Monday, June 22 (Faculty and Staff)
Thanks for your patience in recent days following the unveiling of the Project Restart plan. As I mentioned last week, much is still uncertain as we look to the Fall 2020 start date of Aug. 17. What we know for sure is that the semester will look nothing like the Fall 2019 semester. Room capacities will be limited, as will our face-to-face connections as a community. What I am confident of is that instruction will be delivered in new, innovative ways by our outstanding faculty, graduate assistants and part-time instructors.
I’ve been working with the College leadership team as well as with a small group at the university level to lay out a process for re-envisioning the instructional plan for the fall semester. Our goal is to empower faculty to make decisions on how to best meet the unique learning objectives of each course in this new environment. What that will look like for most is a “flipped classroom” approach with much of the instruction delivered remotely but with opportunities to come together in smaller groups in a safe way to enhance student learning and instructor-student connections. One size will not fit all, and that’s where we will rely on the expertise of our faculty.
For all students, but in particular first-year, first-generation, and minoritized students, faculty connections and on-campus experiences enhance retention and long-term success. We also know that some students in our programs will be constrained on what they can do on campus, or if they can come to campus at all, based on the same health and personal concerns that face our faculty and staff. We will work to ensure that we provide opportunities for a robust residential learning experience but one that looks different from any we have seen before.
We are developing a set of questions and guidelines to help all instructors make the best decisions for their classes, for their students, and for them personally. We have been given reduced room capacities that will constrain, rightly so, what we can do in an on-campus environment. With that information, you will work with your unit head to come up with a plan for your courses and for you.
Decisions about which staff members need to be on campus (and for how long) will be made once we have a clear picture of our face-to-face instructional needs for the fall. Again, our goal, as it has always been, is to fulfill our mission as a university as we prioritize the health and safety of our community. I do envision that many staff members will continue to work remotely until on-campus work is necessary.
For those of you teaching in the fall, look for communication as soon as we have guidelines from the provost. Deans are meeting with the provost and other university leaders tomorrow morning to finalize how we ask our faculty, PTIs and graduate students to communicate their needs for a healthy, re-envisioned residential learning experience.
We so appreciate all you do for our community. Be well.
Jennifer Greer, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Communication and Information
University of Kentucky