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                                                                                                            October 22, 2020   

Dear Colleagues,

In these unprecedented times, as we each face obstacles in our work and personal lives that are difficult to predict, my team and I have been working with the Faculty Affairs Committee and the deans to identify concrete actions we can take to provide some support and relief. We are grateful for the initiative of several faculty members over the summer for their specific requests for support, namely Sharmila Lodhia and Sonja Mackenzie for identifying caregiver concerns, and Naomi Andrews, Kathy Aoki, Dan Ostrov and Mike Whalen for anticipating issues bearing on rank, tenure and promotion. All of these efforts reflect commitments to justice, equity and compassion that are hallmarks of our community. 

We would like to share with you the actions we are taking in response. 

RELIEF 

  • $15K contribution to the Staff and Faculty Emergency Assistance Fund for caregiver support 

I have authorized a $15K contribution to the Staff & Faculty Emergency Assistance Fund for the support of caregivers (faculty and staff caring for children, or for a parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or domestic partner). This fund will operate under the same terms as the general assistance fund, providing relief to help SCU employees recover from “reasonable and necessary” expenses directly attributable to the coronavirus pandemic, with the added provision that the expenses be related to caregiving.  

  • $15K in CARES Act monies to fund student assistants for faculty teaching and/or research support  

We are moving $15K in CARES Act monies to a new COVID Student Assistant Program (CSAP). This program will provide academic-year faculty** who face COVID impacts from caregiving responsibilities with assistance in their scholarly or teaching work, and will provide student assistants with work and a meaningful learning experience alongside a faculty member. The program is modeled on the Faculty-Student Research Assistant Program, but will not require a mentoring component and can be used to support teaching and/or research. For more details of the program see the CSAP page on the Provost’s website.  

  • Existing Wellness Benefits  

Existing wellness benefits programs provide assistance for various kinds of caregiving:

  • Avenidas - This program provides SCU employees with elder care consultations, referrals, support.
  • Back-Up Care Advantage Program - This program provides access to a database of nannies and sitters for evening and weekend care (via SitterCity.com), as well as elder care resources. It also offers 10 annual days of back-up child and adult/elder care at subsidized rates. 

EQUITY & ACCOMMODATION  

  • Course Coverage & Scheduling Plan  

We are encouraging deans to develop course coverage plans, to assist departments in the event that faculty need to take a family or medical leave.

We are also encouraging deans and department chairs to adjust their academic year plans wherever possible to allow academic year adjunct faculty and lecturers who teach seven or more sections to repeat courses to minimize the number of course preparations.  

  • Research Grant Allocation  

We are encouraging deans and department chairs to distribute any research funds disproportionately to junior faculty and to others facing disproportionate burdens on available research time due to caregiving responsibilities.  

  • Service Burden  

We support the Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) recommendation to encourage departments to reapportion service responsibilities, temporarily requiring less service of those with caregiving burdens with no negative effects on evaluation of their service contribution or collegiality. We ask that departments put any such agreement in writing, copying the dean, so that the faculty member has some record for their future evaluation and promotion portfolio. We also support the FAC recommendation encouraging deans to reduce the workload of department chairs wherever possible for the duration of the pandemic. 

MERIT, PROMOTION, EVALUATION  

  • Pandemic rider to scholarship evaluation standards. We support the recommendation of FAC to ask departments to create a rider to scholarship standards explaining the impact of the pandemic on scholarship in their discipline and/or subdisciplines, with special attention to site-specific research requiring access to labs, fieldwork, studios, performance venues, museums or other exhibit spaces, physical archives, and travel. These riders would be reviewed and approved at the levels of the dean and the Provost; the Provost’s Office would include them in a repository of scholarship standards for inclusion in all future tenure and promotion cases that cover pandemic quarters.   

