Provost Communication, March 30

Message to Academic and Student Affairs from Provost Cimitile, March 30

Thank you to everyone for the tremendous amount of work you are doing first and foremost to educate and support our students, and also to help one another during this unprecedented time. I know this past week has been taxing in so many ways, professionally and personally. I also hope that you have found solidarity during this crisis and are reminded, as am I, of the core identify of who we are as an institution. I am very proud to have you as my colleagues.

While I recognize the higher levels of stress and anxiety that many of you are experiencing because of the rapid change to teaching remotely, so too are our students experiencing this stress as well as many other factors that are affecting their ability to fully engage with their studies. I know everyone is doing all that we can to ensure quality and rigor in our courses during this time. Because of the enormity of stress that faculty and students are under, I would ask that faculty weigh both the quality and quantity of workload being asked of students in our courses. Furthermore, maintaining meaningful relationships with our students is critical to their experience for the remainder of this semester, as well as to retention efforts. The FTLC has many resources to help manage and balance these expectations and needs.

Below you will find a number of important messages regarding the completion of this semester and the spring semester. Please read each carefully so that you are fully informed of changes to existing policies. You will find all changes on the Office of the Provost website. The website is updated as soon as new decisions are made.

Thank you everyone and please stay safe. I hope to see faculty during the Faculty Conversation sessions listed below.

Final Exam/Culminating Experience for Winter 2020

While this semester has been abnormal in may ways due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an expectation that all courses will include a final exam or culminating experience as would be the case in any normal semester.

If you plan to hold a scheduled exam or meeting time synchronously, it must take place at the scheduled time for your course section. To do otherwise will complicate the exam schedule for students who have multiple exams/meetings during that week. There may be students who are unable to make the scheduled time due to complications in their personal schedule related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In such cases, faculty should be as generous as possible in allowing flexibility to individual students to make alternative schedule arrangements.

It is also acceptable to conduct your final exam/culminating experience asynchronously during the final exam week; the exam/experience can be completed at any time during the week. If using this approach, the due date of the final exam/experience cannot be earlier than the date and time assigned for the course in the final exam schedule.

This information as well as links to resources available for assistance are available on the Office of the Provost FAQs for Faculty & Staff web page.

LIFT and Disruption of Faculty Work (Service, Scholarship/Creative Work, Tenure Clock)

On Friday, March 27, ECS endorsed recommendations from the Faculty Personnel Policy Committee (FPPC) regarding the LIFT student impressions and this semester's disruption of faculty work. ECS then sent these recommendations to the Provost on behalf of UAS. At this time, the Provost has supported four of the five recommendations.

  1. LIFT student impressions of teaching will not conducted this semester. Faculty who wish to collect feedback from their students may do so by setting up a survey in Blackboard (under Course Tools) or through other means. Some courses with a shorter term have had LIFT evaluations completed. Any student evaluation completed for the Winter 2020 semester shall only be formative and not be included in merit or personnel decisions.
  2. On the 2020 FAR, faculty members should note any interruptions to their service, and there should be no penalty for service work that was stopped for the last five weeks of the winter semester. Faculty should also note any unexpected service.
  3. For scholarly and creative work, factors that created interruptions should be noted on 2020 FARs.
  4. For untenured regular faculty, BOT allows an extension of the probationary period by pausing the tenure clock. In situations where work was significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, deans are asked to approve requests for a one-year pause if a reasonable explanation is provided. The faculty member will not be penalized because a request was made or granted. Such requests must be made by December 1, 2020.

Further details about these recommendations may be found HERE. Please contact AVP Aboufadel with any questions.

Emergency Protocol - Remote Course Delivery Process

Upon consultation with the ECS/UAS Chair and OEC, and given the current situation, we are making an exception with the online course approval process for the spring term (the first 6-week and 12-week sessions that begin in May). Any course that your unit would like to offer via remote delivery may, with the Dean's office approval, be offered that way for Spring (1st 6 weeks), and Spring/Summer (full 12 weeks). Courses need not go through the regular SAIL curricular approval process to be offered in this format for the spring term. This is an emergency exception to the curricular process, and when the COVID-19 crisis is past us, we will go back to normal approval processes. Courses offered via remote delivery that were not already approved as online offerings will not be able to be offered online in the future without going through the curricular process.

