Office of the Provost
Provost’s Message: Town hall updates
Dear UConn Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students:
Over the past few weeks, UConn administrators in consultation with the University Senate have made and communicated several decisions about the spring semester. We shared a summary of many of those details in a message sent on Oct. 9, and reviewed the details and answered additional questions during our Academic Town Hall on Oct. 16.
We recorded the town hall for those who could not attend. In addition to about an hour of Q&A based on attendee questions, the town hall includes a PowerPoint presentation that provides additional detail on the spring semester. You can find that recording and the PowerPoint slides by clicking here. You can also find the Oct. 9 message by clicking here.
I also want to take this opportunity to share a few updates below on timely topics, some of which we also reviewed during the town hall.
Best practices with webcams during class
Given the high volume of instruction taking place virtually, several offices and teams across the University report that they are responding to more inquiries regarding privacy and authentication with video conferencing technology. Most frequently, the questions are focused on whether students must have their cameras on at all times during classes or whether they can be required to remove their masks for the duration of an exam. Please consider the following guidelines:
- Instructors can encourage webcams to be turned on, but also remember that students are often learning in environments that limit their control over the distractions and privacy in their surroundings – such as spaces shared with families and roommates, or in public spaces to access Wi-Fi. Please allow students flexibility in webcam usage to minimize those distractions or to free up their computer’s bandwidth.
- Students’ learning environments also pose complications for exam authentication. Because students are using public spaces in many instances to attend virtual classes, removing their masks for more than a few seconds at a time beyond what is needed for facial recognition and identity verification is not feasible given current public health measures. Please be flexible with students on requirements for removing masks during virtual exams or other instructional settings. As a further reminder, students should also not be asked to remove masks during in-person courses.
Technology loans for students
ITS maintains a modest pool of devices that are available to students for participation in their online courses. Students may borrow an iPad for the semester. Students who require more computing power (e.g., to access and run specific software), can borrow a laptop for up to one week, although extensions are permitted where justified and if the equipment is available. Students can initiate a loan through ITS by submitting a general help support request at techsupport.uconn.edu.
Fee reduction update
While most of our plans remain the same as what we shared on Oct. 9, I did provide an update during the town hall regarding the fee reduction for fully online experiences that involves a one-to-one undergraduate-faculty interaction (e.g., independent study, research). Specifically, we have identified a way in registration to designate these types of courses as either in-person or online (WW). The online designation requires the experience take place fully online and requires instructor permission (see the town hall slides for more details). The registrar is currently making contact with individual departments to create these designations in PeopleSoft for the registration process.
Finals and Thanksgiving Break are just around the corner. As those events inch closer, we are receiving more questions about how those may look different this year. We are working through questions and plan to send updates to our community soon on each.
As always, I am inspired by the resolve and care our community has demonstrated over the last many months. I am deeply appreciative of all that you do.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Updates for the Academic Community
Final exam opt-out
Instructors who are not delivering a final exam in fall 2020 are asked to complete the Final Exam Opt-Out Form. Asynchronous courses have already been registered; this applies to all other modalities. Click here to access the form and additional information.
Visiting International Scholars for Spring 2021
The University has decided to extend its fall 2020 policy on visiting scholars through the spring 2021 semester. Under this policy, the University will refrain from hosting new visiting scholars for gratis appointment positions through the end of the spring term. We will continue to host visiting scholars who will come to the University as a paid employee if they are able to arrive and will perform their duties in person. This policy recognizes the University’s effort to reduce density on campus and the challenges that a new visiting scholar could encounter if moving from another country during a global health crisis, when in-person University resources may not be sufficient to support their transition. ISSS will be reaching out to all departments who have pending J-1 visa sponsorship requests who may be affected by this policy extension.
University Teaching Awards
Nominations are now open for the 2021 Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning University Teaching Awards. Each dean, department head, and regional campus director can nominate four (4) individuals – one nominee per each of the four award categories. Nominations are due by Friday, Nov. 13. Click here to access the form and more details.
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professorships
We are seeking nominations for this honor to recognize UConn faculty who excel in research, teaching, and service. As a reminder, we have revised our nomination process this year into two phases to broaden the diversity of nominees as well as to redistribute the effort involved in the nomination process. The deadline for nomination materials in the first phase is Friday, Nov. 25. More information and criteria for selection are available on the Provost’s Office website at this link. If you have questions about submitting materials, please reach out to email@example.com.
Fall Food Drive
UConn Community Outreach is hosting a food drive on the Storrs campus now through Nov. 5. The most-needed items include canned vegetables, spaghetti sauce, pasta, cereals, peanut butter, canned fruits, toilet paper, paper towels, and paper cups and plates. Donations can be dropped off on the Storrs campus at the Student Union, Family Studies Building 117, Wilbur Cross 203, and Bousfield 105. For additional information, contact student coordinator Fiona Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org.