A Summary Update on COVID-19 Developments
Date: April 4, 2020
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: Katherine Fleming, Provost; Martin Dorph, Executive Vice President; Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Assoc. Vice President for Student Health
The pace of change due to COVID-19 continues to be swift, and the virus continues to upend so many aspects of University life. Periodic updates on the latest developments are important.
First, however, before getting into that, we want to express our hope that you, your family, your loved ones, and your friends all are safe, healthy, and well. As the numbers of COVID-19 cases steeply increases here in New York, nationally, and globally, we worry about the members of our community, and how they are coping as well with the many restrictions in place to help battle the infection. You are in our thoughts, and we very greatly respect your resiliency and your adherence to those measures that keep us all safe.
Teaching and Learning
Although COVID-19 means that in-person classes are prohibited, we are committed to the progress of our students' education. We are now holding classes remotely at all our campuses and facilities globally. Overall, it seems to be going well, a testament to our faculty's dedication, flexibility, and ingenuity. Over 99 percent of our classes are proceeding.
We are also preparing to deliver summer sessions in remote format.
We have extended the date by which students may elect to take a course on a pass/fail basis until May 12, and we have encouraged NYU's individual schools to show flexibility about when the pass/fail option may be used by students.
Tenure Clock Extension
The Provost's Office has put in place a one-year extension of the tenure clock for tenure-track faculty not currently under tenure review. There are no delays for regular faculty promotions.
We suspended all non-essential, on-site research at Washington Square; however, grant submissions and awards remain steady, and many researchers have been able to conduct their studies remotely. While COVID-19 is a hurdle to research, in some ways it is also a spur. We have started a COVID-19 Catalyst Grant effort to prompt new faculty research, and there have been a number of faculty who redirected their efforts to work on the COVID-19 pandemic. Already there have been eight "invention disclosures" (the first step for potentially commercializable products) and two NSF RAPID awards for work that can quickly address COVID-19.
This week NYU began distributing pro-rated refunds to students required to vacate University residence halls and suspend their meal plans. Those refunds are being provided automatically—students do not need to take any steps to receive them. Resident Assistants (RAs) are also receiving pro-rated payments.
The University is also continuing its work of closely examining various fees to determine if they warrant refunds as well. We should have more to say on that in the near future.
Student Residence Halls
The process of students moving out of residence halls in New York City—which just preceded the steep rise in cases in New York and the toughest restrictions—is complete.
The students who remain in our housing are safe and well. We have consolidated them into a small number of residences and provided them each with a room to themselves, which should help check any spread of the coronavirus.
The NYS “On Pause” Executive Order, and its direction that only essential services proceed during this period, had an impact on our ability to return belongings. Accordingly, the belongings of those whose boxes were packed are being shipped, and we are in the process of reaching out to those students when shipping their belongings involves customs or other declarations. The belongings of those that were not previously packed but whose room is not needed have been left locked in the room. The belongings of those that were not previously packed and whose room is needed have been safely moved and stored in locked rooms. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com.
The City and State reached out to us about the availability of our remaining residence halls to assist with the response to the coming peak of the coronavirus illness here; with so many people doing so much to battle COVID-19, the University feels a responsibility to assist where it can. In that vein, next Monday, April 6, we will start making rooms in one of our residence halls—Third North—available to front-line medical workers from our own medical center, with another—Carlyle—to be made available the following week.
Sadly, if unsurprisingly, we have postponed this year's All-University Commencement, which was scheduled for May 20, to a date that is still to be determined. Individual school ceremonies are likewise postponed. We did not do this lightly: we know that graduation is a momentous day in the lives of students and their families, as well as a day of pride for the University. We have pledged to find a way to mark our graduates' accomplishments on May 20, albeit virtually, and to have an in-person ceremony that properly recognizes the Class of 2020 and their achievements at the appropriate time.
Budget-related and Administrative Issues
Budget and Hiring
The impact of the coronavirus on the University budget has been profound. Even as we continue to pay our employees and our student workers, NYU must take steps to reduce expenditures both in the current year and in 2020-21. Among these:
- Faculty and administrative hiring must be curtailed. Offers that have already been extended will be honored; however, no additional offers should be made, with very few exceptions, and ongoing searches should be suspended.
- Other than Personal Services (OTPS) expenses should be reduced except for essential purposes, with particular attention to travel, including conference travel; meals; use of consultants; etc.
School and administrative unit fiscal officers will have greater detail, andm this will be a key topic during upcoming budget discussions regularly scheduled for this time of year.
Last week, the definition of construction projects deemed "essential" under Governor's Executive Order was clarified. We are in the process of safely and properly closing down most of our construction projects—i.e., all those that don't fall into the current definition of an essential construction project—including the 181 Mercer site.
We have to acknowledge that there is a great deal of uncertainty. Therefore, as we look ahead, we have to prepare for the potentiality that this pandemic will not be resolved as soon as we wish. At this point, we are making preparations across all our campuses and locations both for the possibility of reconvening in person as well as for the prospect of having to carry on with remotely-held classes into the summer. We will continue to communicate about our plans.
In the meantime, even as we conduct classes, research, and the administrative operations of the University remotely, we should bear in mind that there are personnel who are on the front lines every day. Some are our brave and skillful colleagues at NYU Langone offering care to ill New Yorkers. Others are the hundreds of colleagues who continue to come to campus daily to provide the essential services to keep the University running and take care of our community. To all of these people we offer our deep, deep gratitude and respect.
And to all of those stricken by the coronavirus, or who have family members or loved ones or friends stricken by COVID-19, please know that you have our deepest sympathy and concern.
COVID-19 has caused great disruption and heartache, and there is more to come, no doubt. Yet its effects will not last forever. We should not lose sight of the power of hope, nor should we give up on looking forward to that wonderful day when we can be in one another's company again.
Be safe and well. Take good care of yourselves.