A summary of some new news related to CUNY's and CSI's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See https://csi-covid19.github.io for the archive.
To add/suggest news, please email John Verzani
6/12 Lehman College President address
Draft budget on CUNY First around June 15; 6/29 vote on the budget
In order to begin reopening, the city, as with the other regions of New York State, was required to meet seven health-related metrics involving COVID-19 hospitalizations, testing and contact tracing. The plan’s stipulated trajectory prescribes the in-person reopening of educational institutions in the fourth and final phase, but there are important exceptions that could enable other facets of the University, such as research activity, to return sooner, if the city continues to meet all metrics.
Last month, I established two task forces to provide a roadmap for the physical reopening of our campuses and on-site teaching and support services. The Academic and Student Support Task Force is chaired by Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost José Luis Cruz and the Coronavirus Planning Task Force is co-chaired by Executive Vice Chancellor and COO Hector Batista and Senior Vice Chancellor for Institutional Affairs, Strategic Advancement and Special Counsel Glenda Grace. These task forces have been hard at work developing CUNY-wide guidelines that — along with feedback received from various campus-specific groups — will help inform decision-makers as they prepare their college’s individualized, unit-level plans for reopening, which will require formal approval by the CUNY’s central administration before they can take effect.
< The safety of students, faculty and staff continues to be the primary consideration that guides all University decision-making involving the continuity of our operations. This includes decisions involving the fall semester. Because of the fluid and variable nature of the recovery and reopening efforts, no decision has been made yet about the possibility for resumption of on-campus instruction.
We understand that the uncertainty surrounding the in-person reopening of our campuses will require continued patience, but the circumstances demand a measured pace and the utmost prudence. I will continue to keep you informed of every development, and thank you for your dedication and hard work.
Before I finish, please know that I realize that the recent weeks and months have been exceptionally fraught. Just as the city was beginning to emerge from the pandemic shutdown, the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis highlighted to all the pernicious evil of racism as well as the need for cultural and structural change in law enforcement and society. As I said, universities can be the engines of change and badly needed reforms. CUNY is committed to being one of those engines. We are proud to serve one of the country’s most diverse university communities, and I am firmly committed to building on that legacy.
UNNCHANGE Fall 2020 Term(s): Per previous guidance, a decision regarding the balance between in-person and remote learning and working in Fall 2020 is still pending. No decision has been made. The University’s highest priority in making this decision is to protect the health and safety of CUNY students, faculty and staff while creating the conditions for our students to make progress in their academic programs, for our faculty to advance their creative and scholarly activities, and our staff to meet our myriad programmatic goals. In the meantime — and in accordance with recent distance education regulatory relief provided by USDE, MSCHE, and NYSED — we continue to prepare for a Fall 2020 were the proportion of online courses and remote services will in all likelihood be higher than in the pre-COVID 19 era.
Cruz told the committee. CUNY is projecting a 16 percent increase in summer enrollment despite classes being entirely online. Cruz said enrollment in the fall could drop by 4.4 percent, but that this projection does not include many campuses that have yet to announce their numbers. While it does expect an overall reduction in enrollment, Cruz said the projection was not as bad as other higher education institutions. CUNY has yet to determine the balance between online and in-person classes for the fall.
As Gotham Gazette previously reported, with budget cuts on the horizon, CUNY is eying a reduction in course offerings, which also means cutting the hours of adjunct professors and continuing education teachers, in some cases to zero. Some campuses are planning course reductions of 25 to 35 percent.
In addition to funding for direct student aid, CUNY has received an additional $118 million in CARES Act funding for campus operations related to the pandemic. When Council Member Barron asked how much of that could go to employees' salaries, including the teaching staff, Sapienza said federal criteria limited the spending to teachers' training related to remote learning.
"It cannot be used just for gap-closing activities or to cover a budget shortfall. There are specific uses that are outlined by the U.S. Department of Education," he told Barron.
When it came time for her testimony, Bowden disagreed: "The CARES Act also includes a provision for keeping employees on payroll. Employees should be kept on payroll if they receive CARES Act money."
Therefore, we are requesting the following from the Chancellor:
The immediate resignation of President Crew. He should not spend his final year (2020-2021) as a lame duck President who has demonstrated his lack of commitment to the College.