Office of the Provost
Provost’s Message: A semester unlike any other
Dear UConn Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students:
What a semester this has been. You have each been working at a persistent pace to adjust and adapt to different teaching modalities, research restrictions, and myriad other modified services for students, staff, and faculty. As we head into the Thanksgiving Break, I hope that each of you can take time to unwind, reset, and unplug.
When we all return after the break, we’ll be completing the last couple of weeks of classes and finals. There are many ways this will be different than a normal semester, so I thought it would be helpful to share a summary of resources and reminders.
All classes will be taught remotely after Thanksgiving Break, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 7, followed by Reading Days from Dec. 8 through 13; no classes, assessments, or due dates for assignments (mandatory or optional) can occur on these reading days. When we return for the spring semester, all classes will be held remotely from Jan. 19 through 29. If public health and safety conditions allow, classes will resume in their indicated modality, starting Feb. 1.
Final exams are scheduled from Dec. 14 through 16, and Dec. 18 through 20. Dec. 17 is a Reading Day (with the same stipulations for reading days noted above).
If your class includes a final exam, this exam must be conducted remotely. Instructors choosing another form of assessment aside from a final exam should have indicated this with the Registrar via the opt-out form.
Reduced student presence on campus
The majority of students living in residence halls will have moved off-campus by this weekend, as has been the university’s plan since the beginning of this semester. Students who need to stay on campus in residence halls will be allowed to do so, with modified services available. All students leaving campus have been required to take a COVID test before leaving to promote safety beyond our campuses.
Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs)
Based on a proposal put forward by the Senate Faculty Standards Committee, and a supportive vote from University Senate, Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs) will be required for all courses in the current fall semester. The proposal further made a request for the “administration to consider the potential impact of the pandemic on faculty as they analyze and apply SET results from Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.” I believe this is a very reasonable request and I indicated my support for it in the Senate meeting and I reiterate that support here.
Specific to SETs for the current fall semester, please note these two important reminders:
- Instructors have the opportunity to add three additional open-ended questions to their SET surveys. Instructors of regularly scheduled courses may add their questions starting on Saturday, Nov. 21 through Friday, Nov. 27. Please visit oire.uconn.edu/set/set-support.
- SET invitations will be emailed directly to students two weeks before the last scheduled day of the course (or one week, if the course is less than six weeks long). This link to SETs will also be available for students on their HuskyCT homepage. Instructors will have the ability to check the response rate of their survey(s) during the survey period.
Inclement weather guidance
The University recently shared a reminder of procedures and practices in the event of delays, cancellations, or closures due to inclement weather. Of note, if a decision is made to cancel classes, that will apply to all classes, both in-person/hybrid and online. While we certainly understand why an instructor teaching an in-person or virtual course might want to offer a class virtually to avoid losing a class period, there are a variety of factors that necessitate the canceling of classes applies to all classes. These factors include access limitations to virtual classes that may result from power outages and other weather-related complications, as well as significant uncertainty and complications for students adjusting to last-minute modality changes.
While there are no plans to ramp down research activities at this time, we do encourage you to review the precautions in place to maintain health and safety in research settings, as well as updates on Undergraduate Research participation. The Office of the Vice President for Research and the Provost’s Office shared a joint update earlier this week, which you can find here: provost.uconn.edu/2020/11/17/maintaining-a-commitment-to-health-and-safety-in-research-activities.
All students living in on-campus residences will be tested by the start of the spring semester and will quarantine during the first two weeks of classes.
All employees who will work regularly on campus in the spring should expect to be tested. Supervisors are also being asked to update their registry to indicate which employees will need to be on campus regularly to perform their job duties. Human Resources recently shared information on employee testing protocols that cover the winter break and the start of the spring semester. Please review those details here: hr.uconn.edu/employee-covid-testing.
In general, employee domestic and international travel for work purposes remains heavily restricted, in line with State of Connecticut guidance. We also encourage employees to be mindful of state guidance as you consider holiday travel plans. Please visit hr.uconn.edu/employee-domestic-travel and travel.uconn.edu to access more details on UConn travel requirements, as well as State of Connecticut guidance.
Gratitude for your efforts
All of the updates and resources above represent countless hours of collaboration and ingenuity across more offices than I can list here. I’ve said many times that one of the things that makes UConn so great is the people. This has been apparent throughout this semester as I’ve seen so many faculty, staff, and students work collaboratively to make the best of a challenging situation together. Thank you and please be safe over this much-needed break.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Updates for the Academic Community
Provost’s Office Community Office Hours
The Provost’s Office continues to host office hours for any member of the community to connect with our leadership. Upcoming times can be viewed on our homepage, provost.uconn.edu.
Vice Provost Michael Bradford is hosting themed office hours for two of his upcoming dates:
- COVID Workload Issues for Spring, 2021(faculty and academic staff only), Dec. 2, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. RSVP here.
- New faculty of color, Dec. 8, 1 to 2 p.m. RSVP here.
Black and Brown Faculty Networking Event
The Provost’s Office, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and Human Resources are partnering to host a virtual networking event for Black and brown faculty, on Dec. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m. RSVP here.
Faculty and Staff of Color Town Halls
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion is hosting two town halls for faculty and staff of color in December. The first town hall is for Staff of Color (Dec. 3, 9am-11am) and the second is for Faculty of Color (Dec. 16, 1-3pm). The first 60 minutes of each event will include remarks and updates from President Tom Katsouleas, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Frank Tuitt, Vice Provost Michael Bradford, and Provost Carl Lejuez followed by a Q&A session. The subsequent hour will be used for discussion among attendees. If you can attend, please register HERE by Nov. 23. Supervisors are also asked to be flexible in allowing their employees to attend these events.
International student access to HuskyCT
International students have access to HuskyCT through UConn’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) and in the vast majority of situations this has been working reliably. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure they have reliable internet connections and to abide by the laws and regulations where they are located. However, ITS is aware of some situations where students have demonstrated the inability to access components of the course due to firewall restrictions in their home country. Some foreign countries may limit or prohibit access to certain US websites. If students in your class reach out to you with this kind of access issue, please make reasonable accommodations to ensure that they are able to have access to necessary course materials.
Student employment guide
The Office of Student Financial Aid Services – Student Employment has recently produced a guide with frequently asked questions regarding student employment in university positions. The guide can be found at studentjobs.uconn.edu/employment-guide.
General Education Course Enhancement Grant Competition
Each year, the Provost’s Office General Education Course Enhancement Grant Competition awards several proposals up to $7,500 to revise existing Gen Ed courses in innovative ways or create new ones to enhance the General Education curriculum at UConn. The deadline for this year’s competition is Dec. 4. Details on submitting proposals can be found at geoc.uconn.edu/course-development-grant-competition.
Center for Career Development Affinity Communities
The Center for Career Development recently introduced its new Affinity Communities, which are identity-focused groups that provide specialized content that integrates diversity, equity, and inclusion within the career development journey. A key feature are the Student and Alumni Success Stories featuring current students, recent alumni, and “further-out” alumni who have shared their stories, insight, and advice. All faculty and staff are welcome to direct students to these pages to find student groups, events, mentors, and more. The Affinity Communities landing page can be found at career.uconn.edu/affinitycommunities.