Guidance on revised academic calendar and online instruction

March 19, 2020

Dear Members of the Cornell Faculty,

Thank you again for your extraordinary efforts during this overwhelming pandemic. We are grateful to be working with you as we collectively strive to advance our academic mission in the face of unparalleled challenges.

We have all seen how quickly events are changing, resulting in ongoing decisions designed to protect the health of our students and our community, but we recognize these decisions are affecting your work in unprecedented ways. To provide you with up-to-date information and guidance, we have mounted a faculty FAQ page that is being updated on an ongoing basis. We also have a similar page for students, which you can find here.

We urge you to read through the entire set of faculty FAQs, but we want to highlight here some key updates relating to the revised academic calendar, remote teaching, the conduct of research and the impact on faculty reappointment, tenure and promotion processes.

Revised academic calendar and policies

  • To accommodate for lost instruction time, the last day of instruction has been moved to May 12 for undergraduate students and graduate students in research degree programs on the Ithaca campus (please carefully note specific exceptions and refer to college/program specific academic calendars for professional programs). This calendar has been discussed with the deans, the dean of the faculty and the faculty senate, and represents our best efforts to provide faculty with sufficient instruction time to complete the academic semester. The FAQ page provides specific guidance on how to adjust to the revised calendar.
  • Based on much discussion with college deans and associate deans for education, input from students and consultation with peer institutions, the deadline for drop/grade basis change has been extended to April 21. There is additional flexibility for undergraduates to opt for S/U grading for any course this semester and guidance on how such grades will count towards major, minor and academic good standing requirements.

Teaching remotely

  • Teaching will resume on April 6. Extensive guidance on how to prepare for remote teaching can be found on Center for Teaching Innovation website and here in the FAQs. This includes new resources for online instruction, including online drop-in help sessions for remote teaching questions, useful webinars and step-by-step guidelines for how to use remote teaching tools. And importantly, please thoroughly test your online access and pedagogical approach well in advance of April 6 in order to troubleshoot any problems.
  • We are strongly urging faculty to prepare to teach in a self-supported manner from their home, or from their office if they do not have the capability at home. Because of limited IT support and the social distancing measures we must practice, your college may have very limited ability to support filmed classroom teaching assisted by in-person IT staff. Any such capacity will be allocated by your college, with priority given to classes for which a strong pedagogical rationale for filmed classroom teaching can be demonstrated. Please understand that we need to prioritize IT time and effort to help prepare faculty and systems for the vast majority of teaching that will be occurring from home.
  • Cornell University Libraries and the Johnson Museum will have very restricted access and a limited scope of operation. Please consult their websites for means of accessing resources for teaching.
  • Over the next few days, colleges will be asking faculty about their technological capability – i.e. computers and Internet access – for remote teaching. Please identify your needs as soon as possible. Some new workstations are being purchased for loan, but we need to understand the demand as soon as possible, since supply has been restricted by the pandemic.


  • Non-critical research (research that does not involve COVID-19 related research, maintenance of critical living research models, preservation of unique resources or safe maintenance of equipment) must be paused. Plans to continue laboratory activities must be submitted to department chairs for approval and must adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Investigators, students and staff should be encouraged to continue progress on projects remotely; they may continue to be paid of extramural grants for the near term. We are seeking longer-term direction from federal funding agencies.
  • Remote access to social science and other databases will be maintained, but core research facilities will not be available.
  • Extensive guidance on research continuity can be found here and here.

Reappointment, tenure and promotion

  • The university is fully aware of the disruptive impact of the current crisis on faculty productivity and performance and the consequent need to make appropriate adjustments in the reappointment, tenure and promotion processes. These concerns include the timing of file submissions, extensions of the reappointment and tenure clocks and the use of student evaluations from the current semester. After we complete the pressing tasks of transitioning to remote teaching and rescaling our research footprint, the Provost’s Office and the unit deans will determine how to best adjust these faculty advancement processes. This information will be promptly forwarded to the faculty.

Please consult the full FAQ page regularly as some guidelines will change as the situation develops further. Also, please consult your chairs and deans, as many issues will be handled locally.

Again, our deepest thanks for your exceptional efforts during this time of unprecedented challenges.


Mike Kotlikoff, Provost
John Siliciano, Deputy Provost
Lisa Nishii, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Julia Thom-Levy, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation
Emmanuel Giannelis, Vice Provost for Research
Charlie Van Loan, Dean of Faculty