Letter to the CUNY Research Community
May 7, 2020
From: Tamera Schneider, CUNY’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
Dear CUNY Research Community,
As the new Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at CUNY, I wanted to reach out to you personally during this global health crisis. In the past few months we have experienced dramatic changes in our work and in our personal lives – and the two may be clashing daily as we address both in the same physical space. Moreover, we may be expending additional effort striving to stay abreast of the constantly changing, inconsistent, and sometimes unavailable information about the pandemic and finding ways to cope with the attendant anxiety, uncertainty, and frustrations. That these past few months have been distressing is an understatement. I wanted to reach out to you to share my gratitude for you all, as well as provide some updates.
First, I want to express my deep appreciation for your efforts to safeguard your own health and the health of our CUNY community. You were responsive to the research guidance advising you to pause your on-site research activities. Moving research activities off-site has had a direct positive impact on the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty, and the broader community. I am also grateful that you have been creative in discerning ways to continue your research remotely, and to support your research teams. I understand that these adjustments to your research plans came as many of you were shifting to remote teaching.
Second, although we will continue to face uncertainties and ambiguities with respect to our students, facilities, and budgets, I want to share with you ways that my office has engaged with various initiatives to support research scholarship in the near term. I meet regularly with research administrators across CUNY, who have been indispensable for developing the research continuity guidance and for safely ramping down on-site research. This University-wide group of research leaders is now pivoting its work toward providing guidance for safely managing a phased approach to restarting research operations. The CUNY Research Foundation (RF) has been a good partner in communicating funder expectations and investments, as well as addressing CUNY PI concerns. Please reach out to your grants officers with questions about current grants and the RF regarding your grants ideas and submissions.
I have convened a team to focus on faculty research disrupted by the pandemic, with representation from the Office of Research, the RF, college faculty, the University Faculty Senate, library services, and faculty affairs. This group has devised a Pivot and Connect initiative geared to supporting and sustaining faculty research. To this end, there will soon be webinars on funding opportunities for Covid-19 related research. These newly available funds may inspire faculty to pivot their scholarship toward the pressing global health pandemic and to alternate methods to continue ongoing or start new projects. These new opportunities may also be important contributors to addressing City, State, and national recovery efforts. We also aim to provide ways for faculty to connect with one another. Our commitment to you and our students’ welfare and research capacities is unwavering. This team will work with your research administration and Grants Officers to disseminate this information, so please let them know of concerns you may have about restarting your research.
Third, no one knows what the future holds. Although I have only been at CUNY for a brief time, I can see that CUNY is comprised of the most talented and dedicated people. Many laboratories and campuses have given their PPE to hospitals where it was needed, others have conducted surveys to assess the mental health of our city, and companies derived from faculty IP are responding to the crisis. The current context provides great opportunities for focusing, refining, innovating, and collaborating
We are experiencing unprecedented and complicated challenges, but I am optimistic that we will emerge stronger – together.
(CUNY Office of Research)