I hope you had a wonderful (and much needed) holiday break. As we start the new year, the College leadership team would like to thank all of you for your extraordinary efforts to continue our mission during the COVID19 pandemic. We have heard from many of you about how the pandemic has impacted your professional performance, personal well-being, and overall career progression. Many have had to cope with particularly acute professional, family and personal challenges.
We are committed to operating with increased flexibility, especially mindful of those faculty members who have been severely impacted by the pandemic. To ensure you can remain successful during these trying times, we’ve taken some specific actions, including:
- Establishing support networks for faculty, staff, postdocs and students to help these communities stay connected, share best practices and feel less isolated, including leadership office hours;
- Scheduling meetings and other group activities with increased flexibility and reduced expectation for attendance;
- Assigning courses and service obligations with increased flexibility;
- Supporting GSI or other student assistant positions beyond the normal policy to help faculty members transition courses to online or hybrid, including an increase of resources for GSI and IA support;
- Providing funding support to doctoral students who need 1-2 extra terms beyond the guaranteed model (in cooperation with Rackham);
- Providing IT support for faculty members who are conducting instruction from home;
- Providing one-on-one consultations, instructional design support, and media assistants for faculty members teaching online;
- Providing increased mental health support for the U-M community;
- Extending or deferring deadlines for internal CoE programs whenever possible; and
- Automatically granting one-year extension requests of the Promotion and Tenure clock for untenured faculty members.
We arrived at these actions by listening to you. Our sincere hope is that the above actions have helped alleviate burden during these extraordinary times, and provide some of the resources necessary to conduct research, education and service despite the pandemic strains.
To ensure these impacts do not have long-term implications on faculty careers, we will be including a COVID19 Pandemic Assessment section as part of the annual Faculty Activity Report. This section helps us understand how your activities over the academic year have been impacted by the pandemic. Both multiple-choice and open-form responses will be available for faculty members who wish to communicate with their departmental leadership about how the pandemic has affected their year.
In addition, faculty members will be given the option to develop a COVID19 Pandemic Impact Statement that would be reviewed and filed with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. This statement will allow the faculty to memorialize the impact that the pandemic has had on their professional progress, including any health or other personal information that would be important to share, especially with regard to future promotion and tenure decisions. This information will be sought for the next six academic years, providing faculty members the opportunity to update their statement. Faculty members can choose to keep this statement confidential or share it with their Chair. The ADAA will review and preserve the statements, and they will be made available to the CoE Executive Committee (ExComm) during promotion and tenure evaluations only if deemed relevant by ExComm for the casebook deliberations. The statement will not be a formal part of the casebook nor will it be shared outside the University.
The CoE leadership team will continue to seek ways to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic on our faculty, especially as we plan for AY2021-22. Expect more to come. We welcome your suggestions on other things we might do to help.