| by Jeff Cason and Sujata Moorti

Faculty

Dear Faculty Colleagues:

As we step into this unprecedented territory of remote teaching, we wanted to share with you a number of decisions we have made regarding academic work for our students for the remainder of the semester. We cannot be sure how long we will need to continue to teach remotely, but we are operating under the assumption that such teaching could last for the rest of the semester. We have made these decisions working with the recently established ad hoc academic continuity group. The group includes representatives from various elected faculty committees: Rick Bunt (Faculty Council), Joyce Mao (Faculty Council), Suzanne Gurland (EAC), Michelle McCauley (Strategy), and Daniel Silva (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). The group includes faculty administrators—the two of us, Jim Ralph, and staff colleagues LeRoy Graham and Amy Collier. We thank all of them for being willing to serve in this role, on an emergency basis. This group will continue to meet as long as it needs to, and please reach out to any of them to share your ideas and suggestions. In addition, we are grateful to the various elected committees that have addressed some of the issues we discuss below and whose conversations have informed our decision-making process.

We have by no means addressed all of the issues we will need to, but we wanted to share with you some decisions we have made. We also want to acknowledge that these decisions would normally be made through usual governance processes, faculty meeting discussions, etc. However, the pace at which we have had to make decisions about temporary policies demands that we do so through extraordinary means.

Grading for this semester: For this spring semester only, students will have the option to take as many of their current courses as they wish on a Pass/D/Fail basis, and these will not count toward the two Pass/D/Fail courses to which they are normally limited. Faculty will still report letter grades for all students, and if a student requests Pass/D/Fail, the grades will automatically be converted to a P for grades of C- or higher and recorded as a D or F if those are the grades that are submitted. Students will be allowed to invoke Pass/D/Fail grading for any course—including courses that count toward all college requirements—and will have until May 1 to do so. The Registrar’s Office will make available an electronic form that students can use to invoke Pass/D/Fail if they wish. Given the unprecedented nature of our instruction this spring, we concluded that this would be the fairest way to approach grading this semester.

Faculty course response forms: All course response forms (CRFs) for this spring semester will, by default, be seen only by the faculty member who has taught the course, and will not become part of a faculty member’s file. A faculty member may opt to include the CRFs with their file if they so choose (after they have seen the forms), but this will be at the discretion of the faculty member who has taught the course.

Scheduling synchronous course meetings: Because we are moving to remote teaching, and because our students will now be around the world in different time zones, we are recommending that the majority of course work be asynchronous, and that synchronous course meetings (those in which the faculty member and students are all online together in real time) be minimized. However, we recognize that you will likely still need some scheduled, dedicated time in which to meet your students. We are working on the most flexible, least disruptive way to do that, while still ensuring that students do not have time conflicts or unreasonable meeting times, given their time zones. We will be in touch again soon with a specific communication on this scheduling issue. In addition, DLINQ has written this blog post to provide some examples of asynchronous learning, and we encourage faculty to work with DLINQ staff to identify asynchronous approaches that will work for your courses.

Support for faculty: We know that many of you have turned to our colleagues in DLINQ as you have been preparing for the transition to teaching remotely. Those colleagues continue to be available. In addition, department chairs and program directors have received an email from Associate Provost for Digital Learning Amy Collier with an offer to have DLINQ colleagues come to department and program meetings (virtually, in all likelihood) to provide resources and support. Please take advantage of this offer. In addition, if you are already experienced in teaching with with digital tools, please volunteer your expertise to your colleagues (and be in touch with DLINQ colleagues to let them know about your expertise). We welcome all the expertise we have—and we know that peer-to-peer training works.

Faculty use of on-campus resources. Until further notice, faculty will be able to use their offices and labs. However, for health and safety reasons, faculty will not be able to use our classrooms. Faculty should practice social distancing, and many facilities will remain closed except for use by staff who work in their buildings. For example, the Davis Family Library and Armstrong Library will close to faculty, staff, and students on Wednesday, March 18 at 5pm. Starting Thursday, March 19, the libraries will be available only to staff who work in those spaces. We will make arrangements for those who need access to print and other resources, and colleagues in the libraries will communicate soon how this will work. As a reminder, all instruction for all students will be conducted remotely.

We are certain that there are other issues we will need to address in upcoming days, but we wanted to let colleagues know about some initial decisions we have made. Please note that some of these measures—on CRFs and Pass/D/Fail for students, for example—will apply on an emergency basis only to this spring semester. We are also certain that we are going to need to adapt and adjust over the upcoming weeks, and we thank you in advance for your patience and the extra effort all of you will need to make to teach this spring. Please let us know what additional questions you have, and we will try to address them as soon as we can.

 

Sincerely,

Jeff Cason
Provost

Sujata Moorti
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty