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Important Update Regarding Fall 2020 Planning from Interim Provost John Liu
Dear Faculty Colleagues:
Now that the 2019-20 academic year has come to a close, I want to extend my deep appreciation for your tremendous resilience and leadership this spring. I am especially grateful for your ongoing support of our students and your excellent work transitioning to remote instruction under very challenging circumstances.
We must now turn our attention to our planning efforts as we work to return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. This is a significant undertaking and requires the collective effort of our community. Unlike past summers, when many of us embark on research, writing, travel and leisure, the next few months will require us to table other priorities and focus our attention and energies on preparing to welcome back our campus community. It will also require us to plan for a number of different scenarios, including as it relates to how we teach, research, learn, live and interact.
My message today focuses on:
- Fall 2020 Open Working Group
- Course Preparation for the 2020-21 Academic Year
- Research and Scholarship Support
- First-Year Seminar Curriculum Development
Fall 2020 Open Working Group
Under Chancellor Syverud’s direction, we have created the Fall 2020 Open Working Group. Interim Deputy Senior Vice President for Enrollment and the Student Experience Amanda Nicholson and I have been charged with leading this effort. This working group, which is made up of some 90 community members—including deans, associate deans, faculty and staff—will provide guidance, counsel and action plans to prepare all segments of the University for moving full speed ahead to return to residential instruction this fall. The Working Group will be supported by the following nine subcommittees:
- Academic Strategy/Contingency
- Communication Strategy and Planning
- Events and Alumni
- Infrastructure and Residence Life
- International Students
- Legal and Labor
- Public Health, Medical and Emergency Management
- Student Experience and Engagement
I am particularly pleased to share that Graduate School Dean Peter Vanable, Associate Provost Chris Johnson, University College Dean Michael Frasciello and Professor Marcelle Haddix, chair of the University Senate Agenda Committee, will lead the academic strategy and contingency subcommittee.
The working group and its subcommittees have already begun meeting and will be working intensely over the summer. We have tremendous confidence in the teams that are charged with this vital task. With the clear goal of opening in Fall 2020 in mind, we are still guided by public health directives, and the health and safety of all members of our campus community remain our top priority.
Course Preparation for the 2020-21 Academic Year
Our transition to remote instruction this spring was necessarily rushed. Under the circumstances, you all did an extraordinary job adapting in a short period of time. This fall, we intend to deliver an even better academic and extracurricular experience for our students. We need to be flexible and creative with our approach to in-person teaching as we implement new patterns of interaction in our classrooms and laboratories. Together, we must ensure our community’s safety, including ensuring that remote class participation is possible for students who are unable to be present in person. This will include planning to deliver quality online and hybrid teaching options for almost all of our courses. There are many resources available to support you in this work:
- The teams in the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) and the Center for Online and Digital Learning are available and eager to help you design your fall courses. The CTLE is also in the process of developing online teaching workshops. A workshop schedule will be provided soon.
- Every Tuesday and Thursday, Information Technology Services sends an email to all faculty regarding technology and teaching tools and support. They have been working diligently to assist faculty in preparing for online summer courses and are transitioning to fall planning.
- Most importantly, we have brought on a great deal of new capacity in instructional design and digital course development. These new toolkits for planning online course components will be provided soon and technical staff will be available to help you leverage these resources. Your deans and department chairs will be in touch with you about their expectations, timeline and resources for developing a digital version of your fall courses.
Research and Scholarship Support
- The Office of Research is ready to support faculty in restarting research once restrictions are modified or lifted. I encourage you to check the sponsored funding opportunities webpage, which includes funding opportunities for research related to COVID-19.
- Although the Syracuse University Libraries buildings are currently physically closed, the Libraries team is fully engaged online via phone, chat, email and video to support teaching and research. They are eager to provide their expertise and assistance with enhanced online resources. Once it’s safe to do so, the staff will return to campus to provide access to the physical collections that are not online, through scanning and delivery services.
First-Year Seminar Curriculum Development
The University Senate ad hoc committee charged with creating a replacement course for the current SEM 100 is working to develop a one-credit course. I would like to thank the committee and tri-chairs Amanda Nicholson, Jeff Mangram and Katie McGerr for their leadership. Building on this work, we have established a faculty committee for the implementation of the first-year seminar course for Fall 2021, pending approval of the schools and colleges. Nine faculty members are serving on this committee, which is co-chaired by professors Cathryn Newton and Jeff Mangram. The committee will review the curriculum proposed by the Senate ad hoc committee and propose, if necessary, specific changes to the course syllabus; recommend the most appropriate staffing model for the course; and provide counsel to the provost on the desired qualifications of a program director.
We are mobilizing like never before and your continued engagement is vital to our collective success. Over the summer, you will hear regularly from me and other leaders about a myriad of important subjects. I also urge you to reach out to my office at email@example.com with topics that you’d like me to address. We have much work ahead of us—but I know we are up to the challenge.
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost