COVID-19: Possible Implications for Instruction and the Academic Continuity

Currently the COVID-19 epidemic has created much more public concern than did previous outbreaks such as SARS and Ebola. Right now, we do not know the extent of exposure in our region, but it is certainly underrepresented by reported cases and there is every expectation that numbers will grow as more individuals are tested. The CSI Library has established a very useful site that they are updating regularly, which includes reports from CUNY, NYSED, New York City and State, the CDC, and other agencies.

Tonight, I am writing to address specifically the challenges we may face delivering instruction and some of the proposed solutions. It is likely that you will have students in your classes who will need to be quarantined and we will have to find ways to assist them in academic continuity in their courses. Solutions could include relaxed attendance policies during their isolation, extension of deadlines for assignments, providing make-up exams, permitting online advising, and/or allowing remote participation in classes.

Programs in heavily affected areas (China, Japan, Italy) have, in many cases, switched to entirely remote delivery of courses for the time being, and we just learned this afternoon that the University of Washington has done the same, moving classes online until the end of their winter quarter (3/20/20), although they expect to return to normal operations for the spring quarter starting the end of March. 

Obviously some classes lend themselves more readily to remote instruction than others, but there are things you can do in the interim to be prepared for this turn of events if it comes to pass. All faculty have access to Blackboard shells for each of their courses, which will probably be the best points of contact when students, faculty, and staff might have to communicate remotely. This would be a good time to familiarize yourself with the features of Blackboard, including its remote conferencing tool Blackboard Collaborate. Instructional material on how to use Blackboard can be found on CUNY’s Website  and on CSI’s Training Website.

In the event that the campus is closed, or you are quarantined personally, it may be necessary to have materials available in the cloud. If you need to access files remotely, take advantage of our cloud applications (Office 365/OneDrive and DropBox) where you can upload and share files. Information regarding in-person and online training can be found on our Training Website .

We have a taskforce that includes members of cabinet and the Chair of the Faculty Senate that will be meeting daily as needed to confer on emerging issues involving COVID-19. A larger group will convene weekly. Even if the campus were to be closed, we would need to maintain operations in facilities including the physical plant, the animal care facility, and Public Safety. 

We should know more about CUNY’s and CSI’s responses to this health issue in the near future. In the meantime, remain calm and practice sensible hygiene, such as hand washing with simple soap and water and avoiding touching your face, nose, and eyes.

The next few weeks will be challenging, but together we will find ways to maintain our commitment to our students.

By J. Michael Parrish

Gordon Di Paolo

I am saddened to share with you the news of the passing of Gordon Di Paolo, Professor and Chair of Management in the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business. Gordon passed away on Friday, Feb. 28 at the age of 85. I would like to share some thoughts provided by Chazanoff School of Business Dean Susan Holak. 

Dr. Gordon Di Paolo was an alumnus of Brooklyn College and earned his MBA and PhD at New York University. He joined the faculty of the former Business Department at Staten Island Community College (SICC) in 1971 following a career in marketing and sales in the cosmetics industry at Revlon. He held leadership roles as Chair of Business at SICC and later at the College of Staten Island. Most recently, Gordon served as Chair of the Department of Management following the formation of the School of Business in late 2013. Over the years, he taught, advised, and mentored thousands of students. 

Gordon’s dedication to CSI and to the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business was limitless. He was exceedingly proud of the Department of Management and the faculty that he was carefully nurturing. Always positive and upbeat, Gordon shared his wisdom and expressed his thoughts with eloquence, good humor, and grace. Most importantly, he was a stalwart champion of our students and their success in the classroom and in life beyond graduation.

Gordon and his wife Lorraine were generous philanthropists who supported student scholarships, the School of Business, and funded the Lorraine and Gordon Di Paolo Board Room in Building 1A. They were staunch supporters of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and were recently honored by the Prospect Park Alliance.

The College of Staten Island community, and particularly those in the Chazanoff School of Business, has experienced a tremendous loss with Gordon’s passing. We send our heartfelt sympathy to Lorraine Di Paolo, Gordon’s extended family, and all those who had the great pleasure to know him, work with him, and learn from him. At Dr. Di Paolo’s request, no memorial services will take place. 

By J. Michael Parrish

COVID-19 Update

Although there have been no reported cases of the COVID-19 virus at the College of Staten Island, a cross-divisional team has been convened to monitor the progression of the virus and to formulating strategies for maximizing campus health and safety and to ensure student success and maintain operations as the campus is impacted. The first discussion was held on Friday, February 28 with representatives from Academic Affairs, the Health Center, the Center for Global Engagement, Facilities, Public Safety, Student Affairs, IT, Human Resources, the Office of Diversity and Compliance, Campus Housing, Auxiliary Services, Communications and Marketing, and Community and Governmental Relations. This group will continue to monitor the progression of the virus and will continue to convene and issue additional guidance as events unfold.

The City University of New York has released a Coronavirus Guidance Update, which we encourage you to read. It covers topics such as study abroad, returning from travel to China, personal preventative measures, and what to do if you display symptoms. It also provides a number of informative Websites, such as the NY State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, to learn more about the virus and receive authoritative updates, in an effort to prevent transmission and allay fears.

