Provost Communication, March 11

Message to Academic and Student Affairs from Provost Cimitile, March 11

Dear Academic and Student Affairs Faculty and Staff:

I’m writing today with an update to Grand Valley’s response to the global outbreak of COVID-19. As always, the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty is our top concern and guides our campus response.

IMMEDIATE ACTION: Classes are cancelled Thursday, Friday and Saturday (March 12-14) in order for faculty to have the time to start migrating teaching and learning online. All faculty should move their courses to remote delivery by Monday, March 16 and be prepared to continue teaching remotely through March 29. Decisions about whether we are reconvening face-to-face class meetings after March 29 will be made prior to that date.

Everyone is strongly encouraged to regularly check the GVSU website that has been created to provide information about COVID-19 relative to the GVSU community. It is frequently updated with the latest information and communications. 

An Academic Continuity web page developed by the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center includes information about the FTLC’s and Information Technology’s workshops being held Thursday (March 12) and Friday (March 13), as well as open hours, to assist you in managing your teaching online. I strongly urge you to attend one of these workshops. More opportunities for support will be available and publicized on the Academic Continuity web page.

Faculty will continue to have access to their offices and support staff. Faculty are not expected to have face-to-face meetings with students during this time.

Student support units--such as the Tutoring Center, Knowledge Market, Advising, Library, SASC--will remain open and students will be able to access services virtually or by phone.

Departments may make small technology purchases to support online teaching (e.g. microphones, webcams) outside our regular policy, which mandates all orders go through IT; please work with your unit head for approval ahead of purchasing technology in this way. This policy suspension does not apply to computers or networked printers.

The University has several web conferencing options for faculty and staff that you can use for your teaching and other meetings.

Please help your students to manage expectations when it comes to technical issues as courses move online. I appreciate your patience as well. Instructional Technology stands by to help.

University-sponsored international travel is suspended effective immediately; the university strongly discourages domestic travel for business as well.

If you have already booked travel, you can be reimbursed through department faculty and staff development funds and grant subsidies provided through the CSCE and the FTLC.

Please follow university guidelines for cancellation of events, which will be updated on the COVID-19 website. Generally speaking, the guideline is to avoid hosting events of 100 or more people.

I ask that you reconsider the necessity of face-to-face meetings to practice healthy social distancing.

To provide students with maximum opportunity to secure alternative academic arrangements, all spring/summer study abroad that departs prior to June 15 is canceled. Communication has already gone out to faculty, staff, and students that were planning to travel as part of faculty-led study abroad programs in this time frame.

If your research involves students, please work with them to make alternative arrangements. CSCE will be available to assist you with grant and compliance questions. If you have other questions, please contact Dr. Robert Smart, Vice Provost for Research Administration.

If you have questions, please visit the Human Resources Office website and speak with your supervisor and/or appointing officer. All other regular campus operations will continue at this time, and campus will remain open. Supervisors should make plans around essential personnel and telework in case we need to take additional actions in the future.

I am in conversations with Felix Ngassa and Shawn Bultsma, chair and vice chair of UAS, to ensure that key governance issues, such as personnel and curriculum, will be addressed collaboratively and virtually as they arise. Dr. Ngassa and I will send out a future communication on these matters.

As decision making evolves, you will find the most recent information and guidance on this website. Please send questions and concerns not addressed on the website to If you have questions specific to Academic & Student Affairs, send them to Additionally, we will send email updates as the situation changes and new decisions are made.

Thank you for your attentiveness to students’ needs, and please take care of yourselves as well. Navigating effects of COVID-19 on Grand Valley will take all of us working together as a team. I’m certain that we will support our students and maintain the excellence of a Grand Valley education while attending to the health and safety of our entire community.

Maria C. Cimitile
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs