

Vice President of University Real Estate and Facilities Management Laura Brink Pisinski leads the seven-member Steering Committee: Mike Barone, Joan Martinez Cuerva, Suzie Murphy, Russ Pinizzotto, and Kathy Rogers and Janet Walzer.

Task Force Sub-committees


Interim Provost Russ Pinizzotto leads the 17-person Academic sub-committee: Stephanie Berzin, Justin Cole, Marie desJardins, Diane Grossman, Justin Jones, Sarah Leonard, Cathie Mercier, Brian Norman, Catherine Paden, Ray Pfeiffer, Gretchen Ralston, Lepaine Sharp-McHenry, Roslyn Taylor, Geoff Turner, Richard Voos, and Laura Wareck.

The Academics sub-committee worked to determine the best way to minimize health and safety risks for students, faculty, and staff. They reviewed all course offerings, academic schedules, classroom capacity, and a variety of other factors related to the critical academic program at Simmons.

Campus Infrastructure

Assistant Vice President of University Real Estate Development and Facilities Management Joan Martinez Cuerva leads the 16-person Campus Infrastructure sub-committee: Matt Berens, Dave Bruce, Jenna Canfield, Richard Cody, Brendan Hughes, Ali Kantor, Mike Malmberg, Mike McNeil, Lauren Murray, Helen Popinchalk, Charlotte Russell, Liz Scott, Kelly Williams, Joe Wilson and Jason Wood.

The Infrastructure sub-committee created plans and protocols for testing and symptom checking, building access, cleaning and disinfecting common spaces, and technology usage. 

Faculty and Staff

Chief People Officer Suzie Murphy leads the 13-person Faculty and Staff sub-committee: Danny Barker, Carly Burton, Sharron Credle, Erin DeCurtis, Sam Fox, Andrew Kiritsy, Aaron Morrison, Brian Norman, Kim O’Neil, Nikki Vanderpol, Janet Walzer and Christina Webber.

The Faculty and Staff sub-committee discussed key factors that affect our workforce in both on-campus and remote work scenarios — such as transportation, childcare, remote work policies, and how to maintain engagement in a mostly remote workforce. They also discussed and planned for a safe return to campus of our workforce.


The Dean of Students leads the 13-person Student sub-committee: Danny Barker, Kerri Brophy, Marybeth Davis, Sherri Ettinger, Lisa Hussey, Miriam Ismail, Jennifer Knodle, Paul Lombardo, Amelia McConnell, Pat Rissmiller, Sara Simberg, Leah Tennen and Corey Zohlman.

The Student sub-committee discussed how to successfully maintain and build the Simmons community experience whether students are on campus or connecting virtually.

Financial and Legal

Interim CFO Mike Barone and Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kathy Rogers lead the seven-person Financial and Legal sub-committee: Teresa Fung, Diane Grossman, David Hollinden, Kim O’Neil and Amy Staffer.

The Financial and Legal sub-committee reviewed the financial implications of all scenarios, and offered guidance on how budgets and policies would be affected by each of their scenarios. 


Associate Vice President for University Communications Janet Walzer leads the five-person Communications sub-committee: Sharron Credle, Lisa Hussey, Allie Morgan and Laura Wareck.

The Communications sub-committee ensured that crucial information related to all factors of our COVID Response planning was communicated clearly, consistently and quickly.