July 23, 2020

July 23, 2020

Presidential message

With the release of Caring for Our Creighton Community, a comprehensive guide for students, faculty, and staff on the reopening of campus, I would like to acknowledge the good work of so many on campus to get us to this point and share updates related to University committees and the President’s Cabinet.

I am excited to welcome Christopher Whitt, PhD, vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion; Tricia Sharrar, JD, vice provost for Academic Administration and Operations; and René Padilla, PhD, vice provost for Global Engagement, to the President’s Cabinet. Their leadership and guidance overall, and specific expertise in their operational areas, will be valuable additions to my cabinet and will intensify our focus around these key priorities.

As we refine and implement plans for the fall semester, our Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), which expanded in its rapid and effective response to COVID-19, will return to its original structure and purpose.

As I first announced in August 2017 with the formation of CIRT, the group is responsible for assessing critical incidents arising on campus, ensuring there is no continuing threat to life and property, communicating quickly to University leadership, and managing messaging to campus and the public.

I am extremely grateful for the outstanding work of Tanya Winegard, PhD, vice provost for Student Life and chair of CIRT, along with other members of the core team, in expanding the group’s role to address and manage Creighton’s COVID-19 response.

As we move thoughtfully and proactively forward into what is more of a seamless and protracted response to the pandemic, the responsibility for managing and implementing Creighton’s COVID-19 plans, protocols, and processes has been transferred to the Campus Safety and Innovative Operations Workgroup.

I want to thank the members of the workgroup’s core committee and its subgroups, whose work and recommendations on screening and testing, protective clothing and supplies, social distancing and transportation, cleaning, disability services, campus events, and communications informed our Caring for Our Creighton Community working document.

Tricia Sharrar, JD, will continue to chair a reconfigured workgroup, which will focus on refining, implementing, and monitoring plans shared in the Caring for Our Creighton Community guide. This COVID-19 Strategy and Implementation Team will coordinate with campus constituencies regarding necessary improvements to enhance academic, housing, and other campus functions during the pandemic. Members of the team are:

  • Andrea Jahn, JD, associate general counsel
  • Tanya Winegard, PhD, vice provost for Student Life
  • Beth Thomas, interim associate vice president for Human Resources
  • John Darwin, special assistant to the president
  • Renuga Vivekanandan, MD, associate professor, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine
  • Dave Dobberpuhl, PhD, associate professor and chair, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Finally, we have made additions to the University Preparedness Committee and the Planning and Education Working Group. The University Preparedness Committee (UPC), chaired by Mike Reiner, director of Public Safety, is charged with developing protocols, standards, procedures, and organizational structures that ensure Creighton is a secure and resilient campus, with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risks. The Planning and Education Working Group is a permanent team that implements the strategic decisions of the UPC.

The new members of the UPC are:

  • Melissa Woodley, PhD, associate professor, Economics and Finance, Heider College of Business
  • Mike Belshan, PhD, professor, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine
  • Mike Miller, EdD, assistant professor, director, EMS Education

The new members of the Planning and Education Working Group are:

  • Jake Siedlik, PhD, assistant professor, Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kristina Simeone, PhD, associate professor, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, School of Medicine
  • Jennifer Furze, DPT, associate professor and vice chair, Physical Therapy, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions

I look forward to the continued good work of these important teams and committees during these final weeks of summer break, as we ramp up for the start of the fall term in August, and as we begin the new academic year.


Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD