Many Summer Campus Programs Canceled, Others Remain Up in the Air


Colgate University

Upstate Institute Summer Field School Poster Session 2017

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Upstate Institute’s Summer Field School moved their programs to exclusively online remote platforms, while some student and faculty summer research projects on campus have been called off. Other summer campus programming and internships remain up in the air, including Office of Admission and Office of Sustainability internships, as of the publishing of this article.

The 25 students planning to participate in the Upstate Institute’s Summer Field School were notified of the decision on Friday, April 24, according to sophomore Jenna Borovinsky.

“The Dean’s office has shared news with us that this summer, all summer research will need to be done remotely, for a period of up to [eight] weeks,”  Project Director of the Upstate Institute Julie Dudrick said in an email. “I have shared that news with your community partner, and am waiting for them to get back to me with news that they are still interested in hosting a student remotely for up to [eight] weeks.”

Dudrick said it is still unknown whether or not on-campus housing will be offered for the summer.

Borovinsky was planning to return to campus this summer as an Upstate Institute Field School Fellow to conduct research on food insecurity and healthcare with the community partner Pathfinder Village, a campus community established specifically for persons with Down syndrome. However, Dudrik notified participants that the program cannot yet guarantee them remote work through their originally assigned community partner.

“It is possible that your assigned partner may not be able to host you as a result, and if that’s the case, I will do my best to find you an alternate project for the summer,” Dudrik said. 

According to the University website, around 200 students remain on Colgate’s campus each summer to pursue research and other projects. Opportunities include faculty or student-initiated research, partnerships with external organizations in the greater Upstate New York region through the Upstate Institute, Lampert Institute Fellowship for Civic and Global Affairs, Center for Freedom and Western Civilization Summer Fellowships and the Beckman Scholars Program. The Office of Admission, Career Services and the Office of Sustainability offer summer internships as well. 

According to Associate Director of the Center for Learning, Teaching and Research (CLTR) and Director of Undergraduate Research Karyn Belanger, 160 students planned to be on campus for the summer to conduct research with faculty, and 25 working with the Upstate Institute. 

 “[Colgate] administration is reacting to what’s going on in New York state and depending on the guidelines of the state, Colgate will need to see if it is able to have any summer programs on campus,” Belanger said on April 1.

Belanger is working with faculty to determine if aspects of summer research projects can be done remotely and, further, what that would look like in preparation for remote research if necessary this summer. 

“We are changing the way we think about research and interactions moving forward. If students are not allowed to return to campus, there is a possibility that some of these projects can be performed remotely depending upon the nature of the project,” Belanger said.

Borovinsky said that while she’s disappointed by the news, she understands that the situation warrants this change.

“I’m bummed that it will be remote, but completely understand and am so grateful that I am still able to do the internship,” Borovinsky said.  “I’m really thankful to have this opportunity.”

Other specific departments bring students to campus for summer programming, including five student Sustainability Fellows, 12 Admissions Interns and around four Museum Fellows.

Junior and Sustainability Intern Ethan Reiser said Assistant Director of Sustainability and Program Coordinator for Environmental Studies Pamela Gramlich shared concerns about funding in a virtual meeting between the two on Friday, April 24. 

“[Gramlich] has no clarity on if they’ll even be provided the funding to bring on summer interns. If they are, she’s not sure who they will have to prioritize in terms of funding, whether that be kids on campus or others” Reiser said. “Main message is she doesn’t know what they’ll be able to do or offer yet this summer.” 

Summer Interns in the Office of Admission also remain uncertain of its programming status. Senior Ellie Kucera said she inquired about the status of programming on April 15 and was told they still planned to have Admission Interns begin work June 1. However, she is unsure if their plans have changed and expects an update with a more concrete decision in the near future.

While the status and details of some summer programs remain up in the air, sophomore Sophia Beresford said her summer research program was canceled by the faculty leading the project over a month ago. Beserford planned to assist two faculty members with an eight week archeological project that would include four weeks of on campus research and four weeks in Mexico for the summer.  Beresford expressed her disappointment after receiving communication on March 18 from the faculty about the cancellation of both portions of the project.

“It was going to be a good time and good money and now I’m not sure what I’m going to do at home. I know it’s the right decision but it’s obviously disappointing,” Beresford said.

Junior Annie Knowles was hired by Associate Professor of English Jennifer Brice for the summer Creative Writing Fellowship under the English Department. She was told on April 24 in an email from Brice that she could no longer be hired because “the budget situation is really dire.” 

“I am upset. I was really looking forward to this opportunity,” Knowles said. “But, I understand a lot is up in the air because of COVID-19. They had to do what they had to do.” 

According to Knowles, out of the four students hired for the position, she knows of one other that will be continuing the position remotely.