CICU Partners With NYU’s Project NEXT to Host Discussion About COVID-19 Testing and Surveillance on College Campuses 

News Date: 9/24/2020

The virtual conference brought together higher education leaders and health leaders to explore how Independent higher education can continue innovating to keep students healthy and safe 


ALBANY, NY – The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) and New York University (NYU)’s Project NEXT today hosted an online discussion regarding COVID-19 testing and surveillance on colleges campuses this fall semester. Given the success of private, not-for-profit colleges and universities in controlling the spread of COVID-19 on campus so far, higher education leaders came together to discuss their experiences and how campuses can continue to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks on campus.

“New York’s private, not-for-profit colleges and universities have remained diligent in protecting the health and safety of students and staff,” said Mary Beth Labate, President of CICU. “With strong testing, innovative surveillance practices, student cooperation and vigilant enforcement, our campuses have been able to contain the spread of the virus while ensuring that students’ education remains uninterrupted and communities remain protected.”  

“Today’s forum was a meeting of some of the leading minds tackling COVID-19 testing and surveillance on college campuses,” said Bill Raisch, Co-Director of Project NEXT and Executive Director of the International Center for Enterprise Preparedness (InterCEP) at NYU. “The experts who spoke offered the colleges and universities in attendance a host of actionable, innovative solutions to the challenge of preventing the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses. Collaborative efforts like today’s forum are the key to effectively confronting a challenge as complex as COVID-19. We welcome other organizations to join NYU's Project NEXT and CICU to collaborate on how we urgently adapt and re-imagine our operations going forward.”

New York’s Independent colleges and universities have been forward thinking and innovative to help keep students, faculty and staff safe and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on campus. While many college campuses across the country have been forced to shut down or move to fully remote learning, no private, not-for-profit colleges in New York have had to move remote under the Governor’s 100+ positive case directive. 

CICU member institutions like Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University have found new ways of testing through wastewater monitoring to help detect cases of COVID-19 quicker and protect campuses. In the Capital Region, the Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences is leading a collaborative pool testing partnership with several private colleges in the area. More than 60 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities from across New York participated in the virtual forum.

The virtual discussion brought together speakers including: 

  • Michelle Parent, Associate Professor Microbiology & Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Director of Clinical Laboratory Services at The Collaboratory at Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. She is leading ACPHS’s collaborative testing partnership with several Albany-area colleges which leverages rapid turnaround and saliva testing; 
  • Shane Rogers, Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, he is leading the university’s wastewater monitoring program in collaboration with St. Lawrence University;  
  • Peter Katona, MD, Chair, Infection Control Working Group, Clinical Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Adjunct Professor of Public Health (Epidemiology), UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health;  
  • Murad Raheem, Regional Emergency Coordinator US Department of Health & Human Services and Ivan Silva, Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Scientist at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA); and
  • Rob Lawlis, CEO Cayuga Health Partners, and Beth Plocharcyzk, Assistant Medical Director Cayuga Medical Center Laboratory. Cayuga Medical Center has spearheaded diagnostic pooled testing capabilities for the state and is working with a number of private colleges to conduct testing of students, faculty, and staff.