Emergency Protocol - Faculty Qualifications to Teach Online

Upon consultation with the ECS/UAS Chair and OEC, and given the current situation, we are making an exception to the online faculty certification requirements for the spring term (the first 6-week and 12-week sessions that begin in May). Faculty offering spring courses do not have a lot of time to prepare for remote teaching. Thus, in cases where faculty are teaching this spring but not yet trained to teach online, there is a menu of professional development options to choose from. These options are carefully curated to be less time-intensive and more flexible than the traditional Foundations of Online Education course, yet useful to faculty teaching online for the first time. Faculty will have latitude in choosing the support options they think they most need in approaching the spring term online. Deans' offices will ensure faculty scheduled to teach this spring (and who are not already approved to teach online) complete a professional development opportunity before the spring term begins.

Spring/Summer 2020 Course Schedule

Provost Cimitile and the Provost's Cabinet, in consultation with Faculty Governance (OEC, UCC, ECS), have approved the following course delivery modes for Spring/Summer 2020. The Spring/Summer information is also available on the Office of the Provost FAQs for Faculty & Staff web page:

Courses starting May 4 (Spring - 1st 6 weeks, and Spring/Summer - full 12 weeks)

  • All courses will be offered remotely or online (no face-to-face instruction).
  • All study abroad programs are cancelled.
  • Experiential education programs (internships, co-ops, clinicals, etc.) have not been cancelled. Students may register for these courses. Experiences that can be conducted remotely can progress regardless of the current health-related conditions. For in-person experiences, students should be aware that they may need to drop their spring term internship and take it in the summer term - or take an Incomplete and complete the bulk of their internship hours in the latter part of the summer into fall. Additionally, it is possible that in-person spring/summer internships may be cancelled at some point prior to the start of the semester if conditions in the State dictate (i.e. another Executive Order from the Governor; public health warnings; etc.).

Courses starting June 22 (Summer - 2nd 6 weeks)

  • At this time, we anticipate that summer classes will be able to be offered in all modalities: fully online, hybrid, and face to face. However, this is subject to change based on health considerations guided by the spread of the COVID-19.
  • Courses are currently scheduled as normal - either face-to-face or online/hybrid.
  • All study abroad programs are cancelled.
  • Experiential education programs (internships, co-ops, clinicals, etc.) are currently scheduled as normal.

How students will see the synchronous/asynchronous options in Banner

  • When students register for spring and 12-week courses in Banner, they will be able to see whether the course expects to meet synchronously, asynchronously, or a combination. If a combination, please update Banner with specific dates/times you expect students to meet synchronously, or indicate TBA if you plan to have flexible, multiple options for students to choose from. In all cases, please be mindful of the regular schedule time blocks and keep meetings within-not bleeding over-those blocks to ensure students aren't in a bind by registering for multiple classes with conflicting schedules.

Credit/No Credit Update

On Friday, March 27, the Executive Committee of the Senate (ECS) discussed a recommendation from the Student Senate to allow students to also make CR/NC requests after the semester has ended and final grades are posted. Several other universities have adopted this temporary policy, and ECS and the Provost reached a consensus to also move in this direction. GVSU is implementing this temporary policy in the following way: May 1-15 will be a third window for students to request changing a course grade to CR/NC, after final grades are posted on April 30. More details can be found HERE.

Faculty Conversations - Virtual Gathering

On April 6 & 7, Provost Cimitile will still hold the scheduled conversations with faculty. Originally these were meant to be in-person gatherings, but given our current situation, they'll be held virtually via Zoom. Faculty will need to RSVP so a meeting invitation can be sent.

These are open meetings with no agenda except the thoughts and questions you bring. Provost Cimitile would like to hear what is on your mind, so please join as you are able.

Dates and details for open staff conversations will be announced later.