The offices and services below are available to assist you with questions or concerns:

For general information about COVID-19, any member of the campus community may contact:

-Health and Wellness Services, 1C-112, 718.982.3045

Faculty and staff who are experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19 may contact:

-Human Resources, 1A-201, 718.982.2676 or

-Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program (EAP), 855.492.3633

Students experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19 may contact:

-Counseling Center 1A 109, 718.982.2391

If any member of the campus community has questions regarding study abroad or international travel, please contact:

-Center for Global Engagement (Study Abroad programs), 2A-206, 718.982.2100

If any member of the campus community has a concern about CSI’s emergency preparedness relating to COVID-19, please contact:

Public Safety, 2A-108, 718.982.2113

By J. Michael Parrish

Dean of the Division of Science and Technology

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Cavagnero will be joining us as Dean of the Division of Science and Technology, effective Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019.

Prior to accepting his role at the College, Dr. Cavagnero served as Program Director of the National Science Foundation, which he held from 2016. He served as Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Kentucky from 2005 to 2013. He previously held Visiting Scientist and Research Associate appointments at the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, the University of Colorado, the University of Nebraska, and the Observatoire de Paris. Dr. Cavagnero is a theoretical physicist who has published more than 40 journal publications, has received about $1.5M in external funding from agencies including NSF and the U.S. Department of Energy, and was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2000.

Please join me in welcoming him to the College of Staten Island.


Registrar Appointment

I am pleased to announce that, following a national search, Kerri Gerson has been appointed as Registrar for the College of Staten Island.

At CSI, Ms. Gerson has most recently served as both Enrollment Registrar Specialist, overseeing the scheduling unit (2009-2013), and Interim Registrar (2018-2019).  She taught Industrial and Organizational Psychology as an Adjunct in the Department of Psychology (2013-2015). Prior to her arrival at CSI, she served as Assistant (2001-2004) and then Senior Associate Director (2004-2010) for Records and Enrollment Services at NYU’s Stern School of Business (2004-2010) and earlier as a Technical Analyst for Reliance National.

Ms. Gerson brings a deep knowledge of the policies and procedures regulated by the Registrar’s Office as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of the campus’ scheduling processes. She has established good working relationships within Academic Affairs and across the College.

Please join me in congratulating Kerri in her permanent role as CSI’s Registrar.


Provost Tea Today

Please join Provost Michael Parrish for Provost Tea in the Center for the Arts (Building 1P), Room 116 at 4:30pm, following today’s Faculty Senate College Council Meeting.


Federal Government Shutdown Impact on Research Foundation

As you are aware, a partial federal government shutdown went into effect at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. The Research Foundation (RFCUNY) is not able to receive any funds from many federal agencies. Federally funded projects are not paid in full or in advance when awarded, but rather the RF draws down funds from the funding agencies’ payment systems periodically to be reimbursed for expenses. The RF will have to “forward fund” grant expenditures from affected agencies until the shutdown is over. In addition, federal pass-through subcontracts, State, City, and private programs may be affected.

Federal agencies not affected by the shutdown are NIH, ED, DOE, DOD, and NASA.  

The College of Staten Island and the Research Foundation are committed to supporting our principal investigators, the staff associated with projects that receive federal funding from the affected agencies, and our students supported by affected grants and awards. Accordingly, the RF is taking steps to conserve funds to minimize the potential impact of the shutdown on research and sponsored programs and, in particular, on RF-funded personnel and students. The following procedures have been developed and implemented by the RF to conserve financial resources in order to ensure that current salaries and other critical obligations are paid.

A.     All Programs with Direct Funding from Federal Agencies that are shutdown: 

    1. Payment of personnel costs will be limited to existing employees. Reappointments will be processed on a case-by-case basis.
    2. No new employees will be placed on the RF’s payroll.
    3. New and existing GRAs will continue to be processed and paid. 
    4. Payments of all OTPS expenses (to vendors, consultants, sub-recipients, etc.) will be suspended, except the following
      1. Existing and new stipends will be paid.
      2. Expenses associated with safety.
      3. Expenses associated with animal care or other emergency circumstances.
  1. For federal pass through subcontracts, State, City, and Private Programs: 
    1. If a project is funded in cash, it will not be affected.
      Please note that many projects are “cost-reimbursed” accounts, which means that we have to bill the sponsor first before the accounts have the actual cash to spend. Under such cases, please refer to the following:
      1. If a new contract has not been fully executed, meaning registered with the Comptroller, there will be no forward funding.
      2. Fully executed contracts and MOUs will be funded via forward funding or college guarantee on a case-by-case basis.

B.     All Discretionary Accounts (9th ledger accounts, those account numbers start with 9xxxx-xx-xx): 

Expenses on these accounts will be limited to essential needs only.

C.    All PSC-CUNY Accounts:

These are all cash accounts and will not be affected.

Currently, these emergency courses of action apply only to funds from agencies affected by the shutdown. We will keep you informed of any new developments if the shutdown continues for a more extended period.

I know that some of you are beginning to feel the effects of these procedures. Many situations are being handled on a case-by-case basis and if you have any questions, please contact Associate Provost Mel Pipe,, 718 982 2729. ​

Thanks for your cooperation during this difficult state of affairs.