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Norwich University

Summary of Open Forum Calls with President Schneider April 2020


Summary of Open Forum Calls with President
Schneider on April 7 & 10, 2020

Invited: Class Agents, Reunion Committees, Club volunteers, Board of Fellows, NU Alumni Association Board Members, NU Parent & Family Association volunteers, and NUcleus participants.

Participated: approx. 100 volunteers; all invited groups were represented in at least one of the two calls. Faculty/Staff: President Schneider, Dr. Sandra Affenito (Provost and Dean of the Faculty), Kathy Murphy (Vice President of Marketing and Communications), and Diane Scolaro (Assoc VP for Alumni & Family Relations).

President Schneider opened each call with an update from the Hill:

COVID-19 impact

  • Norwich remains open though most faculty and staff are working remotely. A handful of senior administrators and members of the essential workforce are on campus as approximately 100 students remain at Norwich, primarily international students who could not travel home. Sodexo’s food services are open to serve them though all other campus facilities are closed. The Student Affairs team is hosting virtual events for those on campus as well as at home.
  • We determined during Spring Break week that students should remain at home and complete their spring semester online. We extended Spring Break by a week so that faculty could prepare to deliver classes virtually. We have had to find creative ways to address classes that include labs, etc. but the faculty have done a terrific job. The program is robust, high-touch and personalized. Students continue to have access to the Academic Achievement, Writing, and Counseling Centers to provide academic and personal support. Both students and faculty report that things are going well.
  • Some students in the National Guard have been called up to help build/expand hospital capacity. Norwich has offered our campus if additional beds are needed. The town of Northfield is suffering due to the lack of students and employees on campus this spring as the reduced utility and water usage significantly impacts the town’s revenue. Norwich annually makes a donation to Northfield to support the municipal services we receive and did so two months early this year to help the community. 75% of Northfield’s EMT squad is made up of Norwich’s NUEMS students so we have invited qualified students to return to campus where they can live and study while serving on the town’s ambulance squad. We are collecting stories of how our alumni/students/faculty/staff are responding to COVID-19 so that we can share them with the Norwich family and so that our Archives can preserve them for posterity.
  • As of now, no Norwich faculty or staff have tested positive for the coronavirus. Two students tested positive while at home and are being monitored.
  • Students are receiving a refund reflecting the percentage of their housing, meals and student fees cut short this semester. Click here for a video explaining how refunds were determined. Refunds totaled approximately $3.5 million. Unlike Norwich, many schools were unable to give students a pro-rated refund, if at all. Thankfully Norwich does not have a liquidity issue. Our line of credit and available cash are strong. While Norwich’s endowment took a hit over the past month, we are currently at approx. $190 million, down from $220 million.
  • The long-term impact is uncertain but it is likely that many colleges and universities that are not in solid financial shape will close. An entire generation is experiencing what it is like to study online while living at home and potentially working at the same time. Students who are having a good experience in this environment may want to continue in this mode. That said, many schools have not been able to adapt as quickly or as well as Norwich, and those students and faculty are not reporting a favorable experience.
  • The size of the incoming class is uncertain. We are currently tracking about 120 more deposits to date versus this same period last year. The Department of Education eliminated the May 1 deadline for students to deposit and commit to their college of choice for the upcoming fall which will make it challenging for Norwich to confidently plan for the number of incoming students. In addition, in an effort to create competition between institutions of higher ed and drive cost down, colleges and universities are now allowed to ‘poach’ from one another by offering more scholarship funding or other perks to students throughout the late spring and summer months. Norwich offered iPads to all students in March as an incentive for their early commitment. We are also unsure of how many upperclassmen will return in the fall in the aftermath of COVID-19. A telephone campaign is underway by our Student Success Center to ascertain how upperclassmen are doing academically, emotionally and financially.
  • In light of these uncertainties, Norwich has created two budgets for FY21 to reflect a ‘normal’ year as well as a potential 10% reduction in returning and new students. Various scenarios could impact the fall semester. A worst case scenario (i.e. if the coronavirus is still in play) is that we are not able to have students return to campus and all courses are online for the fall semester. While students are adapting to this mode of learning, they would miss out on the Corps experience, ROTC, athletics and some of the most valuable aspects of going away to college.
  • Until we have a clearer picture of the incoming class and returning student numbers will look like, faculty and staff travel is restricted, purchases and employee raises are on hold.

