April 3 Update for Faculty and Staff

As you know, yesterday was the first day of classes following the recalibration period. With the continuation of classes, I wanted to provide an update on some of the events of the last few weeks. This past week, through the hard work of many people in Student Affairs, Public Safety, Dolphin Cove, Purchasing, and Facilities, roughly 200 Dolphin Cove residents moved out, with nearly 30 students moving to the Queens College dormitory on Saturday.

Since that time, we have had a number of discussions with a liaison officer assigned to coordinate the activities of various state and federal agencies in the review of select campus locations. No final decision has been made, though that can change in a moment’s notice. As part of our overall preparations, we have compiled lists of protective gear and equipment that can be used to provide medical assistance.  

Late Tuesday night, we received the first shipment of computer devices from CUNY and yesterday, we had our first distribution of Chromebooks to students. We anticipate a second distribution early next week. Once completed, we will begin distributing technology to faculty and staff who require additional support. If you are in need of a Chromebook or iPad to assist in your work assignment, please advise the Vice President of your Division. I want to thank our IT team, Academic Affairs, the Business Office, Facilities, and Public Safety for developing and implementing our distribution plan.  

This past Wednesday, both Student Affairs and Academic Affairs hosted virtual conferences for students and faculty/staff, respectively, to learn how the transition to distance education is going and to hear what other issues are of concern during this turbulent period. Thanks to all who participated, and look for announcements of additional meetings from these and other departments in the coming weeks. Virtual office hours have also been implemented by Training, the Helpdesk, and the Faculty Center in order to support faculty, staff, and students with technology. They are also continuing to offer online training sessions on the best use of Blackboard Collaborate, Webex, and other distance-education modalities.

We are also working on ensuring that students stay connected and engaged throughout this semester. EDUCares is an academic care unit formed in Student Success that is working to connect students with faculty after the students have been absent from the virtual learning environment. Coordinated out of the Center for Advising and Academic Success (CAAS), it has contacted 1,427 students who were reported in 164 emails to educares@csi.cuny.edu from their faculty.

One thing that I want to stress, is that no matter your position, your efforts are critical and greatly appreciated. During this time of great uncertainty in the world, I know our efforts can seem insignificant against the backdrop of a global pandemic. However, I think what we’re doing now is as important as ever. Right now, we are continuing to give our students an opportunity to retain some normalcy and routine while moving ahead in their lives and academic careers.

Additionally, as the local community recovers from the severe economic impact that this pandemic is having, our College will continue to provide opportunities to receive a top education at a reasonable cost. Importantly, our Small Business Development Corporation is open and assisting our local businesses to apply for grants and loans to help them through this time.

In closing, I want to again thank you all for your work and hope that you and your loved ones stay healthy.

By William J. Fritz