Message Regarding the Academic Restart Committee

Covid 19 update

Monday, May 20, 2020 - 4:42 p.m.

Dear faculty and staff,

We are writing to follow up on the email of May 4 announcing tentative plans to operate in-person classes in the fall, beginning as currently scheduled on August 24. As noted in that memo, the majority of classes, with limited exceptions, will be offered in a dual delivery format. We want to emphasize that as set forth in the May 4 communication, this is a not a final decision but one that will be revisited regularly as conditions evolve over the summer with a likely final decision in July.

The plan raises many questions and there are a number of important details to work out that affect teaching and other aspects of faculty responsibilities. We are therefore appointing a faculty-led committee to help address these issues.

The Academic Restart Committee, or ARC, will be responsible for working through these issues to assist faculty and provide advice and guidance on critical aspects of the restart in the fall, whether that restart ends up being able to be dual delivery or not.

The ARC will be chaired by Chris Johns-Krull, Speaker of the Faculty Senate. Its membership is as follows (indicating schools for all faculty members):

  • Chris Johns-Krull (chair) -- Speaker of the Faculty Senate; Natural Sciences
  • Kathleen Canning – Dean of the School of Humanities
  • Bridget Gorman – Dean of Undergraduates; Social Sciences
  • Fred Higgs – Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Engineering
  • Klara Jelinkova – Vice President for International Operations and Information Technology
  • Eden King -- Social Sciences
  • Kevin Kirby – Vice President for Administration
  • Caroline Levander – Vice President for Global and Digital Strategy; Humanities
  • Seiichi Matsuda – Dean of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies; Natural Sciences
  • Ed Nikonowicz – Deputy Speaker (and former speaker) of the Faculty Senate; Natural Sciences
  • Renata Ramos – Engineering
  • Jesús Vassallo – Architecture
  • James Weston – Business (and former speaker of the Faculty Senate)
  • Bob Yekovich – Dean of the Shepherd School of Music
  • Consulting Member: David Tenney, Registrar

The committee’s agenda includes all academic issues relating to course delivery and teaching in the fall (and potentially beyond). That agenda would include the following:

  • Class delivery issues (around dual delivery and recording)
  • Exceptions to dual modality (e.g., architecture, music, VADA, labs, others)
  • Class scheduling issues/classroom allocations
  • Faculty training
  • Student training and engagemen
  • Student and faculty choices about modality (e.g., who can absent themselves if classes take place in person)
  • Semester schedule:
    • Ending before Thanksgiving -- Friday or Tuesday?
    • Spreading of scheduled hours over the day
    • Rescheduled hours
  • Social distancing, maximum class size, splitting of classes
  • Supplemental community building efforts
  • Fall contingency planning
  • Spring contingency planning
  • January enrollments/orientation

The Committee will begin working immediately, and will consult with schools, departments, the Faculty Senate and relevant committees as it undertakes its work. Obviously, this work must be done on a highly expedited basis if we are to be fully prepared for all eventualities in the fall, and we expect preliminary recommendations by early to mid-June on many of these questions. We must be flexible in terms of preparation for various eventualities and modes of delivery; we must be agile in our ability to respond quickly to changes in the factual circumstances regarding COVID-19; and we must be adaptable to meet the needs of individuals who face different challenges and risks.

The committee’s work will naturally intersect with other important efforts underway. In most cases those leading or otherwise deeply involved with the groups addressing these issues are also participating on the ARC. These include work underway on all aspects of student life in the colleges and O-week (managed by the office of the Dean of Undergraduates); campus health measures such as testing, contact tracing, quarantining, sanitizing, mask requirements and social distancing, and returning to research.

Our ability to continue to operate safely at a high level of excellence without undue disruption, and continue to provide our students with the quality of education they expect and support they need, will depend on all of us contributing to this effort. We are extraordinarily grateful to all of you for the success of our collective response in the spring. We wish we could assure you that an easier path lies ahead, but we cannot. All we can assure you is that if we continue to work together in pursuit of our mission and are conscious of our obligations as a community we will persevere no matter the challenge.

David W. Leebron

Reggie DesRoches
Provost, effective May 25