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Faculty Input–Academic Strategy

Faculty input and expertise is essential to the success of Syracuse University’s planning process for resumption of residential instruction in Fall 2020. Led by Marcelle Haddix and Peter Vanable, five focus groups (51 total participants) were held to solicit suggestions, concerns, and feedback. Focus group participants included (a) Dean-nominated junior faculty, senior faculty, and part time instructors; (b) current Meredith faculty; and (c) representatives from major University Senate standing committees. Faculty committee members were also asked to provide input and expertise.

Key Findings

On-campus Safety and Public Health Protocol

Faculty expressed concern about on-campus safety and emphasized the importance of University-level guidelines and protocols informed by public health directives. The timely release of guidelines for class size and classroom scheduling, density monitoring, disinfecting and sanitizing procedures, and social distancing and PPE protocol are factors in faculty determining their level of comfort with in-person instruction and conducting office hours. In particular, the focus on student behaviors and enforcement of social distancing and use of PPE protocol among the student population inside and outside the classroom was most pressing. Faculty also raised concerns about how the implementation and enforcement of protocols will take into consideration equity and justice issues, specifically around race and disability.

Faculty Options for Teaching Modality

Faculty concerns centered on their ability to determine if they could opt for a preferred modality of teaching—in person or online—and the possible support and accommodations they may receive in either environment. As students are provided options to select a mode that provides a level of personal comfort, faculty request opt-out options related to health or other (e.g., advanced age) concerns without having to provide burden of proof documentation. There were broader questions about a model for determining which programs and courses will be conducted online, in person, and in hybrid modes.

Decision-Making Processes and Communications

Faculty expressed the need for transparency and clear communications regarding the decisions-making process and central guidance. There was a common request for readily available operational and decision level guidelines, including: who will be charged or involved with making decisions, how decisions are developed, a timeline and milestones for decisions, and a schedule for communicating decisions. Faculty inclusion in the decision-making process was articulated as an imperative to building trust and an important element in collaborative planning.

Contingency and Continuity Planning

Much discussion was focused on what happens in the event COVID-19 cases appear in our University community, whether it be one person or a worst-case scenario. While there were broader questions regarding the protocol for individuals who may test positive, also cited were the concerns for teaching continuity. Such vulnerabilities include the event a faculty member becomes unavailable due to illness, care-giving commitments, or other situations.

Adapting to Instruction in Multiple Modes of Delivery and in the Adjusted Calendar

The discussion of teaching across multiple platforms and modalities brought to light concerns ranging from support and training to providing equitable access for students on campus and around the world. Discussions highlighted the needs of students with disabilities and international students. Faculty raised issues related to academic rigor, academic integrity, and teaching evaluation. Faculty are concerned with issues of accessibility, equity, and inclusion related to technology, library access, and student learning needs.

Internships, Practicum, and Other In-Person Experiences

Academic programs that require in-person, on-site practicum, internships, labs, and other experiences present faculty with the dilemma of how to set and communicate expectations to students. As such immersive experiences may be part of their required coursework, whether it be for licensure or other professional credentials, faculty are concerned for students who cannot fully participate.

Faculty expressed concerns about control of intellectual property, student privacy, and the potential for social media distribution of video and other elements of online classes. The strong preference of faculty is that faculty retain all rights related to the use of the digital content created.

Professional Development for Faculty

Faculty communicated a desire for ongoing professional development and training in pedagogical approaches and use of multiple technologies and digital platforms. Faculty appreciate group workshops and individualized consultations. Beyond basic pedagogy, methodologies and best practices for encouraging student engagement online was stressed as a need for ensuring student and faculty success.

Equity in Labor and Workload Issues

Non-tenured faculty, adjunct and part-time instructors, and teaching assistants were often cited as being vulnerable. Issues of vulnerability raised include increased workloads and pressures to develop online courses and teach in-person classes, as more senior faculty opt to stay in safer environments. How this population of instructors are able to articulate their need for work equity and support is not readily nor uniformly apparent.

Childcare and Dependent Care Needs

Faculty raised the issue of other stressors that may impact their ability to return to campus and ability to teach through the extended week (Friday through Sunday), such as dependent parents and childcare. If local schools and daycares do not reopen in the fall or the schools are forced to close during the term, faculty and staff may have a need to remain at home.

Research Priorities

Faculty shared concerns about the impact of shifting time and resources on course preparation and teaching for fall 2020 open on research goals and expectations. As faculty shift priorities toward course preparation and professional development during the summer months, while most are not on contract, questions were raised about compensating faculty for their time and labor. Faculty requested a clear statement from central administration, to offer reassurance that research will be supported, in addition to acknowledging there may be costs to research productivity associated with dealing with crisis management. Faculty are also seeking more detailed information on how human subjects research will be accommodated or conducted, as well as protocol for lab space and other operations.

Libraries

Student and faculty access to the libraries was posed as a concern, in addition to publishers resuming restrictive access to materials. The consensus was that the libraries would need to prepare for all academic contingencies with varying levels of access and modalities.

Working Group Members–Academic Strategy

Faculty MemberAffiliation
Faculty Member
Lois Agnew
Affiliation
Arts & Sciences
Faculty Member
Amber Bartosh
Affiliation
Architecture
Faculty Member
Kelly Chandler-Olcott
Affiliation
Education
Faculty Member
Meg Cortese
Affiliation
Registrar
Faculty Member
Vennie Cowart
Affiliation
Falk
Faculty Member
Chris Danek
Affiliation
Campus Planning, Design and Construction
Faculty Member
Martha Diede
Affiliation
Center for Teaching and Learning Exellence
Faculty Member
Scott Erdman
Affiliation
College of Arts and Sciences
Faculty Member
Mike Frasciello
Affiliation
University College
Faculty Member
Aileen Gallagher
Affiliation
Newhouse
Faculty Member
Jenny Gluck
Affiliation
ITS
Faculty Member
Marcelle Haddix
Affiliation
School of Education
Faculty Member
Chris Johnson
Affiliation
Academic Affairs/ECS
Faculty Member
Bruce Kingma
Affiliation
iSchool/Whitman
Faculty Member
Suzette Melendez
Affiliation
Law
Faculty Member
Alan Middleton
Affiliation
College of Arts & Sciences
Faculty Member
Lindsay Quilty
Affiliation
Whitman
Faculty Member
Steve Schaffling
Affiliation
College of Arts & Sciences
Faculty Member
Cole Smith
Affiliation
Engineering and Computer Science
Faculty Member
Michael Tick
Affiliation
Visual & Performing Arts
Faculty Member
David Van Slyke
Affiliation
Maxwell
Faculty Member
Peter Vanable
Affiliation
Graduate School