22 Apr 2021

Returning to Campus: Elizabeth Kennedy


by Shona Simkin

As the associate director of campus services, Elizabeth Kennedy is part of the front-line Operations customer service team overseeing space and resource allocation for the HBS campus, and liaises with RA for campus catering and dining programs. Given the disruption across campus—particularly with events—we asked Elizabeth about how her job has changed and what it’s been like being back on campus.

How has your role shifted since the pandemic?
When the pandemic started, my team went from coordinating and executing hundreds of events monthly for a lively campus to suddenly cancelling all of those events and activities. During the summer, we worked to reimagine what campus would look like for the fall, including physical room set-ups, signage, and new policies. Since then, we have been supporting on-campus events, but on a much smaller scale. It has been an exercise in creativity and patience—working with event owners on what they are looking to do, and then figuring out how it might be able to safely take place on campus.

How long have you been back on campus, and what is your schedule?
I have been back on campus since July 2020. I am typically on campus two to three times a week. I flex my on-campus scheduled days depending on campus activity and events taking place.

What were some of your concerns about working during the pandemic, and how were those addressed?
I did not have a lot of personal concerns coming back to campus as I knew that the School had put every possible precaution in place. The testing program is an additional element that helped to ease my mind. I feel much safer on campus then I do when entering a grocery store or other public space.

What has it been like to be on campus during this time?
It has been very different, and sometimes eerie. Since Operations staff have been on campus throughout, it is always nice to see familiar faces and feel a sense of “normalcy,” even with masks and distancing. With warmer weather ahead and more staff returning to campus, it is great running into more colleagues.

Have there been any high points?
Seeing groups of students gather outdoors safely for an event has been a little glimmer of hope for the future. We recently supported an EC class outdoors that had been Zoom only, and it was amazing to see the energy from both the faculty and the students finally gathering in person. Additionally, it has been really remarkable to see the dedication from all of our essential workers who never stopped coming to campus. They really are the unsung heroes that kept the school running.

Have there been any challenges?
Managing space and events has been particularly challenging this past year with constantly shifting guidance and policies, but it has been exciting to work with students, staff, and faculty to reimagine events. Each request brought a new challenge and there were rarely any easy answers, but as a team we worked to find a solution while always keeping healthy and safety a priority.

What has been particularly helpful during this time?
Everyone has had their own personal challenges, but finding new ways to collaborate and work together has been helpful. My Operations colleagues are truly extraordinary and I am in awe of what they are able to accomplish every day. Throughout the past year there have been many unique requests, and they were always met with a positive attitude.

What would you like the community to know about working and being on campus?
While the first time coming to campus might feel strange, it quickly becomes the new normal. HBS has put into place every precaution—upgraded HVAC filters, six-foot distancing, signage, Crimson Clear, testing, etc. The dining services team has worked to completely transform their operations to allow for packaged meals that still offer variety and customized meals. The Thrive app allows you to order and pay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a coffee ahead of time to make your visit to the dining outlet quick and easy. Every aspect of campus life has been studied and reworked to maximize safety.

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