How you can help:
Support recruitment:

  • Help identify and recruit 17-18 year old high school students that are a good fit for Norwich. Our alumni, parents and current students are a vital pipeline for our recruitment efforts.
  • The Alumni Office is working with the Admissions Office to put together lists of incoming students by region and asking NU Clubs and volunteers to contact students/parents in their area, invite them to the Student Sendoffs and connect them with NU staff if they have questions or concerns about their decision to attend Norwich. If you are interested in helping with these calls, contact Diane Scolaro at or 802-485-2358.

Support retention:

  • Financial aid is going to be a big factor for many students/families. The Schneider Legacy Project is an initiative to increase scholarship funding for Fall 2020 and keep students in school. Click here to learn more about the Schneider Legacy Project.

Support the senior class/recent grads:

  • With the Class of 2020 heading into an uncertain market, connecting our students with jobs and internships is more important than ever. If you are in a position to help with temporary or permanent positions, contact Norwich’s Career & Internship Center. Norwich’s Career and Internship Center can be reached at
  • We also encourage students and alumni to connect via Norwich’s LinkedIn site. It includes job postings and, more importantly, allows you to tap into the network of 26,000 Norwich alumni to see where they live, where they work, what they do, what they studied, what they are good at, and how you may be connected.
  • The Alumni Office will be asking NUAA, NU Clubs and frontline volunteers to contact our graduating seniors in May to congratulate and welcome them to the alumni family and to check on job prospects/career plans, encourage them to network via LinkedIn, attend NU Club events in their area including Student Sendoffs. If you are interested in helping with these calls, contact Diane Scolaro at or 802-485-2358.

Support each other:

  • Reach out to classmates and constituents to make sure folks are okay and reinforce the resources that exist in the Norwich family.
  • Encourage them to share their stories and experiences—we want to hear about how our alumni/students/families/staff are on the front lines or supporting efforts to deal with COVID-19. Share/post stories at

Looking ahead…
Col. Mark Anarumo’s arrival—It is anticipated that Colonel Anarumo’s duties at the U.S. Air Force Academy will wrap up in April and he will arrive in Northfield shortly thereafter giving him 4-6 weeks to overlap with President Schneider. Departments are preparing for his arrival and orientation by preparing detailed ‘battle books.’

Commencement—NOTE: THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE ON APRIL 14: Norwich made the difficult decision to reschedule 2020 commencement ceremonies for Saturday, September 12. Degrees will still be conferred on May 2 and seniors will receive their diplomas via mail. The September ceremony will include all the usual pomp and circumstance of Norwich graduations. As previously planned, President Schneider will be the commencement speaker.

Commissioning— the College of National Services is planning individual commissioning ceremonies based on guidance from the services to commission as soon as possible after May 2. All will receive commissioning documents and they can either find a commissioned officer of their choice to swear them in where they are, or Norwich can swear them in remotely (Skype, Facetime, etc). A virtual keynote address by RADM Daniel MacDonnell, NU’85 will be available as part of the commissioning ceremony. Pending the status of Vermont’s executive order, a small commissioning ceremony might be held in Northfield for local students.

Farewell events honoring President Schneider’s retirement have been canceled in Boston and Washington, DC. We continue to make plans for an event at Norwich on Friday, June 26. This program is open to all. Click here for more information and to register.

Student Sendoffs—NU Clubs are encouraged to schedule Student Sendoff events as in past years though they may be modified to incorporate a virtual program, depending on location and status of COVID-19. These events play an important role in welcoming our new students/families to Norwich. Recommendations for in-person or virtual events will be made by the end of May.

Homecoming 2020 planning is underway and online registration will open on June 1. Scheduled for October 1-4, if COVID-19 lingers into the summer and fall, we will determine whether to cancel this year’s event in August.

A list of canceled/postponed Norwich events is posted at

Diane Scolaro
Diane Scolaro
Associate Vice President
Alumni Relations & Bicentennial Celebrations

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