Faculty Affairs Update – 4.16

Dear faculty colleagues,

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we all continue to navigate this astounding semester. There are regular announcements, and we recognize that it can be frustrating when guidance continues to evolve and your inboxes are flooded. We appreciate your work and nimble response to the circumstances.

We have several more updates to share with you and wanted to start with some good news for the week.

Provost’s Author’s Fellowship
Congratulations to the second cohort of the Provost’s Authors Fellowship! Sixteen faculty members were selected for this program designed to provide more support to associate professors pursuing promotion to full professor. Read the announcement here: https://provost.utexas.edu/news/provosts-authors-fellowship-announces-second-cohort.

Updated Promotion & Tenure Guidelines
Promotion & Tenure guidelines for Academic Year 2020-21 have been posted. These General Guidelines describe the faculty promotion process, preparation of materials, and management of candidate files for promotion. Please closely review the details that are applicable to you or your mentees at the following link: https://utexas.app.box.com/v/2020-21generalguidelines

Q&A: Non-Tenure Track Faculty Members – April 22, 2020
We are offering a Zoom Q&A Meeting for non-tenure track faculty to ask questions, share concerns and discuss specific issues, both in general and with respect to the impact of COVID-19.

Wednesday, April 22 at 1:00pm – 2:00 pm.

Add to Calendar

Note: If you cannot attend this session, please send any questions you have to Faculty Affairs.

Assignments and Final Exams
As we approach the end of the semester and final assessments, please continue to be flexible and compassionate in helping your students through the current struggles they (and we all) are facing. We acknowledge everything that faculty are already doing and appreciate how very daunting it is to master the technology while still facilitating your students’ learning and their assessment. And if you are feeling overwhelmed, please reach out to us at faculty affairs and we will find instructional expertise to support your teaching. That being said, responses from a recent survey of students indicate that there is a pocket of students who feel that their circumstances and needs are being ignored by some of our faculty. So as a reminder, asynchronous (“take-home”) assignments and exams are strongly recommended. If you must give an exam synchronously, please provide asynchronous accommodations for students who have unavoidable difficulties, for example with technology, time zone differences or unforeseen incidents or responsibilities at home.

Another impression conveyed in student surveys is that they feel like more work is being assigned as a reaction to the online transition. And in my own experience as an instructor, any take-home assessments that I offered were typically more – and possibly unnecessarily – challenging and extensive simply because students had unfettered access to notes and textbooks and more importantly time. However, under the present circumstances, students’ (and anyone’s) access to time and concentration is much more limited than usual. So please keep this in mind when creating assignments and avoid making exams and coursework unnecessarily difficult and time-intensive. Again, I know that many, many faculty members are taking our new context into consideration and doing the best that they can to handle the ludicrous number of challenges that have been introduced. Do please continue being flexible and empathetic. And please help each other to find ways to be creative in terms of how best to assess our students authentically and flexibly in these bewildering times.

Many topnotch resources have been formed to support your creation of online assessments (including those from our Canvas support, within this guide from Moody, and College of Education Resources, among others).

Academic Integrity
While we expect more grace and accommodation for students this semester, our commitment to academic integrity remains the same. If you suspect academic dishonesty (e.g. plagiarism, lewd Zoom behavior, etc.), you can file a report. Please find additional resources below.

Proctorio software is available to you in Canvas as a remote proctoring tool. Several excellent resources are available to assist you with its use including Canvas materials, a Proctorio guide from Nursing, and one from Engineering might prove useful, among others.

Summer Textbooks
Summer classes will continue to be online, therefore, the best way to deliver and access textbooks will be to adopt digital versions whenever possible. The Co-op will support this effort and has indicated the digital book option in its adoption platform. By selecting the digital text, you (or your department designate) can provide the most convenient option for students and the Co-op will handle the digital distribution. The Co-op can also assist with finding digital options that don’t appear to be available and to digitize course packs. You will receive more information from them in the next few days.

Summer Grading
As was announced, for this summer session we will return to the normal university grading policy instead of the student-opt-in Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit grading that was allowed in the spring semester. The spring policy was a response to the unanticipated shift to remote teaching. It was intended to reduce the stress felt by students and faculty confronting the many disruptions brought on by COVID-19. While some of these disruptions might tragically persist into the summer, students have the option not to enroll in summer courses. In addition, the spring grading policy change meant waiving many valuable grade-based standards. Last, we would like to avoid creating an association between lowered grading standards and online education.

We post regular updates to the Faculty FAQs website and will continue to do so as new guidance becomes available.

I wish each of you the very best right now and hope you are finding ways to take care of yourself and your loved ones.  Thank you again for all that you are doing and for digesting yet another long email. Please reach out to the Faculty Affairs team with any questions, concerns, and solutions.

Stay well,

Tasha Beretvas

Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

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