University of South Florida

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A Message from the Provost for Faculty (4/27)

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin the last week of the Spring semester, and the sixth week of remote instruction, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you once more for your professional dedication, and to extend my thoughts and best wishes to you and your loved ones in these most challenging of times. Even as some have settled into the routine of a “new normal,” we continue to witness responses that range from frustration to anxiety, anger, hope, and credulity. I know that many of you are eager to re-enter university life as you remember it.

As we look to the future, we will continue to be guided by the scientific evidence, along with the reasoned and trusted advice of our public health professionals, scientists, and epidemiologists as we keep our focus, first and foremost, on assuring the safety and wellbeing of the university community across all campuses.

Many of you are wondering when USF will return to full campus-based operations, including classroom instruction? As you know, we earlier committed to delivering a broad suite of quality online courses for students throughout Summer sessions A, C, and B. As we contemplate USF’s future state, we will follow a set of guidelines thoughtfully developed by USF’s COVID-19 Task Force, most likely a phased approach with each step being safely implemented as conditions permit.

We are also considering multiple scenarios to minimize potential exposure to the virus, including “low residency,” online, and blended or hybrid classes, as well as physical spacing in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, residence halls, and other high traffic areas. In the near term, we will likely continue online student support services for academic advising, tutoring, telehealth, tele-counseling, career services, and faculty mentoring of student research.

For now, though, I ask that you remain focused on bringing this semester to a successful close for you and your students. If you haven’t heard about the nature and utility of Student Assessment of Instruction in Spring 2020, you should soon be hearing from your college dean. Finals are to be conducted in accordance with published exam schedules and final grades submitted no later than Tuesday, May 12. Virtual graduation ceremonies are scheduled for all USF campuses, on Saturday, May 9, 2020.

If you are planning to conduct final exams utilizing Proctorio, I strongly encourage you and your students to practice ahead of time to mitigate any potential issues. Faculty utilizing Proctorio for their online assessments should provide students with additional time on their test to ensure proper setup, and include the Proctorio Getting Started Checklist and Practice Test available upon request by emailing You can find additional resources and training by visiting USF’s fully online workshop, Online Proctoring with Proctorio.

Meantime, some of you are already working with colleagues from USF Innovative Education to prepare for the delivery of quality online student learning this Summer. These experiences are expected to be quite different than the remote instruction so many transitioned to over Spring Break and, accordingly, “instructors of record” engaged in converting their class to a quality online platform for Summer will be compensated for the additional effort. Recognizing that faculty members are the subject experts, each one is assigned a "learning designer" who supports the instructor in both design and delivery of the course.

For others, the Summer months will provide a welcome respite to re-engage more fully with your research, scholarly and creative agendas and, perhaps, to bring greater balance to your professional and personal lives. However, as we look ahead to Fall 2020, I strongly encourage you to find some time in the coming months to advance your state of readiness for future disruptions to customary on-campus instruction and learning support, including having your courses ready in Canvas.

Some have been asking what the future holds for USF? While members of our community should be rightly interested in the future fiscal health of the higher education sector in these unprecedented times, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that different universities, in different states (and nations), will respond to their unique circumstances in different ways. President Currall has affirmed his commitment to maintaining our institutional vision for the future: rising to become a Top 25 public research university and positioning USF for membership eligibility in the Association of American Universities (AAU). The Board of Trustees recently approved the USF 2020 Accountability Plan (to be submitted to the Board of Governors) that maintains our strategic roadmap.

With that said, I can assure you that USF’s leadership is actively and regularly engaged in assessing the university’s fiscal health, continuing and future operations, along with our strategic path forward. As you might imagine, given the continuing uncertainties, it would be premature, and arguably ill-advised, to make decisions affecting the university’s strategic future without being more fully informed. Important data continue to be collected, evaluated, discussed, and USF’s future modeled, in regularly scheduled meetings led by President Currall. Critical stakeholder groups, including USF’s faculty, will be consulted as future plans are developed.

For now, I urge you to focus on what you do best: delivering a world-class learning experience for our students and seeking novel answers to complex questions and problems through high impact research and scholarly and creative activity.

Most importantly, we should fully anticipate that continuing our record of robust student enrollment, progress, and graduation will influence future decision-making. To that end, we have been working diligently for many weeks to ensure high levels of retention for continuing students and high yield rates for new students in both Summer and Fall semesters. Colleges, departments, professors, and advisors have an important and active role to play in this campaign.

Moreover, recognizing that so many of our current and future students and families are facing financial hardship, we have extended the FTIC application and deposit deadlines, waived deposits for students facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19, moved student orientation online, and proposed “rebalancing” student fees for Summer to ensure that students pay no more this year than they did in 2019. In fact, we expect many students will pay less this Summer as we have “paused” collection of course-related fees.

As you know, in recent weeks, more than $300,000 has been awarded to students with demonstrated financial need through the USF United Support Fund, and thanks to the generous contributions of so many. You may also have read that USF received an allocation of $17.4 M through the federal CARES Act for emergency financial aid. The first automatic disbursements were made to nearly 6,000 USF students over the past weekend. Applications for additional awards opened today.

Meanwhile, university planning and operations continue. Consolidation is on track with the expectation that USF will begin operations as one university, across three campuses, on July 1, 2020. To this end, I have been working closely with multi-campus deans and regional chancellors to ensure equity of assignment, equity of support, and equity in performance expectations beginning this Fall, regardless of a faculty member’s “home campus.”

Also, searches for the next dean in the College of the Arts, the College of Marine Science, the College of Nursing, and Undergraduate Studies continue.

In closing, it is my wish that in the coming weeks, you are able to restore some balance in your lives. Above all, please get plenty of rest, eat well, exercise, and stay healthy. To prevail in these uncommon times will be akin to running a marathon. We will all need to pace ourselves.

Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your chairs, deans, or myself should you have questions. Stay close to USF and check the FAQs for regular updates. Rest assured that, as public health conditions, related considerations and, thus, USF’s future becomes clearer, I will do my utmost to provide clear and confident guidance to our highly valued faculty members.

Best regards,

Ralph C. Wilcox
Provost and Professor

Return to article listing

Coronavirus Updates

This is an evolving situation. Please refer to the most recent information presented.

USF students, faculty and staff: Please check your USF email frequently. Your email will be used to convey targeted information.

The University of South Florida continues to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority as university leaders work closely with local, state and federal agencies to share the most updated information.