COVID-19: Faculty Update #6

Dear Fellow Gators,

We hope that you have had another successful week of online teaching, virtual meetings, and the other many tasks associated with providing quality learning experiences to our students—and ensuring that those students also have the support they need during these challenging times. As each week passes, we become progressively stronger as a university. But that strength has not come without great cost—and we are all anxious for life to return to some measure of normalcy. We can say this, however: it’s been great on Zoom to meet some of the many dogs and cats of UHD! I suspect our pets are loving COVID—we are around the house much more these days. 

Please continue to stay strong, stay healthy, and stay the course. Our UHD community has demonstrated in the past month that it is capable of achieving great things even under the most difficult of circumstances. Take care of yourselves, and enjoy the weekend. For those of you who celebrate Easter, we would like to wish you a very joyous Easter weekend.

A few updates and notes as we head into the weekend:

  • BB notifications options—Given increased BB usage, students may want to adjust the number/type of updates they get (e.g., new materials posted, etc.). If you would like to share this suggestion with your students, here is a link to instructions for them to set their own preferences.
  • Respondus Issues—While Respondus Lockdown and Respondus Monitor are generally effective tools to maximize online test integrity, there are a number of issues in using Respondus on tablets, Chromebooks, and workplace computers. In normal circumstances, we can offer access to the alternative equipment and tech support to deal with these issues, but such is not the case right now. Therefore, faculty may want to consider other options. We have prepared a list (attached) of issues to consider if you do choose to use Respondus as well as suggestions for other ways to maximize test security or create alternative assessment tools.
  • Curriculog—This is just a reminder that the curriculum process for the 2020-21 catalog cycle has closed (the March UCC meeting covered the last set of materials). We will close the current Curriculog portals to new entries on Monday April 13 at 5PM and open new ones for the 2021-22 catalog after the UCC meets in May. We ask that anything in process in the current portals move forward through to the UCC level prior to May 1. As noted in announcements in the fall, 2021-22 catalog material will need to be through the UCC level no later than December 2020. If you have any questions about Curriculog, please contact Elizabeth Wade; for curriculum questions, contact Michelle Moosally.
  • Bridge Plan Updated Timeline— In recognition of our current priorities, President Muñoz and Provost Link have asked the Strategic Planning leadership team to revise the timeline for Bridge Plan activities. The team is discussing some limited activity with the subcommittees over the summer but major university-wide events (Town Hall meetings, final versions and community presentations) have been postponed until fall with a January 2021 target date for finalizing the Bridge Plan. Please look for updates from the Bridge Plan leaders. 
  • Rank and Tenure Additional Points—As described in an earlier memo, faculty on the tenure track may seek an extension of their probationary period as per PS 10.A.23. Such extensions may include rescheduling of the 2nd and 4th year review timeline as well, and will be determined based on individual faculty requests and circumstances. Should you have any questions at all about this, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Jerry Johnson at johnsonj@uhd.edu or 713-221-2720 (leave a message here and he can reply).
  • 2nd and 4th year Letters for This Year—We appreciate that departments are finding ways to complete any 2nd and 4th year reviews this month as per policy. As it is not possible for all Rank and Tenure committee members to physically sign letters, we ask that R&T committee chairs establish a process to collect electronic “approvals.” Then, on the letters or memos, please state the following: “Due to COVID 19 circumstances, I collected electronic approvals from, and submit this letter/memo on behalf of, all members named below.”
  • BB Ally Update—Given the unexpected move to fully online environments, we are particularly aware of the challenges for students registered with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and the faculty who are trying to provide reasonable accommodations. The TTLC has identified some staff who can assist with accommodations in the online environment, so if you have an ODS student in your course, you may hear from them with an offer to help with materials in your courses.
  • Student Awards—Decisions about whether/when/how to hold student awards ceremonies will be handled within the colleges, based on conversations led by the Deans. 
  • IDEA Course Evaluations—The UHD Faculty Senate has recommended that we not run the IDEA survey for Spring 2020. Instead, we will deliver a single Qualtrics survey to all students regarding their experience with the transition to online delivery, previous experience with online courses, the strength of infrastructure support – both instructional and student services, accessibility, etc. Information about the timeline for this initiative will be coming soon.In addition to the Qualtrics instrument discussed above, faculty are welcome to develop and run their own surveys within their courses regarding student experiences. (Stay tuned for some ideas for questions from The Online Task Force that will be shared in the next couple of weeks.) For maximum protection of student responses, please consider making these anonymous and assuring students that they are not connected to a student grade. In keeping with current policy on general end-of-semester student opinion surveys, offering extra credit for completion of surveys is discouraged.
  • SAT/ACT/GRE-Optional Admissions—UHD has prepared an interim admissions policy to allow applications from students without standardized test scores. Standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, and GRE are not available to all students at this time. While students who have the scores will be encouraged to submit them, UHD will accept applications without these elements and make decisions using available information such as high school GPA, rank, and completion of recommended Texas curriculum. The Academic Policy Committee has reviewed a draft version and endorsed the plan proposed for Summer and Fall 2020 admissions only. This week, the interim policy was approved by the UHS, and Enrollment Management is putting it into action.
  • Service Continuity—We recognize that the current situation is presenting significant and unanticipated workload challenges. In light of this, we are asking that all departments and colleges critically interrogate which committees are absolutely necessary to the functioning of the university and support them as they complete their work for the academic year. Any department and university committee that is not deemed critical or time sensitive should be allowed to suspend their work temporarily to allow faculty to focus their efforts on online instruction. Meanwhile, the Office of the Provost has reviewed university and key departmental committees and is asking that the following committees continue their work to the best of their ability via Zoom or alternative virtual meeting formats, with the common understanding that pre-COVID deadlines and targets may have been affected by the COVID crisis. We merely ask that each committee chair work with the membership of each committee to chart a path forward so that the essential work of the university may continue:

Academic Adjustment Evaluation Committee

Academic Advising Council

Academic Affairs Council

Academic Policy Committee

Behavioral Intervention Team

Conditional Admissions Review Committee

Departmental Curriculum Committees (as needed)

Departmental Evaluation Committees (as needed)

Departmental Rank & Tenure Committees (as needed)

Distinguished Faculty Awards Committee

Faculty Affairs Committee

Faculty Awards Committee (as per Senate needs)

General Scholarship Committee

Graduate Council

Grievance Committee

Individual Review Committee

OER Task Force

Online Task Force

Planning and Budget Development Committee

Retention and Graduation Committee

Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects

Student Discipline Committee

University Curriculum Committee

Wellness Committee

We encourage all faculty to continue to review and provide feedback on policy drafts generated by the shared governance policy committees and continue to provide feedback to their representatives on Faculty Senate, Academic Policy Committee, Faculty Affairs Committee, University Curriculum Committee, and Academic Affairs Council. As we all become accustomed to the new COVID reality, the hope is that we can, as a community, find ways to continue to advance the mission of UHD through this ongoing work. 

All information from these update messages will also be available on the Provost’s Office website: Keep on Teaching