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Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Faculty Message from Senate & Provost Academic Council

Emailed on November 16, 2018

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

First, we hope this e-mail finds you and your family safe and healthy.

As we move closer to classes resuming, we wanted to share some reflections on how to return to the classroom and complete the semester in the ongoing aftermath of the devastating Camp Fire. Already many of you have helped students in need and mitigated their concerns about the end of semester in creative and caring ways that demonstrate how a community pulls together. It probably goes without saying that this will be an unusual, challenging end of the semester, and we would also like to support you and our students as much as we can.

Classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, November 26, pending further notice.  As you know, this does not mean business as usual or class as usual.  After all, these are not normal times. You and your students may still be grappling with the aftermath of what happened.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging what happened and what is currently happening on your first day back.  In fact, that may be part of the healing process.  You may want to devote only part of the first day back to low pressure, in-class learning and dedicate the rest to an open discussion.  Some of you might not have a clear picture on the day we return of exactly what the next three weeks will look like.  That is perfectly fine, and you could even take some time on that first day to get feedback from your students about the rest of the semester before you make any final decisions.  You will need to adjust your syllabus before the semester concludes; however, flexibility, compassion, and listening are also very important.

Our shared goal is to finish the semester in a way that ensures the long-term success of our students and prioritizes the most important remaining learning objectives of our courses. Please keep in mind that while some of your students may seem unaffected, many may be distracted, overwhelmed, or unavailable.  To maximize student success and our collective well-being, we offer these broad suggestions for the remainder of the semester:

  • Do not try to cover all missed work.  Instead, adjust your syllabus to focus only on what is most critical, without adding additional work for your students.
  • Student learning, broadly conceived, is more important than any particular assignment, examination, or grade.
  • When we are under stress, learning can suffer.  Please consider being compassionate to and flexible with your students and yourselves. 
  • If students had been passing the class before the campus closure, try to find ways to get them to complete the course on time. You should not grant Incompletes to your entire class for work missed during the campus closure. However, you can determine whether an Incomplete is appropriate for individual students, given their individual circumstances. Should you have questions about your students and your courses, please work with your chairs.
  • Please consult the faculty section of the Wildcats Rise FAQ for further information.

Our students will likely remember not what you had planned for these last three weeks, but rather, your compassion, care, and personal interest in their well-being as you work through uncharted, difficult territory with them.  Know that you will not be in this alone; this is the work we will all be doing for the next three weeks and beyond.

The Academic Senate Officers
The Provost’s Advisory Council (PAC)