Message to faculty and staff
Mar. 25, 2020
This message was sent on behalf of the Provost, Kevin Carman, to University faculty and staff.
The University’s delivery of online instruction and many of its essential services remotely began in earnest on Monday. This has required a great deal of effort and in some instances has led to further questions as we navigate together an unprecedented time in our history. To help you stay informed of the latest developments this week, here are some important updates:
Town Hall meeting
A COVID-19 Online Town Hall Meeting, held through Zoom, will be held at 3 p.m., Friday, March 27. The Town Hall will take questions submitted from the campus community and will also feature updates from President Marc Johnson, Student Health Center Director Dr. Cheryl Hug-English, myself, and others. There is a 500-person limit to participate. Information about how to access the Town Hall will be made available tomorrow in a separate communication.
No in-person commencement ceremonies will be held in May. Our regularly scheduled commencements for Spring 2020 will occur in a virtual fashion. Options for graduates to attend later ceremonies, such as the Winter 2020 Commencement or Spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies in person, will be considered.
The University continues to limit building access during alternative operations. There is no access by the general public, other than at certain University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine public health patient locations. Access to buildings on campus is available to faculty, staff and students who have their own building keys or keycards and who are attending to critical functions of the University. However, we strongly encourage all faculty, staff and students to remain home until further notice. Contractors who are attending to critical infrastructure needs are also allowed.
All for-credit courses will be delivered remotely for the remainder of the semester regardless of campus alternative operations. If Governor Steve Sisolak lifts the Stay Home For Nevada order on April 16, the University will maintain remote delivery of courses for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. No decisions have been made regarding instructional modality for Summer or Fall.
Remote work for employees
Although courses will be delivered remotely for the remainder of the year, this does not preclude the campus from opening for employees at the end of Gov. Sisolak’s directive of April 16. The University will make an assessment about returning employees to campus or other University locations at that time.
Teaching & Learning Technologies
As a reminder TLT continues to update and compile additional resources for transitioning to remote instruction, including instructional preparedness and FAQs. They have made use of every available resource we have on campus and continue to monitor numerous national organizations for best practices regarding quickly converting courses to online delivery, including three more “Online Delivery Q&A with IDT,” sessions this week, 10 a.m. Thursday and 2 p.m. Friday, “WebCampus Q&A” 11 a.m. Thursday, and live “Zoom Training Sessions,” to complement the wealth of written materials found on their webpage, 10 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday of next week (March 31 and April 1).
Student evaluations of teaching for the Spring 2020 semester will continue. We believe that student voices need to be heard, and that student feedback will be critical to our understanding of this unique, and hopefully once in a life-time, semester. However, potential negative reviews for courses will not be held against faculty in any review, or promotion and tenure decisions. We will ask faculty to reflect constructively on student comments, the course’s conversion to remote delivery, and instructional responsibilities.
Promotion and tenure clock extensions
The Nevada System of Higher Education has indicated that tenure-track faculty may request a one-year tenure clock extension as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, no faculty member is required to request an extension. The pandemic will be considered an extenuating circumstance.
- Tenure application due Fall 2020. For faculty scheduled to go up for tenure in Fall 2020 who wish to request an extension, please inform your Chair and Dean ASAP. Your formal extension request must be processed through your Chair and Dean and submitted to the Provost Office by April 30, 2020.
- Tenure application due Fall 2021 or beyond. For faculty scheduled to go up for tenure in Fall 2021 or beyond, your formal extension request must be processed through your Chair and Dean and submitted to the Provost Office by April 1, 2021.
Course grades and withdrawal deadline
Faculty and instructors will submit grades online as always. We anticipate that we will provide students an opportunity to request changing their final grade to an “S” (Satisfactory) if they earn a D or better. As there are many potential implications associated with changing from a letter grade to an “S”, we will require students to consult with an academic adviser before making a request for an “S”. For graduate students, a B- or better is required for an “S”; C+ or lower is considered a “U.”
Other accommodations to minimize risk for academic work such as suspending probation/dismissal processes and extending the date to drop with a “W” (Withdrawal) are in place. The “W” date for the semester is now April 10.
Please remember that Proctorio, our remote proctoring service, charges the University by the number of exams proctored. We ask that you restrict your use of the service to high-stakes midterms and finals.
Summer School will keep its current schedule. If the COVID-19 outbreak requires it, we will continue to use remote/online teaching modalities.
Extended use of Start-up Funds
All start-up packages ending on June 30, 2020 are now extended to September 30, 2020 due to COVID-19. We will continue to evaluate this date. For longer periods of time for reasons other than COVID-19 delays, please follow the normal procedure for requesting start-up package extensions.
A sabbatical is an exciting and potentially transformative experience for faculty and we know that some sabbaticals have been disrupted. While no decisions have been made on current or future sabbatical disruptions we will work closely with the Faculty Senate and Deans to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on sabbaticals. The April 10, 2020 sabbatical application workshop will continue (by Zoom) and at this time applications for the 2021-2022 academic year are still due to the Provost Office by September 18, 2020.
In closing, we are experiencing these events in real-time. I wish to encourage you all to visit unr.edu for University and coronavirus information and updates. We realize that you have received many campus communications in recent days. Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the University has been thoroughly updating the website and coronavirus FAQ with the most current information. Please use these resources as we move through the remainder of the spring semester. Thank you for all that you are doing.
Executive Vice President & Provost