COVID-19 family friendly environment

The College of Arts and Sciences’ Family Friendly Policy in the Age of Covid-19

The College of Arts and Sciences has long been committed to a healthy work/life balance and to supporting faculty members as they balance family needs and careers. Our modified duties policy, and the insistence that there are no negative repercussions for faculty who utilize this, epitomizes this commitment.

Without a doubt Covid-19 intensifies challenges that many faculty members face with balancing careers with families. This is especially true for faculty members with children at home, considering altered school calendars and modalities, and for faculty members with at-risk family members. It is important to recognize that this is an issue that cuts across gender lines and affects different faculty members unequally.

The University moved quickly to address one of the most pressing issues by extending the tenure clock of all untenured faculty members, but there is more that can be done at the university, college, and departmental level. As a result, the leadership of the College of Arts and Sciences, has unanimously agreed on the following efforts.

At the department level, we are asking departments to:

  1. Reassess service assignments for 2020-1. Waive/limit non-essential service for individual faculty members. Try to identify assignments that can be done asynchronously.
  2. Rethink/revisit department meetings:
    1. Limit meetings, limit length of meetings
    2. Distribute agenda for department meetings in advance, with clear time schedules for topics covered.
    3. Rethink the time of meetings (moving to after 3 pm for faculty members who have children learning at home.)
    4. Distribute minutes of meetings promptly after meetings.
  3. Recognize the need for flexibility with Spring course scheduling. Department chairpersons have responsibility for departmental class schedule. Chairpersons can prioritize support for individuals facing challenges and have flexibility to shift around teaching commitments.
  4. In conjunction with the Dean’s office, department chairpersons also have flexibility to adjust DOEs in response to the needs and efforts of individual faculty members.

At the college level, we are committed to:

  1. Ensuring that the annual evaluation process (FMER):
    1. Accounts for the extraordinary work achieved by faculty throughout the pandemic, especially in rethinking and reorganizing our teaching effort and acknowledging that teaching evaluations must be used in the context of this challenging time;
    2. Acknowledges the University’s one-year extension of the probationary period for research productivity and the fact that for many faculty members research program directions may remain uncertain;
    3. Includes the option of a brief “COVID-19 impact” statement as a preface to this year’s FMER.
  2. Sponsoring writing groups and/or support groups across departments to assist faculty members.
  3. Offering optional discussions on pedagogy that helps faculty manage teaching commitments. Support workshops on effective asynchronous approaches to teaching, on peer evaluations, on undergraduate learning assistants, and on other techniques that help make the demands of teaching more manageable
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