Provost Communication, March 16

Message to Academic and Student Affairs from Provost Cimitile, March 16

Hello everyone,

I am writing today to thank you for the tremendous amount of energy, thought and work you have been putting into the transition to remote delivery of our education for students. I know this is a trying time.

We all feel the effects of ambiguity and the unknown of what the COVID-19 virus entails. Faculty have been learning new technologies at an incredible pace. The faculty and staff in the Libraries, staff in Student Affairs, the Padnos International Center, the Advising and Tutoring Centers, and deans’ and programs’ offices have been working tirelessly to help students make changes so swiftly. The deans have been working to be sure faculty and staff have the support they need to continue operating effectively. And I would be remiss if I did not mention our partners in Instructional Technology and across campus who have been making changes as quickly as possible with us. I am humbled by everyone’s efforts to make this transition. I have heard numerous stories of people reaching out to help one another. This all truly embodies the essence of our culture at Grand Valley.

I am acutely aware and sympathetic of the fact that migrating a face-to-face course to remote delivery over the course of four days means that not everything translates--and compound that with a full teaching load and caring for family at home. Please just do the best you can; no one is expecting perfection. Previous to this outbreak, our President had asked us to think about flexible delivery for a larger population of students. What we are doing now does not prepare for this larger endeavor. We are using online technologies now as an emergency effort; it is not the same as thoughtful development of online delivery of courses.

I know people are concerned about LIFT scores. Dr. Ngassa, Chair of UAS, and I have already been in conversations about how to address this. Please do not worry about student evaluations. Working with faculty governance, we will devise a plan so no one is harmed in personnel processes or annual review by this quick turnover of delivery mode.

ECS, acting on behalf of UAS, has adopted temporary academic policies to allow for greater flexibility for both faculty and students. I approved the recommendation over email and an official memo will be forthcoming. The ECS memo is on the Office of the Provost website, in the FAQs for Teaching and Learning. Please be sure to read the memo and make adjustments accordingly.

As our situation evolves, please visit the Office of the Provost website to find information on topics that are particular to academic and student affairs. The website is updated as soon as new decisions are made.

Many of our students will be facing financial hardship, and the Momentum Fund is available to help students who need special assistance at this time. This is a pass-through account, which means the full amount of your contribution goes to students. The fund is managed by Financial Aid, and donations at this critical time are especially appreciated.

As we start this week, please know that while everything will not go perfectly, we are all doing the very best we can under the circumstances. Please be forgiving of yourselves and others, and stay healthy. The words "thank you" are truly inadequate.

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