Coronavirus Update from the President

Office of the President
Dear Graduate Center Colleagues,

As the situation around coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop in our city and around the world, we write to update you on our planning and response and the resources that are available to our community. We share your concern for the health and well-being of everyone in our community and assure you that we are closely monitoring developments and taking measures, in concert with CUNY Central, to address the evolving situation.

Following are several updates about our planning, procedures, and policies, which we hope you will find helpful.

Continuity of Instruction

The Graduate Center remains open, but we are planning for the possibility that The Graduate Center could be closed for the semester or for some part of it. If this does happen, it could occur suddenly so it’s important for us to be ready to shift classes online.

Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Julia Wrigley has issued a letter to Graduate Center faculty regarding preparing to teach online.

The Graduate Center now offers access to Webex, which experienced users have reported to be easy to use and high quality. We will set up workshops and tutorial sessions for those who want guidance in using the programs.

In addition, Blackboard training is available online and on-demand, and requests can be submitted to IT Services if additional assistance is needed. Every section taught at The Graduate Center has a corresponding course site in Blackboard, and the Blackboard Collaborate tool allows faculty to meet with and speak to students.  

Faculty are free to choose their own platform, way of teaching (synchronous or asynchronous), and whether to meet digitally each week or to rely in part on research assignments to substitute for some class sessions. We want instruction to proceed on a high level, and are confident this can be done.

Above all, we plan to be highly flexible in working with faculty members to sustain Graduate Center teaching even if we need to close, and we will accommodate students’ accessibility needs.

For more information about plans and preparation for remote instruction, please see this letter from Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Julia Wrigley.

We are looking into policies to address the fact that students who are taking classes by permit at other institutions are or may be affected by the suspension of classes on some those campuses. We will keep affected Graduate Center students apprised of our decisions.  

Public Programs

All public programs scheduled at The Graduate Center with more than 20 attendees will be canceled for live audiences and will be presented virtually via livestream for the next two weeks, through March 29.

If you are the host of such an event, please reach out to IT Media Services ( for assistance with setting up your livestream or to the Office of Special Events and Planning ( to reschedule your program. Those planning programs for less than 20 people should use their discretion.

Faculty, Staff, and Student Travel

Faculty and staff business travel scheduled through the end of April will need to be canceled or postponed.

Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and New York State Department of Health guidance, we expect that anyone returning from China (including Hong Kong), Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. Per CUNY guidelines, students should notify their faculty advisers; employees, their supervisor; and faculty, their executive officers or program directors; and keep them informed of their status.

Campus Visitors

Campus visitors, including lecturers, panel presenters, prospective students, recruiters, and event attendees that were in or transited through China (including Hong Kong), Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea within the past 14 days, and those that have had direct close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, should not visit The Graduate Center until they have self-isolated for at least 14 days after leaving these areas.

Faculty Recruitment

Interviews with prospective faculty members should be conducted via teleconferencing tools, such as Skype.

Doctoral Student Candidate Visits

Visit days for doctoral students will need to be conducted via videoconference or postponed.

Work Schedules

The Graduate Center remains open. We understand that some staff members may need to avoid traveling to work at peak rush hour times. Supervisors are authorized to accommodate staggered work schedules for affected employees.

In the case of campus closure, The Graduate Center offers a number of online collaboration tools, which faculty, staff, and students should be become familiar with now. Find more information about our collaboration tools online.

Cleaning Protocols

In line with CUNY guidelines, The Graduate Center has enhanced its cleaning protocols. The team that services The Graduate Center facilities have been trained in best practices for disinfecting our facilities. They are more frequently cleaning and sanitizing areas throughout our building, including high-touch surfaces in common areas, such as elevator buttons, handrails, countertops, and more. They are also taking measures to more frequently clean and disinfect bathrooms. Hand sanitizing stations with clear signage on how best to clean hands and prevent infection are being installed throughout our building.

Stay in Touch

It is important that we can communicate with all faculty, students, and staff at this time. We urge you to update and complete your contact information in CUNYfirst. You will find easy steps and guidance for updating this critical information online.

All Graduate Center employees have access to their GC email from the GC Portal:

To ensure that you have the most updated guidance and resources regarding this fluid situation, please refer to our dedicated website:

In addition, we will send out community notices to the email addresses provided in CUNYfirst and CUNY Alert text messages if necessary.

We understand that there is uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 situation, and much remains unknown about how it will evolve. I am confident that The Graduate Center will confront the challenges facing us with calm and a sense of academic purpose.

Thank you all for your commitment to our institution and its mission.
James Muyskens
Interim President

Submitted on: MAR 9, 2020

Category: COVID-19 | General GC News | Health & Wellness | President's Office - Archive