We do not support the FAC recommendation to allow individual faculty members to alter the evaluation weightings allocated to teaching, scholarship and service. The Faculty Handbook sets general boundaries for the weight of these criteria in evaluation: for tenure stream, that “teaching and scholarly or artistic work are the most important” (FH 3.4.2); for lecturers and adjunct faculty, that they are hired “primarily for teaching” (FH 3.1.2.1-2; 3.4A.1.1); for research professors, that they are hired “primarily to engage in research” (FH 3.1.2.2.2). The deans and the Provost believe that it is important to maintain consistent expectations among the faculty and a minimum of expectations across schools. We would prefer to recommend generosity in the evaluation of the criteria in the years impacted by current circumstances.  

  • Wider framework for teaching evaluation. This month, the Faculty Development program will develop additional resources for evaluating teaching performance on the basis of multiple measures, working with FAC. This effort, long advocated by lecturer groups on campus, will bring us into line with best practices at other universities. The faculty of the college, school or division have the authority to develop, adopt and publish their respective clarifications of the teaching criterion (FH 3.4.2), and we will ask that they do this in light of these additional resources. We understand “the faculty” to include all faculty in the college, school or division who will be evaluated by this criterion and who are counted as members of the Faculty Senate (FH 2.10); we therefore encourage departments to include all academic-year faculty in this work. The deans and the Provost will oversee and approve the department statement to assure the ongoing use of the adapted framework for faculty evaluation, as recommended by FAC. The guideline will include recommendations for how faculty might evaluate colleagues’ teaching for the terms that we are online, encouraging generosity in the evaluation given the tremendous innovation required in the development and delivery of online courses and added obstacles that caregivers face. 
  • Extend the “opt-in” options for student evaluation to Summer 2020. A few faculty taught part of their academic year 2019-20 load during the summer 2020 term, particularly faculty members teaching graduate courses in the Leavey School of Business and the School of Education and Counseling Psychology. Since for some this was their first term teaching online courses, we are extending the option to these faculty to decide on their own whether to include student evaluations in reappointment, tenure or promotion portfolios. As with Winter and Spring 2020, department chairs, colleagues, deans and evaluation committees will be instructed not to review these materials unless the faculty member chooses to include them in their materials.
  • Postpone various deadlines. To reduce the service burdens on faculty members, department chairs and deans’ offices, we:  
      1. Postponed the Faculty Activities Report (FAR) deadline from October 1 to October 15 
      2. Advised the deans of the latitude the Faculty Handbook gives them to adjust the multi-year cycle for associate professors, full professors, and lecturers in or beyond their sixth year (FH 3.3)
      3. Postponed the full implementation of Faculty180 for FARs from this year until 2021-22
      4. Postponed the revision of scholarship standards that all departments were to do this year until 2021-22.

 Remind Rank, Tenure and Promotion Committees of COVID-19 accommodations in the next years. In coming years, the orientation sessions for rank, tenure and promotion committees and deans, whether hosted by the President and Provost or Faculty Development, will include reminders of the COVID riders developed by departments, the expanded framework for teaching evaluation, and the opt-in allowance for including SETs in evaluation materials (Winter, Spring and Summer 2020 terms), and encourage compassion and consideration of COVID circumstances, particularly for caregivers. 

GOVERNANCE  

  • COVID-19 Caregiving Concerns Task Force. We propose that the UCC develop a small task force to research evolving best practices and inform FAC and the Provost in real time about possible changes to our accommodations (draft task force charge).
  • Chair training. Faculty Development has begun to integrate discussion of COVID-19 impacts in the Chairs Leadership Forum, beginning with a discussion of evaluation in light of COVID at the October 12 forum. The impact of Covid on departments will continue to be addressed in the Forum and in the deans’ work with chairs and program faculty. 

We continue to consider other suggestions, including an extension of the tenure clock for assistant professors hired in 2020, and extended flexibility for the use of student evaluation of teaching (SETs) in faculty evaluation. We would like to consult further with the Faculty Affairs Committee, the FAC Subcommittee on Lecturers and Adjuncts, and the deans and department chairs, before making decisions on these issues. Meanwhile, we hope that the actions we have taken will provide both tangible relief to caregivers and assurance to all faculty of our support for the tremendous efforts you are all undertaking in this unprecedented time. 

 

Lisa A. Kloppenberg                                                                                                         Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

                                                                                          

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