University Park, IL,
13:56 PM

President Maimon Thanks Campus Community for COVID-19 Support

GSU has always been a “can-do” university with a cooperative and innovative spirit. But in the last few weeks, the University has risen to new heights of dedication and sense of purpose. In the face of COVID-19, we are united in commitment to our core mission of educating students as they pursue their goals in life.

Faculty members used the one-week extended spring break to adjust course offerings to remote delivery. The Center for Active Engagement and Scholarship (CAES), the library, and individual faculty volunteers provided intensive instruction on implementing these changes.

Our students have demonstrated extraordinary grit and resilience. Thank you for your patience and flexibility with new forms of learning. ITS staff members have been working round the clock to transform our educational delivery systems.

Many thanks to employees whose work requires physical presence on campus—Public Safety and FDM, as well as those who support student connectivity in the Cube and student well-being in Prairie Place. I’m also impressed by supervisors who have developed meaningful stay-at-home projects and by employees who are undertaking tasks in unfamiliar areas and learning new skills.

The senior leadership, including the deans and our legal team, have been working 24/7. Everything we do in these unprecedented circumstances has far-reaching educational, human, and legal implications. Special thanks to Provost Beth Cada, our COVID-19 liaison to IBHE; Vice President Paul Bylaska, who oversees overburdened administrative areas, especially Public Safety, ITS, HR, and FDM; and Mushtaq Choudhary and Carolyn Johnson, Co-Chairs of the Emergency Response Team (ERT).

GSU’s Board of Trustees, volunteers all, have been leading the university in this challenging and unprecedented situation. Their wisdom and guidance will help us to prevail.

The Illinois public university presidents have been meeting by conference call weekdays and weekends. This collegiality and sharing of resources is an example to all public universities. We are grateful to IBHE for their coordinating efforts and to the Governor’s Office for unflagging support.

The federal CARES act, passed into law on Friday, March 27, provides special help to Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) like GSU and outlines particular benefits for student Pell recipients. We appreciate the work of the Illinois Congressional Delegation in supporting CARES and for their continuing recognition of the ongoing extraordinary needs of public higher education.

Special thanks to GSU alumni, friends, and members of our extended community for continuing advocacy.

Please follow the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order and the guidelines for social distancing. But within that context, please support our local businesses.

Even as the present situation is all-absorbing, it’s important to think about a post-pandemic future. Some GSU faculty members are doing needs assessments on students’ responses to alternative modes of course delivery. I want to encourage such inquiries and additional on-the-spot research. Higher education is at a pivotal moment. Beyond coping with the daily challenges, GSU can build on the University’s reputation for innovation by contributing to transformative thinking on students’ learning.

Mort and I send our personal wishes to all for health, safety, and the magic of learning something new every day.

Best wishes,

Elaine P Maimon, President