Conversations

COVID-19: Testing the Limits of Universities Nationwide

April 30, 2020

When COVID-19 began its ruthless but expected spread throughout the U.S., our universities were some of the first to take action – before many businesses, and long before the government had initiated a response. Students returned home, many discouraged and frustrated, wondering how they could possibly see the school year through while away from life on campus.

Almost immediately, news surfaced of online classes, Zoom office hours, innovative ways to complete course credits, and more, as universities scrambled to serve their students from a distance. And, of course, the question of what to do about graduation ceremonies? Many educational institutions have developed novel initiatives and measures to support their communities, and have begun to think about the long-term ramifications of COVID-19, as well as the sustainability and enhancement of higher education going forward.

FOLCS was joined by William Treanor (Dean of Georgetown Law), Debora Spar (Senior Associate Dean of Harvard Business Online; former President of Barnard College), and Patricia Salkin (Provost of Touro College) to discuss the implications of COVID-19 on universities nationwide, the steps schools have taken to adapt, and the ways the university model may prove to be resilient during this new and challenging time.

The ideas expressed in this program were reflective of the individual speakers, not the institutions they represent.

William M. Treanor
Dean, Georgetown Law

William M. Treanor is the Dean and Executive Vice President of Georgetown University Law Center. He joined Georgetown in 2010 and was reappointed to serve a second term beginning July 1, 2015. Under Treanor’s leadership, Georgetown Law has hired 39 new tenure or tenure-track faculty members; expanded the number of experiential offerings for students from 450 to more than 3200 seats across the clinical, externship, practicum, and simulation programs; more than doubled financial aid; and experienced its most successful era of fundraising, culminating in a record year of over $40 million in giving in 2019. In 2012, he was recognized by the National Law Journal as a “Champion” because of his work to “uphold the profession’s core values,” and in the same year he received the 2012 David Stoner Uncommon Counselor Award from the David Nee Foundation for his efforts to raise mental health awareness among law students. National Jurist magazine has named him one of the most influential people in legal education four times.

Treanor’s areas of expertise include constitutional law, property, criminal law, intellectual property, and legal history. He has been recognized as one of the 10 most-cited legal history scholars in the United States by the University of Chicago Law School’s Brian Leiter. At Georgetown Law, he has taught a first-year legal justice seminar and an upper-level course on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Before coming to Georgetown, Treanor was Dean and Paul Fuller Professor of Law at Fordham Law School, where he began teaching in 1991. He also has served in a variety of positions in the government, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice; Associate Counsel, Office of Independent Counsel during the Iran/Contra investigation; Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia United States Attorney’s Office; and Special Assistant to the Chair of the New York State Commission on Government Integrity. He was law clerk to the Honorable James L. Oakes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Treanor has a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, a B.A. from Yale College (summa cum laude), and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Patricia Salkin
Provost, Touro College

Patricia Salkin is the Provost for the Graduate and Professional Divisions of Touro College. She previously served as the Dean of the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Touro Law Center and prior to that she was the Associate Dean and Raymond & Ella Smith Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School where she was also the director of the Government Law Center. Salkin serves and has served in numerous leadership positions with the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, the American Association of Law School and the Association of Chief Academic Officers. She is a nationally recognized scholar on land use law and government ethics.

Debora Spar
Senior Associate Dean, Harvard Business Online

Debora Spar is the MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Senior Associate Dean of HBS Online. Her current research focuses on issues of gender and technology, and the interplay between technological change and broader social structures. Spar tackles some of these issues in her forthcoming book Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape
Our Human Destiny
.

Spar served as the President of Barnard College from 2008 to 2017, and as President and CEO of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts from 2017 to 2018. During her tenure at Barnard, Spar led initiatives to highlight women’s leadership and advancement, including the creation of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and the development of Barnard’s Global Symposium series.

Before joining Barnard, Spar spent 17 years on the HBS faculty as the Spangler Family Professor as well as the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development. A prolific writer, Spar’s books include Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery, Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet (2001), The Baby Business (2006), and Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection (2013).

Spar is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves as a director of Value Retail LLC and Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as a trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Spar earned her Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University and her B.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

She and her husband, Miltos Catomeris, are the parents of three grown children.